If brunch is the most civilized way to dine, the Harvest is the most civilized place to have brunch. First there's the restaurant's lovely garden patio, which in warm weather offers a leafy retreat from the traffic of Harvard Square. Then there's the table presentation. No paper napkins and messy tabletops here—brunch at the Harvest is a white-linen, Sunday-best affair. But it's the menu that renders this restaurant a class above, with its three-course, prix-fixe ($33) menu of gourmet takes on classic dishes. The eggs Benedict, for instance, are served not one but two ways: crab and avocado on one orb, smoked ham and asparagus with roasted red pepper hollandaise on the other. Omelets come with such citified ingredients as wild mushrooms, spring onion, or pancetta. It's the final course—dessert—that makes this tradition a proper indulgence, from the milk chocolate panna cotta to the irresistible classic chocolate layer cake. 44 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA harvestcambridge.com/.
There is something to be said for dependability. In Steve Johnson's case, it's knowing that every time you visit his restaurant, you'll be served a meal that is simply outstanding. Johnson's food is neither overwrought nor overly ambitious—it's honest and easygoing, just like him. As a founding member of Chefs Collaborative and chairman of the Boston chapter, he continues to be one of the guiding forces in Boston's restaurant scene, serving as a mentor and inspiration in the industry. But most important, since he bought the place five years ago from pal Chris Schlesinger, the Blue Room has flourished—so much so that this year the James Beard Foundation recognized Johnson with a prestigious nomination for chef in the Northeast. So whether it's his morel mushroom lasagna, sautéed halibut with fennel and fava, or our favorite appetizer, "one perfect cheese" served with fruit and dried almonds, we'll keep coming back for more. Johnson is just that good. One Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA theblueroom.net/.
You might not know what all the nifty bar tools do, but one thing’s certain: They make a mean drink. 500A Commonwealth Ave., Fenway/Kenmore, MA 2215, thehawthornebar.com.
MVP. Cy Young winner. Twenty strikeouts in one game. And the only major leaguer to foil the owners' attempts at collusion.
There's one gimmick the USFL will never match. It doesn't snow during their season.
Probably the largest collection of lobsters under one roof—kept in seawater, which gives them a better flavor. 15 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA .
With more than 100 kinds of cheese in stock at any one time, this is clearly the Best of the West. 29 Walden St., Concord, MA .
The Dukakis administration's loss was Hill Holiday's gain. Does Jack Connors know a PR genius when he sees one?
Next to the new Red Auerback statue at Faneuil Hall Marketplace, one of the few statues your neighbors will recognize.
An expansive collection of watercolors, prints, and paintings, the Emil Nolde show at the MFA revealed the works of one of Germany's most talented expressionists.
The Trustee Committee of Mt. Auburn Cemetery—room to spare for you and your loved ones. MA
Even the merest trifle takes on special significance when wrapped in one of the beautiful gift papers form the MFA gift shop. 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA .
The Botox frenzy—you know, the one that has everyone and her mother running off to unwrinkle their brows with Botox injections—belies one important truth: The treatment may be easy, fast, and essentially risk-free, but that doesn't mean just anyone should inject it. It's still a medical procedure that requires expertise, safety, and finesse. Dr. Ramsey Alsarraf stands out on all of those fronts for his credentials (Harvard, Yale, a fellowship with the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and board certification); his integrity (if you don't need it, he'll tell you); and his finely tuned aesthetic sense (his work is known for being subtle and natural-looking). If you're going to do Botox, the last thing you should be worried about is whose hands you're in. And on that front, Alsarraf gives you fewer reasons to furrow your brow. 69 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
Much of this bright and sunny bakery's success is due to the fact that it was one of the first businesses of its kind to move into the Washington Street corridor—in other words, before the arrival of the Silver Line, other restaurants, high-priced condos, and boutiques. The muffins, cakes, breads, tarts, and sandwiches sold here are delicious, but the cookies are the standouts. If you have to limit yourself to one, make it owner and pastry chef Joanne Chang's downright dreamy chocolate chip. These oversized, half-inch-thick rounds are baked just long enough to leave a bit of chewy goo in the center, without sacrificing the sugary crunch. But what truly elevates Chang's chocolate chip cookie are the chips, made from liberal portions of Scharffen Berger chocolate. 1595 Washington St., Boston, MA flourbakery.com.
We're fond of smaller wine shops—Back Bay's excellent Bauer Wine & Spirits, say, and Somerville's Wine and Cheese Cask (where you can pick up some good bread and cheese), or even the novice-friendly Cellars stores. But warehouse-sized Brookline Liquor Mart dwarfs the competition, and not merely because of the enormity of its wine selection. There are extras such as frequent tastings, a decent Web site, and the rare-wine room, where you can fantasize about dropping two grand on a bottle of Château Lafite. And if the place itself looks a little intimidating, just wait a few moments. One of the wine experts (there is at least one on duty at all times) will amble by and prove every bit as friendly and helpful as the salespeople at the smaller stores. 1354 Commonwealth Ave., Allston, MA blmwine.com/.