Just about any night of the week in Central Florida, you can find an abundance of neighborhood establishments hosting local musicians, who are more than willing to satisfy your melodious desires for the evening. If you are lucky, that establishment will also offer a tapas menu that will make your head spin, and a matching wine list to make it stop. If you’re even luckier, that menu will feature half-price tapas on the night you happen to venture in.
What better way to beat the heat on a Tuesday evening?
One sweltering July afternoon, adventurous friend H. and I were hanging around the Maitland area, and debating where to quench our thirst. After a quick deliberation, we decided to check out Jazz Tastings of Maitland (http://jazztastings.com).
For those unfamiliar with Maitland area, its located just off 17-92 at 164 Lake Avenue, near Lake Lily. It’s in the same plaza as the Copper Rocket (dive bar), tucked into the back half of the building. There is a cheery little sign that greets you at the front door:
The environment inside is shadowy, sleek and artful, with a brick wall housing a large mural of jazz artists showcasing their craft. There are small tables spread throughout the welcoming interior, and a stage to the left of the entrance, which was occupied by artist Sergei Kossenko (https://www.facebook.com/SergeiKossenkoMusic) on the night we happened in.
After checking out the menu, we ordered some champagne and the shrimp and grits, which were topped off with a sliver of andouille sausage. The sausage was so good, before we finished the grits we decided to order the individual serving. This was served sliced up individually, and swirled with a sweet apple bourbon glaze that made me want to lick the plate. Next time I go back, I would like to try the sweet potato bravas and the lamb lollipops.
From our vantage point at the bar, I noted that we were the one of three groups in the room, which is isn’t too unexpected for a small place on a Tuesday night. It felt like Kossenko was playing just for us, which made it seem more lively. Personally, I prefer an intimate setting and found the atmosphere charming. However, if you’re the kind of person who is looking to hear some jazz, eat some great food, and scope out U.C.F. undergrads scantily clad in sorority shirts, this probably isn’t going to be your new hangout. The website advises that there is a cover charge on the weekends, but if you are really a jazz fan or just looking to impress a date, you’ll be willing to drop the $5 to get in and enjoy the best place in town to hear this style of music. Now, lets see your jazz hands….