After a few minutes inside L'Eiffel Bistrot & Creperie, visitors will be forgiven for thinking they've discovered a wormhole connecting them directly to Paris. The carefully sourced selections on the restaurant's lengthy wine list contribute to this sense of dislocation; so do special events such as wine tastings, fashion showcases, and the occasional peasant uprising.
The kitchen, however, is the biggest reason why one might unconsciously start humming the Amelie soundtrack. L'Eiffel's chefs make traditional French cuisine with organic ingredients, and those ingredients appear throughout the elegant entrees of roasted duck in orange sauce, braised beef in a Burgundy wine sauce, and fresh mussels. As for the bistro's namesake dish, crepes can land on the white tabecloths with savory country ham and swiss cheese or wine-poached salmon bundled inside.
In 1961, Bob Terese and Corinne Owen opened a small pet shop in downtown Chicago. Part of their mission: to employ workers with developmental disabilities so they can lead productive and fulfilling lives. That little pet shop has since relocated and expanded into a 70-acre campus called Lambs Farm, which has a variety of residential and vocational programs that continue to help those in need. Nearly 250 individuals live here today in group homes and individual apartments; they have access to employment opportunities and a number of recreational services, such as camping and hobby clubs. In addition to the expansive pet shop, the campus also has a farmyard, a bakery, and assorted shops that sell goods handcrafted by Lambs Farm residents.
Happenstance restaurateurs Rakesh and Sarina Chopra opened Sansaveria after a whirlwind excursion to the city of lights left them longing to bring the sights, sounds, and tastes of Paris back home with them. Meals commence with classic appetizers such as the baked onion soup ($5) or a French charcuterie plate, boasting a collection of cured meats, artisan cheeses, and multilingual croustades ($12). Pair plats principaux such as the garlic and herb sautéed steak Mediterranean ($27), or the wine-basted, caper-kissed sautéed tilapia carciofi ($19), with one of more than 40 wines, or choose any three by-the-glass options to sample a flight of fermented fancy. Suppers saunter toward their sugary conclusions with decadent delights including homemade bananas foster and Grand Marnier–filled crêpes ($7), or with sweet cocktails such as the creamy and indulgent choco-tini or a Sambuca Romana cordial—known for its impeccable manners.
When The Melting Pot originally opened in 1975 just outside Orlando, the location was cozy and quaint, but diners had only three options: swiss-cheese fondue, beef fondue, or chocolate fondue. However, as the restaurant grew in popularity, so did its menu selection and atmosphere. The restaurant first expanded four years later under the leadership of a Melting Pot waiter and enterprising college student named Mark Johnston, who teamed up with his brothers Mike and Bob to open a new outpost in Tallahassee. This location grew in reputation to pave the way for future franchise expansion. Today, the company—now owned by the trio of siblings—reigns as the premier fondue, wine, and drink restaurant, stretching across North America with more than 140 restaurants linked by underground tunnels. The restaurant's menu has also ballooned, and patrons can now expect six varieties of hot dipping cheese paired with salads, meats, and molten chocolate.
On a given night, groups of foodies gather around tables to nosh on signature four-course meals, from cheese-fondue appetizers and various salads to steaks and seafood cooked in a choice of healthy broth or oil. Birthday revelers and couples can share decadent evenings at private tables, capping off meals with chocolate desserts that have defined The Melting Pot for decades.
Denisa's Crepes & Fondues packs fresh, seasonal ingredients into its menu of authentic swiss and french crepes in sweet and savory flavors, plus a mélange of soups, quiche, and salad. Like a location of a haunted mansion’s exit, the featured quiche flavor changes daily ($6), and sweet crepes get their charm from tasty fillings such as lingonberry jam ($5.25), honey ($5.40), and dark chocolate with coconut ($6.80). Savory buckwheat crepes toughen up their doughy exterior by morphing into a diverse lineup of full-meal galettes, including fish au cognac, a Parisian playground where peas and raisins play tag with white fish doused with wine and cognac sauce ($14.75 for lunch, $17.75 for dinner). Sweet dessert crepes decked out with caramelized apples flambé in rum send stomachs into the world gurgling happily ($8.90). Diners imbibe in the restaurant's cozy dining room, covered with hardwood floors, sconce-style lighting, and tabletop flower bouquets that translate all conversations into French.