L’Archiduc, Brussels

L’Archiduc is our type of joint. According to the New York Times 36 Hours in Brussels, “Nazis were rumored to have frequented the bar during the German occupation; today, the clientele consists mainly of goateed beatniks and media types. L’Archiduc is particularly popular with jazz fans — Miles Davis once jammed there — and impromptu jam sessions often take place on weekends…”.

As we first walked in, there is a baby grand piano with gorgeous florals and lilies on top. The staff are relaxed and although there wasn’t live jazz that evening (weekends), we enjoyed the chill vibe. The walls were lined with a booth area and the bar was small, but does its job.

Although Belgian beers were at our disposal, Campari and Orange was exactly what did the job. We’ll have to return for the live stuff next time.

After hanging, we had to wander and see the Grand Palace at night.


Battery Jazz Bar, Fairmont Battery Wharf, North End, Boston

As a former resident of the North End, on Friday and Saturday evenings I would avoid the chaos of Hanover Street. By contrast, the outskirts of Little Italy’s wharf area is tranquil and almost too quiet in the evenings. We have visited the Fairmont Battery Wharf Hotel several times now for various events and love the ambiance. Also, we deeply enjoy the twinkle light lined entryway on the way to the hotel.

The Fairmont Battery Wharf‘s Battery Jazz Lounge features talented musicians Friday and Saturday evenings from 9pm until midnight andis a great alternative to Cambridge’s Ryles and Wally’s in the South End. The jazz bar seating is immediately upon entrance into the hotel and is adjacent to Aragosta Bar and Bistro. The lounge itself is idyllic for a relaxed evening of jazz.

We have visited the Beehive for jazz on several occasions and more recently to support our friend and talented musician Mark Zaleski. His newest musical iteration is himself, a pianist and drummer called Trioleski. These guys know how to riff, comp and make musical magic.

While enjoying the music, we enjoyed a Pete’s Summer ($5). The flavor of the beer was light and layered. Very cooling.

The Pete’s Nut ($5), was a bit heavier and had oak notes. This beer would be great with some fries or a burger.

The Arnold Palmer was a nice summer drink, a combination of half ice tea and house made lemonade. The drink itself was very concentrated from the lemonade, so we diluted it with a quarter glass of water ($5).

 Loved the glass art and angels’ wings hanging from the ceiling.

We would definitely return for some more jazz at the Wharf, especially when Trioleski is playing Friday evenings. We have yet to try the restaurant and would love to sample the Truffle Rigatoni with Warm Goat Cheese Fondue ($16), Warm Black Mission Figs Wrapped in Prosciutto, Gorgonzola Dolce ($13) and try two desserts ($8 each), the olive oil cake with limoncello sorbetto and the fried zeppoles.

All Seasons Table, Malden, Revisited Again

We are obsessed with All Seasons Table and more than willing to profess our ardent love for the zen and spacious Malden restaurant (BMH’s All Seasons Table review and AST revisited).

After countless evenings of jazz, catch up dinners and larger group celebrations in the orchid surrounded back dining area, we had to capture another visit to AST.

The Pan-Asian restaurant is worth the trip to Malden because of its consistent, fresh and flavorful Pan-Asian entrees and sushi .

From the Dinner Specials menu we had to order the spicy edamame with the heat from the chili flake, lovely garlic and tamarind flavor ($5.95).

We could have indulged in the many cocktails and frozen drinks the from the bartender masters, but we opted for some anti-oxidant rich Japanese green tea.
We kicked off our appetizers with two orders of Roti Canai ($5.95). The spicy curry chicken Singapore-style, served with airy Malaysian bread was flavorful and the light bread. We could have doubled the order, but didn’t. Next time.The Lady in Red Maki ($13.95)  was another must order and truly special roll. The crispy Soft shell crab tempura center is topped with fresh sushi-grade tuna and orange tobiko drizzled with balsamic syrup. The sweet, salty flavors with textural contrast is perfect. We enjoyed our standards maki rolls including the Idaho sweet potato maki ($5.60), Shitake Tempura Maki ($5.65) and Yellowtail Maki ($6.45). They were consistenty delivered, prepared fresh and completely devoured.

The shitake tempura was crispy and earthy, the yellow tail was fresh and smooth and the tuna was buttery.

