Amid cheerful lime-green and exposed-brick walls, The Chopping Block’s stylists create precision haircuts, color tresses with Wella hair color, and tame frizzy locks with texturizing treatments. The salon features Paul Mitchell products, and also offers facial waxing to remove unwanted hair or add manly heft to the jaw of a waxwork Nicolas Cage.
At Baku’s African Restaurant, which On the Menu calls “the place to go,” Nigerian-born Chichi Pat Ononibaku shares her love of made-from-scratch African fare with a menu of dishes crafted from recipes passed down through her family. Diners kick back while surrounded by tropical murals and yellow walls, peering into the kitchen where Ononibaku whips up black-eyed-pea fritters ($4.95). On the Menu says Baku’s African Restaurant “makes it impossible for its patrons not to love plantains,” which accompany the signature jollof rice along with curry chicken ($11.95) for a dish that’s more memorable than a baby panda handing you a winning lottery ticket. Savory aromas waft from curry goat meat, salmon, or lamb draped in the restaurant’s specialty curry-tomato sauce ($12.95–13.95). The gluten- and lactose-free menu also features pounded yams served with thick West African melon seed soup or nigerian stew ($12.95). The cozy dining room fills quickly with the clink of glasses bearing cinnamon iced tea ($1.95) or mango juice ($3.95), so some visitors may choose to take their meals to go or call ahead to make sure there’s space.
Stocked with more than 150 bins of sugary delicacies, Captain Candy services confection connoisseurs of every appetite. The variegated victuals include a multitude of gummies ($1.99 per 1/4-pound) and Jelly Belly jelly beans ($2.09 per 1/4-pound). Gnaw on gummy army men, brains, fried eggs, wild-caught swedish fish, freshly potted gummy lobsters, or eight different flavors of gummy bears. Candy Land expats include chocolate-covered almonds, peanuts, raisins, coffee beans, malt balls, and matzo balls, which are sure to mollify those who wish that they themselves were covered in chocolate. Licorice wheels,10 flavors of saltwater taffy, and three kinds of caramel help put the finishing touches on the candy kingdom.
Since 1976, Bart’s Homemade has been a destination for ice-cream lovers of all ages. The shop scoops rich, 16% butterfat ice creams in an array of fun flavors, including chocolate Heath bar, mint chip, and Three Geeks and a Red Head—coconut ice cream with coconut flakes, chocolate chunks, fudge brownie, and a raspberry swirl. Local fruit makes appearances in many seasonal flavors, such as ginger peach, featuring ginger from Old Friends Farm and peaches from Franklin County orchards. Bart’s team also whips up batches of healthier treats, including five varieties of sorbet and three hard-serve frozen yogurt flavors.
The University Club’s New England roots are evident not just in its creamy, New England-style clam chowder, but in its very building. Nestled in two colonial-era farmhouses, one of which is the oldest, most wrinkly house in Amherst, the eatery is a venerable institution to the history of Massachusetts. The Boltwood-Stockbridge house contains the Daniel Chester French room, named for the Lincoln Memorial Statue sculptor who lived there as a child, and the Tory room, where nine loyalists hid during the American Revolution.
Today, the loyalists have given way to diners feasting on fare that changes with the seasons. Dinners consist of upscale proteins such as new york strip steak, braised lamb shank, and pan-seared salmon complemented by a farmer’s-market risotto loaded with fresh local produce. Alternatively, lunchtime visitors—or diners sampling the bar’s lighter fare menu—can nosh on a Black Angus burger or a jalapeño crab-cake po' boy.
Named Best of the Valley for late-night dining in 2011 by the Valley Advocate, Route 9 Diner serves an extensive menu of made-from-scratch entrees 24 hours a day. Homemade baked meatloaf comes smothered in a mushroom sauce ($10.25), and the stuffed filet of sole florentine prepares for travel to hungry diners by packing a savory suitcase of feta cheese and spinach and checking a bag of collectible forks ($14.95). Experience the sweet side of breakfast with m&m pancakes ($6.45) or peanut-butter-chip waffles ($6.75). Or dare unhinged jawbones with a bevy of 7-ounce steak and specialty burgers piled high with jalapeños, mushrooms, or sautéed onions ($4.25–$7.95). Owners Chris and Archie blend into the staff as they patrol the classic tiled floors and counter service to cook and serve their specialties. Route 9 Diner's menu and pricing—like a superhero's nightclubbing alter ego—is subject to change after 9 p.m.