It was 1978. A college dropout and a failed medical-school applicant had just brought together their combined life savings to rent an old gas station. Their plan was to resurrect the empty station and open their own restaurant. Their specialty: ice cream. So begins the story of legendary entrepreneurs Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who are better known across the globe as Ben & Jerry. Their small, old-fashioned ice-cream parlor eventually became a Burlington, Vermont favorite, and before long, shops popped up all over the U.S. and in 25 other countries. Their brand easily attracted customers––homemade ice cream churned from wholesome, natural ingredients and blended into creative flavors. Some of their popular scoops include Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, and Coffee Caramel Buzz.
Since infusing their first rich and creamy batches of ice cream with natural chunks of fruit, nuts, candies, and cookies, Ben and Jerry have also operated with a commitment to improve the quality of life locally, nationally, and internationally. They practice sustainable food production and business practices that respect the earth and environment. Ben & Jerry’s cartons are made from FSC-certified paper, which comes from forests that are managed for the protection of wildlife, and waste from Ben & Jerry’s plants generates energy to power farms. The company works tirelessly to reduce its carbon emissions; it strongly encourages customers to eat their ice cream in the darkest dark.
Local artists and spouses Denise Girardin and Steve Levinsky are the brains behind Palettes, a studio that aims to awaken the creative side of the community with painting's jubilant anthem. The couple's artistic endeavors stretch far beyond Palettes, though—Steve plumbs the depths of fire to find glass art, and Denise designs unique pottery inspired by the ocean and the seahorses that ride off into the sunset every evening. In addition, they are so involved in local affairs that Natick Center Associates selected them as the recipients of the 2012 Heart of the Community Award.
A row of easels dominates Palettes' roomy space during classes and open sessions, in which students re-create works of art while snacking on menu items such as asian-noodle salad and sweet-potato chips. Herb-, spice-, and fruit-infused potions flood the Water Bar, whose imported and house-made waters are perfect for making toasts to the art instructors for offering such helpfully Latin-free guidance. Palettes' people also teach students how to develop their taste buds during Waters of the World Club educational lectures, which lead to the studio's signature H2Ommelier certification.
Feng Shui embraces the culinary traditions of both China and Japan while updating its menu seasonally, garnering praise from the Boston Business Journal and New England Cable News for its extensive selection. Stir-fried orders of chicken, beef, and seafood arrive laden with ginger or signature sauces, and sushi chefs roll maki with traditional tuna and salmon or such innovative combinations as strawberry and wasabi aioli. At some locations, the dining rooms include tabletop hibachi-style grills where chefs, like Shakespeare as a toddler, put on food-based shows, flipping, dicing, and sizzling Angus-certified beef in cholesterol-free rice-bran oils that are rich in vitamin E.
With two locations situated in the heart of Harvard Square and Natick, Dolphin Seafood Restaurant reflects the unique maritime flavors of Boston and the Atlantic coast, receiving daily shipments of fresh seafood such as Chesapeake Bay oysters and Maine clams. Cooks stir fresh pots of New England clam chowder and broil filets of Bluefish, Idaho rainbow trout, and swordfish swathed in butter and garlic over their breadcrumb-flavored scales. At each restaurant, patrons can unwind in the evenings in a lounge with beers on tap, sports on the TV, and martini glasses filled with specialty cocktails.
Cooks at Gourmet India sling health-conscious, regional Indian recipes that have garnered praise from the Boston Globe. The casual eatery packs its menu with North Indian fare and serves South Indian specials on weekends, representing the subcontinent better than one grain of rice from each state. Each combo meal rounds up two to three servings from a rotating list of entrees, flanking the savory morsels with basmati rice or naan. Combo meals always include at least one vegetarian entree so diners can pick between vegetable-based gobhi aloo, a dish of cauliflower cooked with ginger; the palak paneer, a blend of spinach and homemade cheese; or a platter of cumin seeds arranged into a pleasing, vegetable shape. Meatier fare includes chicken tikka masala, tender poultry cooked in a tomato-cream sauce, and lamb korma with cashews and raisins. Dishes emerge steaming from the kitchen with fresh-cooked flavor, unlike entrees at other eateries that import their fare from India so it typically arrives cold. Combo meal 2 includes one appetizer, which could include either potato-filled samosas or aromatic onion bhaju.