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March 17, 2009

Best places to buy books and eat


The other day Dave Rosenthal of the blog Read Street asked me to suggest great places to eat and read for one of his posts. I thought he meant bookstores that had good food, and the only one I could think of was the Red Canoe in the Hamilton//Lauraville area, although I'm sure there are others.

I had to laugh when I saw his post this morning. It had nothing to do with bookstores. He must have wondered why I couldn't come up with at least one other place where you can read while you eat -- like half the restaurants and cafes in Baltimore.

(Photo courtesy of the Red Canoe Web site)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 7:58 AM | | Comments (17)


I miss desserts and a jazz trio at Louie's.

I think I'll just bow to RtSo's expertise in this!

(Wait! Is RtSo Read Street Dave??)

I love the Red Canoe- I eat there about once a week since it is just down the street from where I teach at. I love running in on my lunch break and ordering the Red Canoe Wrap (maybe a soup also) and looking at all the books as I wait- its a nice escape from school!

Red Canoe is a great place - wonderful tomato bisque soup & savory muffins.

Shame Louie's Bookstore Cafe is gone...

You also need the right restaurant -- one that's not too noisy, not too dark, not too rushed. Huh?

Book and I have dined everywhere from Burger King to Prime Rib. If they give you a table (i.e. a flat surface) Book is happy. Lighting use to be an occasional problem but I bought Book special traveling clothes: Barnes and Noble has this nice cover with a book light built into the spine.

In fact, I would dispute the premise of the quoted statement. The advantage of Book as a dining companion is the ability to shut out the noise and bother around you. I too miss Louie's and the music. However my memories are of classical music. Had there been jazz I would have specially wanted Book to help me shut it out. (Sorry, I hate jazz, well country too. Well actually everything that is not classical. Now before I'm attacked for such narrow tastes in music, let me remind you I have about 1600 years of music from which to choose, so my taste is not all that narrow: chant to Michael Torke. Let me dig my hole deeper by adding that the trio of Gershwin, Copeland and Bernstein are also excluded from my play list: only C+ for each, on their very best days.)

You would really choose Michael Torke over Gershwin, Copeland, or Bernstein? I'm not an incredible fan of the latter three, but just about anything is better then neo-romantic, uninspired hogwash.

As for reading while dining, once the food comes the book goes down. It's too distracting to try to balance a book and eat. If I'm paying to eat at a restaurant I want to enjoy the food and be engaged in eating it, as opposed to just automatically putting it in my mouth without thought.

Robert, you have greater powers of concentration than I do. I don't need to be in a soundproof room to read, but I'd be too distracted on a Saturday evening at Pazo (not to mention that I have sometimes used the server's flashlight just to read the menu there).

Mike, doesn't the food sometimes add to the reading experience? What could be better than reading a novel about Paris while eating steak frites at Marie Louise?

p.s. Eve, I'm simply Dave. You'll have to go further to unmask RtSo.

Mr Mike, a number of years ago, the BSO did the world premier of Big Bright Blue Music. As I was listening to it, it occurred to me that a) on first hearing, I liked it enough to want to hear it again (not the expected response to new music) and b) I was experiencing the same thing audience have for many years: a contemporary premier of music that would likely get heard more than once. I was thinking of the Haydn/Mozart audiences.

Actually my time line generally ends around Elgar but I wanted to stretch a little.

On the food front, yes, Book gets less attention once the food arrives, but if its lunch and pizza, the pages still turn.

Eve--Dave is right. I have met RtSO, and he is not Dave (if the photo they run is accurate, anyway ...)

Happily for Mr Dave and his family, I'm not him. I'm just Robert. (xoxo to Dahlink.)

Not Baltimore, but the Country Roads Cafe in Hillsboro, West Virginia - near Snow Shoe- is a neat little place. It is housed in old general store, and its walls are lined with all kinds of used books.

RtSO, what is Book: Ovid? Have you ever read anything that wasn't originally written in Latin?
(I'm ribbing you. I sincerely admire your taste in music ... that you possess taste regarding music. Prof. McIntyre's an opera buff, or he plays the stuff to annoy people who sit near his office. Do you fancy opera? Or is that a bit dernier cri?)

I have this fantasy life where I read and speak Latin, NT Greek, French, Italian and Cantonese. The reality is about as far from that as one can get. I tried French. I tried Latin. The reality is that a dyslexic has a terrible time learning any foreign language (English is tough enough.) As to Book, part of the reason for the fancy cover is that is hides the latest Elizabeth Peters or Terry Pratchett I'm reading. I draw unkind stares as I giggle through Discworld. Its always somewhat embarrassing when that sweet young blonde taking my order breathlessly asks what I am reading, clearly expecting something trendy. Ah, no, just Lord Peter Wimsey.

I do love opera (not so much Wagner: Anna Russell does so much better with the Ring [30 minutes v 18.5 hours].) I have been depressed since Baltimore Opera went to Chapter 7. Is it dernier cri to whistle the Queen of the Night aria when I'm bored?

I wish Donna's could have stayed in Pikesville when Bibolet (sp?) became Barnes and Noble.

RtSO, dyslexics who learn aurally can learn languages just fine (although I had trouble with Anglo-Saxon because no one really speaks it).

The problem with reading P'Terry at meals is that it is painful to reverse snort pot roast. He is one funny man.

Anna Russell's Ring is a classic. She's not making it up, you know.

Ms Lissa, you're probably right about learning. My accent was always good: mimicking the sounds. But the classes were always based on written words. Huge disconnect. Oh well. I'll just dream of Ovid.

Ah, yes, like anything else, there are more ways than one to learn a language. All too often, only one method is taught.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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