With its embossed brick wall, gray wainscoting, and cigar-brown armchairs, The Bar at the Dream Hotel puts a classy spin on the neighborhood pub. Inside the Midtown hangout, guests glide across well-worn cowhide rugs and sink into Italian-leather Chesterfields to catch the game on unobtrusive flat-screen TVs. They also sidle up to the marble-topped bar to grab a expertly made cocktail or assign a nickname to every last bottle of liquor. Servers, meanwhile, deliver tapas to round lounge tables and taller bar-style tables arranged near the windows.
Sweetwater's serves up an eclectic array of eats, quaffs, and entertainment, continuing the traditions of the Manhattan Sweetwaters in the ’70s and ’80s. Start a nautical-themed meal with Sweetwater's signature bowl of tortilla soup ($5.95) and a sea-sourced entree such as the fried shrimp ($11.95, with fries), and then cast a land-anchor with a hefty bacon burger (with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, pickles, and a side of fries, $8.95). Patrons can sample the full spread of bathypelagic bites with a seafood tray—fried fish, calamari, shrimps, and seafood quesadillas served with fries ($29.95).
If the zebra-skin walls of Lenox Lounge’s Zebra Room could talk, what stories they would tell. Perhaps they would open with an account of how poet Langston Hughes once mesmerized his audience with “The Story of Jazz.” They might then try to recapture the magic of one of those nights when Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, or Billie Holiday stood close to the mic and everything else came to a standstill. The Zebra Room’s famous—or infamous—reputation dates back to 1939, when Lenox Lounge first opened its doors to the legends of jazz. The club has since appeared in TV shows and movies, but it continues to put live music first. To complement the intimate atmosphere, there’s a menu of traditional soul food such as fried chicken and waffles, stuffed catfish, and collard greens.
Named after the iconic Central Park monument, Cleopatra’s Needle has earned a reputation of its own with a daily schedule of open mics, jam sessions, and jazz performances. As one might expect, the club’s menu references Egypt and other Mediterranean locales, though its cocktail list is classic New York—martinis, wines, and frozen drinks are all well represented. While the performers are taking a break to warm up their vocal cords or massage the grand piano’s tense strings, guests can watch local sports on the big screen.
Rose petals speckle the candlelit stairway that descends into Shalel Lounge, establishing a romantic vibe that permeates the entire space. As vanilla smoke curls from a smoldering incense stick, guests canoodle in shadowy corners or private cavernous rooms. Here and there, lanterns and sequined throw pillows channel a Moroccan aesthetic that extends to the menu, which includes marinated olives, bruschetta, and lamb cigars. Each small dish occupies a square ceramic, supplying three or four heavily spiced bites. According to Serious Eats, Shalel Lounge is best suited for "a sexytime date."
Beneath a 24-karat gold-leafed ceiling, patrons admire murals hand-painted by famed Madeline author Ludwig Bemelmans. Bartender’s choices and seasonal selections rotate into a regular menu that includes rare scotches, small-batch whiskeys, and cocktails such as a passion royale with passion-fruit vodka, champagne, and fresh limejuice.