House of Skip

Friday, August 14, 2015

Shanghai Jazz

Recently, while planning a fundraising event for work, someone recommended a place to look into called Shanghai Jazz. It didn't end up working out to be a good place for our event, but I was intrigued by it. Way up in Madison, NJ is this jazz club that serves Chinese food? I was definitely curious. Since my companion likes jazz and we both like trying new things I decided to take the long drive up the Turnpike and Parkway to Shanghai Jazz. We went on a Friday night when they have two seatings, one at 6 pm and one at 8 pm. We had a reservation for the 6 pm and luckily were able to make the journey and arrive on time. It's right on Main St in Madison among many other restaurants, shops and businesses. There is some street parking and lots behind the buildings, most lots have signs reserving spaces for particular businesses, the same was true of Shanghai Jazz. Their lot is small and can be tricky to get in and out of, however I think it is possible to find parking in the other lots or on a nearby street.

When we walked inside we found a small bar area and a dining room with a stage. The decor is definitely interesting, not overly gaudy, I would say simple elegance. We were instructed to walk to the front of the restaurant to be seated (since we had parked behind the building and came in through the back door), at that point we were greeted by one half of the husband and wife team, David. David sat us and even let us decide which table we wanted, we took a table just at the top of an elevated seating area in the back of the restaurant. It had a great view of the stage even tough we weren't super close.

We were still kind of leery of the whole Chinese food in a jazz club thing. However, things were looking good since right after David seated us, a server came over with menus and was just as gracious as David had been. We decided to start with cocktails to get in the jazz club mood, I chose the Limoncello Martini which had Limoncello, vanilla vodka, lemon juice, and topped with champagne, it was very lemony and super delicious. My companion ordered the Satchmo's Sour Martini (at the recommendation of our waitress) that cocktail had  Elderflower Liqueur, Gin, and a splash of lemon. We enjoyed our cocktails as we continued to peruse the menu with great curiosity. We couldn't decide on entrees just yet, but we put in an order of the Dim Sum appetizer platter which came highly recommended. If you've been following HOS for a while, you know that my companion and I enjoy food adventures, so the idea that they would select a sampling of their appetizers for us was right up our alley!

It did not disappoint, the dim sum was fun and yummy! It arrived to the table on a giant, bright white platter and included their signature jicama salad with peanuts that was super fresh and crunchy. It also had three types of dumplings, two steamed and one fried. The steamed where shrimp & chicken, as well as pork and the fried were crab. The dim sum platter also included a California roll, which was ok, definitely not the highlight of the platter. And lastly, were green beans in an Asian vinaigrette, they were simple and yummy. 

For our entrees, I had decided on something called the Triangle of Three Precious Ones, it's a weird name but a delightful dish. It features shredded beef, chicken and pork with red and green bell peppers and other veggies, it is also served with rice. It was a very flavorful dish, it has a little bit of spice to it. My companion ordered the seafood with basil, it was also spicy, of course he asked for it to be "extra spicy". Overall, we both enjoyed the food, not spectacular, however very enjoyable. We each had a glass of wine with our meals once we had finished our cocktails. 

The music had started around the time that our appetizer had come out. It was a jazz trio and they were fantastic, they did songs from other jazz artists as well as some original songs. It was the perfect accompainment to a great date night. Making it feel extra special, husband and wife owners, David and Martha came over several times to check on us (and other guests) through out the night. Martha even remembered talking to me on the phone about the fundraiser. All of the staff was pleasant and friendly, really good service.

To finish up our meal, we decided on a little something sweet. Since we were both kind of full, but just wanted a little taste, we opted for ice cream and sorbet, but they did have some delicious sounding cakes on their menu. However, what we chose was perfect for us, I had the coconut sorbet and my companion had vanilla ice cream. They came out in martini glasses, which was a cute and fun touch. Both were just what we wanted. We sat and enjoyed the music until the end of the performance before heading back to the Parkway/ Turnpike for our trek home.

To send us on our way, Martha made one last stop at our table with complimentary plum wine from Japan. It was sweet and refreshing. What a wonderful way to end our time at Shanghai Jazz.

It was a wonderful date night, such a cool, fun atmosphere with terrific service, great music and yummy food. I think we would consider going again, just wish it was closer!

If you are into jazz and like cool, unique places to try different food, go visit Martha and David at Shanghai Jazz

Jicama Salad

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Prohibition Cocktail Tour

While you may have noticed that the soup report has gone missing, fear not, Skip has still been, cooking, eating and enjoyed food, drinks and fun. Once the weather turns colder, Skip may return to the soup project and see if she can indeed complete the list. In the meantime, why don't we catch up on the fun Skip has been having this summer.

