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.
From their kitchen stations on the second story of the Bay State Hotel, the chefs at Mulino's Restaurant plate up hearty portions of sophisticated Italian cuisine. Piled-high plates showcase tender linguine, spaghetti, and fettuccine clinging to gorgonzola cream sauce, italian sausages, veggies, and julienned strips of chicken. The aromas of wine-coated salmon and grilled beef tenderloin also fight for the attention of diners who are taking their time with their wine, served by the glass, bottle, or through a penne noodle. Desserts such as crème brûlée and tiramisu sweetly seal the meal.
Voted the area's best place for tapas in 2012 by readers of the Valley Advocate, Ibiza Tapas Wine Bar swells with the aroma of Spanish small plates. The culinary team whips up traditional dishes such as fried spiced potatoes and spanish veal and pork meatballs alongside modern creations such as babyback ribs with fried potatoes and barbecue aioli and short ribs in caramelized garlic and oatmeal beer sauce. Their menu also includes paellas, fideuas, and gluten-free Catalan-style crème brûlée, which guests can wash down with beer, sangria, or a wealth of white and red wine from the dramatically lit stone bar. Orange and burgundy walls enliven Ibiza's lounge-like dining room, where patrons can enjoy dinner or parties of 40–80 guests or retired Zorro's can feast at private soirees.
The two screens of Tower Theaters host an eclectic cast of characters, from the flying superheroes of summer blockbusters to elaborately costumed opera singers. And 3-D technology propels many of them toward the audience with the vivid clarity of digital projection. The dancers and singers appear as part of a monthly opera and ballet series, which showcases stage productions such as Caravaggio or Die Fledermaus in digital HD. But on the first Saturday of every month, film and live performance combine with midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, during which a shadow cast poses in front of the screen to mirror the cult classic's plot and catch Tim Curry when he falls out.
By following the blueprints found on a sprawling menu of wraps, sandwiches, and pizza, the culinary experts at JP's Restaurant battle flavor shortages against a sports-bar backdrop. The beef stroganoff blends braised beef tips with sautéed mushrooms, sour cream, and a network of penne noodles ($14.99), and the chicken française attacks hunger with a battalion of sautéed mushrooms, an infantry of white-wine lemon sauce, and a division of angel hair pasta commanded by a general of boneless chicken breast ($14.60). Pie-mongers can nibble one of 14 specialty pizzas, such as the large chicken pesto ($14.60), which is smothered in mozzarella-based goodness, while lunchers can open cuisine gates to massage teeth with a Cajun chicken-fajita wrap ($7.99), a burger slathered in hickory sauce ($7.45), or a hot basalt stone.
More than 30 LCD televisions and an 8-foot high-definition projector surround Maximum Capacity, where patrons enjoy 19 beers on tap downstairs and groove to the beat of live performances by DJs and cover bands upstairs. The venue’s list of performer’s has earned acclaim from The Valley Advocate, especially for bringing in big-name stars such as Vince Neil of Motley Crue. While taking in show or a Pats game, diners munch on classic pub favorites such as one of eight specialty sandwiches, five types of burgers, and eight signature pizzas.
Petra Café’s gustatory gurus transform pita or ciabatta bread into greek gyros and italian sandwiches at lunch. Diners send spinach-pie emissaries, made with phyllo dough, fresh spinach, and piquant feta ($3.50), to stomachs to pave the way for the Santorini lamb salad ($12.99), a vegetable-and-meat combination more satisfying than a genetically engineered hot-dog tree. Ruminators munch on attic classics, such as pitas stuffed with gyros meat ($6.49), falafel ($6.99), or, in a surprising twist, hundreds of miniature trojan horses. Taste buds can travel across the Mediterranean with the sicilian panini—grilled ciabatta bread enveloping pepperoni, genoa salami, and monterey jack and covered in layers of basil pesto and spicy mustard ($8.99).