A science lab calls to mind test tubes, bubbling flasks of chemicals, maniacally laughing men in white coats—but rarely ice cream. But that's exactly where Curt Jones, chairman and founder of Dippin' Dots, came upon the inspiration for the tiny flash-frozen beads of ice cream. A microbiologist, Jones spearheaded the flash-freezing process of cryogenic encapsulation, a method capable of trapping flavor and freshness.
Beginning as a retail shop in Lexington, Kentucky, the ice cream quickly began to quell the tantrums of Fortune 500 CEOs all over the country. Having won numerous awards since he created a new way to enjoy an old treat, Jones stays true to Dippin' Dots’ roots, making the ice cream at the company headquarters in Paducah, Kentucky. New additions to the Dippin' Dots family include Dots ‘n Cream, a treat similar to traditional ice cream.
Not long after beginning their relationship, Fabrison’s co-owners Fabrice and Alison—from Marseilles, France and Columbus, Ohio, respectively—traveled to Europe together, seeking a change of scenery. Inspired by the warm hospitality of European cafés, they returned home to open their own cozy shop, combining their first names to form its distinctive moniker.
Crepes are the specialty at Fabrison’s, with customers perusing a menu of sweet, savory, and breakfast iterations of the traditional French food. The La Galette combines ham, mushrooms, and spinach with a fried egg, whereas the L’Isabelle keeps its ingredients as simple as Count von Count’s locker combination, mingling sugar, butter, and a topping of powdered sugar. Patrons can begin their mornings with a spot of espresso and Fabrice’s Breakfast Crepe, filled with sausage, bacon, and spicy harissa sauce. Rounding out the menu is a selection of patisserie-style desserts and pastries.
The couple’s friends and family helped them plan their café’s look, with Fabrice’s mother sending over photos and swatches from European cafes, which influenced its bright palette of crimson, gold, and washed turquoise. Alison’s mother sewed the gingham curtains on the windows, and artist Derek Little created the vivid painting on the front window. Fabrison’s also shares French culture with the community through regular evening events that include crepe-cooking classes, French movie nights, French speaking classes, and French kissing workshops.
Every Saturday night at the Sheraton Suites Houston, someone gets murdered––while dinner guests watch. Mystery dinner theater may not be a novel concept, but it's safe to say that the crew at Mystery Cafe does it right, as evidenced by their 2009-2013 streak of winning the United States Commerce Association's Houston Award for Dinner Theatres. Forks clink and brain gears whirr as theatergoers dine amid the action, where one of the cast members gets killed and the rest of the off-the-wall characters try to figure out whodunit. As the plot twists and turns like a Slinky on a waterslide, audience members take note of the evidence and submit their suspect and motive on a solution sheet. Whoever sniffs out the culprit is named Super Sleuth and garners a prize. The dress code is dressy casual, meaning anything from a prom dress to jeans is okay, but the mermaid tail should stay at home.
At a young age, Alberto Morreale decided on a career as a chef, leaving his Sicilian hometown to cook in restaurants across northern Italy. After moving to San Diego, he started synthesizing Californian influences with his Old World culinary techniques, creating dishes such as his housemade lobster ravioli with chipotle-mascarpone-cilantro sauce and a dollop of tequila.
Chef Morreale’s use of local ingredients in his creative recipes adds to the freshness of dishes at both Fig Tree Cafe locations—winning the Hillcrest café second place in CityVoter’s Best Brunch category in 2010. The two cafés bake their breads in house, grow their own sprigs of rosemary, and catch their own silverware in a clear mountain stream. The kitchen sources ingredients from area producers, such as a ranch 35 miles outside of town, which supplies the restaurant with natural, free-range eggs.
Shakespeare’s Corner Shoppe imports products from across the pond and welcomes neighbors for afternoon tea, served daily with finger sandwiches and cakes. An extensive online and in-store inventory spans everything from canned jellies, curds, and jams to animal collars patterned with the British flag. Should an item of desire elude shoppers or Sherlock Holmes, store associates occasionally place special orders. The tea experts stock a selection of English bone china, which is available to purchase or rent for an at-home garden party or a sophisticated rave. The store's quaint outdoor patio is home to daily afternoon tea, a British tradition that the crew has modernized to include vegetarian and sugar- or gluten-free delicacies.
Frozen yogurt not only tastes good; it's also good for you. Each of Fiji Yogurt's 100 flavors can be consumed guilt free, even if they're not one of the sugar-free, fat-free, dairy-free varieties. Besides classics such as pistachio, vanilla, and chocolate, far-out flavors are inspired by dessert with varieties such as blueberry cheesecake and white chocolate mousse. Once patrons fill their cups at the red yogurt station, they move to the green countertop to choose toppings. Peaks of yogurt can be crowned with candy, cookies, nuts, and fruit, as well as chunks of cookie dough and cheesecake. Customers enjoy their cups while perched on chairs that match the counter or the candy-apple-red leather sofas that match the maraschino cherry bush growing out front.