Museums typically showcase art in carefully curated rooms. At Mattress Factory, however, the room itself is the art. Since 1977, the museum's two buildings have housed a permanent collection of contemporary installation art—room-sized works that engulf the entire space. In Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Dots Mirrored Room, mirrored ceilings and walls infinitely reflect a trio of fluorescent dots painted on a white formica floor. In Greer Lankton's It's all about ME, Not You, astroturf lines a floor covered in artful arrangements of grotesque dolls that form shrines to artists such as Patti Smith and Candy Darling.
To further immerse guests, Mattress Factory's exhibitions are paired with educational programs that range from lectures to hands-on art projects. Along with stimulating the public, the museum stimulates the growth of artists through its residency program, which invites participants to create installations while living near the museum, a much more practical alternative to hiding a secret cot in the coatroom.
Wednesday-Night Wine Flights merge science and education, two ideas that have been divided since a series of high-school chemistry teachers was arrested for dancing on laboratory tables in 1987. Sample three wines that have been hand-selected to complement three Cassis appetizers. Small-plate possibilities from the menu of French-influenced American fare include dumplings, baked brie on toasted baguette slices, and black-olive tapenade with sliced radish dippers. The owner and head chef selects wine and food pairings a week prior to each flight, so if you'd like to know what comestibles are coming, check the Cassis Facebook page on Tuesday evening, or simply call ahead.
Carmi Family Restaurant has walls, tables, and its very own kitchen?at first glance, these factors make it a run-of-the-mill establishment. But this brick-and-mortar restaurant arose out of overwhelming demand and governmental petitions for chef Michael King's southern soul food, which he originally prepared through his catering operation, Catering Kings. As buzz about on-the-go soul food swept the area, King and his wife "became victims of their success" and were forced to open their own storefront, according to Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Pittsburgh City Paper's reviewers slaked their appetites on "terrific" waffles and chicken with a "thick, heavily seasoned crust that provided plenty of crunch." The author of Baking, domesticity, and all things mini polished off "every last crumb" of the gravy-drenched meatloaf and buttered up the staff who were "friendly and charming right from the start."
Krista’s Cantina’s menu turns hunger upside down with sauce-slathered wings and amply stuffed hoagies, all whipped up amid a jovial bar vibe. Mirrors vaunting beer insignias steam up as golden fried provolone sticks ($3) and zucchini sticks ($3.75) roll up to tables with zesty sidecars filled with marinara, and a dozen crispy wings ($7.75) can paint a diner's plate in one of more than 20 flavors, ranging from hot barbecue to buttery garlic. The meatball hoagie ($4.50) coats palates with bubbling provolone and marinara and comes with chips and a pickle to help patrons to meet their daily crunch requirements. Burgers range from basic ($2.75) to fancy varieties such as the all-American ($4.50), which, like a pop star about to sing the national anthem, is spoon-fed bacon, fried onions & american cheese.
Colors & Bottles' founder Jessica Burley and her band of talented local artists are dedicated to supporting local emerging talent and businesses through art instruction held at nearby venues. Their resident artists travel to local eateries and art galleries, where they teach students of all skill levels to fashion dimensional masterpieces through step-by-step instruction. They also kindle creativity during private parties held at the location of your choice, asking only that the destination be outfitted with enough tables, chairs, and paint-by-numbers templates of the Sistine Chapel ceiling for all invitees. Colors & Bottles has received a nod for their engagingly creative events on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and within the pages of the Columbus Dispatch.
Situated inside a 120-year-old building, The Park House's dining room exudes turn-of-the-century grandeur. Stamped-tin ceilings soar overhead, and the walls are ornamented in handcrafted woodwork and exposed brass. Today, these formal furnishings contrast with the laid-back atmosphere of the restaurant. Floors fill with the peanut shells patrons are encouraged to toss on the ground, and live bluegrass bands and DJs take to the stage each week.
In the kitchen, chef Zamir Zahavi—a self-proclaimed “falafel master”—creates a menu of casual Mediterranean-inspired dishes. He plates the classic triad of pita bread, hummus, and falafel, and enhances burgers with international flourishes such as challah rolls and ajvar, a spicy serbian sauce. Diners can wash down their meals with more than 80 microbrews and craft beers, such as lambic framboise, Chimay, and Yuengling, clinking glasses over the din of an Internet jukebox and big-screen TVs.