Fenno: Looking for lost sunglasses


Lost: Sunglasses-Gold, rimless Cartier sunglasses last seen outside of Hauser on Wed., Sept. 11. There is a $50 reward, as the glasses are very expensive. Please contact mshah or call 493-9740 if found.


To: mshah@law.harvard.edu

From: fenno@law.harvard.edu

Subject: Lost Cartier Sunglasses

Cc: record@law.harvard.edu

Bcc: womeneverywhere@yahoo.com

Dear Mike,

Fenno here. I don’t have your sunglasses, but I wanted to offer my condolences on your loss. It really has been awfully bright lately. And God forbid your public should recognize you. But it’s probably not as bad as all that. Just check the glove compartment of the Jag – I’m sure they packed a cheap pair of Armanis in there just in case. They’re probably hiding under your Gucci driving gloves.

I wish I did have them though: I could sure use that $50 reward; I’m soooo hungry. Oh, I have a note here you might be interested in. It says, “Shah – Go to the newspaper stand outside Montrose on Friday at 1:18 p.m. Put the money in unmarked singles under Section A of the third copy of USA Today in the newspaper vending box. Come alone. Go into Starbucks and order a grande nonfat decaf mochaccino and a biscotti. Return to the newspaper box at 1:37. If you’ve done everything right, the panhandler with the glasses will come out of Marathon Sports and hand you a jogbra. Wrap it tightly over your eyes, be sure that no light gets through, and cross Mass. Ave. back to North Hall.”

Hope this helps,



Cool breeze, tight squeeze, now you’ve got the chills. Fenno smiled in satisfaction at the good deed she’d performed. We all have to come together to face down these Cartier kidnappers, she thought. Poor Mike. It would probably help him to know that others had also suffered terrible losses of late. She pulled out her List of People in Pain (LOPP) and started cataloging. This would be sure to console him.

Loss Number One: Anne-Marie. She was brilliant. She had convictions. She really wanted to tell us about them, in a very forceful way that somehow made us feel like we’d each committed some kind of unforgivable cultural faux pas, like waving bare-handed at Greek shepherds or using a spoon to eat miso soup. And now she’s gone. Fenno pondered for a moment how fitting it was that Professor Slaughter, that champion of internationalism, of world justice, of putting issues of global importance back in the driver’s seat, was now dean of a school named for a man who was so very successful in attempting precisely the same thing.

Loss Number Two: The Yin and Yang that was Gannett House. Whichever one of those is cooler has left for Baker House. Fenno thinks that would be the yang. The Law Review has lost its yang. Many of us have long suspected that lack of yang was how they got there in the first place. And now Fenno wonders if the Law Review kids will even notice that their yang is gone, and gone for good. Will Huang and Moritz be able to fill the gap left by the departing yang? Just another question Fenno feels duty-bound to answer before this year is through. (“Hello? Yes, I realize I ended that sentence with a preposition. But it’s grammatical. . . . What? . . . Because it’s how people talk. And it’s sort of a verb there anyway, or maybe an adverb. . . . No, I didn’t look it up in the Bluebook. Jesus, Garrett, leave me alone. . . . And stop swearing at me in Latin. It’s creepy.”)

Loss Number Three: Harvard Law School’s Remaining Sense of Pop Culture, Decency, and/or Irony. While Martha Field may be happy to head up the Committee on Healthy Diversity, Fenno is pretty sure the rest of the HLS community is a little weirded out. Diversity is great. We all agree. (No we don’t.) Isn’t that great? Anyway, the name alone suggests that somewhere (maybe at Yale) there is a Committee on Unhealthy Diversity, a Committee on Diseased Diversity, or a Committee on Diversity a Little Under the Weather. Maybe that would be a school full of all the various permutations of Lesbian half-Native American, half-Irish Jewish descendants of Virgin Islands sharecroppers. Or maybe it would just be the current student body with the flu. At the very least, the administration should admit to itself that anyone who can keep a straight face while giving something the name “Committee on Healthy Diversity” has obviously been watching way too much Oprah.

Loss Number Four: Shawn McDonald. My, my, my. It has to be hard on Ariane Decker and Tara Church to do without Shawn. Those velvet ropes just don’t feel as soft when you have to wait beside them for half an hour to get into those sweaty nightclubs by yourself. And, lo and behold, ten dollar appletinis at Vox actually cost ten dollars each! But if those two have lost a “friend,” at least they’ve regained their “dignity.” And look at it this way, ladies: There’s sure to be another self-worshipping, lizard-resembling, cousin/nephew of a mega-diva in the Harvard University student body. Last year, Fenno met two or three of them every time she went to Red Line on a Saturday night.

HLS responds to racial incidents


Five months after a race controversy exploded on the Law School campus, the administration debuted its formal response. In a Sept. 6 letter to the law school community, Deans Robert Clark, Suzanne Richardson and Todd Rakoff outlined several initiatives designed to improve racial tolerance and ease the tension that erupted last spring.

In what may be regarded as an attempt to set a new tone for the academic year, Clark outlined his four initiatives designed to improve the law school’s ability to communicate about race, religion and gender. The first initiative is the formation of a Dean’s Committee on Healthy Diversity, which is made up of six faculty members, including Prof. Alan Dershowitz and Dean Todd Rakoff, three other administrators and five students.

Professor Martha Field, who chairs the committee, said their goal would be to “figure out what the real problems are and how we can help resolve them.” One area she highlighted was a lack of communication between faculty and students. “Faculty can inadvertently do things that offend students,” she said, adding that she hopes the committee can find a way to resolve such problems.

Field also emphasized that the committee will not just be looking at race. “The same thing can happen with religion and sexual orientation,” she said. “Women do not necessarily feel comfortable at Harvard Law.”

When asked about the possibility of constructing a new Law School racial harassment policy, Field said that the committee will be examining the issue, but that it was more difficult than simply writing a policy. “There are questions of legality, partly because the Supreme Court has been confusing on this,” she said. “The two problems in adopting such a policy are getting faculty agreement on any formulation and sidestepping all the legal questions that are not yet settled.”

The committee will have its first meeting on Monday, and Field said that students with questions are welcome to e-mail her.

The other initiatives in the Dean’s letter include a “difficult conversations” workshop, a teaching workshop and several presentations to the Law School community on race, religion and gender. In an interview with The RECORD, Rakoff said these programs are a way “to think about the things that happened last year and to address

Robert Reich speaks at Harvard


Shortly before losing last night’s Massachusetts gubernatorial primary to State Treasurer Shannon P. O’Brien, former labor secretary Robert Reich wrapped up his campaign for the Democratic nomination with a speech to an eager crowd of over 100 Harvard students in the University’s Science Center. Reich marked the address with a strong emphasis on what he saw as three crises in Massachusetts. He began with an issue familiar to most candidates seeking political office this year: fiscal responsibility.

“The state,” Reich said, “has chosen to balance the budget on those with the least political power.” He argued that with taxes high and quality of government low, there is an opportunity for real reform in the system.

Reich also highlighted the cynicism of the electorate toward government, which he saw as the biggest enemy for reforming the system, underscoring the challenge he would have as governor in keeping the public motivated and engaged in the political realm.

The final crises Reich accentuated were the social injustices that he sees as contributing to the ever-widening chasm between rich and poor. Reich argued that in more and more families, both spouses are working full time but are still below the poverty line. He urged the assembled crowd “to spend at least part of your life . . . in battle for social justice.”

At one point in his speech, Reich imparted how he was influenced to run for governor after visiting a University religion class at the end of last year. As he walked out of the class into Harvard Yard thinking about September 11th and the life of the mind, Reich said he decided then and there to run for governor of Massachusetts.

Reich concluded his comments with a look to the election. “The public is yearning . . . for somebody who is telling it like it is, has ideas . . . and is taking some stands that may not be popular,” such as gay marriage and raising the capital gains tax, he said. “I cannot guarantee we will win on Tuesday, but I can say I feel a great wind at my back.”

Initial reactions from several students after the speech were positive. “I was particularly impressed by his desire to champion the cause of grass-roots organizations and to bring a sense of responsibility to individual communities and their ideals,” 1L Danielle Osler said.

Mike McCarthy, an undergraduate at Harvard, admitted that going into the speech he unsure about Reich as a candidate. But, he said, “the more I hear him speak, the more I am inclined to vote for him.”

Sonia Kastner, president of Harvard College Democrats, said she was pleased with Reich’s comments on budget changes and on what constitutes a leader. “I was extremely impressed with him.”

After his defeat, a message on Reich’s web site sounded a conciliatory note. “Every one of you should be proud of what we accomplished,” it said. “We didn’t attack, didn’t resort to negatives, always kept our eyes on the ideas and vision we shared for the future, stayed honest, brought thousands of people into politics who’d never been involved before or who hadn’t been involved in many years, and raised issues that needed to be raised.”

RECORD editorial: JAG issue demands action


Though quite rare for Harvard Law School, public opinion on the JAG issue seems near-unanimous. Most students are against “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and would prefer that HLS be able to enforce its non-discrimination policy in full — meaning that JAG could not be part of the on-campus interviewing process. Indeed, most are outraged that the Bush administration chose, via a reinterpretation of the Solomon Amendment, to muscle the University into allowing JAG on campus.

Perhaps most surprising, though, is the degree to which students have accepted Dean Robert Clark’s justification for allowing JAG back without a legal battle.

Clark rightfully described the issue as one of money — to say anything else would insult the community’s intelligence.

And the issue concerned quite a lot of money. By threatening to withold $328 million in University funds, the Bush administration offered HLS and the University a choice — to either allow JAG on campus, or face, almost literally, its extinction. Government grants not only comprise 16 percent of the University’s total budget, but make up a vastly higher portion of the budget of certain schools, such as the Medical School, which receives a majority of its funds from government grants. Losing this money, as far as the University’s future was concerned, was simply not an option.

