Heather and Gary Labbe unveil a passage to bygone eras with the ornately decorated Clipper Merchant Tea House, "a destination that is simply unforgettable," according to Tea Time Magazine. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the home-turned-luncheonette holds up to 40 guests in rooms that, despite brandishing the same elegant woodwork and birth certificates, take on different identities through an assortment of statues, vases, paintings, and knickknacks. Inside the Colonial-themed Hawthorne room, diners toast with more than 80 different teas that swirl around inside each of their cups. Toward the back of the house, the China Room plays host to a couple who can scale the Tower of London's three tiers of tea sandwiches, warm scones, and petite desserts. Antique china, silver, and linens—all of which Heather inherited from her aunt—help whisk visitors further into the depths of grandeur.
What began as a familial distaste for plain, traditional birthday cakes has blossomed into Dirt On A Cake, a family-run ice-cream-cake emporium specializing in uniquely flavored sweets. The confectionary's signature dipped dirt cakes submerge ice-cream cupcakes—like high-school principal dunkings in Candyland—in a layer of rich milk chocolate. Party-sized ice-cream cakes sate 15–20 appetites, and personal-sized ice-cream cupcakes provide solo treats to on-the-go desserters. Dozens of specialty flavors include blueberry ginger, stout, and peppermint mocha.
Cambridge Coffee Bar slings specialty coffee, smoothies, and other blended drinks alongside its pastries crafted from time-tested Cambridge family recipes. Caffeine seekers can quench their cravings with delectable slurps from a 12-ounce americano ($1.99), white-mocha latte ($3.49), or café au lait ($2.69), and sippers seeking chillier ways to increase their liquid intake––besides eating mouthfuls of snow––can opt for an espresso and vanilla ice-cream blend, such as the 16-ounce Caramelicious ($4.49) or a fruit blend available in six fructosey flavors ($3.49).
Eschewing modern mixes and thickeners, the dessert designers at Maple's transform fresh milk, eggs, and cream into a host of more than three dozen gelato and sorbetto flavors crafted in-store in front of salivating patrons. Maple's ice engineers buy ingredients directly from Maine's local family farms and embrace traditional artisanal methods such as working with microbatches and running chunky cream through a cotton gin.
Nestled amid the cobblestone streets and independent shops of the Old Port District, 15 Exchange Grille sizzles with an ever-transforming menu of Mediterranean-inspired comfort fare. Each week, chefs whip up sandwiches, pastas, and Mediterranean comfort specialties from the freshest ingredients and market-catch seafood available. Bartenders pair the Levantine comfort food with beer and cocktails from the full bar. Tabletops checker the dining room, backdropped by exposed-brick walls and the enormous portrait of French actress Bridget Bardot staring down from her frame, goading diners into staring contests.
Located in the historic Old Port District, Arabica Coffee percolates the palates of thirsty patrons as they reenergize amid pleasantly low-key confines. The menu is stocked with soothing bean blends and reads like a global tasting excursion, boasting freshly brewed coffees of the day ($1.40–$1.87) such as an organic Peruvian blend, a French Roast, and a decaffeinated java imported from Ethiopia. Specialty coffee drinks take international flavors one intergalactic step further with a caffé milky way ($3.50–$5.25)–a rich combination of chocolate, caramel, steamed milk, and espresso that evokes the flavors of dark matter. Other items include the earthy caffé maple soy ($3.75–$5.75), made with espresso, soymilk, and maple syrup. The menu is subject to change and features new energizing concoctions daily, but there's always a selection of regular and gourmet coffee drinks, brew-at-home coffee sold by the pound, and juice drinks. Additionally, Arabica's signature toast serves as a tasty treat that’s also useable as a Post-it note for informing roommates that the basement is flooding.