Descending the steps is like taking a tunnel to another place. When you open the door to the windowless room you might feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland.
Theres no hint of magnolias or Spanish moss. No view of the tour buses and carriages. No, youre in the land of textured stainless steel, polished concrete, modern art, and, of course that all-important piece of the puzzle, the beautiful people.
The décor is what has been called industrial chic. Raw materials are unadorned but artfully designed. These cold elements are offset with red walls, warm lighting and artwork.
(Curiously, there is a TV in the corner of the bar playing sports. While this doesnt seem to fit in, it works to zap that air of pretension the overall ambience otherwise might have.)
Jazzd has a long, undulating bar, where the bartenders are eager to give their opinions on food and drink and give you an approving wink when youve ordered the high-end booze or wine or the most decadent thing on the menu. It leads you to know youre here to indulge.
And you cant help but go for it. It doesnt hurt that they make a killer and generous Martini or -- my fave -- a Manhattan.
At the heart of Jazzd are the tapas, those appetizers or mini portions of main courses whose origin lies in the Spanish tavern. Tapas are a traditional part of Spanish cuisine and culture, and an essential part of their everyday life.
Tapas encourage an informal way of eating. When you order, you dont have to make a major commitment to a single large portion of something, which usually comes with sides dishes youre not really interested in. You can eat a lot or a little.
The same holds true for the establishment. You can come by for a light snack and a drink while catching up with a friend, or stay all evening listening to music and nibbling on one item after another.
None of this would work of course, if the food werent good. The menu is very diverse, with items like she-crab stew, prosciutto asparagus wrap, mussels with saffron broth and Pernod, BBQ shrimp with grits, and the martini marinated tenderloin tips.
Of my three visits here the food has ranged from mouthwatering to pretty darn good. With great service, stimulating atmosphere, and tasty food. Its all certainly good enough to keep me coming back for more.
With all the enticing food and glam decor its easy to forget where you are. That is, until the band starts hauling in the equipment. And more and more equipment. For this is no background music. Once the tunes kick off they dominate the evening.
While this suddenly makes conversing difficult, the music is very entertaining, usually offering a blend of jazz and rock with overtones of swing and undertones of funk. Be sure to check Connect Savannah every week for a schedule of artists performing there.
Jazzd is open Mon.-Thurs. at 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m.-midnight. Happy hour Martini and drink specials M-TH 5-7 p.m. Located at 52 Barnard Street near City Market 912-236-7777. www.jazzdsavannah.com