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Jazz nights at Vivat Bacchus

It’s jazz season at Vivat Bacchus. After launching live music on Saturday nights at its London Bridge branch last month, from 8 August the restaurant is extending this initiative to the Farringdon venue.

Getting the Farringdon programme off to a swinging start will be The JT Band, whose director Jason Thompson has entertained both Bill Clinton and Michael Douglas in the course of his 27 year international career.

Over at London Bridge, one of the UK’s leading saxophonists, Alex Garner, will be entertaining guests, as part of a jazz quartet.

For both venues, music starts at 8.30pm, with a £5 cover charge after 8pm.

For those in need of further persuasion, Vivat Bacchus is also well known as one of the country’s top ambassadors for South African wine. This is the place to come and discover – or reacquaint yourself with – some of the most exciting and elegant wines the country has to offer.

Several are available by the glass, such as Paul Cluver’s 2008 Sauvignon Blanc (£5.50), or for those looking for a taste of something truly special, the beautifully sweet Vin de Constance from Klein Constantia (£14.50).

By the bottle you can find a roll call of South Africa’s most highly regarded estates and winemakers, from Hamilton Russell, to Vergelegen and Martin Meinert. In addition, owner Gerrie Knoetze and his team have selected an impressive range of wines from other corners of the world, including Mount Difficulty Pinot Noir (£45) and, staying in New Zealand, Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc (£49). If you ask nicely, wines from the list are also available to take home at a more friendly retail price.

On the food side, expect modern European dishes with the occasional South African ringer. It’s not every restaurant that offers a choice between Loch Duart Salmon and Kudu tartar. Both branches also take their cheese seriously, with a special room designed for guests to wander through with a glass of wine and pick their own selection.

Vivat Bacchus also runs a wine club, bringing its regulars together for winemaker dinners, masterclasses and tastings, with an event of some kind taking place just about every week. Both branches are also well geared up for private or corporate events, with separate dining rooms downstairs.

It might be tempting to criticise Vivat Bacchus for pushing the fusion of two rather different cuisines, but when springbok fillets are so tender and full of flavour, it seems narrow-minded to object to the fact they’re resting on top of an equally delicious risotto.

In short, it’s the passion and attention to detail which make Vivat Bacchus work, and with so many different events in place, there’s every excuse to pay a visit soon.

Gabriel Savage, 04.08.09

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