Named after a famous jazz song and occupying what was once a mechanic’s garage (not that you could ever tell), Green Dolphin Street burst onto the Chicago jazz scene in 1995. Green Dolphin started out as a full-blown jazz club and supper club but tougher times dictated a change. Although they claim to be re-opening it soon, the restaurant is now closed to the public and you’ll now find jazz every Tuesday with Jose Valdes and the Mambo Zombies (no cover, 8-11pm) and Wednesday with the John Burnett Orchestra ($10 cover, 8-11:30pm). Green Dolphin only features jazz occasionally on Friday, Saturday and Sunday when the place isn’t booked for a private party—phone first to find out our check the calendar on their website. With its elegantly landscaped back lawn that extends to the Chicago River, Green Dolphin is popular for weddings, reunions, birthday parties, rehearsal dinners, and corporate events. I once at the restaurant that makes up the eastern half of the building, which was quite good (while it lasted), and we then listed to some jazz in the western half. For more information, check out the Green Dolphin Street website.
As for its name, “On Green Dolphin Street” was introduced as the theme of the 1947 film Green Dolphin Street, which in turn was was based on British novelist Elizabeth Goudge’s 1944 book Green Dolphin Country, published that same year in the United States as Green Dolphin Street. The plot is that of a young man in 1800’s New Zealand who sends to the British Isles for the woman he loves but, in carelessness fashion, he addresses his letter to her sister with whom he also shares a past. Thus, the story centers on the trials of the young man and his bride as they attempt to make the marriage work. Later, the definitive version of the song was performed by Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley and Bill Evans on the album ’58 Miles.