Chef Vitaly Paley's 13-year-old bistro continues to rack up accolades: a James Beard award and high marks in Zagat's, Gourmet and The New York Times, to name a few. Why? Because this is a damn good restaurant. With a seasonally evolving stock of local, top-quality ingredients and what may be the most attentive and least overbearing staff in town, dining at Paley's is like being treated to a birthday dinner in the beautiful Victorian home of a good friend—who happens to be a world-class chef. Half- and full-portion options in late summer included a Muscovy duck breast atop a sweet-tart cherry compote and braised, crispy sweetbreads with roasted carrots, mushrooms and bacon. Save room for dessert (oozing chocolate soufflé cake and housemade ice creams) by pastry chef Lauren Fortgang. They will bring you to your knees.

IDEAL MEAL: Grilled peaches and string beans with aged goat cheese and house prosciutto, half order of tomato-crusted halibut over a basil nage, American Kobe beef flatiron with duck fat-fried potatoes, sampler plate of housemade confections.