First, let's talk about a little thing called the Prohibition Cocktail Tour. This was a present that Skip gave her companion for Christmas and finally in the summer they booked a date to go. The tour is done in Philadelphia by a company called City Food Tours.  They also offer other food and drink related tours in the city of Philadelphia and after the fun we had on this tour, I would definitely consider going on another one.

So, what exactly happens on a Prohibition Cocktail tour? On a Saturday evening, you meet your tour guide (dressed in 1920's era clothing) at a predetermined location. In this case it was an establishment called, Time Restaurant. This place was cool and is probably worth checking out on it's own as well, they have a HUGE whiskey selection and just in general a really cool vibe about the place. While we waited for the whole group to arrive (there were approximately 20 people on the tour) we were encouraged to get a drink at the bar before the tour. I was immediately drawn to a cocktail with bourbon in it, but was dissuaded by the bartender because he knew we'd be getting that drink once the tour began. Instead I got a Champagne Cocktail which had sparkling wine, sugar and grapefruit bitters. It was totally fun and really delicious. I'm pretty sure my companion got a Sazerac.

 Once it was time for the tour to begin, we moved into another section of the bar and our tour guide began by introducing himself and giving us an overview of the tour. Then we got down to business, as our guide talked to us about Prohibition, the servers at Time brought us a wonderful Prohibition style cocktail and a snack. The drink was, Jerry's Left Hook
Jerry's Left Hook
and it had Sailor Jerry rum, Jim Beam bourbon, sugar, lime. Our snack was a veggie flatbread which was also yummy.

Next we took a walk (what a sight we must have been a man dressed in 1920s garb and a bunch of rowdy whiskey drinkers following him!) to our next stop. After a little exercise, we got to 1 Tippling Place and it was super cool. It has a very lounge-like feel to it, great mismatched furniture in the front which makes for a cool sitting area- complete with a red leather couch. We walked to the back of the bar and were seated at several high top tables.
Bartenders at 1 Tippling Place
The bartenders at 1 Tippling Place really like to put on a show, their drink making included some antics which the group really liked. While our tour guide continued to educated us about Prohibition and how it related to the Philadelphia/NJ/NY area, we enjoyed a cocktail called Eastside which had gin, lime, cucumber and mint, it was a really refreshing drink for
a hot day. We also got a snack to enjoy here as well which was a Baked Parmesan Artichoke Casserole. It was basically a warm artichoke dipped served with crackers, it was very good. Even my non artichoke dipping liking companion enjoyed it, of course this may have had something to do with the copious amounts of parmesan cheese on it! Once we finished our drinks and snacks and I was done wowing the group with my knowledge of Al Capone and Eastern State Penitentiary, we headed out to the next place.


If you plan to take this tour, you may want to proceed with caution in reading this next part. 

On the website for City Tours, they give you the name of the first two places, but the third and final stop is listed as a surprise. I am not sure if they take you to the same place every time, but that is a good possibility. Therefore, if you think you might take this tour and want to be "surprised" stop reading. I really hope you don't stop reading, but I understand if you want to keep the mystery. Just promise you'll come back and read the rest after you do the tour :)

Ok, so the group took one final walk together to The Ranstead Room. I think part of the reason City Food Tours keeps it a secret is because the place itself seems like a well kept secret. You walk down an alley and enter a door simply marked ЯR. We entered a small stairway, this entrance was so bizarre, you definitely would not know it was even there! Our tour guide gave us a wrap up in the stairway and then led us into the super dark, super cool, retro bar that is The Ranstead Room. Leather booths, vintage wallpaper, dimly lit, and oil paintings of ladies in various stages of undress. We were all seated together in the small room and provided with a cocktail, forgive me but I don't recall the name and I don't think it is on their current menu, but it was in keeping with the Prohibition theme and I'm pretty sure it was a rum drink. I do know that we got some extremely tasty mezcal chocolate coated popcorn that was AMAZING. Once the tour wrapped up, we had time before our dinner reservation and were so mesmerized by the place that my companion and I stayed for one more drink. Now, I absolutely remember what I had for my second drink at The Ranstead it was called Quinceañera and it was tequila, amontillado sherry (from Spain), orange and chocolate bitters. It was lovely. Now, for those of you that have read my posts before or those who actually know my companion, you are aware that he loves to ask a bartender to pick something for him, well at The Ranstead Room, they actually have listed as an option "Bartenders Choice", you can beat your sweet bippy that he selected that. It had gotten quite busy in there so I don't think the waiter ever told us what exactly the name of the drink was, but we know it had bourbon in it and was along the lines of an old fashioned.

We had a fabulous time on this tour and we would recommend City Food Tours to anyone looking for an adventure. I would also suggest that if any of the places we visited sound cool to you, then you should check them out too!

Stay tuned for more adventures with Skip and her companion!