Local blues musicians and other artists generate a suitably warming and varied aural backdrop on which executive chef Patrick Pierre-Jerome swirls together flavors from New Orleans, Europe, and further afield. Hat City Kitchen's menu fills plates with inventive takes on comfort food such as shrimp and grits, jambalaya, bread pudding, and baby back ribs. The ribs don a combination of plum sauce, hoisin sauce, ketchup, and cocoa, which the New York Times says "sounds like a mouthful and, happily, is."
In front of a blocky quilted curtain, a rotating roster of live performers strums guitars and charms snakes back into drum kits beneath the exposed ductwork that runs above the cabaret-style seating. Hands Inc., a local nonprofit, presides over the eatery and works with a variety of artists to raise funds for projects designed to improve the Valley area.
Mention the Cryan family to South Orange locals and they'll probably tell you stories. They'll talk about the sons who've worked as chiefs of the local police and fire departments, the father who emigrated from Ireland in the '40s, and the lively parties held at Cryan's Beef & Ale House. Captained by the youngest son, Jimmy, the 30-year-old local landmark is the last of the 30 pubs and eateries the family owned throughout Jersey.
An Irish flag waves outside the cheerful Celtic storefront, beckoning passersby in for some beer and Irish pub classics. Inside, a St. Patrick statue smiles down on rows of cushy green booths, where diners wrap their hands around corned beef sandwiches and hearty Angus beef burgers. Among regular patrons are students from the nearby Seton Hall University and a woman named Carol, who has eaten there every night since 1982. Throughout the week, the restaurant plays host to lively events, from spirited DJ college nights to traditional Irish music shows.
At Slate Restaurant, a bar the size of stretch limo radiates red light and glass facets hang like icicles from a glowing blue chandelier. This delicate balance between hot and cool is central not only to the atmosphere, but also to the cuisine—in the kitchen, chefs enhance herb-crusted fish and roasted meats with sweet-and-spicy flourishes including slices of roasted pineapple and splashes of spicy chili sauce.
After 10 p.m. on the weekends, however, attention shifts away from the delicate balance to focus on live DJs spinning pulsating dance beats, a panel of flickering flat-screen TVs, and strobe lights streaking across the dance floor. Bartenders mix inventive drinks such as sake bombs and green tea martinis until 2 a.m. on weekends.
Though the idea of shared plates most often conjures up images of dainty Spanish tapas, the communal meals at Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant are hardly suitable for passing. Instead, everyone sits around and digs right into a giant platter called a beyainatu, which translates to ?a little bit of this, and a little bit of that.? Diners tear off pieces of flat, spongy bread known as injera and scoop up dollops of rich stews. Ethiopia?s signature dish, doro wat, is a mouth-warming union of chicken, traditional berbere spices, and hard-boiled egg. Each entree comes paired with two vegan sides, such as the curried vegetables of tikil gomen or the slow-cooked chickpeas and herbs of shiro. The chefs work particularly well with lamb and seafood, which best show off delicate hints of saut?ed herbs and chilis.
Sitting in Harusame Japanese Cuisine can feel like spending an evening in a friend's living room. Plush fabric drapes from the ceiling, scrolls hang from the walls, and soft light fills the space from overhead lamps. That feeling isn't accidental—the restaurant's goal is to make customers feel like family, though its menu could feed a small army. It includes more than 35 sushi rolls and dozens of ocean-fresh, sashimi-grade cuts of fish served à la carte. To sample the full array of aquatic delights, diners can opt for the all-you-can-eat menu, digging into constantly refilled rolls and appetizers. A BYOB policy rounds out the room's hospitality, allowing patrons to tote along their favorite tipple to sip on thorough their meal.
Planet Wings was born in 1994, when Franco and Paula Fidanza, unsatisfied with the current state of fast food delivery, decided to up the ante by combining quick, accessible cuisine and the rising popularity of fried chicken wings. Now, the duo's signature wings and hearty dishes are available at locations spanning five states. Diners can savor 24 wing sauces such as hot, medium, Cajun, butter garlic, and bourbon barbecue, or opt for non-wing options such as burgers, salads, or sandwiches.