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DINING: Jazz Kitchen also makes beautiful music

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Dining - A&E

Is it fair to review a restaurant when it is trying to serve a packed house of customers who all have arrived and leave at roughly the same time?

Of course, it isn’t.

But I’m going to do it anyway because, under such potentially adverse conditions, I was served an outstanding meal when I visited The Jazz Kitchen recently to see The Max Weinberg Big Band (see thoughts on the show itself at www.ibj.com/arts).
 

Jazz Kitchen menu items For a taste of Jazz Kitchen offerings, start with the Appetizer Sampler featuring crab cakes, shrimp and more. (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

The appetizer side of The Jazz Kitchen menu includes Homemade Crab Cakes ($10), Grilled Shrimp Cocktail ($10), Taquitos de Speed ($9) and Jamaican Patties ($9). But you can try them all on the Appetizer Sampler ($22). Well, usually. The kitchen was out of the Taquitos, but was more than willing to supplement our already abundant platter with extra shrimp. The Crab Cakes were moist and marvelous—even better with Creole mayonnaise. The flaky Jamaica Patties were fried just right and filled with flavorful ground beef. And the shrimp had the added bonus of a tomato horseradish that indicated care that really matters when you are eating in a dark space.

The menu also includes Filet Mignon ($24), Honey Bourbon Glazed Pork Chop ($16) and a nice range of other seafood and pasta dishes. I didn’t have the patience to wait for the Paella ($38 for a two-person serving). It’s been years since I’ve done it, but I still remember the delicious combination of shrimp, scallops, sausage, chicken, saffron rice and more that few eateries here even attempt. But you have to give the kitchen at least an hour’s warning so, instead, I had Satchmo’s Etouffee ($13), with chicken and andouille sausage in a strong, dark sauce that was even better the next day when I took care of the leftovers.

There are pizzas and burgers as well, but the Jazz Kitchen doesn’t slouch on these familiar bar staples. Our JK Bistro Burger ($9) consisted of one-half pound of never-frozen ground sirloin direct from L.E. Kincaid & Sons Meat Market on nearby Illinois Street. Served on a corn-dusted bun, it’s one of the city’s best burgers.

With the concert over, we rushed through the White Chocolate Blueberry Bread Pudding that deserved to be savored. Yes, it’s as good as it sounds. Outside, another crowd was already lining up to hear the music—and test the kitchen.

Note: If you are a Jazz Kitchen newcomer and want to sample both the food and music, stop in on Mondays, when there’s usually no cover charge. On Nov. 1, that means saxophonist Frank Glover and his new group Kilho. On the 8th, pianist Gary Walter and the Icarus Ensemble perform. For a full schedule—and a menu—visit www.thejazzkitchen.com.•

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First in our month-long series of reviews of double-letter restaurants.

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  1. With Pence running the ship good luck with a new government building on the site. He does everything on the cheap except unnecessary roads line a new beltway( like we need that). Things like state of the art office buildings and light rail will never be seen as an asset to these types. They don't get that these are the things that help a city prosper.

  2. Does the $100,000,000,000 include salaries for members of Congress?

  3. "But that doesn't change how the piece plays to most of the people who will see it." If it stands out so little during the day as you seem to suggest maybe most of the people who actually see it will be those present when it is dark enough to experience its full effects.

  4. That's the mentality of most retail marketers. In this case Leo was asked to build the brand. HHG then had a bad sales quarter and rather than stay the course, now want to go back to the schlock that Zimmerman provides (at a considerable cut in price.) And while HHG salesmen are, by far, the pushiest salesmen I have ever experienced, I believe they are NOT paid on commission. But that doesn't mean they aren't trained to be aggressive.

  5. The reason HHG's sales team hits you from the moment you walk through the door is the same reason car salesmen do the same thing: Commission. HHG's folks are paid by commission they and need to hit sales targets or get cut, while BB does not. The sales figures are aggressive, so turnover rate is high. Electronics are the largest commission earners along with non-needed warranties, service plans etc, known in the industry as 'cheese'. The wholesale base price is listed on the cryptic price tag in the string of numbers near the bar code. Know how to decipher it and you get things at cost, with little to no commission to the sales persons. Whether or not this is fair, is more of a moral question than a financial one.

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