I’ll start with lunch yesterday at Mirabelle . Mirabelle is directly across the street from my office. As a result (and simply because of the location) we eat there frequently. I stress that the location is the only reason because the food isn’t great, the service is terrible and worst of all, the music is consistently atrocious.
There are three things that restaurants do wrong when it comes to music:
- Volume- Too loud is worse than too quiet, but both can ruin a meal.
- Vocals- Often times it’s difficult to compete with other table’s conversations. I don’t want to have to battle Andrea Bocelli as well.
- Style- Cheesy Italian pop, Trance, Outkast… Leave dance music to the clubs, party music to parties, and leave bad music out completely.
Mirabelle deftly accomplishes all three feats of musical ineptitude on a daily basis. Money for Nothing by Dire Straights, followed by jazz-world fusion, followed by Aretha Franklin… It should be noted that Mirabelle’s decor is that of a 1650’s trade ship. The clientele ranges from Hollywood blue hair’s to entertainment industry business lunchers to Euro-trash Sunset Plaza types. First and foremost they have to lose the 80’s pop rock. Second, lose songs with vocals altogether and stick to instrumental only- the noise from traffic on the sunset strip is loud enough. Which brings me to my main point about music and food- Ultimately, jazz works best.
In college my roommate always played jazz while he cooked. I don’t know the origin of the activity, but I’ve adopted it. For some reason, the cooking process is enhanced by jazz (not smooth jazz, god forbid). Further, jazz has enough moods to work for both parties and serious business dinners, and it can add an air of class and sophistication (particularly to a restaurant that resembles a pirate ship).
Of course this is just a generalization. At Inoteca in New York they play Alice in Chains and And Justice For All-era Metallica, which worked perfectly for the hip, casual restaurant. Many Dodd Mitchell-designed restaurants choose electronic music, which also works well in maintaining a modern ambiance and hipness.
Many other restaurants achieve excellence in their musical choices, while some fall flat. I’ll post more in the future.