Tucked away on 27th street just off busy Larimer in RiNo sits a hidden gem: a jazz club with an eclectic menu and cocktail list on par with the food and music. Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club is a classy destination among neighboring bars like Cold Crush, the Matchbox and Meadowlark. Owner Scott Mattson describes the interior as ’50s Atlantic Coast or luxury plush warehouse — a touch of the old while still focusing on what keeps RiNo fresh and modern.
A visit to Nocturne feels out of the ordinary, whether you're looking for a classic cocktail or meeting for a fancy date. Once you're inside, a charming host will offer to take your coat in exchange for a playing card you can hold on to until your night is done. The space inside is large and open, with the bar, dining room and stage joined together by graceful curves and a high ceiling that allows great acoustics for the band.
Once seated, start with the cocktail list and pick the classic Vieux Carre prepared by Topher Hartfield, who recently competed as one of only twelve bartenders at the USBG Bacardi Legacy North American Cocktail Competition. If you aren’t feeling a cocktail, choose from Mattson's list of boutique wines — like the Li Veli Fiano, a dry white varietal with an acidic front that latches on to your tastesbuds, perfect for complementing a range of dishes. (And if wine is your drink, keep in mind that Nocturne's bottles are half off on Wednesdays.) At this point, with a drink in hand, it's time to move on to dinner.
If you went with the Vieux Carre, start with a single oyster on the half-shell to awaken your palate, and then order the “Singer” from the five-course Renditions tasting menu, which changes every two months or so with music-inspired plates from chef Greg Weadick. The current menu honors legendary jazz voice Nina Simone and each of the five options can be ordered à la carte — meaning you can save a few dollars while still getting a taste of the kitchen's creativity. The “Singer” is a small serving of agnolotti soup dumplings, complete with a hidden pop of Spanish Manchego cheese. You have to practice patience so as not to burn your tongue with these little pillows, but after a minute you can put one in your mouth and then melt — just like the delicate pasta, with its burst of liquid and nutty cheese, melts on your tongue. The soft-flavored agnolotti are served with a more assertive tomato, pepper and chorizo mix that balances the dish with more Spanish flavor.
If your choice of beverage was a glass of Li Veli Fiano, order the black-garlic linguini from the "larger plates" section of the menu. Get your fork and knife ready for mixing the yolk that sits atop the beautifully sculpted pile of pasta. Heavy flavors of truffle, yolk and garlic are washed away by the sharp Italian wine.
Between sips and bites, the music will fill your ears so that all of your senses are pivotal to the evening's experience. Nocturne makes any night a special night.
The damage is $26.50 or $26. Here's how it breaks down:
Option 1: $26.50
Vieux Carre: $11
The Singer agnolotti: $12
Option 2: $26
Li Veli Fiano: $8
Black garlic linguini: $18
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There's also a $5 artist fee for some bands, so check the calendar on Nocturne's website if you want to stay strict with your twenty-something budget.