Kids Welcome: Smoke Jazz & Supper Club Brunches
"Saturdays are decidedly kid-friendly; Sundays are not."
Smoke Jazz & Supper Club
2751 Broadway, New York, NY 10025 (at 105th Street; map); 212-864-6662; smokejazz.com
Kids' Amenities: High chairs (1), stroller storage, kid's menu on Saturdays
Best Dishes for Kids: PB&J Sandwich, Sliders
Cost: $15 for children, $19 for adults on Saturdays; entrées $6.95 to $13.95 on Sundays
Jazz clubs are essentially adult places, where people go for the music and food is a second thought. Smoke Jazz & Supper Club uptown on Broadway and West 105th, as noted in Ed's review last year, proves that "great jazz and great food are not incompatible". Smoke also offers jazz brunches on weekends where children are not only welcome but the target audience. In addition to the regular Jazz brunch on Sundays, Smoke has recently launched a Jazz for Kids brunch on Saturdays. The result? Saturdays that are decidedly kid-friendly—and Sundays that are not.
The "every inch and ounce a star" of both brunches is vocalist and actor Lea Delaria, who along with her band delivers age-appropriate sets of jazz, swing, and blues numbers on each day. Ms. Delaria's warm and often hilarious stage presence is testament to her early career a stand-up comic. According to her, the Saturday show is "not educative", but it seemed (even if incidentally) structured with a pedagogical narrative in mind. Throughout the set Ms. Delaria encourages and engages the children to look for Boom Boom's (the bass player's) misplaced bow—reminding them of the perils of not putting away important items. The band also introduced the concepts of "singing the blues" to children—"singing about something bad that happened to you"—and sang "Old Macdonald" to jazz, bebop, reggae and swing beats.
Chef Patricia Williams' brunch offerings also vary by day. On Saturday, there is an all-organic menu for kids, while on Sunday the selection is that of a typical brunch menu, with a few twists. On both days the brunch starts out with a noteworthy bread basket that includes cranberry-lemon muffins, cinnamon-sugar toasts, and Nutella sandwiches, as well as jams and butter. Both the muffins and the Nutella sandwiches were an instant hit with my daughter.
Smoke's space is cozy and tight, and on both days the house was full—reservations are probably a good idea. The staff is very nice and accommodating, from the French hostess to the waitresses who smilingly navigated the narrow space. Arriving early, a half hour before the 45-minute sets (11:00am and 1pm on Saturdays, 11:30 and 1:30 on Sundays) is probably a good idea in order to get the best spots in the house.
The Kids' Brunch menu features the usual suspects like chicken wings, PB&J sandwiches, and mini sliders. There are also a couple of more adult-like dishes such as Eggs Benedict and Smoked Salmon Platters for accompanying grown-ups. My daughter chose the Chicken Fingers, which were sided by chips, salad and a rosé sauce. A couple of the chicken fingers were a tad over-fried and dry, a bit too hard for my daughter to bite, but she enjoyed what she was able to eat.
I chose the Smoked Salmon Platter—two pieces of smoked salmon, a lightly toasted bagel, two slices of tomato and a few capers, satisfying albeit not memorable. The choice of dessert was Root Beer Float and Chocolate Pudding, and we both definitely preferred the second, which in my estimation was actually generously served bittersweet chocolate mousse, poked with air bubbles.
The Sunday brunch food was considerably better, at least for adults. The Spanish Eggs Benedict had poached eggs on a brothy, light stew of chorizo and fingerling potatoes topped with a justly-measured amount of hollandaise, and sprinkled with smoked paprika. A Pressed Sandwich Cubano elegantly proportioned roast pork, ham, cheese and pickles in a baguette.
Kids might be interested in the oatmeal or granola plates; most other plates, however, include one or two ingredients that might not be so popular with the little ones (such as chives and peppers on the scrambled eggs, or the rum-laced bananas foster on the French toast). On our waitress' recommendation, we ordered a side dish of moist and soft scrambled eggs for my daughter and she shared some of my fingerlings as well as some of her father's ham and pork. We ended the brunch on a high note with a thin apple tart accompanied by caramel ice cream.
My two and a half year-old daughter unsuspectingly enjoyed both experiences but parents should be warned that the content of Ms. Delaria's Sunday brunch is decidedly for adults, with some raunchy comments and double-entendre references that might incite "complicated" questions from older children (Ms. Delaria is famously controversial in her political commentary).
About the author: Aya Tanaka teaches French literature and critical thinking in and around New York, and takes every opportunity to introduce her daughter to new tastes, at home and in restaurants.