Behind Brownstone Lounge's doors, exposed brick, neon lights, and thumping beats underscore patrons' bubbly conversations over plates of tapas-style fare and ice-cold drinks served straight from a chilled drink dome. On comfy couches scattered throughout the restaurant, diners nosh on small plates ranging in style from Latin or French fusion such as mango fish tacos with chipotle sauce and sautéed mussels in white whine sauce, to comforting pub grub such as buffalo chicken wings and mac 'n' cheese wedges. Beer, wine, sangria, and cocktails complement meals, and all of the lounge's vodka flows straight from a drink dome chilled to negative 32 degrees, the precise temperature of a broken heart. The space is also decked out with jukeboxes, allowing guests to express musical preferences without climbing onto the bar and belting out their favorite showtunes.
Dominican native Sara Taveras, her husband, restaurateur Luis Taveras, and Caña y Café's new executive chef Roberto Ferrer inject contemporary technique as well as European, Asian, and Caribbean flare into Latin-fusion recipes to create vivid, metropolitan cuisine. Flavorsmiths prime palates with a selection of appetizers that includes the pulpo a la brasa al estilo Mediterraneo, where Mediterranean-style octopus grills atop a bed of charcoal before curling up beside a pool of black-olive tapenade. Brimming with aquatic and earthly morsels, the paella Valenciana tosses shrimp, scallops, chicken, and chorizo into an ocean of saffron Arborio rice and sherry for diners to spear with miniature tridents. A grouper fillet struts out to tables alongside fresh crabmeat, spinach risotto, and chardonnay-butter sauce to create the mero relleno de cangrejo. The chuleton de puerco accessorizes its frenched pork chop with a Francophile trio of mushroom ragu, gorgonzola-truffle butter, and a spinach mustache.
Tongues of flame twist in a fireplace, hinting at the warmth filling the bustling kitchen at MK Valencia. Rail lighting spills a blue aura over dishes that draw from myriad culinary traditions. Mediterranean flavors shine through in salmon drizzled in a pesto sauce and lamb osso bucco. In the dining room, glasses clink occasionally like a xylophonist failing a performance review, setting a tempo for the wait staff, which totes roasted salmon in a pesto sauce.
A curtain of bubbles rises up through champagne cocktails in lively colors that match the crescent-shaped orange booths or electric-blue wine racks. During warmer months, the murmur of conversation spills out onto a patio draped with live plants.
Surrounding its 24 oil-slicked lanes with exposed-brick walls, an arcade, and private VIP lounges, Harlem Lanes complements the thrill of striking down pins with the relaxed atmosphere of a swanky nightclub. Anchoring the two-story space, a sports bar serves drinks and food under the glow of flat-screen TVs, and couches throughout the facility allow bowlers to kick up their feet after celebrating strikes with mock tap dances. The ambience gets funky on Friday and Saturday, when live DJs and glow-in-the-dark bowling loosening up straitlaced pins.