The choices for HLS were limited. The Law School could thumb its nose at the government’s threat and continue to keep JAG out of OCI. It could try to fight the government in the courts. Or, the Law School could concede, as it did, and try to attack the issue in other ways.

Apparently, Lambda and the general population have accepted the logic of pursuing the third option. Fighting the issue in court was unrealistic — Clark and the the University’s lawyers were convinced that HLS could lose. Similarly, a game of “chicken,” in which the Law School would dare the government to withold funds, would be equally ineffective, as well as totally irresponsible.

Word on the inside has it that Clark has taken this issue very personally. This decision was made over a long period of time, and included meetings at the highest levels of the University and the U.S. government, including a Washington, D.C. rendezvous with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. HLS did what it could, and, it appears, it lost.

Yet there still appears to be a lack of outrage on behalf of students. While allowing JAG on campus is largely symbolic — the HLS Veterans’ Association was already bringing military recruiters to campus — most students seem unconcerned with the government’s strong-arm tactics. They are right not to be outraged at the administration, but, regardless of where one stands on the JAG issue, there ought to be a sense of outrage.

As for what comes next, it appears that student protesters will likely fill all of JAG’s OCI slots, rendering their participation meaningless. It is an unfortunate situation for the JAG recruiters themselves, who, like the rest of the military, have absolutely no control over the congressionally dictated “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Hopefully protesting students will express their anger and disapproval for the policy appropriately, remembering to direct their anger at those with the power to do something about it.

HLS also should take steps to protect the rights of those students who are genuinely interested in JAG. Those students have every right to serve their country, and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity as well. If all JAG OCI slots are taken, the Law School should take steps to make alternate interviewing arrangements for students who are caught in the ideological crossfire.

Letter: Gun club aims at politics, not just targets


In the Sept. 12 issue of The RECORD, Sasha Volokh responded to an op-ed that I wrote last spring. My piece discussed how I have no problem with gun clubs that simply take their members target-shooting. The HLS Target Shooting Club, however, declares in its constitution that it aims to help students “intelligently contribute to the public policy and constitutional debate on firearms.” I believe that Sasha’s club has made unhelpful contributions to this debate, and that it can do better.

The club’s main contribution so far has been Sasha’s public encouraging of conservatives to thumb their nose at liberals by supporting gun usage. For example, Sasha told the Harvard Law Bulletin that he started the club to see if he “could get some people steamed up” in Harvard’s “quite liberal” environment. In The Economist, he discussed his view that “enthusiasm for guns is a form of counter-cultural rebellion, rather like smoking cigars.” In the Harvard Crimson, Sasha stated that he “was hoping for some outrage” when he founded the club.

I believe that Sasha’s club can make a far more valuable contribution to the gun debate by de-emphasizing the political and cultural divisions that surround guns and instead encouraging substantive discussions on gun policy. The club began this process by holding a debate last spring, and I hope that process continues. Though Sasha and I have divergent views on the benefits and risks of guns, I think we agree that the gun debate will benefit from a less confrontational and more substantive level of discussion.

However, I must decline Sasha’s invitation to go shooting with his organization. If the club were merely a target-shooting club, I might be interested. But the club is also an advocacy organization that has adopted numerous public stances with which I disagree. Furthermore, nearly every news article on the club provides a tally of its “membership.” I do not want to be counted as a member of an organization whose leader publicly promotes gun use as a way to “get some people steamed up.” I would rather join Sasha in sponsoring intelligent debates than in shooting off.

— Daniel Swanson, 3L

Artificial selection: LSAT bias affects us all


It’s easy for students here to believe they are the product of a Darwinian selection process that culminates in their anointment as the best and brightest, as future leaders of America. The Law School reifies its choices by praising its incoming 1Ls, who “deserve” to be here. In analyzing this claim, we would like to unpack the most critical (and, in some cases, sole) admissions criterion: the LSAT.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that the LSAT is a biased exam that disadvantages women and minorities, yet law schools continue to rely on the LSAT score to differentiate between applicants. While some may argue that affirmative action balances the LSAT bias, this is contradicted by the facts. As researcher William C. Kidder has noted, “Even when diversity is a factor in admission decisions, the negative impact of the LSAT is so severe that among applicants with approximately the same GPAs, whites consistently have the greatest chance of being accepted into ABA law schools.”

Further, the differences in LSAT scores along racial and gender lines cannot be explained as matters of qualitative “deficiency” because, according to at least one study, racial and ethnic gaps on the LSAT are found to be larger than differences in undergraduate grades, law school grades or measures of subsequent success in the legal profession.

If qualitative differences do not account for differentiation in LSAT scores along race and gender lines, then, how can we explain that differentiation? It’s actually quite simple: Every question on the exam is pre-tested to ensure that minorities and women do not have a statistical advantage. Doubtful? In his expert report submitted on behalf of intervening defendants in Grutter v. Bollinger, Jay Rosner, Executive Director of the Princeton Review Foundation explained:

“The actual task that Law Services performs, year-in and year-out, is accumulating a test full of individually chosen LSAT questions with foreseeable cumulative effects, which are that, on average: whites will score higher than blacks, men will score higher than women, and wealthy students will score higher than poor students. This occurs not by chance; on the contrary, it arises from the fact that virtually all of the individual questions chosen to appear on the LSAT have, in pre-testing, favored whites and men and the wealthy.”

Rosner explains that, in addition to question selection, another reason for LSAT score bias is the expensive preparatory classes that generally advantage wealthy and non-minority students. By training students to take the LSAT, these classes provide essential test-taking strategies to those students who can afford it. Rosner concludes that “all (or nearly all) of the individual pre-tested questions selected for use on the LSAT favor whites over African Americans. Disparate results occur not by happenstance, but by design.” Law school administrators have been aware of the LSAT’s discriminatory effects for years, but they continue to report the high scores of their students in an effort to maintain their ranks. This discriminatory exam injects its poison into the law school admissions procedure, perverting the outcome so that the “merit” it creates embodies preexisting privilege rather than a more substantively accurate assessment of the ability to excel in law school.

Unfortunately, there are significant social consequences to the use of these purposefully discriminatory test results as the primary criterion in law school admissions. “Research shows a negative correlation between social activism and performance on the LSAT for the national pool of test takers,” Kidder has explained.

Students with high LSAT scores, who are more likely to be accepted at elite schools, are less likely to use their influence, knowledge and connections to contribute to social causes. Take a moment, then, to consider HLS. The effect of “elite” admissions criteria is the explicit selection against diversity and social activism, which means that members of certain groups are effectively prevented from using legal power to benefit their communities. It is our solemn responsibility, as beneficiaries of this regressive diagnostic tool, to consider its effects upon our discourse and refuse to submit to the reflexive self-worship and praise of alma mater.

Summer lunches, Baghdad style


A wild-eyed Donald Rumsfeld skipped out early from his daily press briefing to lead a squadron of B-1 bombers into Cambridge. The pilots prepped to drop a laser-guided smart-bomb through the Harvard University bank account. Dean Clark and President Summers engaged in what Clark’s community memo described as “intense discussion and careful deliberation,” with the latter hoping to prevent $328 million in federal research grants from following West and Appiah over to Princeton.

Since adopting a policy that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, Harvard Law School has banned the military from recruiting through on-campus interviewing. (I will assume that being denied access to Mark Weber’s sunny platitudes is a punishment, not a reward, but I reserve the right to reconsider this question.) A federal statute enacted in 1996, known as the Solomon Amendment, denies certain federal funds to any educational institution that “prohibits or in effect prevents” military recruiting. In 1998, after being pressed by the Air Force, Dean Clark convinced the military it would be able to recruit effectively through the Harvard Law School Veterans Association. Yet in December 2001, the Air Force, now under Republican management, raised the issue again. In May 2002, the Air Force notified Clark that it no longer viewed HLS’s policy as compliant with federal law and its implementing regulations, and threatened to recommend to the Office of the Secretary of Defense that Harvard University’s DOD funding — $328 million— be denied. This time, Dean Clark backed down. OCS is now being painted camouflage.

Protesters have spared HLS leadership of any blame. Lambda’s Lindsay Harrison told the New York Times that “Dean Clark had no choice but to cave.” Stanford Law professor George Fisher wrote in last Saturday’s Times that “the military is forcing [schools] to bend their principles.” And the Boston Phoenix declared that HLS “had no choice but to acquiesce.” The military flexed its muscles, say commentators, and the Dean had no but choice to retreat into a foxhole.

Granted, HLS would have been better situated to take on the military back when we still had a faculty member named Slaughter. But maybe we did not need to wave the white flag so quickly.

For starters, did anyone consider taking this to court? The Air Force changed its interpretation of the Solomon Amendment, and the Law School had a plausible argument that they were wrong. Sure, the Dean is more the transactional, Ropes & Gray type, but surely he could have persuaded Larry Tribe to teach the Pentagon a thing or two about trench warfare. And how about the odds of success, given a Supreme Court comprised of five HLS alumni? Maybe such an effort — one just a bit more strenuous than the Dean’s heartfelt “Memorandum to the Harvard Law School Community” — would have sent a message that the HLS leadership truly did “recognize the pain that some members of the community… will endure because of the change in practice.” And maybe, even if ultimately unsuccessful, such an effort would have started a more serious national debate about how much the nation is willing to pay in order to promulgate the continued regulation of sexual orientation by the military.

