Voted the best place to see live theater in the Valley Advocate's 2011 readers' poll, the Majestic Theater envelops audiences in compelling stagings starring local thespians. In the midst of the Majestic's summer season, Two by Two juxtaposes the dramatic and comedic sides of Massachusetts playwright Steve Henderson by showing a pair of his enthralling one-act plays back-to-back. Theater-goers get a peek at the ins and outs of the fictional Morse brothers' complex relationship in Morse Code—a case study of universal truths about fraternity, such as the fact that it's more entertaining for others when siblings argue in public. The Gravedigger's Gift riffs on two grave-digging characters from Shakespeare's Hamlet, extracting comedy from the dour business of burying the deceased.
Bringing back the upscale nightclub atmosphere of yore since 2003, the staff at Shakago Martini & Piano Bar pairs an upscale menu of Italian-inspired pastas, seafood dishes, and steakhouse fare with a rotating schedule of entertainment every Wednesday through Saturday. While the downstairs area accommodates diners with a traditional restaurant setting, a combination of dim candlelight and firefly busboys illuminates the newly renovated and intimate upstairs lounge, where guests rest on comfy couches and chairs. The second floor also frequently hosts parties of 25–50 attendees, which Shakago caters with bites ranging from finger food to dinner buffets. Because enjoying the Pink Floyd's cover of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony can often take you into the wee hours, a late-night menu appeases appetites until 1:30 a.m. Monday–Saturday.
Hot Table fires up grills for all three daily meals with its menu of crisp salads, coffee drinks, and handmade paninis ($5.99 for small, $8.29 for large), which combine artisan breads with fresh ingredients and bake to melty perfection on hot table grills. Treat taste buds to dairy triumvirates with a three-cheese chicken panini, which smothers roasted chicken and salami with provolone, shaved parmesan, and blue cheese. Diners can customize their own paninis or revel in the preconceived meatiness of the swiss-steak mushroom melt. Until 10:30 a.m., Hot Table features breakfast paninis ($3.99)— such as the Vermont, a hodgepodge of sausage, cheddar cheese, and maple syrup—which go smashingly with dark roast coffee ($1.75), chai tea lattes ($2.95), or perfectly timed rimshots. Fans of fork usage can leaf through a Southwest salad ($6.99), loaded with jalapeños, crispy onions, and chipotle dressing.
Executive chef Michael Presnal oversees The Federal’s kitchen, which turns out a constantly shifting menu of elegant American dishes inspired by seasonal local ingredients. Give hunger a stylish sendoff with a starter of grilled asparagus partnered with a fried organic egg, prosciutto, parmesan, and truffle oil ($8.95). Like beach balls, The Federal’s risotto balls—served by the bucket with black truffled butter ($10.95)—are perfect for sharing with a crowd, but unlike billiard balls, they’re not meant for lobbing at noisy woodpeckers. Cornmeal-dusted soft-shell crabs ($25.95) are among the enticing entree options for the surfily inclined, whereas turfatarians can satisfy their protein passions with Portuguese-style pork and clams, which pairs charred pork ribs with chorizo-clam ragout ($26.95). A pared-down lunch menu on Fridays keeps reverse-werewolves from having to start the weekend by noshing on their neighbors.
The chefs at McCaffrey’s Public House craft a menu of crispy fried appetizers and succulent burgers to support a rotating cast of traditional Irish entrees. Fingers can hula-hoop with a golden order of battered, hand-cut onion rings ($5.95) before biting into a bleu burger dressed in a warm wardrobe of caramelized onions and creamy blue cheese ($7.95). The grilled-chicken autumn salad rakes together freshly-fallen mixed greens, colored with fall hues of brown candied walnut and crisp apples, all coated in a mist of homemade sherry vinaigrette ($6.95 for a small; $8.95 for a large). Entree specials rotate daily, but have included such Irish classics as steaming corned beef and cabbage, delicately fried fish and chips, and four-leaf clover salads sprinkled with Lucky Charms–shaped croutons.
McKinney and Burbach Tavern serves up a menu of hearty pub fare. Start off with an appetizer such as dragon (chicken) wings, served plain, buffalo style, or slathered in barbecue sauce, with spice-stifling celery and blue cheese ($8); or choose skewers with your choice of pork or chicken, or a combination of each, served grilled on a shrunken hunting spear ($9). For dinner, choose a traditional pub entree such as the great all-american burger with lettuce, tomato, and onion lounging on a mattress of ground beef served on a roll with a side of fries or M&B slaw ($7), or a more exotic favorite such as the chicken caesar a parmesan cheese-ordained courtship of grilled chicken and romaine lettuce nobly drizzled in caesar dressing and served on a roll or in edible wrapping paper ($8). To appease the hoggishly persnickety circumvallate papillae taste buddies, McKinney and Burbach will be expanding their pub menu after the New Year.