Just a few steps below the street level on Mackay, you will find a quaint little hidden gem called Upstairs Jazz Bar and Grill. This place caught my eyes from the moment I glimpsed in through the window and saw an upright bass musician jamming away. As an avid jazz fan, I squealed like a little girl and excitedly walked in.
The place: dimly lit room. Very jazz-y and intimate. The Chicago 1950’s feel, complete with brick walls covered with an array of frames, takes you away from the downtown Montreal feel the moment you walk in. All that’s missing is the cloud of smoke hanging in the room (damn this ban!). The food is simple yet tasty and the staff is remarkably friendly. The ditsy, large breasted blonde bimbos you’d find as a nightclub bartender working for tips would not fit in to this classy, old-fashioned joint. Surprisingly, the prices are extremely fair. This place has a vibe I haven’t seen in a long time in Montreal, which is always a bonus since it seems that so many places follow the same template nowadays. A generally older crowd (30+) can appreciate this cozy, laid-back feel where people can share their passion for music.
Several times a week, you will find live performances by jazz artists. For that alone, it’s worth to check out Upstairs. Don’t get me wrong; you don’t have to adore jazz to go. When the performances are done for the night (roughly by midnight), the crowd gets back to it’s lively pace.
I fell in love with this place the moment I walked in. There’s a certain warmth in the personal interactions you can never find in a nightclub.
Their wine list isn’t too extensive, so I’d stick with the drinks. If you’re in the mood for a quick bite, get the Antipasti for 2, you can’t go wrong with calamari, smoked salmon, grilled chicken and a few other ingredients to pleasure your taste buds.
Bonus: Check out their website for scheduled performances as well as special recipes with step-by-step instructions.