Even if it lost in court, why couldn’t HLS call the DOD’s bluff? Yes, it’s a post 9/11 world, and in the eyes of the public, the military can do no wrong. But then again, this really has nothing to do with the war on terror. HLS students aren’t being recruited to defend the nation against Osama Bin Laden; they are being recruited to defend pot smokers against court martials. We’re not talking Tom Cruise in Top Gun; we’re talking Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men.

Something tells me that as the Republicans gear up for campaign 2002, they may not want to be talking about why they are jeopardizing what Clark rightly called “students’ educations, faculty’s careers, significant medical and scientific research, and perhaps even cures to life-threatening diseases,” so that Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson can get more beauty rest. Refusing to retreat just may have been a reasonable alternative after all.

No matter. Dick and Don will take the blame. HLS students will once again consider (and reject) joining JAG en route to Cravath. Dean Clark had no choice but to acquiesce to this result with the least amount of resistance possible. Would-be critics had no choice but to proliferate the gun-to-the-head motif.

Vino & Veritas:Serving OWGGs


If you consider yourself an Accomplished Wine Person (AWP), you should probably stop reading now. This column is not for you. Don’t feel slighted — for two years you had Justin Dillon, who rivaled most professional enologists. (“Enology” or “oenology,” both pronounced een-ology, is the SAT vocab word for the science of wine and winemaking, from the Greek for “wine,” oinos.) Josh Solomon, the current wine columnist with whom Mike and I alternate weeks, is a closet sommelier posing as a law student (yes, he actually is a law student). Suffice it to say that you AWPs have gotten your due.

Thus, we’re writing a column for Ordinary Wine Guys and Gals (OWGGs). If you enjoy trying to discern currant from cloves from kerosene but words like “Pouilly-Fuisse” perplex you, greetings: You are an OWGG. Together we OWGGs will explore practical, affordable wine enjoyment and education, and when it’s all over the AWPs will have nothing on us.

We review two California cabernets this week, both available at the Harvard Provision Company, that are disappointments. Well, both were drinkable, much like water: No matter how much you drink, it just isn’t very interesting. The least objectionable was a 1998 Robert Mondavi. Sweet on the nose (“a little sweet, even for a woman,” noted our duly designated female), with plenty of berries and dark cherry. Deep purple in color with a slight brick overtone, medium-thick legs. Less sweet and light on the palette, and mildly astringent. With this Mondavi loser, you’ll not spend all night plumbing its intricacies. In fact, if some well-meaning person should give you a bottle, the plumbing is the most appropriate place for its contents.

The other Cali cab was a 1999 Murphy-Goode. Even more like water than the Mondavi, it was tart and acidic on the nose. The acid followed onto the palette, accompanied by hints of strawberries left in the fridge too long. If given a bottle, hit the donor on the head with it (not too hard — don’t hurt the bottle) and return it for a refund.

Knowing good cabernet sauvignon is knowing how great wine can be. We have always been partial to these reds because they contain a complexity and pretension that many reds and most whites lack. Understandably, the cab grape is the basis for some of the finest wines from California’s Napa Valley, the Bordeaux region of France and southern Australia. Cab also blends well with other grapes such as merlot (the classic Bordeaux blend), cabernet franc (known as “meritage”), and shiraz (known as “Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz”).

But like the hot girl you ogle in class that either has a boyfriend or personality issues, or not uncommonly, both, the catch is simple – cabs are expensive relative to many other varietals. Wine producing is apparently not a pro bono endeavour: wineries charge more for wines labeled as “Cabernet Sauvignon” because they can. (Incidentally, a bottle need only be comprised of 75% of that varietal to be labeled as such.) My experience has been to seek cabs in the $20-$30 sweet spot. Sure, paying more does not necessarily entail a better bottle. The $10 bin will have the occasional Anna Kournikova, but the $40 bin will also have the occasional Anna Kournikova. But there is enough consistent quality in the $20-30 range to make it useful guidance for affordable, well-made cabs.

1998 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon ($38). Widely regarded as the Yale Law of California winemaking, Mondavi disappoints today. The wine exhibits a strong nose of berries and hints of mild spice. The structure is decent with balance among alcohol, acid and its slightly tannic finish. However, the wine lacks the cornucopia of subtle flavors that distinguish exceptional wines. From first taste to finish, the Mondavi is annoyingly sweet, despite the Sweet Tarts I had before guzzling.

1999 Murphy-Goode Cabernet Sauvignon ($23). If Mondavi is the Yale Law of California winemaking, Murphy-Goode is the NYU of California reds. Typically known for its fumé blanc and other whites, Murphy-Goode is a relative newcomer to reds. Unsurprising for a young wine, this cab is very acidic and tart, unbalanced, and probably should be aged or decanted before consumption.

Vino & Veritas: Serving OWGGs


If you consider yourself an Accomplished Wine Person (AWP), you should probably stop reading now. This column is not for you. Don’t feel slighted — for two years you had Justin Dillon, who rivaled most professional enologists. (“Enology” or “oenology,” both pronounced een-ology, is the SAT vocab word for the science of wine and winemaking, from the Greek for “wine,” oinos.) Josh Solomon, the current wine columnist with whom Mike and I alternate weeks, is a closet sommelier posing as a law student (yes, he actually is a law student). Suffice it to say that you AWPs have gotten your due.

Thus, we’re writing a column for Ordinary Wine Guys and Gals (OWGGs). If you enjoy trying to discern currant from cloves from kerosene but words like “Pouilly-Fuisse” perplex you, greetings: You are an OWGG. Together we OWGGs will explore practical, affordable wine enjoyment and education, and when it’s all over the AWPs will have nothing on us.

We review two California cabernets this week, both available at the Harvard Provision Company, that are disappointments. Well, both were drinkable, much like water: No matter how much you drink, it just isn’t very interesting. The least objectionable was a 1998 Robert Mondavi. Sweet on the nose (“a little sweet, even for a woman,” noted our duly designated female), with plenty of berries and dark cherry. Deep purple in color with a slight brick overtone, medium-thick legs. Less sweet and light on the palette, and mildly astringent. With this Mondavi loser, you’ll not spend all night plumbing its intricacies. In fact, if some well-meaning person should give you a bottle, the plumbing is the most appropriate place for its contents.

The other Cali cab was a 1999 Murphy-Goode. Even more like water than the Mondavi, it was tart and acidic on the nose. The acid followed onto the palette, accompanied by hints of strawberries left in the fridge too long. If given a bottle, hit the donor on the head with it (not too hard — don’t hurt the bottle) and return it for a refund.

Knowing good cabernet sauvignon is knowing how great wine can be. We have always been partial to these reds because they contain a complexity and pretension that many reds and most whites lack. Understandably, the cab grape is the basis for some of the finest wines from California’s Napa Valley, the Bordeaux region of France and southern Australia. Cab also blends well with other grapes such as merlot (the classic Bordeaux blend), cabernet franc (known as “meritage”), and shiraz (known as “Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz”).

But like the hot girl you ogle in class that either has a boyfriend or personality issues, or not uncommonly, both, the catch is simple – cabs are expensive relative to many other varietals. Wine producing is apparently not a pro bono endeavour: wineries charge more for wines labeled as “Cabernet Sauvignon” because they can. (Incidentally, a bottle need only be comprised of 75% of that varietal to be labeled as such.) My experience has been to seek cabs in the $20-$30 sweet spot. Sure, paying more does not necessarily entail a better bottle. The $10 bin will have the occasional Anna Kournikova, but the $40 bin will also have the occasional Anna Kournikova. But there is enough consistent quality in the $20-30 range to make it useful guidance for affordable, well-made cabs.

1998 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon ($38). Widely regarded as the Yale Law of California winemaking, Mondavi disappoints today. The wine exhibits a strong nose of berries and hints of mild spice. The structure is decent with balance among alcohol, acid and its slightly tannic finish. However, the wine lacks the cornucopia of subtle flavors that distinguish exceptional wines. From first taste to finish, the Mondavi is annoyingly sweet, despite the Sweet Tarts I had before guzzling.

1999 Murphy-Goode Cabernet Sauvignon ($23). If Mondavi is the Yale Law of California winemaking, Murphy-Goode is the NYU of California reds. Typically known for its fumé blanc and other whites, Murphy-Goode is a relative newcomer to reds. Unsurprising for a young wine, this cab is very acidic and tart, unbalanced, and probably should be aged or decanted before consumption.

Eleven Essentials: The bars you need to know.


River Gods
125 River Street, Central Square (617) 576-1881
Intimate and trendy, River Gods may be destroyed by it own success. But until the masses swamp this small Central Square Bar, its phenomenal hamburgers, generous cocktails, live DJs and fake torches make it one of the best bars in Cambridge.

Charlie’s Kitchen
10 Eliot Street, Harvard Square (617) 492-9646
To some, Charlie’s Kitchen is just the other bar on the Square with a late license. But the diner-like Charlie’s is in fact much more. With a huge selection of draft beers, a fine jukebox, live lobster and dirt-cheap food, this might be Harvard’s best dive.

1357 Cambridge Street,Inman Square (617) 497-0965
A dark Irish bar with 14 beers on tap and great music, the Druid is not exactly a traditional Irish pub but it isn’t far off. With wooden benches, a smoky atmosphere and a picture of Che Guevara, is the place to go when you’re trying to hide from the outside world outside.

Sunset Grille and Tap
130 Brighton Avenue, Allston (617)254-1331
Few bars are worth venturing over the Charles for, but the Sunset, with 110 beers on tap, is one. The atmosphere may be lacking and the food might just be okay, but with all that beer on tap – and more in bottles – it’s hard to care about anything else.

Cambridge Brewing Company
1 Kendall Square, Cambridge (617) 494-1994
Cambridge (and Harvard Square in particular) has its share of mediocre brewpubs. Fortunately, there is at least one that stands out. The CBC not only has an incredible Pale Ale, but their great suds can be ordered in an entertaining, if precarious, Beer Tower.

