Dinner and a show: Jambalaya and Elliot Cormack a lovely pairing
Nestled within the roots of Tokyo Skytree lies Tokyo art Atelier, an oasis dedicated to beautiful things in the modernist desert that is Tokyo. After a short walk through the cold January air, entering this venue truly feels like coming home after being away for weeks. The place has art scattered everywhere you look and on the 23rd of January no less so in the kitchen. As the first course was served, the aroma of the mushroom-cream soup with potatoes and a hint of lemon juice and honey, filled the warm air, and greeted the first MTM-members.
Chef Justin Sachs is by all standards a passionate man and when you taste his food, you can tell that this man loves what he does with every bite you take. As the venue started to gradually fill up with people and the stack of Baird beer dwindled, the star of the show was brought out.
I am talking of course about the Jambalaya. In this tomato based sauce shrimp and sausages swim together, mixing flavours. A tad spicy, but not at all fiery, it catered well to Japanese and foreign tastebuds alike. The jasmine rice doused in this flavour-rich creole dish made for a feast worthy of even the fiercest yelp-reviewer. As a side to this main there was a refreshing coleslaw, and an innovative broccoli, grape and almond salad topped off with some crispy bacon, a surprising yet delicious combination.
This was a tough act to follow but the next dish on the menu, Elliot Cormack, has all the required zest. The former frontman of the epic band Entrada (do yourself a favor and look them up) brought a seemingly restrained solo act, however Mr Cormack uses his loop pedals in such a creative way that it almost sounds like the whole band is there. On "Today's the last day" Elliot sang into the soundhole of his acoustic guitar, thus fashioning a choir to sing along with the line "The world is crumbling, it is blowing away". The combination of sound and meaning had the audience transfixed, almost solemnly so.
The Grey is another Entrada song that translates well to his solo performance.
"A song about getting old", Elliot announced, and as soon as he started playing, people forgot their food for a minute and contemplated their own mortality, in a fun way!
This man knows how to captivate a crowd, he sings using his entire face and clearly loses himself in the words he is producing. Onlookers can but follow.
But between songs he keeps it light, since it was the first time he performed "Nothing new" the Brightonian asked us to bear with him as he might replace some of the lyrics he might forget with "nanana". Attentive listeners noticed that there was no "nanana" to be heard.
A quick word about encores, we all know that this is a prepared gimmick. A ritual if you will, we show our appreciation for the artist to let him, her or them go off stage and then demand their return before playing the last prepared song. Very rarely true encores occur but when Elliot Cormack was summoned back on stage he confessed to his fans that he had nothing left to give in terms of songs. So he asked if we had any requests. Someone yelled "Wonderwall", the forbidden song, and Elliot obliged. He gave the first song every guitarist learns to try to pick up girls with his own spin though, making it a remarkably beautiful ending for a wonderful set and an unrehearsed, candid encore.
To finish up the evening for dessert there was a rich cheesecake with caramel sauce and good conversation.
The Jambalaya night was the first in the More than Music dinner and a show concept and it proved to be a hit. The food was of a quality one can find in a higher tier restaurant and the music made for a very homey atmosphere. As a concept it feels like a house party with professional catering and music. The open bar filled with Baird craft beer smoothed it all out. Their Saison Sayuri in particular, a spicy, fragrant beer with a dry finish, was a must-try that was enjoyed profusely throughout the night.
MTM members and first-timers alike could feel completely welcome. In the end that is what most people would look for on an evening out.
Many of us had so much fun they stayed out after curfew but as Elliot Cormack said on the song "The Grey" "The reason we're all still here, we all still fear the end".
Baird Beer - Angry Boy Brown Ale