It's a shame the food isn't as good. 140 Northern Ave., Boston, MA .
It's time to put the Imperial into the Hall of Fame. 76 Beach St., Boston, MA .
Oysters on the half shell at the Union Oyster House, 41 Union St., Boston. Straight from the Cape, fresh daily. Stay at the raw bar ($2.95 for six); upstairs they cost more. 41 Union St., Boston, MA .
Invented at the Omni Parker House back in the days when men wore top hats and no one had heard of hydrogenated fats, this custard-filled, chocolate-topped sponge cake is the 19th century at its most decadent. 60 School St., Boston, MA omnihotels.com.
Attending a show here is not unlike sitting inside a gigantic inverted wedding cake. Three years after a painstaking $30 million restoration, the Opera House shines once again as the city's most opulent venue. As for the performances—whether flashy Broadway tours, big-name rock acts like the White Stripes, or Boston Ballet's Nutcracker—all seem to gain a bit of extra polish from this gilded Beaux Arts masterpiece. The 1920s proscenium mural alone is worth the ticket price. 539 Washington St., Boston, MA broadwayacrossamerica.com.
This isn't the place where the suits go to celebrate closing a big deal, or the restaurant everybody talks about down at the club. It is, in fact, something much better: Boston's oldest steakhouse and a Porter Square institution. Locals arrive by 9 Wednesday through Saturday so they can listen to performers such as Preacher Jack on keyboard while digging into a New York sizzler—an unadorned 14-ounce sirloin that arrives at the table sizzling, as advertised, in a cast-iron skillet. The marinated steak tips, prime rib, and seafood are every bit as terrific. Oh, and forget about the wine list: Just order a beer. 2310 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA frankssteakhouse.com/.
No doubt about it—the Tie Restaurant makes for a very bad pun. So sue us. The fact is we're torn between two establishments that offer grace, charm, goodwill, and friendliness in abundance—and good food. Take Bangkok City, back phoenixlike from the ashes after its 1998 fire, with new decor. We recommend the shrimp with three chilis, but the more adventurous among you might for the secret, superspicy Thai menu the restaurant offers to real Thais—and the rare Yank who has an asbestos-coated palate. (When you try it, you'll understand all too well why the place went up in flames.) | But House of Siam is equally enticing. Everything's fresh at this friendly South End fave, with its stylish decor: the tom ka gai (chicken coconut soup), spicy garlic shrimp, fabulous dumplings, spring rolls, and duck panang. Wonderfully attentive to detail, both in preparation and presentation (note the origami carrots), House of Siam also has a wine list that, while short, is well thought out and boasts fine values under $20, including a Guigal Cotes de Rhone at $19.25. 167 Massachusetts Avenue; 542 Columbus Ave., Boston, MA .
Vineyard Haven may be a dry town, but you won't need any spirits to lift yours at the Mansion House Inn. The newly renovated inn has roof-deck views of tall ships and blue-gray waters, plus plasma TVs, an ultra-indulgent day spa, and gourmet breakfasts. But it also takes you back to the island of the 1800s with rooms cloaked in authentic period color patterns, archival photos in the halls, and a majestic wraparound porch. 9 Main St., Vineyard Haven, MA mvmansionhouse.com/.
Whose typical response to a political thwarting is to retire to his office for a good long sulk. Will someone please tell George to grow up and take his lumps like a big boy.
Novice bikers tend to get intimidated by drivers around here—and for good reason. But the gratis Bike Tours of Cambridge—led by the Cambridge Bicycle Committee and escorted by police—will put worried minds at ease. And where else but the People's Republic would you find themed treks covering everything from string theory to public art?
Besides the usual, this elegant establishment offers finnan haddie, pate, hearts of palm, lamb chops, veal Marsala, croissants, and live jazz harp music—all for $8.50. The two seatings, at 11:30 and 1:30, are usually booked by Wednesday, so make reservations early. 60 School St., Boston, MA .
Two of these will blot out the thundering herd. 855 Broadway, Saugus, MA .
Opened with the money earned from a dish-washing job by a guy who started surfing on the Cape when he was 5, the Pump House has surf attitude. All the salespeople surf, of course; most wear board shorts in the store, whose back wall is stacked with 100 boards ready to throw on top of the VW and take to the nearest beach, five minutes away. The Pump House also offers rentals, repairs, and lessons, and sells apparel, Frisbees, and the wetsuits that are standard gear for any true New England surfer. 9 Cranberry Highway (Rte. 6A), Orleans, MA pumphousesurf.com/.
Chef Kwok Cheng's specialties include most of the usual suspects (lemon chicken, Dragon and Phoenix, the ubiquitous Family Delight), but Beijing House is much more Chinatown than anonymous suburban strip mall. The spring rolls, always the first and surest sign of quality, arrive hot, crispy, full of meat (not yesterday's wilting bean sprouts), and almost greaseless. The lightly battered wedges of lemon chicken are unusually crisp, and the Beijing sesame shrimp could be the closest you'll get to Chinatown without having to take the Orange Line. 456 Washington St., Norwell, MA beijinghouserestaurant.com/.