Tír Na NÓg
366A Somerville Ave., Union Square (617) 628-4300
Just about every bar in the Boston area claims to be Irish.  Somerville’s Tír Na Nóg, however, delivers.  A dark, but roomy pub, Nóg has a warm, Irish atmosphere that is complemented by good beer, a friendly clientele, and live music.

55 Chester St., Davis Square, (617)628-2200
Well-known for the best barbeque in the area, RedBones is actually underrated as a drinking destination. The beer selection tops any of its Davis Square neighbors, with everything from big-bottled Belgians to cheap, crisp Ballantine (perfect with spicy snacks from the late-night menu). Can’t decide which to imbibe? Let the upstairs barkeep spin the wheel of brews for you! Also a worthwhile stop for tequila drinkers, with excellent pint glass-sized margaritas.

West Side Lounge
1680 Mass. Ave., Porter Square, (617) 441-5566
This place will put a hole in your wallet, but it also offers, hands-down, the best cocktails in the area. If you know what an Aviation or a Hemingway Daiquiri is – or better, if you demand a bartender who can make one – then this is the place for you. Patrons with good manners have even been known to order by mood, with the masterful Misty concocting them a perfect libation for, say, Monday melancholy. Plus, it’s close to campus.

Phoenix Landing
512 Mass. Ave., Central Square (617) 576-6260
By day, it’s the best bar in Central Square, if not in Cambridge. A friendly (mostly) Irish staff delivers reasonably priced, tasty bar food and perfect pints of Old Speckled Hen. By night, a reasonable night-club – with renowned jungle, drum and bass, house and top-40 nights.

Newtowne Grille (Socrates)
1945 Mass. Ave., Porter Square, (617) 661-0706
Don’t be fooled by the tiny-print philosopher’s name on the sign. This Porter Square dive is distinctly anti-reflection. Head here after pizza next door (same name, different tablecloths) or any time when you want a beer and a shot around folks who wouldn’t think of drinking anything else.

Rhythm & Spice
315 Mass. Ave., Central / Kendall Squares (617) 497-0977
With a late license and a busy dance floor on weekends, you might compare this beyond-Central restaurant/club to the Kong. Except that there’s good music, brands of rum you’ve never heard of, and almost no chance of running into annoying classmates (unless of course, they’re reading this). One of the few Cambridge spots that justifies its cover charge ($7 on weekends).

Dance: Where to get your groove on


For some reason, when people start talking about clubbing, they get a bizarre urge to state the obvious. In honor of those people (and to save a few frustrating conversations, I’ll do it for you: Boston is not New York City. Shocked? Didn’t think so. This city is smaller, it has a very college-skewed population, and as such, its options, dance-wise, are different than some other metro areas. But that doesn’t make it all bad.

It’s also no secret that the dominant factor in a positive club experience is the music. So (and this is especially for all you techno-haters out there) here is a smattering of some of the better and lesser-known venues, broken down (predominantly) with music, mood and attitude in mind.


Finding a good hip-hop club in Boston isn’t quite as hard as, say, finding a liquor store open on Sunday, but it does take some looking. The most likely sources of hip-hop are the college clubs, which tend to heavily favor the less-innovative fare popular on MTV.

But if you want a hip-hop night somewhere other than Nellyville, you can always spend your Tuesdays and Thursdays at Aria, a swank Tremont Street lounge whose tiny dance floor packs quickly when its top-notch sound system starts booming. The $15 cover is a bit steep for Boston, but the plush layout, top quality DJ talent, and champagne-sipping, flossed-out fellow clubgoers make it worth the investment.

If you’re planning a trip to Vertigo, a small club a stone’s throw from Faneuil Hall, you might want to pack the black pants, but you can check your pretension at the door. The well-dressed, friendly crowd frequents this no-frills club for one thing and one thing only: dancing. If you plan to sit in the corner and sulk, slink away to the pub around the corner instead.

Karma lets in the 18-year-olds on Thursday nights, which can be a little frustrating. The good news is that the dance floor is big enough that you can avoid them, and the panoply of other clubs on the Lansdowne strip offer a lifeline for when the teenybopper set gets too ridiculous.

On Thursday and Friday nights, The Exchange is usually a safe bet. Not quite as hot right now as Aria and Vertigo, this club draws a crowd worth looking at with music good enough to keep you on the dance floor.

The Emily’s/SW1 complex tries to bridge the gap between a college club and a more upscale joint. Its DJs cater heavily to the masses, its crowds tend heavily toward starched-shirt former fratboys and the women who love them, and its dance floor isn’t the most roomy. Still, the cover is cheap (women often get in free), the drinks are strong, and novices won’t feel like their dance skills can’t compete.

College Clubs

For obvious reasons, various sorts of Irish bars fronting as nightclubs tend to be a predominant mode of entertainment for Boston’s college crowd, and that makes going to them fairly unavoidable. Allston’s The Kells has some things going for it — it’s big, its crowd is cute enough, and it’s a cheap cab ride away from HLS. Plus, with two floors, at least one usually has something pleasantly unoffensive playing,

The same is true of An Tua Nua, a slightly more upscale bar competing for the Kells’ business.

Less can be said of Faneuil Hall’s Coogan’s, a sticky, sweaty overcrowded mess on any weekend night, and Jose McIntyre’s, where the bored (or maybe ambitious) can dance, get roaring drunk and watch sports on giant screen TVs all on the same dance floor. The perfect place for dropping the H-bomb, and one of few where that pathetic tactic might work.

Over here in Cambridge, Phoenix Landing actually offers a little of both. This Central Square hangout draws heavily on the college set, and its interior is nothing to write home about. However, it’s known to draw some top-notch drum and bass DJs, and better yet, it’s only a long stumble or short cab ride back to Harvard Square.

And of course, if your only goal is getting sloshed and scheming on Harvard affiliates of one stripe or another, you can’t ignore the upstairs of the Hong Kong, where fairly consistent, if predictable, mainstream hip-hop can be heard throughout the weekend. Just don’t be surprised if you wake up the next morning next to someone you know.

To expand your horizons outside of HLS, but not too far from the gutter, there’s always the extremely festive Big Easy/Sugar Shack complex in the alley on Boylston street. Again, expect mainstream hip-hop and Top-40, oversized Bud Lights, and boozed-up college kids. It may not be glossy, but it nonetheless can be a good time if you’re in the mood for it.

Glitz, Glamour and Techno

If you’re a 1L with a pulse, HL Central or someone similar has probably already wooed you to Pravda, whose glossy look, impressive liquor selection and decked-out international crowd can’t compensate for generally abysmal house DJs.

Electronica fans would be better served by Avalon, Boston’s largest and probably best nightclub, where big-name stars like Paul Van Dyk and others are known to tear it up at the popular Avaland party. Roxy and Venu, two of the other biggest clubs in the area, also draw the beautiful people with regularity, with top-notch DJs to boot.

Cambridge itself has one of the area’s best clubs in Manray, an upscale club for people tired of the same old thing. Friday fetish nights are the most impressive — wear all black or something outrageous or expect not to get in the door — and Thursday’s gay-friendly Campus party is one of the area’s hottest college scenes.

Across the street from the Sugar Shack and Big Easy in the Boylston alley is La Boom, whose opulent interior (and equally pretty crowd) suffers from abysmally inconsistent music. The dance floor is large, and bars are easily accessible, but if you’re looking to dance, it doesn’t cut it.

Legal Aid moves out of Gannett House


The Legal Aid Bureau will no longer be sharing the cramped confines of Gannett House with the Law Review.

On August 16, the Bureau moved into new offices at Baker House, located between Pound and the Hark. It was a bittersweet move for the Bureau after 77 years of residence in Gannett House, the oldest surviving Harvard Law School building. Nonetheless, the Bureau badly needed the change.

Three-L Dan Gluck, current Chair of the Bureau, said that the main reason for the move was the need for more space. “Gannett House was our home for a long time and we loved it there, but considering that we have clients coming in all the time, we needed a space that was a little more professional, that looked more like a law office, and where we could talk with our clients in confidence,” he said.

Baker House, the former home of the Alumni Office, provides the Bureau with 40 percent more space than their old offices. Gluck said that Gannett House had only five doors that would close, and required the Bureau to share two offices with the Review. The Baker House location provides 12 offices, nearly doubling the Bureau’s capacity for meetings and private discussions with clients. The layout and renovations, including new carpeting, give the offices a clean, bright and spacious look much lacking from the old location.

Although the Bureau now has the space to expand its staff of 47 students, 5 half-time clinical instructors and one full-time managing attorney, Gluck said no expansion is planned in the near future. Any expansion that did take place would begin with the addition of supervising attorneys, who are already overworked, rather than with student staff.

Gluck said that although their new offices are “fabulous,” Bureau members will look fondly on their Gannett House experience. “It was a home away from home for Bureau members,” he said. “We enjoyed hanging out with the Law Review people — they were kind enough to share their bagels with us.”

Taking the Bureau’s place is the much-touted new Pro Bono office, headed up by former LIPP administrator Lisa Dealy. And for its part, the Law Review is likely to stay put.

Looking for Italian food?


Just as a study of Boston’s history would be incomplete without a visit to the narrow, winding streets of the North End, so too would an understanding of the city’s dining landscape. Mere steps from the sites of the Boston Massacre and Old North Church reside the best Italian restaurants in the city, and arguably the country. Whether you seek a dimly lit romantic table or the frenzied atmosphere of a crowded bar, the North End will happily oblige.

Many dining treks to the North End begin and end on Hanover or Salem Streets. These easily accessible parallel streets contain a dense cluster of excellent “default” dining options. However, the North End also includes many less familiar destinations, and the following overview of the neighborhood’s standout restaurants begins with several restaurants off these beaten paths.

