Carl Johnston
Carl Johnston

Sixteenth-Note Snappers

Speaking off the toque: Carl Johnston, executive chef of Sambuca Jazz Cafe, 909 Texas Avenue, (713)224-5299.

Q. Have you noted any changes in the dining or drinking patterns of your patrons based upon the style of music that is being played?

A. It is interesting to note the differences in eating patterns on the different nights. During the week, bands such as Harry Sheppard, the Blue Monks and Dave Caceres are a little softer and usually more ballad-oriented, and the diners respond by ordering more structured three- to five-course meals. The pace of the dining experience slows down while guests relax with a bottle of wine, an appetizer of escargots or black tiger shrimp, and heavier entrées of steak and lobster or osso buco. And dessert sales soar. Margarita sales peak on salsa Thursdays, and I always create a featured entrée that has a Southwestern flair, such as pan-sautéed snapper topped with jumbo lump crabmeat in a pico de gallo sauce. The weekends bring in high-energy bands like Mr. Pink and Ezra Charles, and the dining pace quickens. Liquor sales skyrocket, and the dining experience tends to be quicker. This difference in pace is noted in the items that are ordered; lots more pasta dishes like the zebra pocket pasta, filled with shrimp, scallops and lobster tails in a lobster cream sauce, and salads such as the spring spinach salad, tossed in a Creole honey mustard with walnuts and fresh seasonal fruits. -- George Alexander


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