Countless fiber-optic cables comprise a titanic custom chandelier in Vango Lounge & Sky Bar’s main dining room, casting a glow over tufted-velvet walls and plates of Japanese continental cuisine. During a typical meal, yellowtail and grilled vegetables may top small plates of crostini, and wasabi mashed potatoes sidle up to larger entrees such as braised-beef short ribs in sweet teriyaki sauce. As chefs compose eel and avocado rolls or slice delicate pieces of salmon sushi, bartenders mix specialty cocktails, such as the Sundance with Absolut Raspberri and Godiva white-chocolate liqueur. Luxe decorations—including wall nooks that display sleek bottles of vodka and a wall that holds 200 inlaid fresh roses every night—dapple the 8,000-square-foot lounge. Upstairs on the roof deck, revelers can admire the surrounding skyline from a seat at the bar, boogie on the dance floor to nightly DJs, or secretly read comic books under the covers of king-size lounge beds.
Periodically, cries of "Nevermore!" reverberate through The Raven Lounge, which continually reaches out to local celebs such as NBC 10's John Clark to deliver in-house readings of the classic Poe poem. They are among many famous faces that fill the club, where six area DJs spin the latest jams every week, bands frequently blast out their tunes, and comedians H. Foley and Chris Cotton host open mic comedy every Thursday.
Neon lettering scrawled on the ceilings helps illuminate the two-floor lounge, where projectors and flat-screens showcase sports and, as reported on BBC Two, members of the rock, papers, scissors league compete for a spot in the world championship in Las Vegas. To complement optional bottle service from the fully stocked bar, The Raven Lounge's menu of bar classics includes chicken and vegetable dumplings or hot dogs from a late night menu that starts at 2 a.m.
Just about every night at 8 p.m., two musicians take their seats at opposing baby grand pianos, and the show at Jollys Dueling Piano Bar begins. For the next, say, six or so hours, they'll belt out crowd favorites by Billy Joel and Lady Gaga, pausing to take audience requests or serenade a birthday honoree. But even without the rollicking performance, there would be plenty to draw people to the bar—namely, the food and drinks. A rotating list of craft beers and sweet cocktails complements a menu of spicy bacon burgers, goat cheese flatbreads, and housemade guacamole.
The chefs at Aki Japanese Fusion Restaurant & Sake Bar experiment with ingredients and recipes from a host of countries, but the flavors of Japan shine through most noticeably. Traditional Japanese entrees such as tempura-fried shrimp and teriyaki-glazed chicken offer heartier options, though the chefs also demonstrate a commitment to simple, elegant bites. The salmon nigiri "particularly rocked," according to Philadelphia Weekly, "melting on the tongue like pats of butter." Amid these familiar sushi-house staples, the menu also features a handful of items that embrace the fusion theme. Globetrotting menu options include broiled black cod marinated in miso paste and topped with mango salsa, and the tuna pancake—a tortilla layered with guacamole, raw tuna, and a spicy caviar and scallion sauce. Just like the menu, the decor has a similar fusion theme. "Although new Aki, with its red velvet booths and sleek black accents, may feel more nightclub than neighborhood sushi spot, it manages to play both roles relatively well," says Philadelphia magazine. Cherry-wood floorboards and a wall of exposed stonework help convey this homey, neighborhood spirit, while sunset-orange walls and soft lantern lighting create a lounge-like ambiance where sipping one of the bar's numerous sakes or specialty cocktails feels perfectly natural.
In 2012, a group of well-connected Philly nightlife entrepreneurs transformed an old Spaghetti Warehouse restaurant in the Spring Garden neighborhood into Union Transfer, and it quickly became one of the most popular music venues in the city. Several nights a week, this mid-size, 1,000-capacity club books generally indie and small-label national touring bands: the garagey Heartless Bastards, retro-soul purveyors Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and the synthy electronic-music trio Chvrches are the types of bands that grace Union Transfer’s stage. Shows are general admission with limited seating available in the upstairs balcony. Most concertgoers stand in the main floor area in front of the stage. During all-ages shows, concertgoers need a wristband to access one of the three bars.
An Exotic Ambiance
Bolts of crimson and green fabric embellished with golden patterns adorn the walls of Fez Moroccan Restaurant. Seated atop cushioned stools, diners surround the room's low-slung circular tables as Moroccan music echoes throughout the space and Friday and Saturday evenings herald the arrival of belly dancers. Collectively, these elements create an unmistakably Morroccan atmosphere.
A Feast for the Senses
As evidenced by the swirling aromas of saffron, honey and almonds, and harissa-cumin sauces, the chefs are equally committed to the task of capturing the essence of Morocco. In addition to the selection of kabobs and tagines, the menu features a variety of vegetarian as well as meat-laden couscous dishes. The savory smells mingle with the slightly sweet smoke of the fruit-flavored shisha smoldering in the hookahs.
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