Cancun’s oceanfront jazz supper club
If you come to The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun only expecting a typical Mexican beachfront paradise, you’re in for quite the surprise. We’re not saying that there isn’t gorgeous sand and an abundance of casitas — there’s plenty of both. But sun and sangrias aren’t all that there is to the property. Take one of the hotel’s fine-dining restaurants, The Club Grill, Jazz & Supper Club. Though the Caribbean Sea is mere feet from your table, a meal here is a culinary journey back to a 1950s jazz club in London’s Soho district. Sure, there are fresh shrimp on your table, but there’s also live music and a mature vibe to the room that you might not expect in Cancun.
Officially speaking, the dress code at The Club Grill is “resort elegant” — long pants and button-up shirts for the gents and flowy summer dresses and nice sandals for the ladies. But after taking a quick glance around the Cancun restaurant, you might feel like even that would make you underdressed. If it weren’t for the maître d’ putting your mind at ease, you’d probably ask him to point you in the direction of a shop selling three-piece suits and oxfords.
Upon entry, you’ll see a modest bar and a lounge area filled with leather chairs where you could imagine dapper guys conversing over cigars and cognac. Just past it sits a dance floor and piano. Keep going until you hit a dining area with formal drapery around the windows, elegant lighting on the walls and fine cutlery on the white-clothed tables. It’s subtle, sophisticated and just sexy enough. The only thing missing to complete the mood might be a cigarette girl hawking Marlboros.
Executive chef Andreas Schatzschneider and sous chef Tyler Thaxton tip their toques to the past while embracing the culinary future by having an adventurous spirit and using as many local ingredients as they can fit into the kitchen. If you twisted their arms, they’d probably call The Club Grill’s menu “elevated Continental cuisine,” or say that their team could prepare most anything well — and they’d probably be right. When it comes to starters, you have your traditional winners like beef tartare and shrimp and grits at the ready, but it’s the cauliflower crème, and truffled sweet corn soup that earn the biggest early applause. And when it comes to mains, being so close to the water, your first inclination is to order the red snapper or lobster. But resist those and try the Canadian duck that’s roasted brilliantly enough to star on a magazine cover. By the time the waiter comes by to entice you with a soufflé trio, you’ll not only be full but you will have exhausted yourself of compliments for the kitchen.
The sense of elevated ambience mentioned earlier isn’t just set with the establishment’s physical make-up; it’s also because of the sounds. Every night your dinner is done to a soundtrack of piano keys and contrabass tones from a jazz duo. If you see folks getting up between courses to break out into the cha-cha on the dance floor, don’t be shocked. And should a former professional opera singer feel so inclined to burst into a concerto after dessert, don't mind that either. (The latter has actually happened, if you’re wondering.) The Club Grill’s vibrant energy will make you that comfortable.