On Sunday at Cannon's Blackthorn, a fluid collective of flutists, drummers, and fiddlers gather around brick fireplaces and play traditional Irish music through the afternoon. They welcome all musicians into their circle, as well as the occasional Irish dancers, whose footfalls reverberate off the dining room's stone floors and wood walls. Though Sundays provide the liveliest display of Irish pride at Cannon's Blackthorn, the eatery celebrates Irish culture in more subtle ways throughout the week. Dining companions can settle into private enclaves to share a romantic dinner and whisper sweet nutritional facts into one another's ears before noshing on hearty meat stews and pot pies. Additionally, bartenders pour brews until 4 a.m. seven nights a week.
The bartenders at The Drunken Penguin boost spirits with a slew of drink specials and a limited but affordable menu of pub fare. An Internet jukebox pumps tunes throughout the bar's two floors as patrons hit the dance floor, chug digital pellets on a classic Pac-Man arcade machine, and cheer for their favorite zamboni drivers during NHL broadcasts on six TVs. Each night of the week highlights different specials and themes, from beer-pong tournaments on Tuesday to six-hour Texas Hold 'em marathons on Sunday night.
The gastronomic gurus at Manhattan Bar & Lounge populate a menu with upscale American dishes and small plates. Diners can smother stomach fires with a cold antipasto plate, which comes adorned with a trio of italian meats—prosciutto, sopressata, and genoa salami—as well as fresh olives and artichokes ($12). A collection of handheld treats, including an herb-roasted tomato flatbread ($14) and a ham-and-mozzarella panini ($9), keeps rabble-rousing fingers from initiating unsolicited thumb wars, and the baby arugula salad ($9) turns plates into a garden of fresh flavors. On the sweeter side, velvety double-chocolate-mousse cake ($7) and creamy tiramisu ($7) follow up main courses and make uvulas swoon. Throughout meals, diners employ their full set of senses by admiring the dark wooden décor and relishing live music and performances from entertainers such as cover bands, belly dancers, and waiter impersonators.
Out on the sunny patio during warmer months, or tucked into a cozy leather booth in the winter, visitors to RJ Daniels American Bar & Grill are sure to find comfort, straight down to the food. During dinner, customers can kick off meals with a classic shrimp cocktail before building a custom burger, or slicing into tender strip steak in a red-wine mushroom sauce. RJ Daniels also serves lunch and weekend brunch, ideal for lazily enjoying crab-cakes benedict or steak and eggs with a hot, fresh-brewed cup of coffee.
A resurrection of Al B. White’s 1939’s vaudeville landmark, the “new” Retro Lounge serves up a menu courtesy of executive chef Nilka Hendricks, best known for her work on season seven of Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen. Chef Hendricks' diverse array of palette-pleasing dinner dishes ranges from the grilled rib-eye steak rubbed with jamaican jerk seasoning ($23) to the zesty shrimp and crab enchiladas with saffron rice and a lobster bisque sour cream sauce ($14). At lunch, guests can build their own sandwiches from more than 50 different fillings culled from beasts of the land, sea, air, and soil ($4.25–$5.25), or gobble up a slew of salads ($6–$7.50) or gourmet paninis such as the Brooklyn Avenue, with veggies slathered in goat cheese, olive tapenade, and balsamic-honey ($6.75).
Liquid Bar & Lounge’s menu of small plates puts a tropical twist on classic pub fare. Duos or quartets can sip on a revolving daily soup, such as pumpkin (Tuesdays) or pepperpot (Mondays), or weigh down flighty tummies with wings slathered in buffalo, barbecue, garlic-parmesan, jerk, spicy, or chipotle sauce. A cadre of island-influenced fare includes conch fritters, fried calamari with cherry jalapeño, and shrimp riding a wave of guacamole on a corn-chip surfboard. Once small plates have sated their stomachs’ appetite for savories, diners can break promises to the tooth fairy with desserts such as bread pudding drenched in rum sauce, sweet spanish fritters, or slabs of red-velvet cake.