Indie Rock: It's What's For Dinner

Blonderedhead_lNew York Times food critic Frank Bruni blogged today about an interesting subject I’d never considered: the music that fancy restaurants play during mealtimes. You’ll have to dig through an informative but lengthy preamble to get to the real meat — a recent playlist used by the chef from Culver City, Calif.’s Fraîche, who shows surprisingly well-developed, indie-heavy taste. Nibbling on monkfish medallions to the sweet strains of "Top Ranking" by Blonde Redhead (pictured)? Humming along to the Pixies’ "Wave of Mutilation" whilst chewing some parchment-cooked branzino? I’d never have thought of ‘em myself, but those sound like delicious ideas! And I gotta love the sly way Fraîche slipped in a few excellent food- and drink-related tunes — Modest Mouse’s "Blame it on the Tetons" ("Blame it on the weekends/God, I need a cola now"), Elliott Smith’s "Baby Britain" ("Baby Britain feels the best/Floating over a sea of vodka"), Sinead O’Connor’s "Petit Poulet" (which I am going to go ahead and assume is a song about some sort of tasty French chicken stew). With puns like those, even the most absurdly jacked-up menu prices are bound to feel a little more worthwhile.

Then again, hazy indie-pop isn’t everyone’s cup of gourmet hand-selected tea. What kind of music would you prefer to hear at the high-end dining establishment of your choice? And have background tunes ever significantly affected a meal for you, positively or negatively?

Comments (13 total) Add your comment
  • Gringo

    Actually, indie-rock/pop/folk,etc is my cup of tea, so as long as it’s not too punkish. But really, whatever is good with me as long as it fits the vibe that the establishment is trying to create. Although I think most people who go out to dinner (not drinks) are going to walk to talk to the people they are with, so really the music can’t take center stage. It needs to be in the background. At least that’s my preference.

  • CMU

    Jazz, for sure. There’s nothing like sipping wine with a little Miles Davis on in the background.

  • Shouty McLoudster

    I had my birthday dinner with friends in a tiny restaurant that had no business hosting loud mariachi-sounding bands. I couldn’t even hear what I was saying, much less my friends. I’ll take anything with volume control!

  • Shouty McLoudster

    I had my birthday dinner with friends in a tiny restaurant that had no business hosting loud mariachi-sounding bands. I couldn’t even hear what I was saying, much less my friends. I’ll take anything with volume control!

  • Devin

    I heard “Cheated Hearts” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at a restaurant in Tempe when I was deciding what college to go to, and that may or may not have affected my ultimate decision to attend ASU… well, not really, but I thought maybe it was a sign.

  • Snarf

    I’ve heard the Cocteau Twins at brunch but I prefer ambient (think Enigma) while dinning.

  • EWJunkie1

    I once went to a very expensive Italian place with my boyfriend and the Italian opera in the background was so distracting, I couldn’t even decide what to order. I agree, volume control is key.

  • Sam

    The worst is when you get dragged to some horrible chain like Chili’s or Applebee’s and you’re visiting with friends for so long that the same awful song you rolled your eyes at during the appetizer comes on again during dessert.

  • LisaMama

    The music, whatever style it is, should be in the background, as previous posters have said.
    But as someone who worked at a German winery/restaurant and suffered a whole summer of German folk music (the music was fine, but it was a very limited selection of songs), I would hope the people who pick the music take into account that the people working there don’t want to hear the same stuff over and over!

  • Nix

    When I think fine dining, I think French multi-course, $300-$500 for the table of four. So … chamber music, but nothing too demanding, no Kronos Quartet or twelve-tone. I wonder if some light Mozart would work, the mathematics in his music could actually help in digestion.
    Of course, Mario has them pay his personal playlist over at Babbo, but I was too busy OD’ing on the goose liver ravioli in red wine sauce to pay that much attention … but that’s Italian, anything goes for me with Italian.

  • ZOE

    Cat Power, Velvet Underground, and Bob Dylan gets played a lot to where i go in San Francisco and Santa Barbara which i love!!!

  • Stephanie T.

    Coffee Shop-Indie
    Roadside diner-a mixed adult pop station

  • mrsmoy

    The swankiest restaurant in Seattle is Canlis. It’s very old school, and it has a live pianist. Mostly he plays classical and jazz. However, one night my husband and I were dining at Canlis, and we heard him play Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” Awesome! Restaurant music should be like good food–an unexpected delight.

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