Where: 34 Market Place, The Brokerage.
Hours: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Tuesday, 11 a.m.- midnight Wednesday and Thursday, 6 p.m. - 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday.
Menu: Creole and Cajun.
Credit cards: AE, MC, V.
Baltimore has precious few venues for jazz, so the Louisiana Cafe is a welcome addition to the nitery scene for more than just its Creole and Cajun menu. When Moon August performs there tonight and Saturday, and then Stan Rouse plays for Sunday brunch, the picy cooking should meet its musical match.
And playing off of the musical associations of its New Orleans-based cuisine, Louisiana Cafe management says that jazz will be an important part of the experience here. "Live jazz is the biggest pull to bring customers in," notes assistant manager Chago Leal. Jazz will be featured on Wednesday and Thursday nights along with weekends. Typically, the midweek offerings are local bands with no cover charge.
Most often bands will set up on the bar side of this spacious restaurant occupying the site of two failed Mexican restaurants at the northwest corner of the Brokerage complex. The cafe tables and bar make for a relatively intimate lounge setting.
However, once a month the Louisiana Cafe will be booking national acts that set up in the dining room for more of a supper-club atmosphere. Mr. Leal says these national acts will have $20 tickets just for the show or $35 for dinner and show. Pieces of a Dream played recently and Lonnie Liston Smith is slated for Nov. 30, Dec. 1 and 2.
The mix of local and national acts seems promising, if a tad too mainstream for some jazz tastes. But it does seem odd that a New Orleans-themed restaurant doesn't have at least a little zydeco, Dixieland or other delta sounds on the musical bill of fare. Mr. Leal says these will be programmed as the new restaurant settles in. He mentioned Buckwheat Zydeco as a band likely to play here in the near future.
And the Cafe does seem to need more time to settle in. Although jazz fans will appreciate the light-fare menu served until late on the bar side, the sampled seafood gumbo arrived lukewarm. Give it to us hot! We can take it.
Among the bar drinks, a tropical favorite is the Hurricane, which includes three kinds of rum and grenadine. People who love jazz will probably applaud all the louder after having one of these.