With a barbed-wire fence as its backdrop, The Looney Bin Comedy Club, opened just last year, promises its patrons a night of cutting-to-the-core comedy provided by both up-and-coming and veteran stand-up comics. As giant portraits of Eddie Murphy, Dane Cook, and Don Rickles look on, you will exhaust your internal laugh-engine at any show, thanks to the funny-bone fuel of such glee-gas-pumpers as mirthful magic-maker Chipps Cooney, appearing on Saturday, October 30, or punch-line slinger Joseph Anthony, appearing on Saturday, November 6. As your eyes drink in the chill, relaxing vibes of the club's space, each ticket holder's taste buds will drink in two selections from The Looney Bin's bar, featuring adult libations such as Samuel Adams beers, long island iced teas, and Bloody Marys, able to lubricate vocal chords sore from constant chuckling.
Chanteuse and actress Miranda Cosgrove pied-pipers her adoring droves of devoted fans with her electrifying and family-friendly brand of pop. The breakout star of Nickelodeon's iCarly, Cosgrove has been a seasoned showbiz pro since before her baby teeth could crawl and has compiled a songbook featuring singles such as "Dancing Crazy" and the recently released "High Maintenance." For her July 23 concert, Cosgrove shares billspace with crooner, dancer, and Australian import Cody Simpson, as well as effervescent troubadour Greyson Chance, creating a youthful stew of dulcet melodies sure to soothe the most savage beast or most irascible mail carrier.
A union of Middle Eastern and Western cultures, Fire N Ice Hookah Bar combines the laid-back charm of a hookah lounge with the music and swank of a nightclub. Customers roam through the electric bi-level space flooded by soft colorful lighting before picking their poison—hookah, drinks, food, or all three.
In the hookah lounge, they curl up on plush sofas cushioned by satiny pillows and reach out every so often to grasp the hookah pipe as it’s passed around, inhaling any one of 25 exotic hookah flavors. The smoke spirals up toward Middle Eastern tapestries hanging overhead or snakes around the top-shelf cocktails perched beside the pipe. It even intermingles briefly with the aromas wafting from Middle Eastern dishes—such as chicken tikka, korma sliders, and kebabs—before vanishing into the air as quickly as a magician at a science fair.
As the night lingers on, Fire N Ice begins its transformation into a full-blown nightclub. Belly dancers take to the stage first, twisting and shimmying across the spacious dance floor. By 11 p.m., the club's three DJs begin spinning top R & B and hip-hop hits intermixed with a few Arabian jams, signaling to guests that it's their turn to hit the floor.
Chevys serves up Mexican fare in Texas-size portions, with salsa and tortillas made from scratch daily. Begin by ordering a bowl of guacamole to witness a server capture, skin, and gut a live avocado right at your table before hand-mashing it into fresh guacamole. From there, let your taste buds tango across tender tamales wrapped by hand each morning, or play mad scientist and suture together an electrified monster plate from enchiladas, tacos, grilled chili rellenos, tamales, and chimichangas ($10.29 for any two, $11.99 for any three, $12.99 for any four). Seafarers, meanwhile, will want to try the grilled fish tacos—a mélange of grilled fish, chipotle aioli, lettuce, and pico de gallo, warmly embraced by the floury flaps of El Machino tortillas and topped with a sprinkling of crumbled cotija cheese ($10.99). To keep the hot peppers and piquant salsas from singing the sinuses, douse your mouth-flames periodically with drinks such as the Kraken fruit punch, black spiced rum coupled with spicy mango and orange juice ($8.75), or the Blue Agave margarita, a mixture of El Mayor Reposado tequila and blue Curacao ($6.75 regular, $11.50 grande).
After a debilitating car accident left Elyissia Wassung’s mother, Barbara, unable to commute to work, she stayed busy in the kitchen, devising her own homemade chocolates. Nine-year-old Elyissia would then load her mother’s sweets into a shopping cart and sell them door-to-door around the neighborhood, learning entrepreneurial skills that would last a lifetime. After leaving a telecom job as an adult, Elyissia returned to selling chocolates by founding 2 Chicks with Chocolate (the other chick being her mom), teaming up with master chocolatier Patrick Coston and lead chocolatier Stephanie Vazquez. The dessert innovators create diverse flavors, such as spiced pear and caramel ganache, s’mores, and hazelnut praline, from scratch with spices and sea salt. Customers can also create their own bars online without venturing into the store, building on a selection of chocolate bases and toppings that range from pistachios to gummy bears. The store also hosts chocolate classes and enlivens parties with chocolate fountains and chocolate tastings.
With six handcrafted beers on tap and a full menu of delicious pub provisions, J.J. Bitting Brewing Company enrobes taste buds in warm, comfortable flavors. The Blazing Brewhouse wings ($5.95) perk up palates with a tangy zest that earned them the title of Best Hot Wings in Woodbridge by BestHotWings.com. Wrangle the Colorado burger's bison patty into hungry mouths aided by sautéed onions, mushrooms, and sun-dried-tomato pesto mayo ($7.95), or follow the delicate salmon steak's incredible journey through pan-searing and potato-breading before rousing it from snug beds of rice and fresh veggies ($15.95). Like the cool table in a high-school cafeteria, Bitting's homegrown pints ($4.50 each) stay popular with or without delicious food. The Garden State IPA balances appealing bitterness with a floral aroma, and the heavily roasted Black Jack Stout swoops up from cellars to slake any thirst in the house.