As the pandemic fades, Pardon My French opened its doors with renewed optimism buoyed by the return of leisure pursuits. In its re-mergence, the restaurant promises to serve experiences for the senses sautéed in the mix of exquisite cuisines, exemplary service, and riveting entertainment.
This July, part of the entertainment package is its Artist Series featuring South Border singer and songwriter Jay Durias. on three consecutive Saturdays. Jay will be performing songs from his album “Songs I Grew Up With” at the same venue then named Strumm’s pub and bar where he launched the album some 12 years ago.
So we were there on the final night of Jay Durias’ residency at Pardon My French and the overall ambiance was of upper-class metro chic and nouveau riche millennials. That’s the audience you’ll likely to rub elbows with when the dinner show sets you back a couple of thousand bucks per person for the evening’s fare.
Honestly, I am not much fond of nostalgia, especially the kind that treads the middle of the road or soft rock or whatever marketing term they go by these days. Then, just as I was seated to get an upper-tier view of the artist in concert, some kind of thrill crept up on me. While I was expecting a solo singer-songwriter offering an escape hatch from the present back to the exuberance of my youth, there’s Jay with a six-piece backup band (the girl drummer and lead guitarist are his children, btw) and a backing brass trio on stage. My sixth sense told me we may be on the rocking side of South Border right here.
True, enough Jay and company was a trip down memory lane only because they unearthed jewels from my college years glued on the radio and the experiences they evoked. The band deftly up-rooted a select batch of songs from their 40-year-old plus residency at the top of the pop charts and replanted them in today’s more exciting climes of loud guitars, groovy rhythms, and a solid backbeat. Jay’s unmistakable grip on classic piano rips – slow-paced where it mattered, funky and fast on most occasions — was at the center of the quiet sonic storm.
The whole party mood got going with an avalanche of Seals & Crofts classics tweaked to get energy pumping on those happy feet. Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour” was served a hot Latin bossa number and so did America’s “You Can Do Magic” and Fra Lippo Lippi’s “Light and Shade.” The peak came with the re-styling of The Style Council’s “Shout To The Top” when the dancers sashayed out of the woodwork, er, from the dining tables, to show off their boogie shuffle, or in the case of fellow old-timers, shake out the excess carbs!
Speaking of dinner, the food was oh-la-la magnifique! I can’t remember its tongue-twisting French name but the shrimps were delectable and the sauce, while a bit skimpy for my sauce-loving Pinoy palate, was thick and tasty to go well with some sort of garlic-enhanced fried rice. I had myself good French coffee to go with my meal instead of what a gourmet would advise French wine for my now French-enhanced gullet. To which I’d say, “Ces’t la vie!” It’s not a life-defining event.
Still, Jay Durias’ performance at Pardon My French was my first live show since the pandemic started and curtailed everyone’s movement night and day. Something tells me it may yet redefine how I’d be spending my weekends from now on. Pardon, indeed, while I celebrate the good life! Pardon My French is providing space for artists like Jay Durias to let their art and ideas evolve and give audiences a “dopamine hit while at it.” The restaurant operates under PYC Foods Corporation, a member of the Tao Community of Companies.