Rock 'n' roll at decibels far above levels that nurture healthy eardrums drives my feet across the dance floor. Tiny white lights twinkle at the ceiling, and spotlights, showcasing sweating musicians on the stage, bounce off the mirror behind them, illuminating the group like a brilliant sun at the center of a dark universe.
One of a crowd of weekend revelers, I am dancing, after having sampled the fare at Indulge!, the restaurant and nightclub that opened on Allentown's Union Boulevard, across from Agere, about eight months ago.
Make no mistake about it; Indulge is first and foremost a nightclub. At Indulge!, there's music every night. Fridays and Saturdays feature dance bands, live jazz and Latin dancing. Karaoke's the thing on Mondays, and DJs spin music magic during the rest of the week. On Sunday afternoons, live blues accompanies wine-tasting events.
Sure the food is good, but it wouldn't be reason enough for me to make the nightclub a dining destination.
Inside the club, formerly Alexander's restaurant, the decor is like an empty palette waiting for each evening's crowd. Cream-colored walls are bare, with the only color in the large dining room/club provided by maroon tablecloths. Even votive candles flickering on the tables in simple, clear glass holders are white. A few plants dab a sense of green here and there.
Two bars, along with a bar at the outdoor patio, underscore the nightclub focus. A cigar lounge also offers pleasures of the tobacco kind.
The menu, however, features much more than bar food, to be sure. Along with de rigueur appetizers, sandwiches, burgers and wraps, choices include steak and seafood entrees, pasta, salads and soups even an array of desserts made on premises.
When I visited Indulge! for dinner, we started with coconut chicken from the appetizer list, which included wings and nachos, breaded ravioli, sauteed mussels and more. The three fingers of boneless, skinless breast meat covered with toasted coconut and served with pineapple coconut sauce were quite tasty, although the sauce seemed a little thin.
Spinach salad from the evening's specials list was a visually appealing combination of baby spinach, strawberries, slivered almonds and red onion. The berries added a sweet note to the flavor and texture, but the dressing a little too tart kept the salad from hitting the high note that was its potential.
A portobello mushroom sandwich from the selection of burgers, steak and club sandwiches was a winner. Marinated in fresh basil balsamic vinaigrette, the mushroom cap was topped with mozzarella and roasted red pepper that was just crisp enough to offer textural contrast. Only a denser, heartier roll could make this sandwich better.
Entree choices ranged from open roast beef and turkey sandwiches to lobster ravioli, broiled seafood combination and Delmonico steak. The ample portion of broiled, lump Maryland crab cakes (three), which included pieces of red pepper and carrot, could have benefited from a bit more crab. Mashed sweet potatoes, simply prepared with little seasoning, were very good.
The dessert menu successfully seduced me into submitting to its indulgences.
After all, who can't find a way to justify a guiltless brownie sundae? I'm not sure how guiltless this sundae was, but I am sure it was awfully good considering it was made with a low fat brownie topped with vanilla frozen yogurt.
Hawaiian angel food cake was tasty, but not what the menu promised. The cake's topping described as ''pineapples and toasted coconut'' turned out to be a meringue-like layer without the pieces of fruit I expected.
Dinner for two, including tax, tip and nonalcoholic beverages, totaled $43.
Susan Gottshall is a freelance restaurant reviewer for Go Guide. Gottshall, who tells it like it is, attempts to remain anonymous during restaurant visits. All meals are paid for by The Morning Call.
Features Editor Linda O'Connell