Tellin’ stories ’bout Storyville

One of the things I love about Boston is that it is tremendously walkable. I think there is no better way to see (or understand) how this city of cow paths fits together then to get on the hoof yourself. So when I go out, at least while the weather is still acceptable, I routinely park at a distance and pound pavement to my destinations. A walk at the end of an evening is good for waistlines, sobriety, letting cooler heads prevail or letting sweet anticipation grow.

A walk through almost any neighborhood in the city is also a testament to the varied gastronomic glory of this town. And even though progressive dinners went out in the early aughts, I am still a big fan of ‘the crawl’ and put one together whenever time will allow.

Last night I had just two stops, but my first was a nip into the brand-spanking-new (yet old) Storyville. The new name is actually the original from when the place was a hot, headliner-driven jazz club in the fifties and reasonable homage is paid –from the decor to the menu– to this history and the other inspiration for the name: the original ‘what happens here, stays here’ New Orleans red light district. There is a certain his-hand-strokes-her-gartered-thigh-under-the-table kind of naughtiness to the low lights, low-ceilings, and plush dark and red decor. Yet the sweeping entryway, subtle sparkles in the carpet, and larger-than-life-size image of Lady Day call to mind the elegance of Sinatra in a Fedora and natty suit.

I am a jazz lover but the siren’s call to this new place was neither the history nor its clear invitation for to bust out your favorite vintage backless, beaded gown. I came for the food and beverage team. I’ve tasted enough of Bill Codman’s libations to become a loyalist. And I have been a very happy victim of Louis DiBiccari’s chef-ing (four words people: Sel de la Terre). I did not have the time (and I was way too early) to get (or give myself over to) the full Storyville experience (I only had one drink and could not stay for dinner). Still, I could not have been happier sitting, sipping and writing among the restaurant chatter and the warm energy of a party that is about to start.

Why you should go: The Lady Day – is the signature drink: gin, Campari, passion fruit puree, honey, egg white. “I don’t like Campari,” you say? You’re wrong. Campari married to passion fruit is deliciously more than the sum of its parts. The menu – is playful, and unique, and dutifully flies the “local” flag. Foods that were a sign of  sophistication at the time are updated for our modern small bite, round-the-world in a mouthful palates. The staff – had time (and reason) to be kind, but I felt genuinely welcomed and suspect this graciousness is the norm. I had great conversations with everyone from the bar backs to Bill to the manager, who walked me out as he walked me through the vision. Live music on Wednesdays (skews jazz to honor the tradition); house DJs make it danceable every night from 12:30 to 2 on a very inviting dance floor.

The official (media and such) opening is Tuesday 9/20. If that’s your thing, go and be seen (or be the scene). Or bring a posse and go tonight, Storyville is a space that begs for a crowd. You’ll end your weekend right and you’ll have creeped a hip joint before the world gets wind. But don’t take my word for it: other early impressions.

I’ll be going back for a Sazerac, snacks and dancing. Might even rouge my knees, and roll my stockings down…and all that jazz.


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