Enjoy a casually elegant evening at this downtown restaurant.

Light saxophone riffs and low conversational buzzes entwine to form an interesting harmony at the Jazz Factory. The sounds drift through the main dining area up to the tables in the mezzanine. On that level, the occasional smiling couple subtly peers over the edge, infusing their elegant meal with some innocent people-watching. With a martini bar and billiards room on yet another level of the restaurant, dinner here easily slips into an entire evening.

The restaurant shares the north side of the square in downtown Huntsville with office buildings and other businesses that sleepily retire when the sun sets. Naturally, the Jazz Factory becomes a great destination that offers a little bit more.

Fine Dining
As you take your seat for dinner, note the decor. The building itself was designed in the Italianate style in 1872. While updated in chocolate and cream colors, most of the original architectural accents (look for the elaborate molding that lines the ceiling) have been successfully preserved. Considering the sophisticated atmosphere, we were pleasantly surprised to find such reasonable prices. Begin with the crab cakes ($7.95), one of the house specialties. Try the Thai-style Tiger Prawns ($16.95), and save room for the Chocolate Chip Crème Brûlée ($5.25) for dessert.

Coltrane Would Be Proud
As the name suggests, local artists and bands begin coolly churning out jazz in the dining room around 7 every Friday and Saturday night.

If you're dining any other night, don't be surprised to catch a little music coming from the third level of the restaurant in the Martini Room, an area resembling a mini-nightclub. Soak up the melodies performed here every evening, as well as one of the club's signature martinis. Be sure to grab some friends for a quick game of pool on one of the seven hand-carved mahogany tables.

"We like to think of the Jazz Factory as a one-stop entertainment venue," says manager Steve Wang. We definitely have to agree.

Jazz Factory: 109 Northside Square, Huntsville, AL 35801; (256) 539-1919. Dining room hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday, 5-10 p.m. Saturday. Martini Room hours: 5 p.m.-midnight Sunday-Thursday, 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

A Romantic Evening
In addition to the regular menu, the Jazz Factory will be offering Valentine's Day specials. Call ahead for reservations and more information.

This article is from the February 2003 issue of Southern Living.Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.