Friday, August 1, 2008

Benny Weinbeck and Gordy Johnson

When: Thursday, July 3, 2008 • Where: D'Amico CucinaWho: Benny Weinbeck, piano; Gordy Johnson, bass

It's one of the best-kept secrets in Twin Cities jazz: Every Saturday (and often every Friday as well), Weinbeck and Johnson perform in the tasteful and elegant bar of the very gourmet Italian restaurant in Butler Square. (We were there on the Thursday before the Fourth of July because owner Richard D'Amico was coming in and wanted live music.)

Johnson says it's been his regular gig for--12? 13?--years. I've known about it but haven't gone because the restaurant is notorious for being pricey. (I had first-hand experience of that several years back when I took HH there for his birthday with a few friends. Great food, wonderful time, but yikes, the bill.) What I didn't realize until recently is you can book a table or club chairs in the bar and eat there--or not eat and just enjoy the music with a cocktail and an appetizer or two.

If you sit at the bar, your chin is nearly on the bar because the soft leather chairs are luxe and low. Which simply means the lobster gnocchi doesn't have to travel as far to reach your mouth. I admit--we dined, making our way down the menu and sharing. The bartender treated us well. The music was perfect. And the bill wasn't as bad as I anticipated. Maybe D'Amico isn't that expensive after all, or maybe other Twin Cities restaurants have caught up.

I had the gnocchi ten years ago and have thought about it often since. It's still the amazing dish I remember: light, silky little pillows, not the usual gluey blobs. Fabulous.

Photo of Johnson and Weinbeck outside Butler Square from Weinbeck's website. Next time we go, we'll take pictures if they don't mind.

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