We really enjoyed the Singapore Fried Rice ($8.95). The dry rice was peppered with layers of flavors from the juicy Chinese sausage, caramelized onion and scrambled egg topped with a handful of cilantro, scallions and fried red onion. The dish was very tasty and we would order this gain. The Malaysian curry chicken ($9.95) had super tender and juicy chicken, a smooth curry filled with onion flavor. The blanched broccoli was a nice contrast to the chef’s special curry sauce. The House Special Pan-Fried noodles were so good. I do not describe them another way than so good ($11.95). The thin yellow noodles lightly pan – fried were topped with juicy chicken, beef, onion, bok choy , carrots and snap peas s in a glistening house special brown sauce. The Sesame Crispy Chicken was executed well, sweet and prepared well. However, a dish you could get anywhere in Chinatown ($8.90).We can not believe out good fortune to have enjoyed All Season’s Table over the years and we can not wait for another meal.
All Seasons Table on Urbanspoon

The Beehive, South End, Boston

After we tasted The Beehive’s Chef Rebecca Newell’s homage to her grandmother, truffled peirogis with homemade smoked salmon at the Chefs for Obama fundraiser, we knew we would be back to The Cyclorama to try Newell’s menu. The Beehive oozes cool with the red and gold curtains, funky art and its cavernous space.

Since 2007, The Beehive has been a Bohemian fixture in the South End offering creative cuisine, brunch, well crafted-cocktails and of course the jazz. We have been to The Beehive week nights for happy hour and birthdays, but never for a proper meal.

On weekends, the line is out the door and sometimes a long wait. The crowd can be hit or miss and the bar area uncomfortably overcrowded.  Our other favorite jazz haunts are Regatta BarWally’s and Darryl’s Corner Bar.

We were happy to enjoy the performance  of one of the most charismatic and talented young musicians Mark Zaleski and the angelic Aubry Johnson. Our friend Mark has toured with Jethro Tull and has been performing with Aubry for years now. Mark’s saxophone and innate musicality, whether performing solo or as a guest star, with his Brooklyn-based brother Glenn Zaleski or with a band, really inspires.

We noticed the acoustics varied throughout The Beehive. Although the band’s sound was clear and audible directly in front of the stage, it was difficult to hear Aubry’s airy, yet powerful voice well in the upstairs dining area. Next time, we will plan on requesting or going early for the seats closests to the performers.

In the upstairs dining area, performance footage was projected against the white wall and the holiday lights highlights a very mysterious area behind the brick wall. Super cool.

Our friends enjoyed their Pink Flamingo (Citron Vodka, Luxardo Maraschino Liquer, White Cranberry, Pomegranate) and the Beehive Honey Brew. Although I considered the Persian Kitty cocktail with Pomegranate and ginger liquor, per my friend’s suggestion, I tried the Valentino Martini (Vodka, Blood Orange, Passion fruit) for $11. I would definitely enjoy lightly sweet, tangy and smooth cocktail again.

The Valentino cocktail reminded me of one of my favorite fashion documentaries, Valentino: The Last Emperor, which displays the luxurious world of fashion icon Valentino Garavani, his partner Giancarlo Giammetti and features his last couture collection.

I am always moved by the romantic scene of the elegant ballerinas floating in the air to a haunting opera.  I mentally cheer when Valentino responds to the comment, “There are a lot of people who say no one can replace you.” The designer cleverly states, “Après moi, le déluge.” (After me, the deluge).

When we were in our teens, both my sister and I played jazz piano in the local jazz band. Although we no longer play, we deeply appreciate jazz music and continue to integrate it in our lives.  We love soulful trumpeter Jason Palmer, vocalist Whitney James and through an opera singer friend’s insistence, we are now following vocalist Rachael Price (love her renditions of I Only Have Eyes For You and Trolley Song).

The table shared the Beehive Frites with sage & sea salt ($9), which had the perfect balance of tenderness and crispness. The frites were aromatic and had the right amount of sprinkling of salt. I would order them again and for an additional $1.50, make them into Poutine with cheese and gravy (the Poutine at The Gallows is stellar).

The sole, made gluten-free, was tender, flakey and perfectly cooked. I really enjoyed the brightness from the lemon and the additional bitterness from greens.

