To keep up with Calhoun Square's much-needed revitalization after being squashed by Mothra, Aura has revamped itself from the inside out. Along with a new interior comes a new chef with an entirely re-invented menu that features American cuisine with numerous international twists. Aura's vast selection of original pasta dishes are its centerpiece with such notables as: asparagus truffle pasta ($8.95), tequila chicken pasta ($9.95), beef-tip gorgonzola ($12.95), and avocado pasta ($10.95). Traveling tongues, meanwhile, can take a stroll around the parts of America that are in Europe with entrees such as baked Bulgarian feta ($8.95), mustard thyme-glazed salmon ($12.95), and shrimp and mushroom risotto ($12.95). Aura's small plates are all under $7, but do not skimp on delectable originality or syllables. Passing around a few plates of tabasco-dipped calamari ($6.95) and goat-cheese chicken quesadilla ($6.95) will ensure that your conversation suffers no uncomfortable lulls no matter how often your friend brings up his rash.
The Independent is a locally owned dining and cocktail destination boasting one of the happiest happy hours around. From 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. each day, city dwellers gather in the restaurant's chic yet casual confines to mingle over impressive daily specials, including $5 select appetizers, $5 specialty martinis, and $3 select draft beers and house wines. Pair a frothy Bells’ Two Hearted Ale tap brew ($3) with a classic Margherita pizza ($5), or wash down a chipotle-tinged plate of onion rings ($5) with a glass of crisp chardonnay ($3).
A modern take on the classic movie-going experience, ShowPlace Icon Theatre takes the legwork out of dinner and a movie by pairing comfortable sophisticated theaters with upscale, on-location dining, and advanced reserved seating. With digital cinema projectors capable of displaying 35 trillion colors and premium digital surround-sound systems, each stadium-seated auditorium is equipped to showcase buzz-worthy films exactly as the director, assistant director, second-assistant director, and second second-assistant director intended. Patrons to the theater pick their viewing spots ahead of time, eliminating the usual frenzied, darkened search for ideal seating and guaranteeing guests find seats together.
Inside a restaurant whose vibrant purple awnings help diners spot it from afar, cooks concoct 75 different dishes derived from the "roof of the world." Artwork-laden walls surround the tables and cushioned chairs in the dining area, where patrons enjoy home-cooked items ranging from Tibetan-style dumplings made with lean chopped beef to batter-fried sesame chicken. The restaurant's separate bar area provides patrons with a place where they can grab a drink, watch TV, and practice thumb-wrestling moves with others.
At Seven The Steakhouse, chefs prepare succulent steaks, seafood, and pastas amid the restaurant's dark wood tables, high ceilings, and flickering fireplace. Sourced exclusively from 1881 Omaha Hereford beef cattle, tender steaks and fillets share a menu with cuts of pan-seared salmon and Maryland jumbo crab cakes. A reviewer for Gayot compliments the “effortlessly charming servers,” whose muscles bulge from carrying 24-ounce porterhouses and decadent desserts sweeter than a cotton-candy statue of Mother Theresa. The restaurant will be donating 40% of the proceeds from this Groupon to help send the Minnesota Thunder U14 boys' soccer team on a educational workshop in Brazil.