The elegant cuisine and music culture seem to be at odds at Vonn.
Music fans no doubt will enjoy Vonn Jazz Lounge, which is very accommodating to live entertainment.
Those who enjoy good food will like the restaurant's nicely composed Creole cuisine.
But there seem to be conflicting missions. For us, an intimate, elegant dinner and a crashing cymbal don't belong together. Fortunately, bands take the stage later in the evening, so there's plenty of time to savor the relaxing environment and quality fare.
The club recently relocated from Linworth to bigger digs in Crosswoods, which is in a transition period, to put it kindly.
The place is dramatically red, with ceiling-to-floor red drapery, assorted chandeliers and lots of stone. Don't forget, the place was once Romano's Macaroni Grill and then a
Brazilian steakhouse. The leather chairs are comfy, the lighting is low and there's white linen as far as the eye can see. A fresh-cut flower and tea candle grace each table.
Traditional dishes such as gumbo ($5 a cup, $7.50 a bowl) shine. The potage is decidedly rich and complex, its thick base filled with andouille sausage and various morsels from
the sea. The heat is detectable but relaxed, delivering a nice, warm glow in the mouth. Taut, briny shrimp are snuggled in a mound of cheesy grits ($12), accented with garlic and lemon.
Yet, the kitchen is known to apply some modern touches, which is the case with a trio of andouille sliders ($11), the spicy patties topped with cheese, caramelized onions, tomato and mayo. A savory napoleon ($6.50) nestled in a pool of spicy tomato sauce successfully layers cornmeal-dusted fried green tomato slices and silky guacamole.
Entrees tend to be full-flavored, and some seem a tad too rich for the dog days of summer.
This Yankee could never get his arms around the concept of chicken and waffles ($16), but at Vonn, the Southern dish is pretty persuasive: golden-fried, very moist chicken tenders with a spicy batter over fluffy waffles garnished with strawberries and powdered sugar. A small jar of maple syrup is available for pure extravagance.
While we didn't detect any of the "Cajun marinade" on the duck ($23), it was outstanding -- earthy, natural and fork-tender, sided with spinach and whipped sweet potatoes.
A fried catfish filet touched up with remoulade and pico de gallo is the centerpiece of the po' boy ($14), which uses a softer bun, not a crusty baguette. Nevertheless, it's a good,
hearty sandwich, served with chips. We didn't marvel at the muffaletta ($12), which had too much of a good thing: salty cured meats piled high on a domed bun. Less would
have been more and the sandwich called for a bigger helping of the olive spread.
Vonn's portions can range from sensible to gut-busting. But if you have room, try the bread pudding ($7): fresh whipped cream on top, creme anglaise below and a whole lot of
warm, chocolate-oozing goodness in between.
There's a great -- and probably endless -- discussion about which foods go best with what music. But we're a long way from supper clubs and big bands. We'll see if the public
feels upscale vittles and jazz go together as well as Vonn thinks they do.
Pricing: Moderately expensive to expensive
Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday and 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday