leisure 06.17.14

Out of Town

Williamstown Theatre Festival continues to be at the top of its game—summer theater, or maybe we should say theater in the summer, that's as good as it gets. Coming up: Living on Love, a comedy based on a Garson Kanin play about a diva. Renée Fleming is the combustible opera star; Douglas Sills plays her equally combustible husband. Starting July 31, Chita Rivera stars in the Kander and Ebb musical version of Düurrenmatt's The Visit. It also stars Roger Rees and is directed by John Doyle. The ingenious PigPen Theatre Co. performs their 'lo-fi spectacle' The Old Man and the Old Moon later in the summer. [Photo: Decca/Andrew Eccles]

Best restaurant concept ever: Conflict Kitchen, Pittsburgh's take-out only spot that "serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict." They focus on one country for six months, building bridges by breaking bread, and add events, discussions, and performances about that country—during the Iran period, they hosted a live Skype meal between Pittsburgh and Tehran. Right now: Afghanistan.

The USGA Museum in Far Hills, NJ has a comprehensive collection of golf memorabilia, artifacts and photographs. Out back, the Pynes Putting Course, played with replica of antique clubs and balls, is inspired by the famous putting course at St. Andrew's.

Probably we couldn't get you to go to Israel for the food. But how about Philly? Zahav, which opened in 2008, serves contemporary Israeli dishes, alongside those from its regional neighbors (another spin on 'conflict kitchen'). Whether it's sweltering in August or snowing in January, what comes out of the kitchen is Middle Eastern soul food. The restaurant is stylish, service is warm, and the views out the large windows give the impression that you're on a leafy college campus. True, it doesn't look like Jerusalem, but its tastes are unquestionably transporting.

At the Morris Museum, they have a permanent collection–donated by the delightfully named Murtogh D. Guinness–of historical mechanical musical instruments. That may not sound like much, but once you see the elaborate music boxes that perform all kinds of tricks, set to all kinds of music, you'll be charmed.

The vibe is early Eisenhower at Bern's Steak House in Tampa and we mean that in a good way. The maitre d' who seats you. The waiters in tuxes. The servers who serve while your waiter oversees. The themed rooms, some with more statuary than is perhaps good for your appetite. But even when it's tacky or dated (the place opened in 1956), Bern's is still cool. The steaks, dry-aged for up to 8 weeks, are trimmed and cut once you order, broiled over lump hardwood charcoal (briquettes would be cheating).

For dessert, a bit of hilarity: you go upstairs to the dessert floor to be seated in a private room (just your party) with piped-in with music from the lounge. A telephone allows you to call the pianist in the lounge to make a request (you can also dial in different music from a control box on the wall).

Beyond all that, Bern's has one of the best wine lists around—6,800 selections, half a million bottles. What's amazing is that they offer many old and rare bottles at beyond-reasonable prices. At a time when most American restaurants think nothing of a 300% markup on a bottle of plonk, the prices on Bern's famous list could almost convince you Ike was in the White House. We've come a long way since the 1950s, but some things just couldn't be improved.

Midtown (from 2012)

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