The balmy 60 degrees weather last night stirred in me a longing for adventure and discovery. I have often heard of the south Michigan area treasures and I decided to go and find some. Prior to the adventures, I stopped by Chirardelli for some ice cream, just to put me in the right "spring" mood.
I drove down Michigan ave looking for some good Jazz and Blues joints, I searched for the Cotton Club and the Velvet Lounge. On the way, I stopped by "Strictly Business", a predominantly African America bar and lounge with soul and R&B music blaring from the speakers. With the gentrification of the neighborhood, I wonder how long it will be before they play "alternative" music. There was no live music at the "Strictly Business" so I went further south to the Cotton Club.
The Cotton Club reminded me of some good New Orleans holes in the wall. I had to be buzzed in to the bar! The band wasn't playing, there were no customers yet (it was about 8:00), but they let me in nevertheless to watch the American Music Awards. Behind the bar was Fritz, a Haitian man, whom I had a good conversation with in French. He recommended a Haitian restaurant in Evanston, "Au Rendez Vous", 355 W. Howard. (any reviews from the Hounders?)
Affter the cotton club, I went looking for the Velvet Lounge. It is located on 2128 S. Indiana (one block East of Michigan ave, 1 block north of Cermak). Unfortunately, I found out that the cotton club doesn't open before 10 on Wednesday, and the music doesn't start till after 10:30 or 11:00 or later (just like NO), however, I found right next to the Velvet Lounge a barbecue shack called "Fritzee's Serious Barbecue". I went in, it's a small place with one table and an open kitchen (protected with anti bullet glass) where you can see the pit. They barbecue their meat directly on the flame and have a seriously good babrbecue sauce which is sweet, spicy hot and have a tomatoe/vinegar base. I'd rate it at a slightly lower scoville scale than Crystal, however the spices and sweet addition (I read somewhere on the wall that it's pineaple juice!) makes for a good balanced combination.
The service was excellent, the owner, a lady in her 50's/60's and her son run the place, I ordered just a quarter of a slab, the meat was tender and barely falling off the bone, it came with good fries, and all were smothered with the wonderful barbecue sauce.
Fritzee's open till 2:00 AM on weekends, which would be a good place to pick up some chow after a late night listening to Jazz at the velvet lounge.