Words: Chris Moore Photos: Monica Tindall
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No Black Tie – Wine and Food Pairing with Adam Hall and the Velvet Playboys
Tucked inconspicuously behind the hustle and bustle of Changkat Bukit Bintang on Jalan Mesui lies one of the hidden gems of Kuala Lumpur’s live arts scene, and one that I must ashamedly admit I had never heard of until I was granted with the opportunity for this review. You wouldn’t necessarily just stumble across No Black Tie – more than likely you were either heading there with the purpose of catching one of the incredible live jazz acts on stage, or you got lost trying to find your way to or back from Changkat. But I will go so far as saying that if you have any fondness for live music, specifically live jazz, then you are cheating yourself by not going in search of No Black Tie. They have different live musical acts happening weekly and a food and drink menu that will leave you more than satisfied.
My maiden voyage to No Black Tie was not for the live music on its own, but for a fantastic French wine and food pairing that was accentuated by the sounds and energy of Adam Hall and the Velvet Playboys (RM75 Admission Only; RM298 Pairing Menu with Show). If you haven’t heard of them, I strongly recommend a Google search followed by an immediate online purchase. Their sound is somewhat of a modern swing band with their flare and energy absolutely captivating the audience the entire night. Playing both a collection of original compositions and classical redux, I as well as most everyone else in the audience is guilty of jiving in their seat and singing along to the lyrics. But alas, this is a food review and not a musical one, so onto the more important things.
The event began with a spectacular Domaine Des Poncetys Saint-Veran Les Chailloux (2014) from northern Burgundy. The sweetness of the white paired incredibly with the tartness of the Spinach Apple Chicken Salad that accompanied it. The nuttiness of the sesame seeds and the tart Granny Smith apples in the salad brought out even more of the sweet fruit characters of the 100% organic chardonnay. The wine was the perfect opener but it was the realization of the fact that this was just the opener that left us all with a hint of excitement for what was next to come.
Next from the menu came a beautifully presented Eggplant Parmigiana which sat eloquently atop a pool of the one of the thickest and most succulent tomato sauces I’ve had, and given that No Black Tie is not a traditional Italian restaurant this is very impressive. The eggplant was cooked perfectly, in that it still maintained some of its crunch and the fresh cheese and sauce added to the marriage of textures and flavours. Making the dish even more extravagant was another Burgundy vintage, this time a 100% pinot noir Domaine du Lycée Viticole de Beaune (2015). The soft and silky red, displaying hints of cherry and raspberry, had a great balance with lots of life left under its belt and was a perfect choice to cut through the acidity of the tomato sauce.
The most decadent of offerings was saved for the last of the main course selections. The crispy skin on the leg of the Duck Confit with Orange Sauce was absolutely incredible and the creamy rendered fat left the meat both rich and moist. Served with a creamy potato mash and a brilliantly balanced sweet and sour citrus sauce, it was a struggle to be able to get through the whole plate – but I’ve never been one to turn down a challenge. In order to match the flavours of the duck, a big bold wine is required, and for this No Black Tie did not disappoint. The Château Grand Baril Gaïa Montagne-Saint-Émilion (2012) was in my humble opinion the best wine of the night, but I will qualify this the fact that I am partial to big-bodied reds. The 100% merlot from the Bordeaux region was deep, full of berries and spice, and as velvety smooth as the attire worn by the band about to take the stage. The tannin structure of the wine let you know that you were drinking something that hadn’t quite reached its peak yet, but by god, it was still magical.
As Adam Hall and The Velvet Playboys took the stage for their opening set a luscious and rich Chocolate Mousse was served as dessert. The big flavours of smooth and creamy dark chocolate were the perfect ending to the meal while the last sips of the Château Grand Baril washed it all away as the sounds of trumpets, trombones, double bass and piano began to reverberate off the walls.
If you are like me and can claim that you’ve never heard of No Black Tie, then do yourself a favour and get down there. Whether it be for a meal and a show, or for just a few cocktails and some live jazz in one of the most acoustically brilliant bars I’ve been in, you will not regret it. I personally can’t believe that it has taken me four and a half years to find the place, but believe me when I say that this won’t be my only visit.
Reasons to visit: one of the best live jazz music venues in KL with excellent sound and an intimate setting; come for wine and music or a full wine-paired dinner before a show.