I’ve never been much for ambience – if the food’s good, that’s enough for me, but then, ambience was never measured in decibels. I don’t really see why this should be a tradeoff – why the best food can’t be served in the best environment – but for now, in Melbourne, at least, a tradeoff is inevitable.
To take an example from a couple of weeks ago, expecting to pay similar prices, we went to the Windsor rather than to Cumulus Inc. We took adequate rather than the best food, gaining at the same time space – and most importantly quiet. I can see no apologies to Cumulus Inc are necessary. The place is always packed by people who evidently think shouting should be part of highend dining. Cumulus, alas, does not need my custom, nor, it would follow, my opinions.
Another day we went to Pei Modern rather than The Grainstore, which has lovely food but has succumbed to the ‘if the music isn’t loud how can people tell they are having fun?’ attitude. Pei Modern’s take on tagliatelle with pesto was not great, but served up with peace, it was more than adequate.
I wouldn’t go to Cacao on Fitzroy St for the cooked breakfast – the only one we did have was baked eggs which were overcooked – but no matter. It is an oasis of serenity. I’ve been going there ever since it opened and the music has always been listenable both in volume and content.
It is a particular source of mystery to me that restaurant owners think people want to shout at breakfast time. Really? Two that offended in Adelaide were Jones the Grocer in its new permutation as Colin and Co, and Duthy St cafe. Rosey’s on the other hand, sitting on Unley Rd in between these two does it right. Music if you must, but stricly background please. A Mother’s Milk, just nearby, is noisier, but it has a back room which is relatively quiet.
As for the Stranded Cafe in Colonel Light Gardens, it does play music too loud, but when we explained that we were too old to shout over breakfast they turned it down for us. I don’t know if they are always as accommodating.