A night of dinner, drinks, and dancing doesn't always have to involve three different destinations. At Shish Restaurant & Lounge, visitors can do all three, seamlessly. While they cozy up on a leather sofa, the wait staff ferries Middle-Eastern cuisine such as small plates of baba ghanoush and grape leaves as well as flatbreads decorated with lamb, hallumi, and olives. From the bar, servers transport nine signature cocktails, flutes of seven types of champagne, and draft and bottled beers to lounging diners as they watch other cut a rug on the giant dance floor. Whether visiting on swing-dance Wednesdays, Latin Thursdays, or DJ-party Fridays, there is always something to watch.
Rooftop120 welcomes visitors into a high-class cosmopolitan atmosphere of year-round rooftop seating, potent martinis, fresh oysters, and seasonal dishes that showcase a variety of culinary styles. The bill of fare promises beers, wines, and cocktails paired with fresh ahi tuna, truffle-tinged fries, heirloom-tomato salads, and other small plates made from local produce that earned accolades from the Hartford Advocate as one of the best new bars, restaurants, and outdoor-dining destinations of 2012. Live bands or piano music set a soundtrack for nights out on the town, and sports packages keep fans informed of the latest on-field exploits and product endorsements from their favorite athletes. The seasonal menu and adaptable space keep guests comfortable and satisfied throughout the year, as they gather around the crackling fire pit and dine on butternut-squash soup in colder months or sip refreshing cocktails on the open-air patio in the summer.
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.
Over the tops of neatly groomed conifers, the muted drizzle of a fountain loops over a still pond. Glancing out from the dining room of Seasons American Bistro & Lounge, away from the lofted beams and white tablecloths, the eye drifts out across the water and to the verdant rolling hills crowded with ancient trees. Inspired by the bistros and tapas bars of Europe, the menu at Seasons highlights shareable plates, which circulate during long chats measured in glasses of wine. From the ranks of bottles spring the floral bouquet of the Italian Alverdi pinot grigio and the earthy plum notes and Napa Valley sunshine of the 2005 Markham merlot. The sound of toasting glasses drifts through a bar and lounge with small tables and a wrap-around banquette decorated with cut flowers and candles that set the mood and keep somebody from setting down a cornucopia there.
Hailed by none other than the New York Times for eclectic dishes that combine “a homey touch with a dash of originality,” The Pine Social throws a sophisticated spin on traditional American comfort fare. Chandeliers cast a soft glow on tables situated side by side within the tavern-like restaurant and lounge, which anchors its menu on free-range meats, ocean-fresh fish, and locally sourced produce. The kitchen’s homemade sausage and slow-braised beef short ribs are not to be missed, based on their own merits as well as their shared ability to whet palates for the dessert menu’s warm apple spring rolls. Sips of aged scotch and spiked, hot apple cider thaw jaws frozen agape at the tavern’s dark-stained walls, rustic wooden accents, and plush furnishings. Light from high-definition TVs glints off the bar’s full-service spirits station, beside which guests can treat their ears to music that pours forth from live bands on Thursday and Friday nights.
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.