Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Musically Inclined

The September issue of Bon Appetit is their restaurant issue and restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton has an interesting section about the intense tour of the nation's restaurants he undertook for the issue. After 120 days and a LOT of restaurants, he noticed some consistencies, not all of which were culinary.

One of the more interesting (to me) parts of the issue is a tiny sidebar on page 58, where Knowlton lists a handful of songs that have made it onto soundtracks at the new cool kids restaurants. The list isn't super surprising - Mumford & Sons? Black Keys? - but interesting nonetheless.

For some reason, music rarely makes an impression on me in restaurants. I think that's probably because it's usually quiet and innocuous enough that it just fades into the background. I wish it played more of a role in Baltimore eateries - it can be such a fun way for a restaurant to show off its personality.

Of course, first they have to get the music right, which means it has to work for the staff and the diners - it has to fit the brand and audience. When we ate at Wit + Wisdom, not too long after it opened, I was surprised by the cheesy, easy-listening quality of the music. It wasn't nearly sophisticated enough - or even fun enough - for the place.

On the other hand, I still fondly remember a dinner we had at Clementine during the spring of 2011. We ate there a lot back then but one meal stands out - because of the music. They mix up the tunes - you never know what you'll get - and that night a classic rock lover was manning the iPod. I loved it so much that I went right home and made a playlist ("Cooper Goes Camping") inspired by that dinner. I started with Janis Joplin ("Mercedes Benz") and went from there.

Quirky, ever-changing music works well at Clementine since it's a quirky, homey type of restaurant. What they do wouldn't be right for everyone.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm curious about where else in Baltimore uses music well. Any favorites?

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