A passion for food + fashion

Mixed Messages

In Food on June 24, 2009 at 8:07 am


Here’s a dinner conversation that took place recently with my husband in a restaurant in Belgium:

What I said: “I’ve never heard so much Phil Collins in my life.”

What he heard: “I’ve never had so much self confidence in my life.”

The bottom line is that bad music can quickly derail a conversation. Conversely, when I stop to think about it, some of my best dinners have taken place in restaurants with killer soundtracks: Momofuku’s mix of Bowie, Modest Mouse, Wilco; Pizzeria Mozza’s classic rock with the Stones and Who in heavy rotation; and then as cliché as it might seem, Billie Holiday moodily piping through the speakers at Bouchon in Napa Valley. What’s better than bistro fare with blues?

  1. My worst music experiences seem to take place in Italy, where the techno/disco/synthesized dance music at 200+ bpm just doesn’t enhance the dining experience.

    More frustrating is hearing the same music in different restaurants. I don’t think I ever need to hear Miles’ “Kind of Blue” ever again because for awhile it seemed to be omnipresent on restaurant background music systems. Better to be more adventurous and play music that fits the personality of the restaurant. My favorite examples of this are Lou On Vine and Palate Food + Wine in LA and Le Pigeon in Portland. Their diverse and eccentric music selections certainly add to the pleasure of the evening.

  2. As Bananarama said it in song, “It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it..” I don’t ever mind the sonic tapestry mix in an eatery, as long as it’s kept at a sotto level that still makes inter-human communication possible. ..Was noshing on pulled porked sandwiches at Territory BBQ in Silver Lake just last Friday, and the punkrock piping outta their speakers was so hysterically loud that I could barely hear my own thoughts, let alone the bon mots of my lunch companion. We kindly asked them to turn down the knob, and they graciously complied. It’s kinda crazy how accomodating most resto staff is, if only you voice your request out loud! ..I also remember interviewing Sofia Coppola once at Cafe Figaro on Vermont, in Los Feliz–the Frenchie accordion muzak was going on full blast in the background, and I had the recorder on, and she, very intuitively, figured out that might be a problem for me, and flagged our waiter. In a very direct (and yet so patrician-polite!) manner asked, “Can you please turn off the music?” Not a peep was heard in that dining room for the next 2 hours.. That’s one more reason to adore Ms. Coppola..

  3. It’s OK, you can admit it — the works of Phil Collins always have that confidence-boosting effect on me too. Su Su Sussudio!

  4. Unfortunately, my husband would say that there’s no such thing as too much Phil Collins!

  5. I’m going to have to agree with Amanda’s husband: love me some Phil Collins!

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