When Top O' the Senator and Montreal Bistro closed down, Toronto was depressingly low on jazz. For a moody city with unpredictable weather, this just would not do. Colin and Joan Hunter agreed, and in 2013 jazzed up the Top O' the Senator location to fill the eardrums of Toronto with sweet, sweet music at Jazz Bistro.
Can you say swanky? — Photo courtesy of Jesse Milns / Jazz Bistro
Colin Hunter is the founder of Sunwing Travel Group and also a venerable crooner who has released several albums. Joan and Colin make a brilliant business team with an eye for the classy, outfitting the club in gold and crimson, rich woods and the added sparkle of a giant red chandelier hanging over the stage (There are six chandeliers in total, dripping from the ceilings.).
In addition, a grand Steinway Red piano pops with color, like a giant piece of candy that world-class musicians would fight to snack on. This piano clocks in at over $100,000 and is the only one of its kind in the country.
You can't miss this sign — Photo courtesy of Jesse Milns / Jazz Bistro
Snacks are well beyond musical bites, whether in the form of Eggs Benedict for a jazzy Sunday brunch or Lobster Angel Hair Pasta to twirl your fork through while enthusiastically bopping your head to the beat. Chef Brad MacDonald has an array of menus that satisfy the layers of hunger from ferocious appetite to post-dinner nibbling.
"Brad changes the menu to incorporate local seasonal food, and special 'sharing plates,' which delight everyone's palate," raves Joan Hunter.
The setup in Jazz Bistro is such that all guests can get a good view of the music, with a multi-layered approach ensuring that you are not paying to stare at the back of a stranger's head. Eighty people can sit cozily on the lower level, with 20 more seats on the upper balcony. If you are unlucky enough to get your vision blocked, the video systems sprinkled around the club will keep you visually on top of every note.
The red accents at Jazz Bistro energize the whole space — Photo courtesy of Jesse Milns / Jazz Bistro
Go early if you are making a night of it, or you can make dinner reservations for 7:30 p.m. and then enjoy the show from 9:00 p.m. onwards. It is one-stop shopping for a varied nightlife experience, and Jazz Bistro caters to Toronto's patio-loving crowd in the summer.
"The third-floor outdoor patio [is] attached to the 'Jazz Cellar' - the third-floor club," informs Joan.
The rooftop terrace of your dreams — Photo courtesy of Jesse Milns / Jazz Bistro
Jazz Bistro keeps the attention where it belongs: on the music. The stage is the centerpiece, with the neon cursive sign lighting up the words "Jazz Bistro" like a beacon.
The Hunters have resurrected a piece of musical history that is essential in any world-class city. Get your fingers ready for some serious snapping, Toronto.
What would Jazz Bistro be without a little jazz? — Photo courtesy of Jesse Milns / Jazz Bistro