Walking into the Coda jazz supper club, one is immediately struck by its simple elegance—brick walls, wide windows and a high ceiling with exposed beams encasing simple wood furnishings under low lights.
But the dinner menu and live music the lounge features six nights a week are anything but simple.
“We are really passionate about good food and good music and we have a vision of getting both together under one roof,” said Bruce Hanson, a co-owner of the venue, located at 1710 Mission St., which opened in August.
“We just want to surround you with this great creative energy and vibe when you walk in, and it’s going to be on the plate, on the stage and on the walls.”
To bring that vision to its audience, Coda features an eclectic lineup of live jazz, funk, hiphop and Latin music, a menu of creatively seasoned grains and meats, and paintings by Mission District artists.
On Wednesdays, the place jumps to the sounds of organ-driven soul jazz with different acts playing each week for a $7 cover.
This week, the group on stage was Oscar Myers’s Steppin’, a sextet headed by a raspy-voiced conga and trumpet player who earned his chops playing with members of James Brown’s iconic band, the JBs.
As the band played two sets, spanning from bluesy jazz grooves to soulful James Brown and Janet Jackson covers, a few adventurous customers turned it out on the dance floor while the mostly middle-aged audience lounged at tables, heads swaying to the syncopated rhythms as their feet tapped out the beat on the concrete floor.
“I love this place,” said Randall King, who drove in from Napa to check out the venue, which he’d never been to before. “The food is really good, the wine prices are reasonable and the band is solid, plus it’s not too packed.”
“I guarantee you we will be back,” he said over a glass of red wine and a plate of short ribs with a whiskey/maple squash puree.
The menu’s blue cheese and mushroom burger was solid, if not memorable. But the brussels sprout salad—topped with garlic and sherry dressing, goat cheese and bacon—was worth every cent of the $8 it cost.
Each bite was an explosion of citrusy complexity and the sprouts were cooked to soft yet crisp perfection, making the salad so good I ordered a second—and I don’t even like brussels sprouts.
The pisco and grapefruit steamed mussel’s were also a highlight. Reasonably priced at $10, I found myself using the shells to scoop up and sip the marinade left at the bottom of the bowl.
But it does have a wide variety of wines which customers gave enthusiastic reviews.
“The wine on tap was a spectacular bargain,” said Michelle Wood, who said sampling bottles is one of her pastimes. “I’d give it an A++.”
Oscar Myers, who’s been playing jazz in the Bay Area for nearly 40 years, also spoke highly of the venue.
“If you’re a musician, you’re going to like the acoustics,” he said after packing up his congas. “It’s a real nice place, and if you play the music right, people will jump up and dance.”
Hanson, himself a professional musician who started out playing punk and evolved into a jazz guitarist, said one reason bands like the venue is because he knows how to run a lounge from a musician’s perspective while keeping things fresh for the audience.
“We want to be the place where musicians can call home,” he said before running off to greet a group of new customers at the door.
“In the same way, we try very hard to work with the community because we want to fit in and be a home for the people around here. I’m not sure we always pull it off every night, but we try our best. It’s all we can do.”