Its stated mission is to "inspire the imagination of children," but it makes adults wish they were back in school. Backstage workshops, art and essay contests, and exhibitions for Massachusetts students, plus workshops for teachers. Our state needs it.
Walter Pierce, whose Celebrity Series has launched more than a few careers, and whose keen sense of talent and moment has kept our town in culture.
If shoes are the ultimate in therapeutic fixes, then Saks's fitting area could double as a women's support group. Just slide on a pair of gleaming Prada Mary Janes or Michael Kors laser-cut pumps, and watch your mood improve. Buckle up some strappy and teetering Jimmy Choo stilettos, or take a turn in Kate Spade flower-adorned slides—suddenly, you're a new woman. Sculpted Sergio Rossis, sweet Burberry espadrilles, and Vera Wang satin slingbacks all beckon from the shelves, promising immediate gratification, head to toe. Did we mention the Chanel fuchsia wedges? The Blahnik leopard print mules or the Marc Jacobs kitten heels? They're all here, offering true satisfaction for the sole. Prudential Center, Boston, MA saksfifthavenue.com/.
Let the soothing cup of honey-laced tea in the eucalyptus steam room be your first clue: Bella Santé is serious about relaxation. Cell phones are banished from the plush-but-minimalist space, set out in elegant neutrals. And unlike at most frenetic day spas, there's no hair salon to keep the noise level at full blast. In its stead are bliss-inducing treatments like the remineralizing Moor mud wrap, head-to-toe spa massages (as well as La Stone therapy), pedicures that leave feet tender as a child's, and customized aromatherapy sessions. Before heading into the beautiful (and well-stocked) locker room, stop by the waiting area's long window and take a quick peek at the bustle of Newbury Street below—a stark contrast to Bella Santé's enclave of peace and quiet. 38 Newbury St., Boston, MA bellasante.com/.
You know who you are—your entire wardrobe is made up of this-season separates (or you wish it were). In either case, you already know about Louis Boston, the big daddy of Boston clothing emporia and a perennial favorite in the category of one-stop shopping. Louis has cornered the local fashion market with its warehouse-size collection of designer labels from Marni and Helmut Lang to Brioni and Loro Piana, not to mention an impressive shoe selection that includes Miu Miu, Tretorn, and everything in between. The makeup counter is equally expansive, stocking such sought-after lines as Pout (sold here exclusively) and Alchemy. With a salon, café, men's department, and new vintage photo gallery, it's a week's worth of shopping under one roof. 234 Berkeley St., Boston, MA louisboston.com/.
Set foot inside a great restaurant, and the feeling is usually admiration, even awe. Enter a great bakery like A&J King, and it's more like giddiness. Everything looks as good as it smells, and tastes even better, courtesy of the New England Culinary Institute grads working the ovens. Andy King bakes the breads—tangy North Shore sourdough, airy ciabatta—and wife Jackie creates the toothsome pastries, which range from flaky croissants and custardy bread puddings to the dense and intense chocolate cakes called bouchons. They also plate fresh-made sandwiches and flatbreads and pour what just might be the North Shore's best espresso. Did we say giddiness? We meant love. 48 Central St., Salem, MA 1970, ajkingbakery.com.
It's one thing for a restaurant to generate buzz during its first year in business. It's quite another to be the talk of the town after five years. But talk this town does, about chef/owner Barbara Lynch's No. 9 Park, a restaurant as perfect today as the day it opened. We're not the only ones who think this. So do the fans who line up nightly for a seat in the stylish Beacon Hill dining room, and so does the James Beard Foundation, which this year named Lynch the best chef in the Northeast. What everyone is buzzing about is the masterful French and Italian creations coming from Lynch's kitchen (and, in particular, the melt-in-your mouth signature prune-stuffed gnocchi). Delivered by the city's best-trained, casual-but-professional wait-staff, and paired with an impressive wine list created by wine director Cat Silirie, dinner here is a delight from start to finish. 9 Park St., Boston, MA no9park.com/.
When it comes to sidewalk repasts, it's been years since we felt the call of Newbury Street—too much pretense, not enough table space. But something is very back about the Armani Café. Maybe it's the improved menu, rejiggered under executive chef Seth Woods to include such straightforward, reasonably priced Italian staples as fettuccine alla carbonara and tiramisu. Or maybe it's the self-consciously Euro stylishness of it all, which goes from laughable to lovable as soon as the black-clad waitstaff serves up your first glass of wine. Or maybe it's just the luxuriously wide, sun-dappled stretch of pavement that feels tailor-made for scoping out Newbury's passing parade of humanity. 214 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
After several luxurious courses of chef Ken Oringer's French cooking, concluding with dessert might seem excessive. But when the desserts are as delicious as those made by pastry chef Alex Stupak, a little excess is in order. Despite his propensity toward flavored foams, Stupak's timbale of milk-chocolate with raspberry, tarragon, and tamarind ice cream is, in a word, ethereal. So are his Tahitian vanilla bean crème brûlée and lollipops made from sassafras, chicory, and sea salt-spiked chocolate, True and intense (yet not overwhelming) flavors marry with textures that bend the rules of sensibility by being simultaneously crisp and puffy, like the microthin layers of the rich chocolate and hazelnut petits fours. Such finesse is what makes this 23-year-old pastry chef a talent to keep an eye on—and his desserts an indulgence to seek out. The Eliot Hotel, 370 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA cliorestaurant.com/.
The Boston Conservatory Dance Theater's performance of septuagenarian Murray Louis's "Four Brubeck Pieces" showcased eight high-octane dancers careening—collaboratively and individually—through a mélange of moods with uncanny finesse.
Romping gave way to meditation gave way to irony gave way to exuberance at the breaking point.
This Cambridge shop has area exclusives on some of the finest dinnerware, flatware, and accessories available. We covet the minimalist stoneware from Heath Ceramics, as well as Match's pewter and porcelain collections. And then there's our most recent discovery: the rich jewel tones of Jars Tourron artisanal pottery, made by hand in southern France. 190 Concord Ave., Cambridge, MA didriks.com.
Here the owners dispense restaurant recommendations and gossip tidbits along with perfectly pressed suits and blouses at the cheapest prices we've seen. They restored not only a merlot-stained silk top for a mere $3.95, but also our faith in humanity. (Seriously. They're that friendly.) 2410 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 2140, .
Not only did the Dutch Flower Garden have the speediest delivery, but they also used the most varied flowers of all the contenders. Our expert horticultural judges were impressed by the range of flowers, noting that many were common in gardens but rare to see in a florist's arrangement. 164 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
Hurray for the late-night spaghetteria, Wednesday through Saturday til 2! Chef Daniele Baliani's Penne with Crispy Eggplant, Roasted Garlic and Tomato Parmagiani and Potato Gnocchi with Wild Mushrooms and Truffled Gorgonozola make us twirl our forks with glee. 79 Park Plaza, Boston, MA .
With seven sumptuous sandwiches named after South End streets, you may have trouble choosing just one. Our favorite: The Union Park a stack of moist chicken breast, melted Swiss cheese, parsley, and mustard vinaigrette served on whole wheat pecan raisin bread. 577 Tremont St., Boston, MA .