Music is a way of life at Taste Bar & Bistro, especially Thursday through Saturday nights, when the restaurant thumps to the sounds of karaoke, DJ music, or live jazz. But it’s Taste’s thoughtfully prepared pub food that draws crowds even before the musicians take the stage. The menu comprises small plates such as steamed littleneck clams and spicy calamari, as well as heartier entrees that include cheeseburgers and spaghetti and shrimp fra diavolo. Throughout festivities, bartenders mix specialty martinis and pour wines and draft beers that enliven dinner time or can be used to paint a smiley face on one’s shirt during happy hour.
The Fieldhouse Pub beckons to visitors with the inviting smell of American-steakhouse fare mixing with that of Italian, French, and German cuisine. Head Chef Hans Jurgen Stender loads the tables with saucy veal schnitzels, spinach- and ricotta-cheese-stuffed capon, sauce-laden pastas, and juicy blackened steaks. Like 2001: A Beer Odyssey, his pub menu explores beer's longtime on-and-off relationship with burgers, overstuffed wraps, and shareable finger food.
Hanging plants hold court alongside a sun-friendly, greenhouse-style glass wall in the dining area. Upstairs, grainy timber accents define a bar that features a jukebox and stools clad in billiard-table-green leather. DIRECTV sports packages keep guests entertained with the glory of games, and occasional karaoke and all-ages stand-up routines keep them in stitches over the antics of professional comedians or amazed and terrified at human Auto-Tune impersonations.
Since its post-Prohibition opening in 1933, the Cloverleaf Tavern has been owned and operated by the same family, serving a hearty menu of casual American and international eats. Begin a meal with the counter-intuitively best-selling hot, bubbling crab dip, a mouth-watering concoction of fresh crab meat baked in a gooey white-wine-cheese blend and served with toasted baguettes ($9.99). Pub classics abound, such as the charbroiled burgers ($7.49+) and irish cottage beef pie, with brown gravy and hearty vegetables bubbling under the mashed-potato crust ($12.99). Cloverleaf Tavern, which was the first saloon in Caldwell to secure a liquor license after Prohibition, also proffers a full bar and vast beer selection of 25 beers on tap, plus more than 50 bottled brews, which makes it an ideal place to stop for a post- or prework celebration.
With its dining room, pub with live music on weekends, seasonal patio, and two private banquet rooms, Rolf's Restaurant offers patrons multiple ways to enjoy a meal or grab drinks within the same space. Private banquet rooms include the Sun Room, with airy windows that let light flood in and keep pet cacti happy while diners relax at four-seat linen-clad tables, and the Warren Room, where purple chairs, matching walls, and regal curtains glow in the light of chandeliers whose shapes mimic flower petals.
The restaurant’s aesthetic elegance extends to the menu, which has enjoyed a rebirth thanks to a new executive chef, Glenn Arnold. A Rolf’s veteran for nearly a decade, Arnold left the establishment to hone his gourmet talents at The Culinary Institute of America. With his victorious return, the chef adds a new twist to old standbys and devises new items for the menu while endlessly looping "Eye of the Tiger" over the kitchen speakers. Diners can now savor a selection that ranges from traditional German specialties such as kasespaetzle, jagerschnitzel und pommes, and sauerbraten to more casual fare, such as gourmet sandwiches and pizzas.
Winner of the JerseyArts.com 2009 People's Choice Award for favorite Professional Theater, Paper Mill Playhouse has been opening the curtain on top-quality musical theater and plays since its debut in 1938. The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, a Tony Award-winning musical comedy, follows the travails of a group of young students participating in their countywide spell off. With hilarious tunes and frequent fourth wall demolition, the musical expertly tickles audience funny femurs while filling their ears with the harmonious euphony of the Tony-nominated score. Groupon buyers will leave the theater with a Paper Mill Playhouse cup (a $5 value), allowing patrons of the arts to signal their theater affiliation to rival gangs of symphony and museum cup holders.