In the comely Henry James room, a fresh orchid echoes earth tones and the arc of a tree depicted in the Hudson River School painting behind it. Such details are characteristic of the Charles Street Inn, built as a Victorian townhouse in 1860 and revived four years ago as a beautiful inn by proprietors Sally Deane and Louise Venden. Today's rooms call up prominent Bostonians—Emerson, Gardner, Holmes. The Henry James Room, for example, offers lovingly restored classic antiques along with a thoughtfully stocked mini-fridge. The personable staff operates on the rare and precious middle ground between friendliness and respect for guests' privacy. 94 Charles St., Boston, MA .
Frankly, we received plenty of fine haircuts at other upscale salons, but no one listened better than Justine Piecuch at Jeffrey Lyle. This stylist takes a hyper-personalized approach, starting with lots of questions about your lifestyle and daily beauty regimen. A low-maintenance lady, in particular, will emerge from the chair with a pretty wash-and-go 'do. Piecuch is also a great interventionist for those who've suffered bad cuts. She never advocates a Joan of Arc-style bulldoze; rather, she counsels you through the process of slowly growing it out. 135 Newbury St., Boston, MA 2116, jeffreylylesalon.com.
"Quaint," "romantic," and "personal" describe many a bistro around here. But underrated Salts takes those attributes to a new level, due partly to its inn-in-the-French-countryside polish, but owing mostly to chef Gabriel Bremer's exquisite seasonal plates—roasted halibut with heirloom-potato gnocchi and dill emulsion; bergamot-cured ocean trout with breakfast radishes and pea greens—all teeming with ingredients from Salts' own organic farm. Order the duck for two, and a hush falls over the dining room as it's presented whole at your table. 798 Main St., Cambridge, MA 2139, saltsrestaurant.com.
He's pushed diners' expectations at kitchens across the city, from Tremont 647 and Clio to Pigalle and Toro. Then, at Coppa, Bissonnette got us all comfy—nay, obsessed—with eating as many pigs, and as many parts of them, as possible. There's just something instinctive about the way he cooks from the gut and with the intelligent fire of a food brainiac. His inspired pairings (sea urchin panino with green tomato) are outshone only by his hands-on approach to making sure every last dish that leaves Coppa's kitchen is as beautiful as it is delicious. 253 Shawmut Ave., Boston, MA 2118, .
There's something you should know about Maureen Kilpatrick: Her baked Alaska is such a dreamy, caramelized puff of fluffy, warm meringue with coconut ice cream, and a delicate macaroon, doused with a pool of brilliant yellow passion fruit caramel, that once you taste it, you may never want another dessert again. It's simply that good—all at once hot and cold, soft and crispy, sweet and tart. Kilpatrick's other creations, from tapioca tartlet to palace bread, a syrup-soaked bread pudding, perfectly complement Oleana chef and owner Ana Sortun's Mediterranean cooking. 134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA oleanarestaurant.com/.
An interior designer would call it classic modernism; we call it sleekness without pretense. However you describe Dennis Duffy's characteristic geometric lines and striking color combinations, you'd know them in an instant. Distinctive and original are the two adjectives uttered by nearly every client of Duffy Design Group, which was the team responsible for the livable luxury that is Manny Ramirez's Ritz-Carlton penthouse (but is just as happy to help Jane and Joe Suburb renovate their living space). Duffy has mastered the most delicate balancing act of all: divining clients' needs, yet supplying enough style to fill a house. 1313 Washington St., Suite 505, Boston, MA .
Around these parts, the authentic Irish pub is an expectation, not a novelty. Which means there's a full-on scrum of contenders in this category—the Sligo, the Behan, Foley's—with none stooping to T.G. O'Friday's flair, and all possessing the power to make you linger for one more pint. What hoists the Squealing Pig over the top is its welcoming open layout, with kitchen at one end and fireplace at the other; outsize beer selection; and very Irish puckishness (heavy metal/kung fu film fests; 'toasties' made with Mars bars). All of which makes slipping inside this decade-old Mission Hill pub like a conversation with an old friend: effortless. 134 Smith St., Boston, MA 2120, .
