Adesso wins for its carefully edited selection of trendy pendants, sconces, lamps and track systems, all of the most refined design. Stainless steel, Murano glass, or paper fixtures satisfy even the most sophisticated of tastes. Fixtures to light up your life. 200 Boylston St., Boston, MA .
When you find a place that provides tasty gourmet dinners without excess fat and salt, you remember the address. Baker's Best boasts dishes like grilled tamarind-glazed shrimp, fresh grilled vegetables, and peppercorn-crusted rack of lamb. The desserts are equally tempting. Plus Baker's Best offers a catering service. 27 Lincoln Street, Newton, MA bakersbestcatering.com.
If you need to get those insurance papers in order and want to find out what the old table is really worth, give a call to Michael Wynne-Wilson at the Appraiser's Registry. His company provides an extensive resource, listing all the top appraisers according to their specialties (English silver, Chinese porcelain, etc.). Box 261, Westwood, MA .
The husband-and-wife team of South End caterers who opened Appleton last year make fresh muffins with delicious and often surprising combinations such as peaches and walnuts, and pineapple and coconut. For the adventurous, there's white chocolate and caramel apple; traditionalists will love the blueberry muffins. 123 Appleton St., Boston, MA .
Ellen Rothenberg, 42, of Cambridge, whose profoundly moving installation drawing on Anne Frank's diary was a major attraction of this year's "Boston Now 10" show at the ICA. Her works are ephemeral (she does performance art as well as making installations), but the MFA has a work on paper and others have bought objects from installations.
Even in a sea of emailed wedding invites and digital birthday wishes, nothing beats the power of pen and paper. Especially when said stationery comes from this minimalist workshop/real-life Pinterest board, where the shelves teem with artisanal greeting cards and a rainbow’s worth of writing utensils. 21 Union Sq., Somerville, MA 02143, loyalsupplyco.com.
There's no excuse for men to ignore their feet when the variety and selection are this good. Whether it's a pair of comfy Campers or Silvano Lattanzi custom oxfords, they have it here. And in a refreshing twist on one of the largest selections of fashion-forward (think Helmut Lang and Prada) dress shoes in the city, Louis even sells flip-flops. 234 Berkeley St., Boston, MA louisboston.com/.
Hill dwellers flock to this chic little bistro for its cozy atmosphere and inspired French cooking. And while the long, narrow dining room is packed most nights for dinner, weekend brunch is the real draw, with mouthwatering fruit-topped pancakes and fluffy omelets—perfect accompaniments to coffee and the morning paper. 19-25 Charles St., Boston, MA beaconhillhotel.com/bistro-hours/.
An adorable selection of threads from Petit Bateau, Kissy Kissy, and Pink Chicken is displayed here among hanging paper lanterns and decorative flags. The icing on this charming confection of a children's boutique is the sweet-as-pie staffers, who are more than happy to elucidate on the mysteries of newborn sizing as they ring up their cotton-candy clothes. 10124 Great Plain Ave., Needham, MA 2492, pollywogskids.com.
Andy Seplow, part-time owner of a limited catering service called L'Alliance Pate, makes a firm, toothsome cheesecake based on cream cheese, sour cream, and ground almonds. It's available regularly at Peasant Stock, the Stock Pot, and Malben's Gourmet. 383 Somerville Ave., Somerville, MA .
"Glo-cows debating nuclear power" cards available at Bassil & McNichols, Quincy Market. Plain white cards cut in the silhouette of nuclear power plants, with two little pink glowing cows in the foreground. Comes with a map showing all U.S. nuke facilities. Quality watermarked paper, $1.50 apiece. Quincy Market, Boston, MA .
The sadly standard wedding victuals (banal cheese selections, limp veggie platters) find no place on the menus of MAX Ultimate Food, provider of both impeccable service and outstanding cuisine. The company's repertoire marries the creative with the classic: grilled shrimp with blood orange glaze, roasted duck and caramelized shallot tartlet, and lobster blini tied with chive. There's no taste too exotic, no request too outlandish for the indefatigable crew headed by good veterans Neal Balkowitsch and Dan Mathieu—from tiny weddings to big fat Greek blowouts. 100 Magazine St., Boston, MA maxultimatefood.com/.
Does your windowsill already resemble a jungle, but you still need one more hedgehog aloe? Is your sun porch incomplete without twin philodendrons flanking the entrance? Then you just might be the kind of urban gardener Niche caters to. Its two retail locations are all-in-one stops for plants, pots, soil, fertilizer, tools, and, yes, more plants, letting you indulge your green thumb without sacrificing your prime city real estate. 619 Tremont St., Boston, MA nicheplantshop.com.
Texas smoke versus Memphis rub, vinegar tang versus peppery heat—barbecue debates will likely rage until kingdom come (and straight on into the sweet hereafter). This year our returning champion silenced at least one point of contention—which of its two outlets is better—by debuting a central, honking-big smoker (reportedly New England's largest) that turns out uniformly succulent sliced brisket, pulled pork, and an array of other regional specialties for both Blue Ribbon locations, as well as its booming catering business. 1375 Washington St., West Newton, MA blueribbonbbq.com.