Last Friday night at Cafe Paloma in Pioneer Square, a party erupted over more than just the food. Which was its usual full-throated Mediterranean self, from the meze platter and kofte with rice all the way through to the fine baklava for dessert.
Parties spontaneously combust all the time in this intimate two-room space, music or no. The sunny, carefree Paloma just ignites that kind of community. But what happened Friday night grew as much from the music, a varied lineup of three acoustic acts—all local—starting at 7:30pm. Reservations were essential. The place was packed. The windows streamed. The people danced. It was a magical night.
We all know of clubs that offer dinner—the Triple Door, the Royal Room—but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about restaurants that offer music…and wondering why more of them don’t do it. Oh, many food snobs will sniff that it takes the emphasis off the dining experience. Plus it’s tough, logistically. Many places don’t have room. Dodging dancers in cramped aisles isn’t every waitstaff’s happy place. Even when dancing doesn’t happen (the case in most spots) music will add a subjective ingredient to the experience that not all diners will like. Most often the music in restaurants is jazz—and maybe someone doesn’t like jazz…? It’s not like restaurants are afraid to be loud, for goodness’ sake.
I get it. I just don’t share it.
Fortunately, neither does the romancey Italian stalwart Serafina, which dependably offers live jazz duos and combos Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm. Or the festive Capitol Hill bar, Barca, which hosts a jazz trio Thursdays 9pm to midnight. Both Seattle's El Gaucho and Bellevue's, which start the live piano jazz every night at 6pm. Canlis, which even in the post-Walt Wagner era fires up the jazz piano 6pm weekdays, 6:30 Fridays and Saturdays. Georgetown’s inimitably cool Brass Tacks, which features a jazz trio Thursdays through Saturdays, 7pm to 10pm.
And, I discovered on recent visits, South Lake Union’s new steakhouse, Butcher’s Table, which offers live singer-songwriter music in its main floor casual dining area, from 7:30pm every night but Sunday. Check out my review of Butcher’s Table’s food in this month’s Seattle Met.
And please, leave a comment about the live music restaurants I’ve undoubtedly left out.