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Massachusetts Dining 2009

Massachusetts Dining 2009
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by in May 2009

DINING

Best Post-Theater Dining:
MEZZE BISTRO + BAR, Williamstown
This urbane restaurant’s refined wood-beamed and white-linen interior is the go-to spot for Williamstown Theatre Festival patrons and other loyal fans of dramatically good bistro fare. Deceptively simple yet full-flavored local lamb and beef draw rave reviews, and come apple season, it’d be downright criminal to miss the textbook rendition of tarte tatin. Entrées: from $11. 16 Water St. 413-458-0123; mezzerestaurant.com

Best Pancakes:
ELMER’S STORE, Ashfield
When the maple sap starts flowing in spring, savvy eaters across Western Massachusetts flock to Gray’s, Ashfield’s renowned sugar shack, for the best pancakes around. Now those large yet incredibly light pancakes are available all year long, always with 100 percent real maple syrup, at this 19th-century grocery-cum-cafe that doubles as the town social center. Breakfast entrées: from $2.99. 396 Main St. 413-628-4003; elmersstore.com

Best Restaurant for Locavores:
TABELLA, Amherst
Featuring local products is a well-established trend among better restaurants, but few are as passionate about sustaining regional organic food production as this attractive little college-town eatery. The creative menu is devoted entirely to tapas-style small plates (from $3), each savory gem proving how deliciously you can dine on New England’s pasture-raised meats, free-range poultry, farmstead cheeses, and fresh produce. 28 Amity St. 413-253-0220; tabellarestaurant.com

Best Cheese Selection:
RUBINER’S CHEESEMONGERS, Great Barrington
Aficionados of fine artisanal cheeses will swoon at the cornucopia of sinfully rich ripened dairy available at this shop. Well over 100 farmstead cow’s-, sheep’s-, and goat’s-milk cheeses, primarily from small high-quality European and domestic producers, tempt lactose lovers. And if you need some assistance in making some choices, owner Matthew Rubiner and his friendly staff offer expert guidance. 264 Main St.; 413-528-0488, 413-528-0749

Best Rustic Sandwiches:
FIVE LOAVES BAKERY, Spencer
The modest menu belies the heartiness of this little bakery/cafe’s daily sandwich selections, featuring rustic whole-grain, naturally leavened artisanal breads made on the premises. The shop’s five-grain and country loaves are particularly good with the ham-and-gruyere combination, and if the seasonal apple sourdough is available, it adds a whole new dimension to the standard BLT. 13 Mechanic St. 508-885-3760; fiveloavesbakery.com

Best Fried Shellfish:
THE CLAM BOX OF IPSWICH, Ipswich
Whimsically shaped like its namesake container, this local institution has been serving deep-fried seafood since 1935. Cornflour batter yields a superior crust, and a gentle hand with seasonings lets the clams’ natural sweetness sing out. In short, you won’t find a crispier or more honest-tasting fried clam, so don’t be put off by the long lines. Call for seasonal hours. Entrées: from $5.75. 246 High St. (Route 133). 978-356-9707; ipswichma.com/clambox

Best Suburban Seafood:
CATCH RESTAURANT, Winchester
Dining at this attractive storefront bistro is a reminder of why life too far from the ocean simply isn’t worth considering. Savory broths, reductions, and spice rubs let the seafood stand out, surrounded by an ensemble of complementary tastes, such as salmon with poached figs, St. Peter’s fish and lemon risotto, or caramelized scallops with braised short-rib stuffed ravioli. Entrées: from $18. 34 Church St. 781-729-1040; catchrestaurant.com

Best Pork Chop:
FAVA, Needham
Like a geode full of hidden crystals, the rough stone of Needham’s former rail depot contains a lovely gem of a restaurant whose menu is rich in roasted, braised, and grilled meats and fish. For the juiciest and most succulent pork imaginable, don’t miss the maple-and-molasses-brined chop, deservedly a signature dish for more than a decade. Entrées: from $21. 1027 Great Plain Ave. 781-455-8668; favarestaurant.com

Best Waterfront Dining With a Sunset View:
THE BACK EDDY, Westport
The coast of Buzzards Bay has a number of places where you can see drop-dead gorgeous sunsets, but none boasts the drop-dead delicious fare served at this consistently excellent restaurant overlooking Westport Harbor. The kitchen excels at attention-grabbing dishes such as chourico-stuffed quahogs, sushi-grade tuna with house-made kimchee, and spaghetti served with spicy arrabiata sauce, liberally laced with homemade garlic-and-fennel sausage. Call for seasonal hours. Entrées: from $17.50. 1 Bridge Road. 508-636-6500; thebackeddy.com

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