Sugar Hill Jazz House
It’s hard to believe that The Sugar Hill Jazz House has only been open a few months. It already has an amazing following that only promises to get better. Tom and I stopped in a couple of weeks ago for dinner on a Friday night. The place was filling up when we arrived at 6:30. We sat at the unique, piano key motif bar for a drink and listened to some pretty special piano and Parisian Bistro music prior to going into the dining room for an evening of Jazz.
The concept at Sugar Hill Jazz House is fantastic and this is a unique addition to the downtown Allentown scene… not only for the great music but also for the wonderful food and friendly people.
Priscilla and Jenna J. were at the bar that night and mixed up frosty beverages for Tom and me while we had the opportunity to chat with husband and wife co-owners Jay King and Mary Shearin of “Baby Got Que” fame. Realtor Mark Smith purchased this location (formerly Rhobata of Tokyo) and leased it to King and Shearin who were looking to expand their business from their previous location at 9th and Jackson. This joining of forces has proven successful to all parties.
Melding American Jazz and Southern BBQ is a match made in heaven and totally works here. The minimalist black and white decor is attractive as are the framed pictures of famous musicians adorning the walls.
The bar was chock full of revelers of all ages and from all walks of life. Jay explained that this was his dream – that everyone who comes to Sugar Hill Jazz House would feel welcome and enjoy their night. Most of the talented performers are regionally or nationally known but the floor is open to student musicians as well. Jay (who is also the executive chef) and Mary have hand-picked their employees all of whom are friendly and fun to say the least. They all have great personalities and work well together.
We were seated at a table in the dining room and Natasha was quick to take our order. Appetizers include three versions of Wings all served up with either Hennessy BBQ Sauce, Baby Got Que Sauce or traditional Buffalo Sauce; Pulled Pork Tacos; Panko Breaded Fried Shrimp; Hand-cut Fries loaded with cheese sauce, shredded cheese, green onions, bacon, jalapenos, sour cream, and Baby Got Que sauce drizzled on top; King Scallops with Mango Salsa and Pork-A-Bobs – skewered Sweet Italian Sausage with bacon, vegetables and Baby Got Que sauce. There are also Mixed or Classic Caesar Salads on the menu as well as BBQ Beef Brisket Chile and Charleston She Crab Soup which I ordered as my appetizer. This version of one of my favorite soups was rich, creamy and served very hot, which is always a plus. It was full of lump crab and plenty of celery, onions and garlic. This was absolutely delicious and I’m very glad I ordered it. I really wanted to order the Loaded Fries because they looked very decadent but decided to save them until next time.
I ordered Pulled Pork Tacos as my entree and they were wonderful. Three warm soft tacos, heaped with smoked pulled pork arrived topped with lettuce, cheddar cheese and fresh Mango Salsa. These were absolutely delicious. The pulled pork was lean and smothered in savory sauce. The mango salsa was sweet and a perfect accompaniment. Tom decided on the Blackened Catfish that was garnished with Jamaican relish. He LOVED this dish. The catfish was very fresh, had just the right zip and the side dishes of collard greens, candied yams, and freshly baked cornbread were perfect.
Everything at Sugar Hill Jazz House is made in house. Their menu offers broad choices. There are four variations on The Burger as well as other sandwiches in addition to Shrimp ’n Grits and a 16-ounce Rib Eye. All meats from “The Pit” are prepared with their house rub before cooking in Sugar Hill’s apple and cherry wood pit for up to 12 hours the result being their award winning Bar-B-Que. Choose from Jay’s Award Winning BBQ Chicken or Beef Brisket, BBQ Pulled Pork, Smoked Wings, Pork or Beef Ribs, Sausage Links, or The Big “D” Combo that is perfect for sharing. All sides are made from scratch every day as are desserts.
I estimate the dining room seats about 75. The windows are raised so it gives the feel of sitting below ground. It reminded me of my days hanging out in The Village. The rear glass doors look out onto the beautiful architecture of the surrounding buildings. Together with great acoustics and enthusiastic fans, this is a fine setting for hearing some excellent sounds by very talented musicians like The Greg Edwards Quartet who performed when we were there.
The concept at Sugar Hill Jazz House is fantastic and this is a unique addition to the downtown Allentown scene. Tom and I love Jazz and have told our friends about it. We are looking forward to going back again very soon not only for the great music but also for the wonderful food and friendly people.
Oh, dessert! I rarely order cheesecake but Jay insisted I try it here. Their sous chef J.P. made a creamy vanilla cheesecake with chocolate ganache and berry sauce. It was heavenly and a sweet ending to a deliciously savory meal.
Jay is a native of Philadelphia and made his way to the Lehigh Valley by way of Florida and North Carolina where he worked and honed his skills at various places such as The Cheesecake Factory and Hard Rock Cafe. This is home now and we are all lucky that he and Mary have brought us the Sugar Hill Jazz House. You must go and experience what Sugar Hill has to offer. You certainly will be glad you did.
Sugar Hill Jazz House is open every day from 11 a.m. till 10 p.m. and is conveniently located at 39 South 9th Street (just south of Hamilton) in Allentown. There is plenty of on-street metered parking as well as nearby lots. Enjoy piano bar Happy Hours most days during the week and Jazz every Friday and Saturday nights starting around 7 p.m. . They do not take reservations so get there early. Call 610.841.5299 for further information or follow them on Facebook.