Perched on a small hill with striking views of the Boston skyline, Mamma Maria draws its inspiration from the Italian countryside. Situated in a brick townhouse, the restaurant has several distinct areas, ranging from a one-table enclave to a large dining room. More upscale and formal than many of its North End counterparts, Mamma Maria’s menu offers treats across the food spectrum. Highlights include seared dayboat scallops with a Venetian vegetable ragu, homemade squid ink pasta, and possibly the best osso bucco (veal shank) in the city.

A few blocks from North Square, the Mendoza family opened Monica’s as a legacy to their Italian-Argentian heritage. While the menu often offers slightly different interpretations of North End classics, the results are generally excellent. The “free form” lasagna (ground meat and ricotta cheese envelope wide homemade pasta noodles) and mushroom ravioli are excellent, as are the seafood specials.

Sage on Prince Street is one of the North End’s gems. Diners jostle each other in the small, narrow dining room for some of Boston’s most creative Italian food. Chef Anthony Susi changes the menu weekly, and lately has been drawing on Asian influences. Consistently excellent offerings include the feathery, soft gnocchi that pairs particularly well with a sage and brown butter sauce. Susi’s foie gras, topped with a fried quail egg, is magnificent as are his risottos.

Piccolo Nido is another North End hole-in-the-wall, and its owner, Pino Irano is one of the neighborhood’s most gracious hosts in this small, romantic setting. The house specialty appetizer is calamari alla griglia, featuring tender pieces of grilled squid over mixed greens. The shrimp and asparagus risotto offers a mix of textures and flavors that serve as perfect complements to each other. The veal entrees, such as one topped with prosciutto and fontina, are also wonderful.

Chef Anthony Caturano named Prezza after his grandmother’s hometown in the Abruzzi region of Italy, but the menu’s creativity reveals as much about his experiences working for Todd English at Olives and Figs than his traditional Italian roots. Appetizers include baked stuffed oysters with radicchio, scallions, and mascarpone, and black mission figs wrapped in prosciutto and stuffed with gorgonzola. Entrees range from a roasted striped bass with steamed clams to a 40 oz. porterhouse steak.

Trattoria Il Panino has become a Boston restaurant mini-chain. However, the difference between the original Palmenter Street location and its replicas is dramatic. During peak times, the wait is approximately an hour — and worth it. The menu is simple, reasonably priced and extremely well-executed. Excellent appetizers to share include the antipasto, fresh mozzarella and tomato salad, or thinly sliced house smoked salmon. While very rich, both the lobster and mushroom raviolis are marvelous as are the traditional meat entrees, such as veal saltimbocca. The house wine is surprisingly drinkable for under $20.

Although the above restaurants prove that a bit of exploration down North End side streets can unearth memorable meals, it is important not to overlook the many wonderful dining destinations located on the familiar stretch of Hanover Street. For calamari lovers, The Daily Catch is worth seeking out. The five-table restaurant serves up no-frills seafood dishes (pasta arrives on the skillet it was cooked on), and the calamari — prepared in every way imaginable — may be the best in town. On a recent visit, the fried calamari was greaseless and crisp, and the al dente squid ink pasta with calamari rings was excellent. Though a bit bland, the texture and uniqueness of the calamari meatballs makes them worth trying. One caveat: If you do not like calamari, skip this restaurant — the other dishes are less interesting and somewhat overpriced.

The waits can be long at Pomodoro, a cozy 24-seat restaurant. Once seated, however, you will dine on some of the best Italian food in Boston. Whether the impeccable marinara sauce is ladled onto a fried calamari appetizer or a piece of cod, it is divine. Classic dishes, such as linguini with fresh littleneck clams, ripe tomatoes, capers, parsley and garlic, are also excellent.

Taranta draws its name from a most unusual source: the tarantism epidemic that swept Italy between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries causing people to have an uncontrollable urge to dance. Even if you’re not a dancing fool, you will like this restaurant. The menu has many unconventional offerings, such as spaghetti topped with sea urchin and free form lasagna with sea scallops, peas and mint. The dessert menu includes a goat cheese cheesecake topped with Amarena cherries.

“Restaurant Row” on Salem Street also features many excellent options. Three standouts are Marcuccio, Rabia and Al Dente. While some complain that Marcuccio is too expensive when compared to the surrounding restaurants, few criticize the quality of the food. The restaurant is still working through the transition after the departure of Charles Draghi, the star chef who left to run the kitchens of Limbo and Noi. However Chef Roberto Dias continues many of Draghi’s traditions (including flicking wood chips into the wood-smoke oven to provide a smoky finish to meat entrees), and attempts to create some of his own. The kitchen’s sea bass and risotto di mare are consistent winners, and specials tend to be on the mark.

The faux grape vines on Rabia’s ceiling create an atmosphere that is simultaneously romantic and unpretentious, and the seafood entrees are marvelous (the seafood extravaganza special is delicious, but can be quite expensive). Call ahead to request the window table overlooking Salem Street before dining on dishes such as linguini with lobster tail, shrimp and scallops, or sautéed crispy soft shell crabs.

Owned by Joe Bono, the former sausage cart king, Al Dente has a diverse menu. Diners can stick to traditional Italian specialties: tomato and basil bruschetta, a caprese (fresh mozzarella and tomato) salad, and chicken marsala. But Al Dente also offers the ability to explore with items such as ricotta-stuffed eggplant rolls and prosciutto-stuffed paneed veal served with a red pepper risotto.

While many of these restaurants offer excellent desserts, skip them and conclude your North End experience with a stroll down Hanover Street. Mike’s Pastry offers a wide assortment of treats — try the massive chocolate dipped Florentine cookies. Better yet, wander two blocks past Mike’s to the often overlooked gem, Modern Pastry. This small shop offers the best cannoli in Boston with a succulent ricotta filling. Either way, Café Vittoria offers a charming setting to finish your evening while sipping on a perfect cappuccino or grappa.

Al Dente, 109 Sa
lem St.; 11-10 (M-Th), 11-11 (F, Sa); (617) 523-0990

Bricco, 241 Hanover St.; 5-12 (Su-Th), 5-1 (F, Sa); (617) 248-6800

Café Vittoria, 296 Hanover St.; Open until 1 (M-Su); (617) 227-7606

The Daily Catch, 323 Hanover St.; 5-11 (Su-Th), 5-11:30 (F, Sa); (617) 523-8567

Mamma Maria, 3 North Square; 5-10 (Su-Th), 5-11 (F, Sa); (617) 523-0077

Marcuccio’s, 125 Salem St.; 5-10 (Su-Th), 5-11 (F, Sa); (617) 723-1807

Mike’s Pastry, 300 Hanover St., (617) 742-3050

Modern Pastry, 257 Hanover St., (617) 523-3783

Monica’s, 143 Richmond St.; 5:30-10 (Su-Th); 5:30-10:30 (F, Sa); (617) 227-0311

Pomodoro, 319 Hanover St.; 5-11 (M-Su); (617) 367-4348

Piccolo Nido, 257 North St.; 4-10 (M-Th), 4-11 (F, Sa); (617) 742-4272

Prezza, 24 Fleet St.; 5:30-10 (M-Th), 5-10:30 (F, Sa); (617) 227-1577

Rabia, 73 Salem St.; 5-10 (Su-Th), 5-11 (F, Sa); (617) 227-6637

Sage, 69 Prince St.; 5:30-10 (M-Th), 5:30-11 (F, Sa); (617) 248-8814

Taranta, 210 Hanover St.; 5:30-10 (M-Sa); (617) 720-0052

Trattoria Il Panino, 11 Parmenter St.; 5-10 (Su-W); 5-11 (Th-Sa); (617) 720-1336

Listen: Local talent and local venues


Who to see. . . .

Simply put, once you look past Aerosmith (and, I guess, Boston the band), Boston’s musical output is sly, subtle and cutting edge. Perhaps it is fitting that the same city that hosted the Tea Party and was a hotbed of radical activity in the Revolutionary era has also played host to some of alternative and indie rock’s smarter musical guerrillas. In the early ‘60s, Boston was home to one of the era’s most visionary psychedelic garage bands, the Remains (ironically, though, their contemporaries the Standells, who penned the city’s would-be theme song “Dirty Water,” were from Los Angeles). In the ‘70s, this musical mantle was passed to the Lyres, a band combining the trash rock of the psychedelic era with organ-based bluesy grooves. Later on, Boston became home to the Pixies and the vastly underrated Mission of Burma, two of the true prime exponents of the type of alternative rock excellence that could be found in the forgotten corners of 80s college radio. Further out in left field, Boston was also the home of G.G. Allin, punk rock’s most notorious gross-out act (one of the few concerts where most bystanders were at serious risk of getting a staph infection). Meanwhile, local bands like the Cars, the Smithereens, the Lemonheads and the J. Geils Band crept into the limelight in more conventional ways, but without losing a certain local charm. Perhaps this is all par for the world’s biggest college town, but even bookish Harvard has spawned a mix of pop (Weezer), hard rock (Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, Bullet LaVolta), and acoustica (most famously, Paul Simon). Today the scene is little different — a mix of quiet geniuses, resolute punks and promising pop bands with a certain edge that makes them distinctly Boston. Here, then, is a quick overview of some of Boston’s current bands of note:

The Sheila Divine — Perhaps Boston’s most promising emerging talent, the Sheila Divine gesture towards U2 and Radiohead while maintaining a certain Afghan Whigs-esque darkness. With one full-length album under their belt, Aaron Perrino and company sit just on the verge of breaking into the big-time (if their major-label packed performance at Brownies in New York this summer was any indication). Those interested in getting in on the ground floor should consider catching them at the Avalon on September 21.

