At Olly Olly Play Café, pirates bury treasure, knights rescue princesses from dragons, and parents watch as little ones develop social skills through creative play. The interior space looks like a storybook spilled over into reality, with troves of costumes and toys spread beneath a ceiling painted to resemble a cloud-filled sky. A castle stands at the entrance, serving as the junction between different rooms where roads wind through town houses and a kid-size pirate ship lets little ones imagine attacking all-you-can-eat cruise buffets.
Aside from open play, Olly Olly Play Café educates kids during music classes that range from Baby Signing to preteens belting out Broadway songs. Elsewhere, a menu of locally sourced salads and sandwiches fuels visitors and their health-conscious imaginary friends.
At Tapas Gitana, waves of steam steeped in saffron, chorizo, and seafood stock rise from paella pans and dishes featured on ABC's Hungry Hound to carry palates away to Barcelona. Cold tapas twine ingredients such as avocado, seranno ham, and manchego cheese, and hot tapas exhibit tiger prawns that fuel the sharing and conversation of small-plate dining. On the outdoor patios, glasses of wine clink together and effuse stories of sun-soaked Spanish grapes the hue of a matador's sports car. Chef Andy Novak appeared in a culinary demonstration hosted by Sheridan Road magazine, in which he cloaked sizzling shrimp in lemon and arbol chilies to forge a dish ideal for serving with pasta or distracting party guests from cartoon-silhouette holes in walls.
Southern-style sides such as collard greens, macaroni and cheese, and sweet potato fries flank Little Ricky's entrees of signature baby back ribs and overstuffed sandwiches. Bartenders nimbly find their way around a vast array of top-shelf liquors to mix drinks such as the North Shore Iced Tea, Ricky's Manhattan, and locally produced North Shore tapwater, but won't turn up their noses at a request to crack one of about 40 bottled beers in stock. With full-wall windows facing a low-lit room done up in black and crimson, Little Ricky's interior combines the professional polish of a national chain with the easygoing local charm of the neighborhood hangout its founders intended it to be.
For more than 50 years, Michael’s Restaurants have been sating foodies with a tantalizing menu of hand-cut, Prime Angus beef aged for at least 30 days and fresh aquatic fare. Diners can start a culinary journey through the Deep South with fried green tomatoes topped with lump blue crab in lemon-herb cream ($12). A 13-oounce bone-in filet ($37) satisfies the primal urge to gnaw, and the 24-ounce porterhouse, which combines a tender filet mignon and New York strip ($39), is suitable for sharing or consuming solo to impress a werewolf paramour. Guests can unite the immortal lovers surf 'n' turf by adding a Maine lobster tail ($16) or three grilled scallops ($6) to any steak. Wood-fire-grilled salmon over wild rice ($18) or grilled-chicken caesar salad ($12) appease lighter nibblers, and nonmeat eaters may savor the fettuccine alfredo ($12) or combine pan-seared pecan green beans ($4) with a wood-fire-grilled vegetable kabob ($4) to create a diverse epicurean garden.
Named after founder Betsy Simson's father, Jerry's mission is to craft restaurant meals that feel home-made, and in-home meals made with restaurant quality. In the restaurant, a seasonal menu spotlights French techniques and international ingredients. The sea bass, for example, gets livened up with South Asian sweet chili, and the succulent braised beef keeps it simple with a side of mashed potatoes. The catering service, Corner Cooks, teleports that same culinary sensibility direct to events. Clients can go the traditional route and leave the cooking to the professionals, or get their hands dirty with cooking parties where they work alongside the chefs to bone up on their own skills.