It's a timeless scene: a man in a suit masterfully navigates the ivory keys of a Mason & Hamlin grand piano on a small stage, its Plexiglas lid illuminating the hammers as they delicately pad along the strings. On stools gathered around the instrument, a couple dines on braised filet mignon, and a bit farther back in the softly lit, intimate venue, a waiter carries a tray of gourmet cocktails. Every night, Ivories Jazz Lounge & Restaurant sets the stage for world-class jazz players and the culinary stylings of chef and occasional ice sculptor Art Trafton. The menu is loaded with supper-club classics such as beef au poivre, mixed grille, and a diverse selection of pastas. The bar stirs up similarly comforting signature drinks, among them the alpine with peppermint schnapps, whipped cream, and hot cocoa. Around dusk, ensembles that often include founder and master pianist Jim Templeton take to the stage with a blend of improvisation and standards. Nightly events range from jazz collectives to blues players, and occasionally depart from the jazz-club template to feature standup, poetry, and workshops on topics ranging from music to jazz-style stage-diving etiquette.
Chef Bupar acquired her culinary prowess alongside her mother, who operated a street-side café in Bangkok for more than 20 years. Today, she draws on recipes she learned from her mother to conjure up the bustling, spice-tinged air of the city of her youth. The traditional Thai flavors of ginger, lemongrass, and garlic flood dishes and thick coconut milk helps lower the potency of red chilies in a range of curries to a pleasant warmth. Beneath the eatery’s saffron-hued walls and decorative greenery, bouquets of basil, cilantro, and fresh sprouts bestow portions of noodles and rice with textural variety.
Diners can sit outdoors if the weather and 80-foot sentient dragon statue permits, or enjoy after-dinner entertainment at the nearby Matthew Knight Arena. Downstairs in The Underground Lounge, diners can feast on the main restaurant’s full menu in a more casual atmosphere adorned with pool tables, HDTVs, and dartboards.
Capitol City Theater draws on deep local talent pools to provide a dynamic display of on-the-spot comedy for the smile-deprived masses. Each show lasts 90 minutes and features a family-friendly revue of improvised performance games. Acts draw on the suggestions of audience members, provided they promise not to suggest Millard Fillmore or seahorse mating rituals, the only two subjects scientifically proven to have no inherent comedic value. Though Capitol City comedy shows are always all-ages, beverages and alcohol-enhancing snacks are available. Today’s Groupon is also good for two adult drinks (up to $8 value); choose from beer, wine, soda, or surprisingly mature bottled water. There is one intermission during the hour-and-a-half show, so you’ll still be able to check stock quotes for your plucky cryogenics start-up.
The family-friendly Cure Kids Jam and Festival teams American Idol finalists with up-and-coming West Coast musicians to raise money for children's charities such as the Cure JM Foundation, United Way, and Ronald McDonald House. American Idol's Blake Lewis and Kimberley Locke headline this year's event, sharing songs from their newest albums and slides of their oldest, most embarrassing baby photos. Instead of sending puppies to potential fans, Lewis has beatboxed his way into their hearts after wowing the season six Idol judges with his rhythmic renditions of Seal's "Crazy" and Jamiroquai's "Virtual Insanity." Locke has topped the dance charts four times since appearing on season three of the show, landing on Billboard's Top 50 Dance Songs of the Decade list with a rousing rendition of Freda Payne's "Band of Gold."
The chefs at Lucky Bistro cull fresh ingredients to form an extensive menu of Chinese meat, seafood, and vegetarian favorites, including 38 varieties of dim sum. Diners sink into cushy booths or circle around group tables as tabletop hot pots simmer meat and noodles in curries and other flavorful broths. They also sauté fried rice with chicken and salted fish, heat savory porridges to just-right temperatures, and gussy up tofu and eggplant with sampan and other regional spices.