Guster — If you went to college on the East Coast, chances are you already have hazy memories of these bongo-toting acoustic pranksters crashing through some boozy frat-house show with all the requisite Lionel Richie covers. While their Steve Lillywhite-produced major label debut didn’t rattle the charts quite as much as fellow college stand-bye Vertical Horizon’s last disc, their current tour with John Mayer promises to increase their profile.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club — BMRC is Boston’s entry in the current “retro” craze, taking their place alongside the likes of the Vines, the Hives, the White Stripes and the Strokes. Thankfully, BMRC has more than just fashion on their side and is, in fact, perhaps one of the best Britpop bands America has produced in quite some time.

Consonant — Lead by Mission of Burma alum Clint Conley and also featuring one of Boston’s most versatile and prolific musical talents Chris Brokaw (who has played with Come and Codeine, among others), Consonant stands with Yo La Tengo and Sonic Youth as some of the best “smart noise” available. Dense, mature arch-pop for dank clubs everywhere.

Jonathan Richman — While his work with the Modern Lovers has already secured Jonathan Richman a place in the pantheon of cult legends, Richman’s reinvigorated solo career continues to demonstrate his capacity for songwriting that is both sincere and moving without being campy. Except, of course, when he wants to — it is a little-known fact that it was none other than Jonathan Richman who wrote the theme music in There’s Something About Mary. And, yes, it turns out that he was the guy in the tree!

The Push Stars — Also featured by the Farrelly Brothers on the Something About Mary soundtrack, the Push Stars released their first major label album on Capitol Records in 2001. Poppy, fun, and propulsive, they have continued to grow musically with each release.

The Kickovers — Featuring Nate Albert (from the Mighty Mighty Bosstones) and Mikey Welsh (from Weezer), the Kickovers are driving rock with a pop-punk edge. Good, fun, and loud, their first release, Osaka, came out last year.

The Pernice Brothers — A favorite among rock critics everywhere, the Pernice Brothers sound like what would happen if the Byrds had a moody, brooding sense of humor and a darker guitar aesthetic. Simultaneously intense and buoyant, they remain more a treat for the musical cognoscenti than fodder for the radio-loving masses.

Juliana Hatfield — Back on the road touring on the strength of a career retrospective, Boston’s enigmatic siren remains, like her frequent musical collaborator Evan Dando, one of modern music’s underrated and at times reluctant talents. Regardless, one suspects that time and critical distance will make her catalogue all the more noteworthy.

Dropkick Murphys — Named for the denizens of a Southie rehab clinic, the Dropkicks are a hard-drinking maelstrom of blue collar Boston Irish solidarity. Shout choruses, bagpipes and a fiercely loyal local ethic make them a distinctive phenomenon even amongst supposedly community-focused punk rockers.

While there are many other Boston groups worthy of mention (Dispatch, Piebald, Gravel Pit, and Mary Lou Lord come to mind immediately), the bands above at least demonstrate the breadth and variety of acts that make this city their stomping grounds. So, next time you’re in Newbury Comics or up for a show, consider sampling some of the local flavor and giving one of these groups an audition.

. . . . and Where

One-Ls looking for the Boston “scene” might find themselves at a momentary loss. Unlike so many other towns that boast about half as many colleges, Boston hides its hotspots in unassuming corners — there is no East Village or Sunset Strip. While there is admittedly a total dearth of hip hop and a relatively thin calling for electronica, Boston’s music scene has a distinctive character that many will find appealing.

Like so many other things in Boston, there is a refreshing if initially off-putting “localness” to many of Boston’s best rock clubs. Tap a longtime Bostonian for stories and she’ll reel out story after story of transcendent performances playe\d for the knowing few: a Modern Lovers gig at the Middle East, Mission of Burma at the Orpheum, or the first time the Dropkick Murphys incited a riot on Landsdowne Street. Part of this, of course, is simply a product of Boston’s fiercely loyal indie rock scene, a quirky calling card for a city just outside the flight pattern of the MTV mainstream. But beyond that, Boston has always had a special relationship with the wealth of musical talent lying just across the Pond- for instance, it was Boston radio that first played U2. The
Police played one of their first revelatory American shows at the Orpheum, and many relatively unknown Irish and Welsh bands such as JJ72 and the Saw Doctors continue to have their strongest American followings right here in Boston. So, anyway, get out and explore it if you can- it’s a close-knit and galvanizing corner of the American musical landscape. Here are a few places to get you started:

The Middle East (280 Massachusetts Ave.) — Not one but two indie rock clubs, the Middle East in Central Square is one of Boston’s oldest and most-revered music spots. Originally a Middle Eastern restaurant, over time the owners began to experiment with hosting live music. Before they knew it, they were a hotspot. “Downstairs” at the Middle East is one of the city’s larger spaces — a loud concrete box of a room where a variety of mid-sized bands make their appearances. “Upstairs” you’ll find a smaller stage, walls painted with murals from a twisted kindergarden classroom, and a variety of local bands and smaller regional touring acts. To round out the package, the restaurant itself sometimes has live music on a small stage in the main dining room.

T.T. the Bear’s (10 Brookline Street) — Next door to the Middle East is T.T. the Bear’s, one of the oddest names and true gems in the Boston music scene. Featuring a tiny stage (which has the misfortune of being located directly on top of the Middle East downstairs — expect the floors to rumble), T.T.’s has a habit of booking excellent bands that are way too big to belong there, like the recently renamed Trail of Dead. Moreover, T.T.’s has a delicious habit of bringing in indie legends to play intimate solo shows — Evan Dando, Bob Mould, Grant Hart and J. Mascis come to mind, for example. Plan on showing up somewhere in the middle of the program — while the opener that immediately precedes the headliner is usually great, sometimes the local groups earlier on the bill tend to attract audiences that are largely comprised of parents and friends — and for good reason.

The Paradise Rock Club (967 Commonwealth Ave.) — The Paradise’s strange, wide shape and generous balcony mean that almost every spot in the house provides great stage views, and their aggressive bookings mean that the calendar is always stocked with treasures ranging like Jack Johnson, the Super Furry Animals and Cornershop. Located on the slow part of the Green Line, the Paradise does require some extra effort to get to, but after one show you’ll realize it’s well worth your while.

The Avalon Ballroom (15 Landsdowne Street) — Located just across from the entrance to the bleachers at Fenway, the Avalon is one of Boston’s big showcase clubs with a size and repertoire comparable to New York’s Irving Plaza or the 9:30 Club in DC. Once owned by Aerosmith (when it was called the Mama Kin Music Hall), the Avalon is a bit schizophrenic, scheduling shows early so it can host a black-pants and barely-out-of-high-school coed house music scene after hours.

The Orpheum (1 Hamilton Place) — Located near the Suffolk Law building, the Orpheum is Boston’s other big showcase club and has a rich and noteworthy history (it once served as the home for the New England Conservatory). Chosen by the Stones for their Boston club date, the Orpheum is one of those places that commands a certain nostalgia among not only Boston music buffs, but rock historians nationwide.

Johnny D’s (17 Holland Street) — Tucked unassumingly in Davis Square, Johnny D’s is a great spot to catch a variety of rockabilly, alt.country and roots acts that manage to make it this far north. Set up like a supper club, Johnny D’s can be a mixed blessing logistically — those wishing to take in a show will find that they get the best seats if they make a dinner reservation on top of paying the cover. The good news is that their stylized Southern cooking is quite good (easily on par with the House of Blues), and the whole excursion can make for a great night out.

Harper’s Ferry (158 Brighton Ave.) — Smack in the middle of Allston’s thriving BU party axis, Harper’s Ferry is the place to catch a variety of funk, R&B, and blues acts. Greats like Maceo Parker, Taj Mahal and others of like mind make this their Boston home, and it also serves as a natural outlet for Boston’s vibrant jamband scene.

Axis (13 Landsdowne Street) — Next door to the Avalon, the Axis is the Avalon’s surly little brother, hosting a more stripped down after-hours dance scene and an unabashedly punk concert calendar. Although it only hosts a handful of shows a year, preferring instead to delve into hip-hop and house club nights most of the time, the Axis is tight, sweaty and loud — all you’d ever want in a nouveau punk hangout.

House of Blues (96 Winthrop Street) — Those coming from New Orleans, Vegas or L.A. will be disappointed to find that Harvard Square’s House of Blues location is their smallest in the country and perhaps more suited for law firm receptions than concerts. That being said, they make up for their limited facilities with the occasional truly smart concert booking in the deep blues genre. Past catches have included Corey Harris and Peter Green.

Huge shows tend to usually come to the Fleet Center, Gillette Field and occasionally places like the Tweeter Center in Mansfield. Those seeking acoustic music and open mic nights should check out Club Passim in Harvard Square, the Lizard Lounge (under Cambridge Common), the Cantab Lounge near MIT or the Burren in Davis Square. Also in Cambridge, Toad’s is a delightfully tiny rock club, while the Hong Kong has on occasion been known to host dreadful punk cover bands (I refer, of course, to my own humble outfit, Dr. Teeth). Keep checking back for more concert calendars!

The legendary Boston band Mission of Burma. Hey, some of us age more gracefully than others.

Eat: From pub grub to international delights


Price Guide
$ – entrees $10 or less
$$ – entrees $10 – 15
$$$ – entrees $15 – 20
$$$$ – entrees $20+

Porter Square/Near HLS

Christopher’s ($$)
1920 Mass. Ave., (617) 876-9180
This is the type of pub food the average Cambridge hippie can appreciate — lots of organic ingredients, vegetarian options, and attention to fat content. Rarely greasy, almost always flavorful, the array of Tex-Mex offerings (try the fajitas), pastas, fishes and sandwiches makes choosing a meal almost impossible. The beer selection is also considerable, with over 20 always on tap.

