Sunday, June 17, 2007

Reed's Jazz & Supper Club

Uh oh, I might never leave


I have a confession. I have the larvae of a barfly buried deep inside. Nature and nurture squelched it until reality firmly entrenched me into stolid respectability and here I remain after five decades of breathing. No matter what happens the night before, I get up and go to the 9-to-5 on the morning after. It has always been thus, even when the night before brought disaster and the morning after brought a horror that life-as-we-know-it had come to an end. But some moments the worm turns and reminds me of the dissipation that might have been.

Rabbit Trail: In October 1988, Bird arrived in theaters. The life of Charlie Parker, godfather of bebop. I saw it in the paper and purposed in my heart to go, but the first weekend I was busy. The next weekend it was gone. In 1989, it won the Oscar for Best Sound and a Waco theater brought it back. As soon as I saw it in the paper, I went to the theater. I went directly to the theater; I didn't pass Go; I didn't collect $200. I paid my $4 (hey, it was 1989) got my popcorn and proceded to an empty auditorium where I picked the center seat about 10 rows from the front. I sat through the previews and when the movie started, I was the only guy in the joint. I felt like Elvis. About 20 minutes in, I heard a noise and looked back. There was one other guy about 5 rows back on my left. Nobody else came in. Charlie Parker was the poster child for dissipated jazz genius. I was born exactly one year to the day after he died. On the other hand, I was born on my maternal father's birthday, and I'm pretty sure he never heard of Charlie Parker.

Live jazz in a bar makes the worm spin like a rotisserie chicken on acid. I ordered a gin martini to make it feel at home.

Reed's Jazz and Supper Club is a great experience, even for those with no internal rotating barfly larvae. Heck, even The Woman liked it.

We both had a good-sized lunch, so we opted for an array of appetizers. We got there in time for happy hour, which includes half price on calamari, fried oysters, Thai chicken wraps, crab cakes and New Orleans BBQ shrimp. We started off with the calamari and shrimp.

Most places you go, the calamari is almost popcorn calamari - a pile of breaded, deep-fried, chewey tentacles the thickness of shoelace at best. Not at Reed's. These things were chunky, tender, finger-sized strips lightly breaded with a peppery batter reminiscent of catfish batter. Great with lemon. The sauce that came with it was a highly atypical sauce that was a close cousin of Lousiana hot sauce. Even better with lemon and the sauce. The other plate sported 4 jumbo shrimp and 2 crunchy bread slices. Taken with the BBQ sauce, they were so rich I felt like I was eating lobster. There was plenty of sauce left over and the waitress brought extra bread for dipping. Oh yeah.

We still had half-an-hour of happiness left, so we ordered the chicken and crab. The crab cakes comprised 2 large, deep-fried balls. Decent, but couldn't compare to the calamari and shrimp. The Thai chicken wraps were slices of chicken, carrot and other stuff on two large lettuce leaves with some sauce. The chicken tasted more of chicken salad than Thai, and the sauce was mainly oil and hot spice. An interesting angle, but our first two choices were the most satisfying. We didn't try the oysters, since The Woman is not a fan and I am ambivalent at best.

The appetizers carried us through the happy hour and the first set of Denia Ridley and Marc Devine. We were sated but not surfeited. A vanilla bean creme brulee topped it off nicely. It was everything a creme brulee should be, crunchy on the top, custardy on the bottom, with a nice flavor. The whole bill, 4 appetizers, 2 drinks and dessert was $33. Not bad for a classy night out.

The regular prices are somewhat steeper, ($17-24) so your mileage may vary. I'm thinking about switching my day-to-venture-into-the-world-at-large to Wednesday next week, so I can experience the Marc Devine trio, straight-up piano trio jazz. The worm is calling for a night of it. I don't know if The Woman is trained up for such a marathon. Might have to make alternate plans. Stay tuned.

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