The story behind Minton’s jazz club is pretty great. The way it worked, back in the day, was this: Musicians would be given a free meal of soul food if they played. They were allowed to solo, as long as they could keep up with the house band. At the time, that house band was run by the great Thelonious Monk. His style was tough to keep up with for most musicians, but guys like Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker were able to hang with him when they came in to play and eat.
The joint closed in 1974, reopened in 2006, then closed again in 2010, and reopened again in late 2013. The neighborhood has undergone some dramatic changes in real estate values, demographic, businesses that operate there, etc. If I had to guess, I’d say that tho splice is not going to close again anytime soon. The music and food are just too good.
First, let’s get your appetites brewing with a little bit of battle jazz:
Now, I’ll tell you about the delicious food we ate. My wife picked up a Living Social deal for the amazing price of about $90, which included two apps, two entrees, a shared dessert, two cocktails and a jazz album to take home, on top of the great music that you get to watch and listen to while you’re there.
The first thing to come out where a pair of balls: hush puppies for an amuse. These were tasty: crunchy on the outside, pillowy on the inside.
I started with the fried green tomatoes. Two thick, tangy slices of tomato were fried to a golden crisp and topped with hot smoked arctic char and dandelion greens, which were deftly dressed with a creole dressing. I’ve only had fried green tomatoes a few times in my life, but he addition of smoked fish on top was really incredible. It added substance, flash and style to an otherwise ordinary dish. I loved it.
My wife had the deviled crab cake, which tasted exactly how it sounds. It was meaty and spiced, and came with some black eyed peas and celery leaves for texture and herbiness. A really nice southern take on a northeast classic.
The music roared as we mowed through our apps…
We sipped on a pair of delicious cocktails while enjoying the band. I had something called a prima, which consisted of sage infused rye, sorrel syrup, lemon juice, aromatic butters and agave honey. My wife had the satchmo, which was made with smoky is lay scotch, bourbon, bale syrup and bitters.
…And soon enough the entrees were served.
I ordered the venison burger, which was topped with farm cheese, blackberry onion jam and country ham, with a side of yucca fries (I think that’s what they were).
The burger was smoky from the country ham, and the melty cheese was thick and sharp, Everything was cut nicely by the sweet blackberry onion jam, which I think they can bottle and sell as a gourmet BBQ sauce. Really tasty. The venison wasn’t gamey or funky: It was tender and packed with robust flavor, and it was cooked to a perfect medium rare:
Those fries though… WOW. Nice and crispy with a crunchier texture than potato. They had a good snap to them, and they were perfectly fried and seasoned.
My wife had the buttermilk fried guinea hen. This was served with a bourbon peach tea glaze, black eyed peas and pickled collared stems for a bit more crunch and punch. The meat itself was perfectly cooked. It was nice and juicy, with tons of flavor coming at you from every angle. There was even a hint of maple syrup for that chicken and waffles type of flavor.
For dessert we had the lemon tart with blueberry sorbet and shaved fruit leather. This was nice and tangy, and the shell around the lemon curd was super light and airy. A light and refreshing way to end a great meal:
MINTON’S JAZZ CLUB
206 W. 118th St.
New York, NY 10026