Last night we joined our friends the Bahamians for a Jazz Dinner Club event at the Refectory, which is one of Columbus’ finest restaurants. Although the concept has been around for four years, last night was the first I’ve heard of it — and it was great. I’m grateful to the Bahamians, who are always on the cutting edge, for suggesting it.
The Jazz Dinner Club is held upstairs, in the “choir loft” at the Refectory, in a room that is normally used for small banquets or private parties. (In fact, the last time I was there was for a big birthday celebration for Mom many years ago.) It’s an intimate venue for a musical performance, seating about 45 people. For $69 you get your ticket and a set four-course meal, with a different menu for every performance. We then added a four-glass wine flight the Refectory selects from its terrific wine cellar to complement every course for $30.95, to bring the per-person tab to an even $100 for a special evening.
Letting somebody else pick the food and the wine sounds a bit adventurous — and it is. However, the Refectory food is always exceptional and their wine cellar is among the best in Columbus, and the spirit of experimentation puts you in the right frame of mind for listening to the music of a newly discovered artist. Last night the Refectory started us off with a very tasty (and complimentary) Kir Royale champagne cocktail, and the food and wines were uniformly excellent. I was proud that I ate every bit of the green bean and Corsican feta cheese terrine that was the first course (Look, Mom! I’ve actually consumed green beans!), and I particularly liked the Leoncini ham and mushroom vol au vent (paired with a very fine Solena Grande Cuvee Pinot Noir, 2013) and the caramelized pineapple clafoutis (paired with a delicate Andrew Quady Electra Orange) for dessert. I’m not a dessert wine fan, but I’d definitely buy a bottle of the Electra Orange, which was light and not overly sweet, for home dinner party purposes.
As fine as the food was, the music was even better. Last night’s artist was Diego Figueiredo, a solo Brazilian guitarist, who played a wide array of bossas and sambas and traditional Brazilians songs, selections from the American Songbook, and original pieces, with a few classical allusions thrown in. He was incredibly gifted, and being seated only 20 feet away we were able to appreciate his lightning-like fret fingering, his impeccable timing, his fingernail-focused strumming technique — he doesn’t use a pick, so the fingernails on his right hand are grown out and carefully sculpted to approximate picks — and his exurberant personality. Mr. Figueroa not only was a brilliant musician, he also was having a lot of fun playing the songs, and the audience had a lot of fun right there with him. After evening ended, I bought a few of his CDs, which really is the ultimate acid test.
The event ran from 6 to 9, so it fits with the schedules of even the early bird senior citizens among us, and it was top-notch from beginning to end. I’m sure we’ll be doing the Jazz Dinner Club again, and I’m glad we found another great option that Columbus nightlife has to offer.