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.
The banners of New York's sports teams hang from the ceiling at Play Sports Bar, a space lined with flat-screen TVs tuned to sporting events all while more than 100 different beers flow from the bar. The diverse selection of bottles and drafts, many of them craft beers, complements a menu of traditional sports-bar fare such as burgers, wings, and pizza that can be molded into a football. On nights throughout the week, the bar is enlivened by events such as live music, beer tastings, and karaoke.
Head chef Andrew DiCataldo helms Patria Restaurant and Mixology Lounge, crafting Latin fusion cuisine so artfully executed it moved the New York Times to advise readers: "Don't miss the place". DiCataldo's menu highlights classic ingredients such as avocado, plantains, and queso fresco, presenting them in contemporary updates of traditional Latin dishes. Patria and its afterhours lounge are divided in both atmosphere and décor, alternating between the restaurant's scarlet walls, rich wood furniture, and luxurious curtains, and the lounge's cool-toned lights, well-stocked bars, and wizards attempting to resurrect disco.
The sizzling of Cajun batter-fried shrimp mingles with the sweet twang of acoustic guitars and smoky jazz vocals. This distinct bouquet of sounds and smells is the essence of The Crossroads, a venue that describes itself as an amalgamation of classic Cajun and American stylings: “[It's] as if NY and N'awlins had a baby and moved to the suburbs.” Patrons can sate their appetites with a menu of soul and Cajun fare escorted by a choice of libations, including more than 40 martinis. Nightly musical guests have included local and national acts spanning the genres of jazz, bluegrass, and classic-rock cover bands. Nightly events and specials keep energy high. Every Tuesday, guests pay no cover charges and can climb onstage with their finely tuned instruments or an array of water-filled pint glasses for the open Jazz Jam with the house’s trio of musicians.
Large pots regularly crowd the burners in Vinhus Restaurant & Lounge’s kitchen. A peek into the cauldrons reveals bubbling mixtures of seafood suggestive of what might happen if chefs strolled through a fish market and scooped up a few things from every stand—one combinations in particular pairs lobster, clams, and shrimp with a choice of green or red sauce.
These seafood surfeits belong to a menu inspired by Portugal’s seafaring traditions, complete with dishes such as grilled cod with skinned potato chunks, roasted peppers, and onions. The menu reaches east, as well, pulling flavors from Spain, France, Italy, and the Mediterranean into dishes such as veal marsala or a seafood plate whose lobster comes accented with chorizo, chicken, and saffron rice.
The fresh seafood and sizzling steaks perfume a dining room whose wooden floors and taupe-colored walls set the stage for decor including neatly arranged lighting fixtures, attractive artwork, and verdant foliage. Before or after meals, guests can retreat to the lounge, where patrons sip spirited beverages beneath a slanted ceiling that offers its protection to the room’s roaring fireplace.
Though Fushimi Modern Japanese Cuisine & Lounge's menu and daily specials board boast French-inspired fusion food, its sushi is deeply rooted in tradition?and this combination has earned its dishes Zagat ratings and a Michelin recommendation. Chefs may reinterpret the presentation of Japanese staples?such as the tuna sashimi, which they set on broad leaves next to bean-sprout-entangled roe?but they still stay true to traditional flavors. By contrast, cooked fusion entrees tend to incorporate the unconventional, such as the tuna burger with spicy aioli, available on the weekend brunch menu, and the mushroom risotto made with black rice (a dish praised by New York Magazine in their critics' pick review.)
At all locations, the decor also melds old and new. At the bar at the Staten Island location, crimson light filters through a canopy of metallic foliage, casting a moody aura across Buddhist statuettes imported from Asia. The neon-lit Williamsburg location has a sleeker feel, its booths nestled in large circular openings that bring to mind subway tunnels or the oversized portholes of Paul Bunyan's mythical submarine. In Bay Ridge, the stateliness of traditional chandeliers contrasts with the bold colors of wall-sized photographs.