LITM, an acronym for "love is the message," houses a triple threat of restaurant, lounge, and gallery in its chic, 1,800-square-foot storefront. Creative flavors and contemporary presentation upscaleize its bar classics and gourmetize its entrees. House-made preparations, such as hand-rolled gnocchi with basil pesto ($15) and the hand-pounded veggie burger ($14), are abundant. Reignite the great atmosphere-versus-hydrosphere debate with citrusy chicken paillard ($18) or tea-crusted tilapia ($23). Sophisticated desserts, such as the Belgium chocolate cake ($8), assist adults in reliving the wildest sugar-rush of their youth.
Honshu Lounge owner and executive sushi chef tucks fresh seafood and veggies into rolls in ways that are pleasing to both the eyes and the tongue. He wraps the Honshu roll—stuffed with yellowtail, avocado, tuna, and salmon—in a sheet of special seaweed that’s marbled with white and green, and sprinkles vibrant-red tobiko onto the White Pearl roll’s pale salmon. Orange dollops of spicy sauce pop against the slices of green avocado that sit atop the Dynamite roll, and the Red Phoenix roll is known to spontaneously burst into flames before re-rolling its shrimp-tempura center.
The interior of the eatery is also infused with pops of color, from the traditional Japanese kimono in golden and violet hues to the blue lights that illuminate the sushi bar. Strings of holiday lights and the occasional mistletoe dangle above tables decorated with stir-fried noodles and steaks glazed in teriyaki sauce.
An intricate forest design etched in black-and-white glass spans the dimly lit rooms of The West Five Supper Club, whose spacious, modern venue transforms into a vivacious dance club upon nightfall. In the dining room, plush, high-backed booths surround wooden tables illuminated by flickering candles and a blazing stone fireplace. Modern-looking birch branches divide the booths, lending an intimate feel to diners as small plates of smoked salmon, short-rib sliders, or smoked-gouda mac 'n' cheese emerge from the kitchen in steady intervals during the early evening. As guests dine, they sip glasses brimming with one of 12 specialty cocktails crafted from exotic ingredients, such as elderflower, white-peach purée, and cranberry-thyme honey.
The restaurant transforms into a massive dance floor in the later hours where top DJs spin hits, mash-ups, and '90s favorites as an LED lighting systems floods rooms in a wash of vibrant rays. When not hosting thumping dance parties and mingling guests at its black-and-white booths, the lounge hosts weekly Zumba fitness classes. Guests can rent the private dining area and main room for parties of up to 150 people, from bachelorette festivities to Flashdance extras' reunions.
The cooks at 1Republik plate a menu of upscale New American pub fare as bartenders decant more than 40 brews on tap. Starters such as the truffle oil-laced tater tots or the grilled prawns warm up out-of-practice dining teams, readying dormant tongues for entrees such as the seared sea salmon or the potato-flanked strip steak. Chicken pot pie layers root vegetables and chicken velouté into a flaky puff pastry, providing a savory alternative to standard Americana pies filled with apples or bits of the Patriot Act. Duos and foursomes are also entitled to a round of draft beers or house wines.
With Hoboken's picturesque shoreline as its backdrop, The Quays fuses stunning waterfront views of Manhattan with an innovative menu of upscale cuisine. Taste buds take a warm-up lap around appetizers such as the asian crab cake cradled within a hammock of napa slaw and mango-chili sauce. Anchored by a lineup of succulent meats, entrees arrive in the form of barbecue baby back ribs or red-wine-braised lamb, which stews atop blue-cheese polenta and fall-root gratin. Southern black beans and rice abut piquant cuts of Cajun catfish, and pork tenderloin boasts a chile-maple glaze aftershave. Pairs can tipple drinks from a robust menu of beers and wines, including sips from small-lot artisanal producers and larger vino crafters such as Shafer Vineyards.