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Live Jazz in an Old World Atmosphere

July 09, 1988|MICHAEL WELZENBACH

Trendy, post-mod Southern California is not the sort of place where one expects to find a restaurant or bar with a truly Old World atmosphere--darkly comfortable and private, with princely service. Yet there are a number of them.

One is JAX Bar & Grill in Glendale, which is fast establishing a reputation as one of L.A.'s major jazz clubs as well. And how many music clubs do you know where you can listen to quality live music with no cover charge?

JAX, the brainchild of noted Southland restaurateur Jeff Williams (who also owns Clancy's Crab Broiler and the recently opened Noodles), serves up a rare combination of cozy atmosphere, nightly live jazz and fine Continental cuisine prepared by chef Paul Marceau.

Upscale and Upbeat

Located as it is, well away from downtown Los Angeles and the popular Melrose strip in Hollywood, JAX nevertheless manages regularly to attract capacity crowds for fine dining and good music. Then too, more and more people are discovering the pleasures of dining out in Glendale and Pasadena--far from the madding crowd, as it were.

The crowd at JAX, while certainly upscale and upbeat, is rather older than one typically finds in Los Angeles proper--most of the diners fit into the 35-40 bracket. But that's not to say that things don't often jump at JAX. There are many younger folks at the bar on any given night, especially on weekends. There is no dance floor, because the management is more interested in promoting the dining aspect of the establishment than the social, but that doesn't seem to inhibit the bubbliness of the crowd.

JAX started about six years ago as a rib joint and bar, with no music. Four years ago, however, Williams decided to change the image of the restaurant. The change paid off. Marceau, who came to JAX 2 1/2 years ago, redesigned the menu to include such classic European favorites as chicken Marsala, shrimp scampi and German-style roast pork with sausage and red cabbage.

sh Booths and Tables

The interior of JAX is spacious but narrow, giving it the feel of an old Boston pub. With wood paneling, brass and dark oak fixtures in abundance, and booths as well as dining tables, it's as suitable for private business lunches or dinners as for a romantic evening. Night manager Dean J. Lunn recommends that you make reservations.

There is no cover charge for the entertainment, and no minimum drink quota--a decided plus for those on a budget who wish to listen to the music. At happy hour, 4-8 p.m., complimentary hors d'oeuvres are served and all well drinks are $2. There is live music seven nights a week, beginning with the appetizer piano playing of Arlette McCoy from 5:50 to 8:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.

Entrees are between $9-$12, so two can dine sumptuously--entree plus appetizers and drinks--for under $40. And JAX features a large selection of foreign and domestic wines and beers. Full dinners are served nightly until 1 a.m.

JAX, 339 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale. Open nightly until 1 a.m. Reservations: (818) 500-1604 .

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