Saturday night P & I celebrated a friend’s birthday with a large group reservation at the official grand opening night for the new dueling piano bar downtown, Jack N’ Diane’s. (I’ve never understood the apostrophe after the N; shouldn’t it replace the missing “i”?) J&D’s has replaced the old Brown Street club on Brown Street downtown. We loved Brown Street which had great jazz and blues performances and heavy wine pours. I hear it also had great food.
We arrived shortly after 7pm for our 7pm reservation – we had two tables reserved for our large group right beside the stage. In fact, our area was elevated to stage level. We had no idea that it was the official opening night but some of our friends did. I wish we had known this or had been able to see the menu online (it’s not currently available) before we got there because we would have just eaten before. As you can expect, service was pretty bad. And I don’t think it was just opening night; it was a server who should not be a server. I felt bad for the girl except I also wanted to tell her to just suck it up (not in a mean way!) and at least try to fake a smile. She looked pained and on the verge of tears the whole night. You could tell she was just extremely overwhelmed even before it got crowded, which it did around 8:30. But, the other servers looked much more at ease and even helped to check on us through the night so I think we just had a very new girl. I hope she gets the hang of it. Serving can be hard but I always enjoyed it and in a place like that it should be fun. This is where P always clues in with his own personal experience of being an awful server haha, it’s not for everyone!
We waited for drinks, we definitely waited for food and by the time we got it, after 9, some people were in desperate need of it. We probably waited a little too long to order. We should have done it while the place was half empty. I had originally had my eye on the fish and steak tacos but another couple at our table had them and weren’t impressed. Even looking at them it looked like the flour tortilla had not even been warmed. It put a damper on the menu for us which was small to begin with: sliders, tacos, mini calzones, and salads. No one really screamed over anything eaten there but we did get a taste of the quesadilla and if we had to eat there again, I would order it. It’s hard to mess with cheesy goodness. I ordered the Diane salad: spinach, dried cranberries, goat cheese with house dressing. It was good but then again, they didn’t have to cook anything. I could have made it at home. P ended up eating a Greek salad and a mini Italian calzone. I did not taste his meal and he ate all of it but he was pretty much starving by the time it came.
So it would seem from my description thus far that it was a lackluster evening but it wasn’t. The show was great. It started at 8. The premise is that the audience requests songs on little sheets of paper provided. When you request a song, you’re supposed to leave a little tip and the highest tipped request gets played first. There was a $5 cover to get in, by the way, and then you have to tip to request songs, and you can pay to get sayings written on the board by outbidding the previous phrase (lots of back and forths of “Go Cocks!” and “Go Tigers!” – Univ. of South Carolina and Clemson for all you non-SC people out there) – the point being, the evening can get expensive. But it was really fun. We were there until 10:30ish, so over 3 hours.
There were 5 musicians that rotated on the piano and even occasionally jumped in on the guitar, drums, and bass. It seems like all of them could play at least 3 instruments. Some were better singers than others and some were definitely more fun and better at getting the audience to participate. I was impressed by there respective talents, for sure. There was one of the guys who tried a little too hard to be funny and perverted and it kind of fell flat but oh well. He was the last guy to switch in so most people were probably too drunk to care. I was driving so only had a couple of drinks early on.
One thing that really bothered me about the menu is that they had a list of about 10 specialty cocktails but there was no description on them. So, we had to ask our nervous server who could not remember all of them (it was a lot of drinks) and we had to yell over the music. I would definitely recommend the manager/owner put their descriptions on the menu. I ended up with the Santagria (no, not sangria) because it seemed the safest bet. It was a blend of Blue Moon, red wine, and I guess fruit. Pretty tasty and at $7 not too bad for a mixed cocktail.
Back to the show. People requested everything from Billy Joel to Imagine Dragons. They even pulled out the Thong Song at one point as well as the 80′s classic, Pour Some Sugar On Me. I really found the evening to be greatly entertaining. I found myself clapping and singing along. I was surprised when we left there was actually a line out of the door for people to come in. Surprising for a place with a cover. I know $5 doesn’t seem like much but Greenville doesn’t do covers. (And I was already annoyed we had to pay for parking – we almost never have to here.) But, I would definitely recommend anyone who enjoys some good entertainment to check this place out. Just eat before you go.