Is there a place where you can still get live music, a nightclub vibe and French haute cuisine in Makati city?
Oui. It’s called Pardon My French and it’s at 110 Jupiter Street, a location formerly known as Strumm’s.
Strumm’s was an iconic Makati spot for years and years, mainly because it offered regular live local music; bands like South Border were nightly mainstays, playing soul, fusion and ‘80s hits with real chops and Pinoy talent.
Now, the pillars surrounding the stage and leading to the upstairs balconies are signs that Pardon My French has gone continental and upscale; the French menu and private dining room is another sign.
Dishes like escargot, mussels and rack of lamb offer a taste of fine dining. The French onion soup is hearty and very comforting; the duck confit was crisp and succulent, served with potato wedges and blueberries compote; the French baguette bread was freshly made and crunchy, while signature cocktails like French Perennial, Gentlemen’s Companion and 110 Jupiter Street give it a bit of retro European glam.
Then there’s the sight of dancers spinning up a storm in front of a stage where, tonight, Jay Durias leads a high-powered band. The South Border singer whips the ensemble through a repertoire of Stevie Wonder, Seals & Crofts, Rupert Holmes, Matt Bianco and Spinners covers, all dazzlingly arranged and driven by his thumping right hand on keyboards. (Jay’s son and daughter were in the lineup as well on guitar and drums, respectively.)
Yes, you can create fine dining menus and give a club a 1920s Euro vibe, but it’s always the music that draws people back to 110 Jupiter Street. That, or collective muscle memory.
Owner Jun Sy of the PYC Group (which also opened One World Deli, Sawsaw and Café Fleur) is a huge music fan, and wanted to keep the hits coming. Strumm’s was a spot that drew countless stage-worthy acts, something that went away during the pandemic. Now it’s looking to stage a comeback — and with one stroke, Pardon My French still retains the live band focus, while upmarketing the menu and vibe.
This July, Pardon My French launched its Artist Series, a new monthly focus on resident musicians and acts. Durias was a natural choice for Sy, who has a hand in picking the performers.
Downstairs, dining tables surround a stage rigged out with a formidable sound system (an area is carved out front for dancers — hired, we suppose, to lure audience members to the floor). Upstairs, private enclaves and balcony settings allow optimum views of the show. And just like that — with a bit of speakeasy glam, Pardon My French has shifted to a polished nightspot.
Lunch is now served (with harpists and acoustic guitar as background), but the nights are reserved for musical themes: Jazz on Tuesdays, Party/Retro on Wednesdays, Blues on Thursdays, Latin on Fridays, and the Artist Series on Saturdays (show from 9 to 10:30 p.m.), followed by dance party-themed band The Plug closing the place down by 12 or 1 a.m. Sunday lunches feature a string quartet.
The trick is to draw the crowd that used to love Strumm’s for its musical focus — and that hasn’t gone away. This month has seen bands like The Brat Pack and Brass Munkeys (Blues Night), Juan Miguel Salvador & The Authority (Party Retro Night), and Sabor Latino (Latin Night) take the stage.
According to PYC Foods Corp. marketing director Edgardo Bautista — who was there to welcome us at dinner — owner Sy wants the Artist Series to focus on the more personal side of musicians (like his friend Durias) who are willing to not just perform the usual repertoire, but stretch out. Tonight Durias leans heavily on his popular solo album “Songs I Grew Up With,” but with double keyboards, guitars, a backing chanteuse and a horn section, the elaborate arrangements hit that sweet spot of ‘80s fusion chops and dance-friendly sing-alongs. It’s a more intimate setting, but with a big sound: state-of-the-art acoustics and speakers guarantee everyone in the house gets the full show.
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Tickets for the 9 p.m. dinner set at Pardon My French, 110 Jupiter Street, Makati, are P2,500 (premiere) and P3,500 (deluxe) per person, wholly consumable, exclusive of service charge. Call 0917-823-0091 to reserve.