Atmosphere is an essential part of fine dining. Crowds frequent five-star restaurants not only for their food, but also for the mood created by their décor. That's why in-home chef service Cooks For Your Kitchen brings a posh atmosphere to their patrons' homes in addition to their cooking utensils and groceries. Linens, china, silverware, and stemware decorate tabletops, where candles flicker and fresh flowers waft fragrances that please loved ones or pet bumblebees. Four-course dinners revolve around entrees such as chicken lemonata or lobster in creamy champagne sauce, and finish with rich desserts such as crème brûlée or tiramisu. All aspects of each meal are made fresh on the spot and can be altered to accommodate vegetarian diets or food allergies. Alternatively, chefs can entertain groups with a dinner party, cooking lessons, and movie nights, where chefs show up to homes with a DVD and movie-night snacks, such as flatbread pizzas and root-beer floats.
Cooking Skills Academy's four resident chefs oversee hands-on cooking classes in a custom-designed gourmet kitchen. During the 15-Minute Meals class, students learn to prepare healthy, flavorful meals in 15 minutes each and hone an arsenal of cooking techniques more efficient than trying to convince raw asparagus to walk across hot coals. Other classes include Sushi class, Asian noodles workshops, and Grandma's meatballs and Sunday gravy. Like sculptors constructing busts of Martin Luther from limburger cheese, amateur food artists can snack on their masterpieces as they go, and take home a copy of each recipe used in the session. Check Cooking Skills Academy’s online calendar for a full list of class times and dates for such sessions as hands-on pasta making, Knife Skills 101, and Date Night Sushi 101.
Most Popular Service: Cooking classes and catering
Staff Size: 2–10 people
Average Duration of Services: 2–4 hours
Brands Used: Local meats and produce
Boston's Old North Church is famous for being the site of the "One if by land, and two if by sea" signal that announced the British's arrival during the Revolutionary War. If only everyone had sat down for a plate of blueberry pancakes, the whole thing might have been averted. Luckily, a Chicagoland building modeled after that famous locale stands ready to remedy that oversight. Despite its grand inspiration, the Olde North Pancake House feels more like a friend's living room than a historic church. Wood paneled walls enclose the cozy space, and a brick fireplace warms visitors as they sip the restaurant's signature coffee and dig into hearty comfort food.
True to its name, the Olde North Pancake House specializes in flavorful hotcakes. Those breakfast staples are cooked up from special buttermilk batter, which is poured onto the griddle on its own or filled with ingredients ranging from sweet blueberries to crunchy pecans. Other morning fare arrives in the form of delicate, jelly-filled crepes, or fresh biscuits topped with homemade sausage gravy. As the day goes on, the cooks shift their attention to lunch, serving half-pound burgers and soups. Dinner, meanwhile, brings all-you-can eat shrimp, steaks, and a special fish fry on Fridays.
Community is the theme at Union House Kitchen. Groups sip local craft beers while sharing the eatery's selection of small plates. And the food friends enjoy at the table are focused on community, too. Chefs source many of their ingredients from Midwestern purveyors, and wild-caught seafood, grassfed beef, and seasonal recipes punctuate the menu. For many; however, Union House Kitchen's appeal is its atmosphere. Awash with natural light and accented by partitions in various shades of rich wood, locals are always welcome in the modern, industrial dining room.
Colorful, complex, and captivating contraptions fill the shelves at MOORE Toys & Gadgets, a toy shop in downtown Wheaton. Inside the store's cozy confines—complete with soft area rugs and cushy chairs for browsing breaks—staff members will help you find the perfect gift for a child or an adult who never really grew up. Each of MOORE's toys, whether doll, puzzle, or craft kit, is designed to provide endless entertainment fueled by a child's imagination.