I would return to enjoy the jazz brunch and try the Short Rib, Farmhouse Cheddar & Fontina Grilled cheese ($15) and the Borscht Soup for $9 (BMH’s attempt of Borscht and the only other place we know serving borscht is at the Lithuanian Club in South Boston). Just because we love fried dough, we would have to try the Basket of Beignets for $9 (the best beignets are at Cafe du Monde).

The Beehive on Urbanspoon

Darryl’s Corner Bar and Kitchen, Boston

A few years ago, I hosted a cocktail party at the Stork Club, which is now Darryl’s Corner Bar and Kitchen. Darryl’s Corner Bar has had many other identities including Circles and Bob the Chef’s. Each location had iterations of live jazz, southern food or cocktails. Darryl is the founder of the Beantown Jazzfest and co-founder of The Beehive and I believe has made the best version of the past reincarnations.

There are few dinner places which has live jazz, so to enjoy Southern food and cocktails is a treat. There is a $3 cover charge per person added to the check when a diner is present during the live jazz entertainment.

The space is clean, open and next to the bar is a small area for jazz performers.

On Sunday’s, between 10am until 3pm and at the price of $21.95 each person, Darryl’s brunch includes grits, waffles, turkey bacon, links, ham, fried chicken, ribs, rice and beans, mac and cheese and collard greens. Alot of these sides are on the dinner menu.

Mac and cheese and bbq ribsThe buffet line is located in the back room.Candied yams, collard greens and grits

I had a waffle and syrup, mac and cheese, turkey bacon and fried chicken. The best part of the plate was the fried chicken. The chicken was tender and the coating was tasty. The mac and cheese was not warm and the turkey bacon was a bit floppy.

I tried the ribs, which was one of the best items on the buffet line.

Darryl's Corner Bar & Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Preservation Hall, French Quarter, New Orleans

In the 1960’s, Preservation Hall was created and it is run by a non-profit. The goal of the organization is to educate on jazz. Preservation Hall is located in the French Quarter, near Andrew Square. Every evening, from 8pm-11pm they have multiple sets of jazz.

We arrived at 7:30pm for the 8pm start (the band plays 3 sets). There was a line of 40 already in front of us. In the performance hall there is a capacity limit for seating. There are some wood benches, a few side chairs and then cushions on the floor. Those who arrive later must stand. 

The hall and volunteers appreciates exact change. Each ticket is $12 for all sets. The first set experience alone was worth price. For an additional cost, patrons can requests traditional songs for $2.00, others for $5 and The Saints for $10.

We watched The St. Peter Street Playboys perform, which included a father and son team. There was a trombone/vocalist, trumpet, bassoon, pianist and drummer.

The band ranged in age from early 30’s to late 60’s. You could feel their sheer talent and love for jazz. The leader and vocalist had a wonderful tone and had a grandfatherly presence. Each solo performed displayed a different style and highlighted each instrument’s voice.

All the songs were enjoyable and the leader explained musical concepts like syncopation and the history behind a song. The more exceptionally enjoyable were Louis Armstrong’s Miss New Orleans and When the Saints Go Marching In.

Memories and Food: New Orleans

New Orleans was an unforgettable trip. I encourage everyone to go to for a weekend or service trip. Besides the usual Bourbon Street and Mardis Gras type excitement, I really enjoyed the culture, food, Southern charm, architecture and the ability to first hand see the impact and rebuild since Hurricane Katrina.

My friend and I had to have a $10 Hurricane and listen to some blues on Bourbon Street. Although we did not partake in all the frozen drinks, cheap beer specials, walking on the streets open containers, there were many other visitors definitely enjoyed themselves.

On various street corners there were tiles with historic explanations.

A lot of buildings have remnants of old advertising such as the Ginger Mint Julep on Decateur.

We wandered the Botanical Garden, which was completely rebuilt by volunteers after the hurricane and enjoyed the rose gardens, herb gardens, Japanese garden, but best of all the water lilies.

 It is not difficult to envision Monet painting these lovely plant life himself.

Feather masks are quite common in Venice, however in New Orleans, you can buy the expensive handmade type and cheap ones (made in China).

Walking by the Mighty Mississippi, there were many musicians playing jazz.

Andrew Jackson Square, French QuarterAn example of a building with balcony

Anne Rice’s former home, now owned by Nicholas Cage (Garden District)

Colorful columns under the Louis Armstrong Bridge