Teak oars and regatta flags share wall space with retired surfboards and stuffed sharks in this gem of a waterfront tavern, composed of equal parts yacht-club cachet and tiki-bar kitsch. Live music, bar games, and 10 on-tap beers make the casual summer scene popular, with the diverse crowds of revelers spilling out onto the spacious deck most nights. Moored mariners craving the sea need only hop aboard the Rockmore's launch for a quick cruise to the "Wet Dock," a flotilla of good cheer smack in the middle of the harbor. 94 Wharf St., Salem, MA pickeringwharf.com/rockmore.html.
The Nields were once an acoustic trio—two Nield sisters, Nerissa and Katryna, and Nerissa's husband, David, who took their name—before evolving into an electric quintet. Although the Nields successfully made the transitoin form folk to rock—its latest release, Gotta Get Over Greta, was produced by U2/Sinead O'Connor producer Kevin Moloney—the band has not completely lost touch with its folk roots. It now lies somewhere in between, and is part of the new breed of folk that includes artists such as Ani DiFranco and Sarah McLachlan.
Call it equal parts Thai and Vietnamese, with generous helpings of Malaysian, Chinese, Indian, and personal interpretation. If that sounds suspiciously like the "F" word—fusion—well, it is. But trust us: Even purists will be impressed by chef-owner Tiffani Faison’s real-deal pad gra pow, fiery-cool papaya salad, and tender pork laap, which teeters between fish-sauce funk and lime-y tang. Bonus points for Hanoi’s bun cha, hard-to-find lettuce wraps featuring charred pork, sour broth, spring rolls, noodles, and herbs. 1363 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02215, tigermamaboston.com.
While it’s hard to unwind these days, this luxe resort is making it a little easier to get some much-needed R & R. Extra pre- cautions—including contactless golf-cart pickup, grocery-delivery service, and reduced capacity at pools and at Ocean Edge’s private beach—provide peace of mind, while new private experiences such as beach yoga and oyster tours make it easy to practice social distancing while giving the kiddos an unforgettable adven- ture. So go ahead, book that luxurious mansion suite. Boozy mudslides delivered straight to your beach chair await. 2907 Main St., Brewster, MA 02631, oceanedge.com.
A confession: We're still working our way through Dok Bua's marathon menu. (This is partly because we're compelled to order the sublime mango curry and the miang cum appetizer—betel nut leaf filled with ginger and shallots—at least every other visit.) But any questions about whether an unassuming storefront in Brookline can whip up more than 100 authentic Thai dishes—employing everything from catfish to duck to a veritable garden of vegetables—with consistent aplomb are answered by the scraped-clean plates that we always spy on the tables of our fellow contented diners. 411 Harvard St., Brookline, MA dokbuathai.com.
Drop into this light-filled, low-key Newbury Street lingerie shop, and you'll find women sifting through the hangers with two hands, both arms full of merchandise. To be sure, it's difficult not to touch the smooth, fine cotton, and intricate lace from lines including Cosabella, Hanro, Arianne, Eberjey, Pjama, and Aubade. In addition to the standard undergarments, there's a healthy selection of robes, pajamas, and bridal lingerie. And for more everyday underthings, the well-edited inventory sports everything from lacy purple underwear sets and silky nightgowns to the perfect T-shirt bra—all as practical as they are feminine. 264 Newbury St., Boston, MA lingeriestudio.com/.
If Louis Boston rented out sleeping space, there'd be no reason to ever leave. The four-story Newbury legend can clothe you (quite well, in Dries Van Noten and Mayle, and as the only place in town that carries Marni), accessorize you (with quirky jewelry from Mannin and Francisca Botelho), coif you (Salon Mario Russo, third floor), and feed you (from chef Pino Maffeo's on-site kitchen). The only part of the store you'd have little use for is the otherwise excellent home goods collection—your new address comes already very nicely appointed. 60 Northern Ave., Boston, MA 2110, louisboston.com.
True, it's in a shopping mall, or at least the closest thing Harvard Square has to a shopping mall. And it's part of a bigger chain. But it's still one of those photo stores where the staff loves to talk about cameras, and the prices are some of the best around. A standard Minolta flash that costs more than $100 around the corner sells here for $75. After buying the flash, our agent asked for an expensive gizmo to connect it to his light meter. "Oh no," said the salesguy. "You don't need it. We use the same light meter in the studio I work at and I'm sure you don't need it." 57 JFK Street, Harvard Square Galeria, Cambridge, MA .