We tend to approach modernist desserts with cautionthough striking, can an elaborate plate of gel, fruit leather, and crumble actually taste good? In the hands of Harvest’s Brian Mercury, the answer is yes. That’s because his confections are built around something satisfyinglike the zingy Key-lime tart anchoring passion-fruit gel and pickled kumquats, or the rich Taza-chocolate crémeux garnished with brown-sugar granola and sea salt that the chef harvests himself on the New England coastline. 44 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 2138, harvestcambridge.com.
The Goldilocks Principle is perfectly apt when applied to early-morning eats: Go too big and you’re ready for a nap before 10 a.m., go too small and you’ll be hungry within the hour. Henrietta’s gets it just right, balancing out hearty staples like red flannel hash with lighter fare like smoothies and fresh-baked pumpkin bread. One Bennett St., Cambridge, MA 2138, henriettastable.com.
For those who like their bivalves fresh off the boat (literally), the new retail arm of the Island Creek Oysters empire is a must-try. Stocked with a rotating selection of seafood (look for razor clams, Nantucket Bay scallops, whelks, and, of course, the famous IC oyster), the tiny shop has fast become a favorite for local shellfish aficionados. 296 Parks St., Duxbury, MA 2332, islandcreekoysters.com.
Parting with a furry friend pre-vacation is such sweet sorrow. But book your pup a stay at this 7,000-plus-square-foot boarding-and-daycare facility, and you can rest assured that he’ll sleep tight after romping for hours in one of four supervised, climate-controlled rooms where dogs, from teacup Chihuahuas to mastiffs, are grouped by play style and size. Walks and Blue Buffalo food are available at no extra charge, and Web cams allow globe-trotting owners to keep tabs on their pets throughout the day. 139 Endicott St., Danvers, MA 1923, nsdog.com.
Simple white cakes showered with sugar-frosted rose petals, hexagonal cakes trimmed in maroon diamonds, and Taj Mahal-shaped cakes—there isn't a customized design or flavor that Ellen Bartlett at Cakes to Remember can't (or won't) make. Using only the highest order of ingredients and working with couples through each step of the tasting, refinement, and selecting processes, she acts as much as confidante and consultant as confectioner. 238 Cypress St., Brookline, MA cakestoremember.biz/.
The urban athlete is a creature who takes many forms. Thankfully, in these parts there are half a dozen City Sports locations to clothe and equip them, no matter their athletic proclivity. Though the local chain keeps everything from outerwear to footwear on hand, it avoids the warehouse feel that cripples many a labyrinthine sporting-goods retailer. And the cheery employees who patrol the aisles know that chief among the things you're looking for is a quick return to the game. 44 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 2138, citysports.com.
If the accessories you keep in heavy rotation include a diamond-studded Leslie Greene bracelet, cultured Mikimoto pearls, and an arty Casa Gi ring, chances are you're a Long's customer. This branch of the esteemed local chain stocks more than 50 diamond, fashion, and bridal brands, as well as a collection of exclusive estate and vintage pieces. Flashy not your thing? Pick up a sleek timepiece by top-tier watchmakers like Cartier or Baume & Mercier. 250 Granite Ave, Braintree, MA 2184, longsjewelers.com.
So you're a little lazy. Or overworked. Or simply a really, really bad cook. No one has to know—not with Gonson around cover your tracks. Armed with fresh ingredients culled from local growers and farmers' markets, the Cambridge-based chef swoops into homes throughout the Hub, leaving a week's worth of healthy meals in her wake. And she's not afraid to share her tricks, offering kitchen and pantry organization and private gourmet-grocery shopping, too.
Gives new meaning to feel the burn. Electrolysis is never a pleasant part of the grooming ritual, but this salon makes it easier with a relaxing ambience (and topical anesthetics). Your once-hirsute patch of skin may be tingling, but that's an improvement over the pain of more violent treatments. Since this delicate process takes time, it's especially comforting to find a competent, confidence-inspiring, and compassionate set of technicians. 224 Clarendon St., Suite 21, Boston, MA .
Rarely have we seen as devoted a clientele as Rosaline's customers, who laud her quality, service, product line, and commitment to teaching clients about skincare. They love the shoulder massage that comes as part of her facials, and the fact that she's low-key about pushing products, not to mention the results they see in their skin. "In lean, mean times I give up everything but my facial," says one long-time fan. 1426 Beacon St., Brookline, MA .
For a modern Boston tea party, head to L'Espalier on a Saturday afternoon, when the Back Bay brownstone is filled with elegant ladies nibbling on pastries and canapés. We recommend Red Riding Hood's Basket: savory tea sandwiches, melt-in-your-mouth scones with crème fraîche, and chocolate-dipped strawberries or Valrhona milk chocolate mousse tarts. The tea, delivered with a graceful flourish, is brewed just so and punctually refilled. You won't want to spill a drop. 744 Boylston St., Boston, MA 2199, lespalier.com.
The ambiance seems a touch suburban. But no matter: At Sandrine's, all eyes are on chef Raymond Ost's accessible French classics. Follow a salmon crepe starter with seared sea scallops and mashed potatoes piqued with sauerkraut or the house speciality, an Alsatian tarte flambé. Even the (quelle blaspheme!) meatless options (eggplant and cheese ravioli, stuffed artichoke) are fantastic. 8 Holyoke St., Cambridge, MA 2138, sandrines.com.
The décor is worn; the waiters, crusty. The low-priced seafood, on the other hand, couldn't be fresher, and the kitchen knows what to do with it, displaying considerable finesse with battered fried clams, seared scallops, and buttery chowder made with leftovers from the catches of the day. While some people may be put off by the No Name's unfussy shtick—the restaurant famously serves water by the pitcher in tiny paper cups—regulars know it's part of what amounts to one of the tastiest bargains in Boston. 15 1/2 Fish Pier, Boston, MA nonamerestaurant.com.
We have a limited selection of pool halls in the area, which means that come the weekend, Flat Top Johnny's can get absolutely overwhelmed. Weeknights are a better bet: It's easy to grab a table with a few friends, order some craft beers, and shoot pool all night long. Bored of billiards? Switch to darts or pinball. One Kendall Sq., Cambridge, MA flattopjohnnys.com.
Name a major motion picture filmed in the Hub in the past decade, and chances are you saw Celeste Oliva in it. But she's also a stage veteran who this year shone in the Lyric Stage's production of David Henry Hwang's satirical play, Chinglish. Acting with a graceful mix of strength and poignant vulnerability, Oliva stole every scene in her role as the provincial bureaucrat Xi Yan.