Gold-leaf writing inscribed across the towering red portico at the entrance to The Shannon Rose Irish Pub announces what one might expect to find inside: “Premium Stouts,” “Irish Whiskies,” and other culinary staples of the Emerald Isles. Behind this imposing entryway lies a series of dining rooms that have a markedly different effect; chandeliers create a sense of intimacy as they illuminate Gaelic artwork and aged hardcovers resting on lofty bookshelves.
With six handcrafted beers on tap and a full menu of delicious pub provisions, J.J. Bitting Brewing Company enrobes taste buds in warm, comfortable flavors. The Blazing Brewhouse wings ($5.95) perk up palates with a tangy zest that earned them the title of Best Hot Wings in Woodbridge by BestHotWings.com. Wrangle the Colorado burger's bison patty into hungry mouths aided by sautéed onions, mushrooms, and sun-dried-tomato pesto mayo ($7.95), or follow the delicate salmon steak's incredible journey through pan-searing and potato-breading before rousing it from snug beds of rice and fresh veggies ($15.95). Like the cool table in a high-school cafeteria, Bitting's homegrown pints ($4.50 each) stay popular with or without delicious food. The Garden State IPA balances appealing bitterness with a floral aroma, and the heavily roasted Black Jack Stout swoops up from cellars to slake any thirst in the house.
Big Shots' massive, three-floored space bombards sports fans with walls covered in flat-screen televisions, ensuring they never miss a kick, toss, or posttouchdown pirouette. While patrons soak up multimedia entertainment from every direction, cooks whip up a menu of classic bar grub, such as specialty pizzas and burgers named after NFL teams, including the brown-gravy-drenched Chicago Bear and the cheddar- and bacon-topped Green Bay Packers. At night, the establishment can transform into an all-out dance party led by live bands and DJs.
A union of Middle Eastern and Western cultures, Fire N Ice Hookah Bar combines the laid-back charm of a hookah lounge with the music and swank of a nightclub. Customers roam through the electric bi-level space flooded by soft colorful lighting before picking their poison—hookah, drinks, food, or all three.
In the hookah lounge, they curl up on plush sofas cushioned by satiny pillows and reach out every so often to grasp the hookah pipe as it’s passed around, inhaling any one of 25 exotic hookah flavors. The smoke spirals up toward Middle Eastern tapestries hanging overhead or snakes around the top-shelf cocktails perched beside the pipe. It even intermingles briefly with the aromas wafting from Middle Eastern dishes—such as chicken tikka, korma sliders, and kebabs—before vanishing into the air as quickly as a magician at a science fair.
As the night lingers on, Fire N Ice begins its transformation into a full-blown nightclub. Belly dancers take to the stage first, twisting and shimmying across the spacious dance floor. By 11 p.m., the club's three DJs begin spinning top R & B and hip-hop hits intermixed with a few Arabian jams, signaling to guests that it's their turn to hit the floor.
Dugout Pub South tempts appetites with slow-cooked, smoked ribs, thin crust pizzas crowned with clams or deep-fried calamari, and more than 25 burgers made with 8-ounce Angus beef patties and toppings such as blue cheese, banana peppers, and house-made chili. Inside the dining area, four dartboards, a shuffleboard table, and flat-screen TVs entertain patrons sipping libations from the full bar, which features 20 different brews on tap. Live entertainment includes DJs, bands, karaoke, and wandering minstrels, tickling the ears of customers in the dining area or outside on the tiki deck.
With a barbed-wire fence as its backdrop, The Looney Bin Comedy Club, opened just last year, promises its patrons a night of cutting-to-the-core comedy provided by both up-and-coming and veteran stand-up comics. As giant portraits of Eddie Murphy, Dane Cook, and Don Rickles look on, you will exhaust your internal laugh-engine at any show, thanks to the funny-bone fuel of such glee-gas-pumpers as mirthful magic-maker Chipps Cooney, appearing on Saturday, October 30, or punch-line slinger Joseph Anthony, appearing on Saturday, November 6. As your eyes drink in the chill, relaxing vibes of the club's space, each ticket holder's taste buds will drink in two selections from The Looney Bin's bar, featuring adult libations such as Samuel Adams beers, long island iced teas, and Bloody Marys, able to lubricate vocal chords sore from constant chuckling.