A warm orange and red light illuminates Ritual, tinting its brick-accented walls and exotic statues an inviting ruby. Flickering candles and the glow of flat-screen televisions add to the romantic, yet contemporary atmosphere, where the trendy decor is rivaled only by an eye-catching menu of American-fusion cuisine. Globetrotting meals commence with small plates of chocolate-dipped applewood bacon or waygu beef, which diners sear over a hot rock or the grill they keep in their wallets. Chicken marsala and bacon-wrapped filet mignon represent a portion of the more traditional entrees, but dishes stretch as far as the bounds of the chef's imagination, including an award-winning seared duck breast double-coated with crushed cocoa beans and a hazelnut-chocolate demi-glace.
Though recently featured in a USA Today Travel article that praised its “astonishing” chow mein sandwich, Chan’s Fine Oriental Dining is known by locals for more than just its kitchen’s specialties. The restaurant also won a prestigious Keeping the Blues Alive award in 2011, and its world-famous jazz and blues performances have helped cement its self-proclaimed reputation as New England’s "home of eggroll, jazz, and blues."
Long before the sounds of horns and saxophones filled its halls, the New Shanghai Restaurant opened its doors in 1905. It was not until the mid-1960s, however, that the Chan family refurbished the Woonsocket landmark and began serving an innovative combination of Cantonese, Szechwan, Hunan, and Mandarin cuisines. Around this time, the Chans also brought in the live jazz and blues music that continues to fill the main dining area—known as the Horseshoe Bar Lounge—and the famous Four Seasons Jazz and Blues Club.
With its red paper lanterns, traditional Chinese artwork, and colorful paintings of musicians, the Four Seasons has played host to such legendary blues, jazz, and folk artists as Dizzy Gillespie and Rebecca Parris. A buffet spread accompanies musical performances, during which enthralled audiences watch as musicians pound eggrolls against snare drums or slide their hands along guitars strung up with slippery chow mein noodles.
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.
The seasoned squad of musicians and stomach-swivelers at World Dance and Music Center can fortify the fitness and liberate the shackled hips of all body types and age levels. The multi-talented and multi-lingual Lola is an accomplished dancer who infuses her classes with emotion and an authentic Middle Eastern sensibility. Classes for all skill levels take place Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings. Beginners Bellydance slows down the pace to cater to the never-danced, while Bellydance for Performance is geared toward the experienced motionista, covering proper costuming and stage presence. Bedecked with hardwood floors, a wall full of mirrors, and an elevated stage, the 3,600-square-foot studio gives ample space to promote tummies' uninhibited fluttering.
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.