Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I'll have the filet, medium, hold the Creedence

{NYC Felix, originally uploaded by tbone_bill. See note below**}

There is nothing like a nice dinner out. In Downtown Hartford, and the surrounding towns, there are a lot of great places to eat. I am fortunate in that The BF also appreciates good restaurants, and most Saturday nights find us enjoying a cold martini followed by a lovely meal and some great wine. We like the whole experience that a good restaurant offers: a little chit-chat with the bartender while he shakes up the vodka or gin and tries to remember which of us ordered the olives (me) or the lemon twist (The BF). Debating staying at the bar so we can sit cozily side-by-side vs moving to a table. Sharing an appetizer, weighing the merits of various entrees, picking a wine, having a three-hour conversation about everything and nothing. We appreciate the whole experience that has been created for us - the food, the service, the decor, the ambiance. But not necessarily the music. The music befuddles. When I think marble bar/white tablecloth/martini/wine/etc, I think jazz, standards, accoustic, maybe somethig electronic, but all in the name of background music. Aural wallpaper to complement the Scalamandre grasscloth and alabaster chandeliers, to sparkle behind the patrons' dialogue, to bookend the beginnings and ends of conversations. I don't think Creedence. Or Jimi Hendrix. Or Cat Stevens.

I was in three different fine dining establishments this past weekend: two with The BF on Saturday night (one for a drink and a different one for dinner) and one with my family for Easter. In all three instances, the artfully-designed decor, first-class service* and excellent food was curiously set against an backdrop of '70s rock: CCR, Led Zep, Fleetwood Mac, Queen. Great stuff, in a grammar-school-flashback kind of way. Or a beer-and-burgers-on-the-beach kind of way. Or a hanging-out-at-home kind of way. I don't get it. Why would a restauranteur spend a million dollars on opening a restaurant, creating a menu, designing a space, praying for a good review and a crowd that keeps coming despite the ups and downs of the economy, and then leave the Muzak station on Seventies Rock? You've taken a wonderful little experience and tainted it. It's not ironic, or charming, or clever, it's kind of obnoxious, in an ambiance-be-damned-this-is-what-I/the-staff-likes kind of way. And if that is who you are catering to, I am afraid for your business.

*Okay, the service at the place we went to on Easter was more grandmotherly than first-class, but still...

**The BF took this picture, on a hot summer Saturday night in NYC, at Restaurant Felix. The food is amazing, and the music is a mix of French jazz/electonic lounge/music hall (think Pink Martini). A delicious end to a wonderful day. If you go, be sure to sit in the window so you can watch the street theater that is West Broadway. We watched one couple on a blind date, another couple breaking up, and a Vespa-riding cross-dresser wearing a fur coat and a wig (in August). Oh, and did I mention the food was fantastic?


Raina said...

I wholeheartedly agree with your music assessment. And I think every meal out should be accompanied by tranny sightings.

only a movie said...

Wow, this is what its like when kids or teenagers have zero influence in where dining dollars are spent?
I agree that the music would kill the mood. Though I do love quite enjoy classic rock, it's definitely driving-to-a-hike or housecleaning sort of music.

Anonymous said...

from the BF:

The antithesis is the mindless programming of Vivaldi and Bach - who apparently represent the most "wallpaper-like" qualities in music.

I LOVE long-form symphonic music; but every time I hear dinning room speakers scratching out The Four Seasons, it's (as the grumpy old guys on the Muppet Show say) "like a kind of torture".

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

OK. Now I have to go eat.

twoladiesinwaiting said...

How have we not discussed this?

Fifi Flowers said...

That food looks AMAZING!!! Oooooh Pink Martini music while dining is DIVINE!!!

knitseashore said...

I can't agree enough. Music is such a personal thing -- it shouldn't be inflicted on others rudely or carelessly.

I'm also quite tired of 60s folk music in bookstores, which for some strange reason seems to happen a lot lately. It's very hard to concentrate on book hoarding with Peter Paul and Mary or Peter and Gordon or all the other 60s stars wailing in the background. Maybe that's their way of encouraging us to buy more self-help or environmental titles?