Bogg for brunch
Fridays bring morning jazz to Café Coda
“Friday jazz brunch.” That’s a phrase with an odd and inviting resonance. For many working folks, “Friday” is a word laden with a sense of accomplishment for the workweek winding down and the promise and potential of the beckoning weekend ahead—a word more associated with work than leisurely midday dining. “Jazz” exudes an implication of high-spirited improvisation, but also rings of a bit of collegiate and/or outsider intellectualism—yupster geekiness vs. beatnik cool, as it were. And then there’s “brunch,” a meal most often associated with Sunday, a Sabbath celebration of elegant egg dishes, champagne and leisurely, long-winded philosophical conversation or quiet contemplation of the imminent workweek.
With all that said, it felt a bit like we’d snuck in under the hem of the leisure-class carnival tent when my lovely companion, Missy, and I sauntered into Café Coda a bit before noon on my day off to enjoy one of Café Coda’s weekly Friday Morning Jazz brunches, featuring that nearly ubiquitous bundle of local musical talent known as Bogg.
The place was comfortably crowded, and a genial host seated us almost immediately at a table for two facing the café’s plate-glass windows, Missy on the upholstered bench shared by the adjoining tables, and myself in a comfy wooden dining-room chair. The menu offered breakfast and lunch items and the first thing that caught our eyes was the tomato bisque soup ($4.95)—we split an order to enjoy before our main meal (not realizing that it could have been included as a side option with the sandwiches we eventually chose, all of which come with a choice of soup, salad, or chips and salsa), and it was everything a tomato bisque should be—rich, creamy, velvety smooth, and tangy with the flavor of perfectly ripened tomatoes and a decorative drizzle of sour cream on top. We spooned it down to the last drop and wiped every last taste from our bowls with the soft triangles of toasted focaccia that accompanied the soup.
While we luxuriated in the bisque and I took an occasional sip from my bottle of Old Rasputin Imperial Stout from North Coast Brewery, Bogg—Josh Hegg (keyboard), Michael Bone (drums), Gavin Fitzgerald (bass), Matthew Weiner (violin), plus guest trombonist Ben Sallmann—kept the ambiance serenely lively with their jazzed-up renditions of popular tunes played with an assertiveness not often found with restaurant jazz. Intimacy-encouraging, one could say of the volume, as it made leaning in to talk into your companion’s ear a necessity unless you wanted to shout over the band from across the table or had sufficient lip-reading or sign-language skills.
We decided to try a couple sandwiches from the menu’s lunch side. I chose a hearty BLTA and Missy the roasted mushroom and brie ($9.95 each), both generously portioned and richly flavorful. The BLTA’s blend of unctuous bacon and avocado complemented by the tang of the tomato and accented with roasted shallot aioli delivered a marvelous blend of textures and flavors. And the roasted mushroom and brie oozed deep earthy flavors.
While eating, we made of game of seeing who could first name the source material of Bogg’s soundtrack to our brunch. The Eagles’ “Hotel California,” swirled into a gloomy jazz tune highlighted by Weiner’s haunting violin, pleasantly transformed a song I’ve never cared for much by offering a purely musical interpretation relieved of the dorky “poetry” of the original’s vocals. At the opposite emotional extreme, Stevie Wonder’s tribute to Duke Ellington, “Sir Duke (You Can Feel It All Over)” gave the band a chance to show off their chops in a celebration of musical interaction that I’m sure both Ellington and Wonder would approve of heartily.
Sated after finishing the first half accompanied by crispy tortilla chips and excellent (spicy!) salsa, we each took a half sandwich home to enjoy as a late-night repast, a reminder of jazz brunch that will surely beckon us back to Café Coda when our workweeks allow.