Seoul Food($)
1759 Mass. Ave. (617) 864-6299
The décor is simple and the hospitality genuine at this small, cheap, homestyle Korean restaurant within walking distance of campus. Try the bi bim bap (rice with assorted vegetables and sometimes meat — a rough Korean equivalent of fried rice). They also have homemade pickles, kimchee, and other Korean staples to go.

Metro ($$$)
1815 Mass. Ave. (617) 354-3727
A French “bistrot” in Porter Square, Metro opened last year to great expectations – the chef, Amanda Lydon, was named one of Food and Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs in 2000, and her food lives up to the promise. Come here if you crave simple French food: steak tartare, soufflé, paté, or perhaps a frog leg or two. Don’t come here if you’re on a tight budget. The room is decorated as one might imagine a French bistro to be, yet the ambiance and scene are still not quite “authentique.” A recent change in management may mean better service (keep your fingers crossed). Metro serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and brunch on weekends.

West Side Lounge ($$$)
1680 Mass. Ave., (617) 441-5566
Owned by one of the three groups in Cambridge who seem to own all of the scarce liquor licenses that come up for grabs, West Side Lounge is a great place to upscale it when you’re sick of Cambridge Common. New American cuisine, precious at times, but a reliably mellow atmosphere and reasonably priced menu make this a good option for a decent bite to eat close to campus.

Forest Café ($$)
1682 Mass. Ave. (617) 661-7810
This divey Mexican spot, nestled between Temple Bar and West Side Lounge, won’t score many points for décor, but its bar won’t bust the bank like its more upscale brethren. Go there for overloaded nachos, flavorful-enough burritos, its Wednesday night pub quiz, or to drown a bad day of interviews with some crisp shots of tequila and a top-notch margarita.

Anna’s Taqueria and Boca Grande ($)
No one ever recommended Cambridge, MA as a destination for exceptional Mexican food, but with several branches apiece, these two restaurants have become Boston area institutions for students seeking cheap, filling eats. Boca has a menu with a few more authentic options, while Anna’s sticks mostly to burritos, tacos and quesadillas. If you’re hungry, short on cash, and the Hark is closed for the weekend, there are plenty of reasons to make regular stops at either of these.

Changsho ($$)
1712 Mass. Ave. (617) 547-6565
Arguably the best Chinese restaurant in Cambridge, Changsho offers a gut-busting daily buffet lunch ($8.95), a more extensive Sunday buffet ($17.95), and a full menu dinner. The buffet lunches offer delicacies like fried wonton skins and a few pieces of dim sum as well as popular dishes like General Tso’s chicken, chow mien, noodles with shellfish, potstickers and spring rolls. In the evenings, Peking duck (slices of tender roasted duck wrapped in a sweet bun with plum sauce), twice cooked pork (a Shanghainese delicacy), and string bean dishes are winners. Word to the wise: While dining at Changsho, watch what you say — it’s just as likely that the guy sitting behind you is that Civ Pro professor you love to hate.

Tamarind House ($)
1790 Mass. Ave. (617) 491-9940
This Thai restaurant near Porter Square does not feature the most accommodating staff, but it does have some fine food. Tamarind duck and crispy pad thai are winners. The appetizers are creative and well worth a try, especially chicken wings stuffed with shrimps and vegetable. Feel free to order a Thai iced coffee or tea to help you relax and enjoy your meal. It may not be the most exciting Thai restaurant in the Harvard/Porter Square area, but Tamarind House is consistent enough to be worth the quick hoof from the HLS dorms.

Temple Bar ($$)
1688 Mass. Ave. (617) 547-5055
Go there to get drinks in a nice place within 5 minutes of campus. Don’t go there to eat–pastas are bland, meats are often incorrectly cooked, service is molasses-slow even during the uncrowded lunch hour, and the prices are several dollars above neighboring Cambridge Common.

Cambridge Common ($)
1667 Mass. Ave. (617) 547-1228
This local pub doesn’t get enough credit from the HLS crew, seeing as how it’s only a 5-minute walk from Gropius. But our Hark away from the Hark happens to be consistently voted one of the best bargains in Cambridge, and its fare is both varied and consistent. For a real treat, snag a basket of the sweet potato fries and one of the 20-plus beers on tap. The supersized vodka tonics — served in the same glasses as the beer — are also a good way to loosen up after a tough day of Contracts.

The Elephant Walk ($$$)
2046 Mass. Ave. (617) 492-6900
A slightly more upscale restaurant with one branch located just past Porter Square and another in the trendy Back Bay area, the Elephant Walk has been a local favorite for quite a few years. The menu is half French and half Cambodian. Both sides of the menu are strong, but the Cambodian is the better half with dishes like curry de crevettes (seafood curry) and various satays. Cambodian cooking has a slight French influence, so it does have some distinguishing characteristics from Thai food even though there are many overlaps in dishes. End your meal with one of many French delicate pastries. Make reservations or be prepared for a very, very long wait.

Harvard Square

Grafton Street ($$)
1230 Mass. Ave. (617) 497-0400
Newly-reopened, this Harvard graduate school standby has taken over the former Bow & Arrow Pub (best known as the bar in Good Will Hunting), and morphed it into yet another lavish pseudo-Irish pub. The owners of Temple Bar and Daedalus stick to the same formula that has brought them success in the past (for something ever so slightly different, check out their Red Line). Food-wise, comfort food, sandwiches and pub grub brush up alongside decent nouveau cuisine. Grafton won’t surprise you, but it’s a good place to see and be seen — maybe even by some b-school hotties.

Penang ($$)
57 JFK St. (617) 234-3988
This installation of the New York City chain serves reasonably priced and good Malaysian food nestled in a quasi-post-modern setting. Conveniently located in the Galleria in Harvard Square (not to be confused with the Cambridgeside Galleria in East Cambridge or the Garage in Harvard Square), this spot serves up great rote canai (an Indian-style pancake with curry dipping sauce) and yam pots (stir-fried vegetables and your choice of meat served in a basket made of deep fried taro root).

Iruña ($$$)
56 JFK St. (617) 354-8576
Tucked behind shops on JFK street, Iruña is a little known Spanish joint that has nice, quiet outdoor seating, in which you may enjoy good simple Spanish food and sangria. Check out their lunch specials, too.

John Harvard’s ($$)
33 Dunster St. (617) 868-3585
If and when you tire of Cambridge’s overabundance of ethnic foods, this brewpub standby won’t let you go hungry. Check out cla
ssic American grub like buffalo wings, hamburgers, creamy pastas, and steaks, along with a few more creative salads. The rotating cast of beers rarely disappoints, and a warm, enormous apple crisp is a great way to finish you off. There’s usually a crowd on weekends, but if high-quality, high-quantity, not terribly challenging American food is what you’re after, it’s worth the wait.

Daedalus ($$$)
45 Mount Auburn St. (617) 349-0071
Unlike its sister Temple Bar, Daedalus could likely stand on cuisine alone. The upscale selection of pastas, steaks, risottos and fish dishes makes for good date food at a price point a bit below places with comparably plush atmospheres.

Casa Mexico ($$)
75 Winthrop St. (617) 491-4552
Arguably the best Mexican food in Harvard Square, the food at this dimly lit, tightly packed restaurant is more authentic, better tasting, and slightly more complex than your average taco joint. Entrees range from $10 to $15 and feature dishes such as chicken in mole sauce and different types of tamales and enchiladas. Dishes are accompanied with rice and beans and are usually teeming with flavor. Health nuts be warned: Casa Mexico, like many Mexican restaurants, doesn’t go easy on the butter and oil. Complement your meal with a Mexican beer, sangria, or margarita. End your feast with a traditional flan or a sweet empanada. Be prepared for long waits on Friday and Saturday nights at this local favorite underground establishment embellished with tile and ceramic décor.

Bombay Club ($$)
57 JFK St. (617) 661-8100
Part of the strong contingent of Indian restaurants in the Square, this favorite has all you can eat lunches ($6.95 weekdays, $8.95 weekends) and a la carte dinners. A wide variety of tasty lamb, beef, chicken, and vegetarian dishes all have wonderfully spiced sauces that are heavenly when matched with one of several different kinds of naan (Indian bread) or rice. A mango-yogurt lassi is a cool way to cleanse the palate between bites.

Café of India ($$)
52A Brattle St. (617) 661-0683
Yet another good Indian restaurant in the Square, it features many traditional Indian dishes such as chicken tikka masala. You must start off the meal with a samosa or two. For the ones with large appetites, the special dinner for one ($19.95; special dinner for two also available at a higher price) features a sampling from several different appetizers and meat dishes that is guaranteed to fill you and leave you satisfied. Café of India is particularly attractive during warm weather since the front of the restaurant opens up nicely right onto the sidewalk, giving it a chic restaurant/sidewalk café feel. Even during the winter, the decor is better than average.

Greenhouse Coffee Shop ($)
3 Brattle St. (617) 354-3184
Get to The Greenhouse before 1 pm on Saturday or Sunday to enjoy one of the most popular breakfasts in Cambridge — and one of the few offering quality traditional fare like French toast, pancakes and omelettes. Each breakfast comes with home fries, toast, milk or coffee and a shot of juice (orange, apple, or grape). At any time, you can enjoy large meals of pepper fried steak sandwiches, hamburgers, and meat loaf. Enjoy a frappe or a piece of German chocolate three-layer cake to finish off your meal.

