Tongues of flame twist in a fireplace, hinting at the warmth filling the bustling kitchen at MK Valencia. Rail lighting spills a blue aura over dishes that draw from myriad culinary traditions. Mediterranean flavors shine through in salmon drizzled in a pesto sauce and lamb osso bucco. In the dining room, glasses clink occasionally like a xylophonist failing a performance review, setting a tempo for the wait staff, which totes roasted salmon in a pesto sauce.
A curtain of bubbles rises up through champagne cocktails in lively colors that match the crescent-shaped orange booths or electric-blue wine racks. During warmer months, the murmur of conversation spills out onto a patio equipped with a 75" TV. Inside, the lounge also offers two 60" TVs.
True to its name, Just Grapes Lounge focuses on wines, with more than 30 vintages poured by the glass and 18 more varieties sequestered on a reserve bottle list. Microbrews, champagnes, and ports round out the lounge's full bar, complementing a Mediterranean-tinged tapas menu. Small plates, ranging from hummus and crostini to stuffed baked clams, are ideal for smothering appetites or boosting a tiny table's self-esteem. Three styles of rustic pizza artfully pair tomatoes with cheese, whereas molten fondue, served in a bread bowl, comes in varieties including gorgonzola and double-cream brie.
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.
Proponents of the slow-food movement, Bibi'z Restaurant and Lounge's proprietors believe that meals deserve to be savored rather than scarfed down. To that end, their chefs ensure that diners have plenty to relish: they use simple techniques to bring out flavors in sustainable and wild-caught fish, grass-fed Black Angus beef, and locally sourced organic produce, dairy, and poultry. The culinary team incorporates those ingredients into dishes such as vegetarian wild-mushroom ravioli with a butternut-squash cream sauce, pan-seared duck breast with a reduction of Asian five-spice, and gluten-free braised short ribs with a parsnip puree. In 2014, Bergen.com awarded the restaurant with the titles of Best Healthy Restaurant and Best Place for Girls' Night Out.
Hand-selected from sustainable wineries at home and abroad, organic and biodynamic wines?more of 50 of which are available by the glass?add their own nuanced flavors to meals. Barkeeps also quench thirsts with complimentary still and sparkling water filtered in house rather than taken straight from the blowhole of a whale. Each leisurely feast unfolds on Bibi'z's airy outdoor patio or in a spacious dining room replete with a fireplace and a lounge full of comfy leather chairs.