I’m from New York City, and I never felt that sophisticated Big City vibe in the 16 years I’ve lived in Orlando until I walked into JazzTastings, the new jazz, wine and tapas bar in Maitland.
I love this place. It’s the kind of jazz club you imagine you’d want to fall into in New York City, but with the added advantage that Maitland’s JazzTastings is clean, beautifully designed, has ample free parking and serves great food. It also has the most friendly and diverse clientele in all of Central Florida. Going solo on a Saturday night, I sat at the bar and immediately felt like part of JazzTastings’ extended family… talking to total strangers as if we were old friends and loving the fact that all ages and types were represented in this welcoming place. There were young lovers and married types “of a certain age.” There were soldiers and “club types,” and the “beautiful people” who looked like models until I saw them eating the irresistible food.
It’s hard to believe that one wonderful place could be both a live music destination and a food destination, but it’s right here in Maitland. It’s a total joy to be with people who are out to have a good time, and as I ate (and drank), heads were bobbing up and down to the music, and all those diverse types got up spontaneously and started to dance.
JazzTastings is the happy creation of Rory and Cathy Frazier — he’s from NYC and she’s from Baltimore — who wanted to bring gourmet food together with fine wine and live jazz into one relaxed and sophisticated atmosphere. Such a creation is an art, and they have succeeded admirably. The whole staff gets four stars each. You’ll be greeted by friendly, caring General Manager Cindy Jeffers, enjoy the food of super-talented Chef Jose Bofill, and drink from the generous pour of barperson Mikeala, who makes sitting at the bar the place to be.
Great food created from all-fresh ingredients is what Chef Jose is intent on presenting, and his ‘tapas’ always bring together unique food combinations. I started with the goat cheese crostini that was lightly seasoned and served with a spiced fig jam. This was the first “unique combination” that told me this house of jazz was determined to hold its own among the many great restaurants from which we have to choose.
Next came the Beef Filet, which went way beyond expectations. Three generous slices of delicious filet are topped off with a beer demi-glace and each is served over a saffron-butter-infused slice of potato. Chef Jose is spoiling us. Imagine your perfectly cooked filet served already sliced so all you have to do is lift the fork to your mouth.
JazzTastings is at 164 Lake Ave., just after you turn off of Highway 17-92 in Maitland. Call 407-661-1190 and talk to Cindy for reservations. Live jazz is offered six nights a week, Tuesday through Sunday. Visit jazztastings.com
Readers know I always try the crab cakes, and these (three per serving) were made even more wonderful as the chef served them over a black bean chili with a unique tomato relish.
My last taste treat was also my favorite. Three giant shrimps are grilled to perfection. Note: they are so big if you close your eyes, you’d swear it was lobster. Chef Jose hits again and serves those big ole’ shrimp over a bed of sweet potato grits. Oh my. I never had sweet potato grits before, but you can be assured I will again when I am back on my barstool at this glorious food and music destination. My friends, this fantasy place is real, and it comes to you with my highest recommendation.