Bangkok House ($$)
50 JFK St. (617) 547-6666
A popular dining spot for the K-School set, Bangkok House has great box lunch specials that include an entrée, a side salad, rice, and a few token pieces of sushi. They offer the usual variety of curries — green, red, yellow, and mussaman — along with various types of meat or seafood. The dishes from this underground establishment tend to be a little watery and pricey compared to the multitude of other Thai restaurants in Harvard Square and on Mass. Ave. But most items are quite spicy, so if you’re looking for the extra kick in your Thai food, this might be your place.

Spice ($)
24 Holyoke St. (617) 868-9560
A colorfully decorated restaurant in the heart of Harvard Square, Spice offers exactly what its name spells — spicy and flavorful Thai dishes. Weekly specials (usually fool-proof) complement a sizable selection of curries and other thai favorites. For an appetizer, try the various satays for a tasteful treat. A wonderful selection of ice creams — ginger, coconut, or green tea — offer the perfect ending to your meal. One thing Spice doesn’t offer, though, is alcohol, so don’t plan on washing any of the spicy stuff back with an ice-cold brew or a mai tai.

Border Café ($)
32 Church St. (617) 864-6100
Surprise, Southwesterners — Cambridge is a long, long way from Texas. Thus, the closest we get to Tex-Mex is this bizarre Cajun/Tex-Mex hybrid. The beanless burritos (“burros”) are horrible here, and the enchiladas are nothing special, but if you don’t mind the grease, there’s plenty to enjoy, even if you won’t write home to El Paso about it. Still light years better than the neighboring Chili’s chain, if you’re hankering for a margarita and something made with a tortilla, this Border is the closest thing you can make a run for.

Bartley’s Burger Cottage ($)
1246 Mass. Ave. (617) 354-6559
Viewed by most as the best burger joint in Cambridge, this little hole in the hall squeezes its customers together while serving them the freshest and tastiest beef smothered with your choice of accompaniment. All the burgers are named after famous figures like Al Bore, George Bush, Bill Clinton, etc. Bartley’s is slightly higher priced than your usual burger joint, so share a basket of fries or onion rings to help save money–you won’t need a full portion to yourself anyway. But if you can stand a couple hundred more calories, Bartley’s frappes and milkshakes are amazing. Be sure to check the chalkboards around the restaurant to make sure you’re not missing out on any specials that might not be on the menu.

Shilla ($$)
57 JFK St. (617) 547-7971
One of several decent sushi spots in the area (there are tons of extremely informal options in the Porter Square Mall), Shilla offers a strong compromise in location, price and quality. Not quite the quality and selection of Roka, but a nonetheless consistent and strikingly fresh sushi selection that goes well with the tolerable Japanese and Korean food and bento box specials.

Roka ($$$)
1001 Mass. Ave. (617) 661-0344
The sushi champ in terms of variety and atmosphere, Roka keeps things interesting with a wide variety of fish, plus a strong selection of sakes and Japanese beers. But if you want your sushi to come cheap, and don’t care if it’s served in a diner-style atmosphere, try Café Sushi a few doors down instead.

Charlie’s Kitchen
10 Eliot St. (617) 442-9646
Charlie’s draws one of Harvard Square’s scruffier crowds — indie rockers, townies and beer drinkers will feel more at home than the utterly faux set throwing them down at Redline around the corner. Charlie’s also makes a mean — if rather smallish — burger. The double- and triple-decker options are best bets, coupled with thin, perfectly crispy fries. The rest of the pub grub rarely falters, and the searing wings are some of the best in the area. Even if you’re not hungry, it’s worth the trip simply to knock back a Pilsner Urquell while listening to the well-stocked jukebox, likely the magnet for the black-rimmed glasses set inside.

Fire and Ice
50 Church St. (617) 547-9007
This Mongolian barbecue joint boasts boatloads of potential food combinations. You pick the ingredients, F&E employees grill them up, and you can repeat the performance as many times as you want. Unfortunately, all those raw meats and vegetables available usually look better than they taste — somehow, everything at Fire and Ice ends up
turning out bland. Still, the all-you-can eat option makes it a winner for the quantity-over-quality crowd.

Rock Bottom Brewery ($$)
33 Church St.
Part of a well-known national chain, there would be no point in mentioning this if it were not for the fact that it’s food, service and décor are so hideous that any untutored individual should avoid the place like the plague. Put your name on the waiting list at John Harvard’s instead — if you’ve gotten desperate enough to go here, you know your dining options have hit rock bottom.

Inman Square & Somerville

Punjabi Dhaba ($)
225 Hampshire St. (617) 547-8272
Want good, cheap, fast Indian food? Don’t care if you have to take out? Go to Punjabi Dhaba in Inman Square. Plus, they’re open until midnight.

Diesel Café ($$)
257 Elm St., Somerville (617) 629-8717
Owned by three Harvard grads, Diesel Café is a unique participant in the Davis Square coffee shop wars. With a rotating exhibit of local art, two pool tables in the back (rentable by the hour), veggie-friendly eats, excellent coffee and Toscanini’s ice cream, Diesel has built itself a loyal clientele over the past few years, and is a great place to go if you need to “escape” HLS for a few hours. Do not leave the premises without trying a Rusty Slide.

Zoe’s Chinese Restaurant ($)
289 Beacon St. (near Star Market), Somerville (617) 864-6265
Advertised as having a nationally-acclaimed chef from China working in the kitchen, Zoe’s offers a variety of Cantonese, Shanghainese, and Szechuan dishes. On weekends, you can try Chinese home breakfasts consisting of sweet soymilk, Chinese doughnuts (unsweetened), scallion pancakes, pastries with beef, or even more exotic fare like steamed chicken with tsao hsing beer. On regular nights, Zoe’s offers American favorites like General Tso’s chicken and sweet and sour chicken, but also has Chinese favorites like Shanghai-style pan fried shrimp and fried rice noodle with beef. They also offer evening delivery with a minimum purchase of $20.

Evoo ($$$$)
118 Beacon St., Somerville (617) 661-3866
The name stands for “extra virgin olive oil,” but it doesn’t begin to describe the range and excellence of evoo’s innovative New American cuisine. Offerings like the southern-influenced cornmeal-fried oysters and rich, intricately arranged duck are dazzling; the minimalist, uninspiring décor is not. But the food, not the setting, is the star here.

Greek Corner ($$)
2366 Mass. Ave. (617) 661-5655
Though just about the only option for Greek food in Cambridge, Greek Corner serves up inexpensive Greek-American staples: various kebabs, moussaka, grape leaves, baklava and the like. It is a casual spot, often popular with families (read: many small children). Try the saganaki, even if just to be able to say you’ve eaten flaming cheese.

Dali ($$$)
415 Washington St., Somerville (617) 661-3254
This lushly decorated tapas spot is always crowded–and for good reason. One of the best restaurants across the river, Dali has everything you could want for a date or a group — or a vegetarian. A variety of tapas based around the rich seafood of New England (crabs, lobsters), exotic game items like rabbit, and fresh vegetables like asparagus and bell peppers all work to tempt your appetite. More expensive and less creative entrees based around meats and rice are also available, and the paella is top notch. Two caveats: Watch what you order, as the bill for those little bites tends to add up in a hurry, and be ready to wait — Dali doesn’t take reservations for anything but large groups.

B-Side Lounge ($$)
92 Hampshire St. (617) 354-0766
Cambridge locals chill with dot-commers at this Kendall Square retro bar/eatery. The food is good, moderately-priced standard American with the occasional pan-Asian flare; the drinks are great. Come for a late supper, linger afterwards to check out the bar scene. If you’re really into food, also check out their monthly special themed prix-fixe dinners, usually cooked up by some of Boston’s finest.

1193 Cambridge St. (617) 576-1971
Take Southern food north of the Mason-Dixon, and it can seem downright exotic. So it goes with Magnolia’s slightly upscale take on various dishes of the region, from New Orleans faves like jambalaya and hush puppies to pork loin with mashed sweet potatoes. True Southerners say the cuisine isn’t dazzling, but it’s about the only way to go for this style of food.

Central Square

Centro ($$$)
720 Mass. Ave. (617) 868-2405
Fancy Italian food (oxymoron though that may be). Still, if you want nouveau Italian food in Cambridge, this is a good choice (for simple, authentic Italian food, go to the North End). It’s also next door to the Good Life in Central Square, which makes drinks after dinner a no-brainer. Impress your friends and empty your bank account — all in one fell swoop.


Jasper White’s Summer Shack ($$)
149 Alewife Brook Parkway
Jasper White has been an influential figure on the Boston restaurant scene since the eighties, when his restaurant, Jasper’s, redefined New England cuisine. His latest restaurant, Summer Shack, is a massive attempt to recreate the feel of a New England clambake, albeit in a former Polynesian restaurant (witness the cement Buddha outside), and is a nice alternative to the overpriced and overrated Legal Sea Foods when you’re in the mood for fish. Easily accessible by T (right across the street from the Alewife stop on the Red Line), Summer Shack has good food with a casual atmosphere, but they don’t take reservations (except maybe for large groups) — so show early or be prepared to hang out with a beeper and wait. Good for a large group, even if the local surroundings are a little dim.

Helmand ($$$)
143 First St., Cambridge (617) 492-4646
Afghani cuisine is the culinary realization of geographical realities: balanced somewhere between Persian and Indian food (think lots of lamb, delicately flavored rice, and hearty sauces) — and this Afghan restaurant near the Cambridgeside Galleria delivers exceptional food and ambiance at very reasonable prices. Try the kaddo (sugar pumpkin with yogurt sauce) or chowpan (grilled rack of lamb). Owned by a relative of Afghanistan’s embattled prime minister Hamid Karzai, this restaurant is very popular: You will need a reservation to come here on any weekend night. It might not be a bad idea to snag reservations on some of the busier weekdays, either.