by C. Jeanette Tyson
One of my
recent nights out involved a red wagon hauling a cooler, wine out of a
plastic jug, Marcia Ball heating up a withered but enthusiastic crowd, and
my three-year- old twins dancing themselves into a lather and occasionally
bumping into a guy with the word "Anarchy" tattooed on his arm.
I love this town. I love the way it sounds and the
way a wagon feels bumping over the fields.
I love that my children, as children, are welcomed
into the townís scene and will grow up with a strong sense of place.
apparently a year ago Reed Clemons opened a joint in northwest Austin
designed to take me away from all this. One of Austin's major restaurateurs,
Clemons owns Mezzaluna, the Bitter End and part of the Granite Cafe. When he
realized the town didnít need another Mezzaluna up north, he closed it
down and came back with something completely different.
Itís called Reedís Jazz and Supper Club. You
can hear live music, eat fine food, slow-dance with someone you love, all
while wearing your feather boa. Made to order for the multi-tasking mom, níest
And speaking of things moms need, Reedís is a
great place for making you feel as though you were altogether elsewhere.
Where? Oh, New York, Chicago, maybe Washington DC.
When? The 1930ís come to mind, maybe the 40ís. Think speakeasy, with its
illicit, indulgent and exceptionally well-tailored atmosphere.
Just inside the entrance, a huge sweep of stairs
leads to the dining room where the light is low and the tables are close. Iíd
suggest this for those liaisons dangereuse or eluding those pesky
paparazzi. My friends and I, however, found a table and stayed downstairs,
with the bar and the band.
The bar area, with its Italian tiles and
low-hanging lights, has a swank feel. Though Budweisers disappointingly
outnumbered martinis at the bar, a few cosmopolitans were spotted among the
crowd. Yards of lush red velvet drape the walls, enriching the acoustics and
the feeling of nostalgia for more elegant days.
The Marc Devine Trio, the house band, kept things
lively with some very tasty jazz, playing a Dizzy Gillespie song called Birk's
Works and a few Bobby Timmons pieces such as Dat Dere and Dis Here,
Mack the Knife, The Way You Look Tonight, Teach Me Tonight, Someday
My Prince Will Come and Loverman. With songs like Del Sasser,
he ventured into hardbop territory. I was there on a Wednesday but vocalist
Denia Ridley joins the band on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the word is, it
would be well worth going back.
Reedís menu is a la carte and an interesting mix
of traditional and modern. The signature salad is nicely sweet and tangy
with mixed greens and candied pecans, feta cheese, marinated onions and a
balsamic vinaigrette dressing. The 8oz filet was cooked perfectly to order
and could have been accompanied by any of four different kinds of potatoes
which all looked fabulous if fattening. I tried the asparagus instead, which
was thick and exactly as crispy as one would've hoped.
After having the Miso-Sake Seabass with Shitake
Dumplings I should have known to add Tokyo to that list of far and away
places. The fish was light and tender and perfectly balanced by the
You know those dishes that make you hold your eyes
open really wide and not only because the foodís a bit hot? Thatís what
happens with The Hot and Crusty Red Snapper. Corn flakes, pepper flakes,
almonds and ginger get your admiration as quickly as your attention and
deliver a much different kind of heat than that from Texas or New Orleans.
Itís served over a cooling bed of jasmine rice.
I liked Reedís because youíre able to hear the
music, hear your friends talk and hear yourself think all at the same time.
Among other things, and without being able to tell
you exactly how I got there, hereís something I thought about:
The old Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass album,
the green one with the girl covered in whipped cream. It was tucked into the
small stack of albums my parents had and seemed so risquť, not only because
good girls didnít dress like that, but because it meant there was a side
to my parents that had nothing to do with me and that I didnít understand
at all. No one I know seems to be able to forget that album cover. I met a
woman here in Austin who was asked to be that whipped-cream girl, but she
didnít do it because her husband objected which may or may not be the
reason she divorced him. Even the idea that she might have been that
woman made this woman seem wild and exotic.
And I thought about my mother and father getting
ready to go out on Saturday nights; it seemed like every Saturday but was
more likely once a month. Our town was large enough to have a country club
but they didnít belong to it. It was a military town, sturdy enough but
with a raw, combustible edge. Nothing there would warrant the use of the
word sophisticated. Yet I remember a yellow chiffon gown my mother wore, and
a blue one, too, and her bright red lipstick and her hair just so. And my
father in his Sunday suit, scrubbed clean with his hair slicked back and the
smell of Old Spice trailing him. Where the hell did they think they were
going and who the hell did they think they were?
I know now that it doesnít matter. They parked
the Radio Flyer in the garage and went uptown, to a place like Reedís. And
for awhile, they thought they were someone else.
C. Jeanette Tyson is AustinMama's beloved foodie in the field. Got a tip, suggestion, idea or feedback for A Little More on Your Plate?
Send it to Jeanette at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reed's Jazz & Supper Club
Sitter-worthy? Oh yes.
9901 N Capital of Texas Hwy N. #150
Austin, TX 78759
Phone: (512) 342-7977