If you thought that the Speakeasy was dead, then think again. It is alive and well one night a week in Santa Monica.
The Vic catering company turns into a New York style jazz club every Thursday night. Some pretty hip names in the world of jazz show up on a regular basis to savor the music and enjoy the food and drinks, and the cool thing is, you have to know the password in order to get in. This is a pretty hip place to impress out of town guests, kind of like a private club that is open to the public.
There are two shows nightly at 8.00 pm and 10.00 pm with a $20 cover and a two drink minimum. There is also a late midnight show for the younger crowd, but if you arrive for the early show and want to stick around for the second set, no one is going to kick you out. The food is pretty good too, judging by the tiny Southern Crab Cakes with a spicy remoulade sauce priced at a generous $9. Other appetizers on the short but very appealing menu, include the never out of style Classic Shrimp Cocktail ($9.75) and more homage to the all conquering Asian fusion cuisine with a Thai Chicken Satay ($8) with peanut dipping sauce.
Main courses include steaks, chicken, salmon, ravioli, chili and a vegetarian dish, and if you are still hungry then the desserts are great, especially the Chocolate Raspberry Cake with vanilla mousse and raspberry coulis. We would be remiss to not mention the range of Martini's that the club is proud of, all priced around $10 and with such exotic names as the Ella Fitzgerald, Blue Monk, Fancy Nancy and Gin Dizzy.
The night I went along after hearing about the club from a regular, an Italian jazz singer from New York called Roberta Gambarini was the featured artist. She attracted an insider crowd that had obviously seen her perform in New York or heard about her, and she truly delivered the goods. Accompanied by a stellar trio, she cruised through standards and a few originals in a room that was acoustically perfect for the music. Blood Sweat and Tears drummer Bobby Colombi and long time Los Angeles Times Jazz Critic Don Heckman were just a couple of the regulars I bumped into after the show.
Future attractions include the Ernie Watts Quartet (left).
Tell a friend about Speakeasy
Mike Hepworth, September 2004