Canton Arts and Entertainment is big and bizarre
When restaurants and bars try to do too many things at once, they often overreach themselves.
I think that's what is happening at the new Canton Arts and Entertainment.
It's a bar named My Generation, an oyster bar named the Black Pearl and a fancy restaurant named Gutman's, all under one roof.
After seeing the place last Saturday night, it looks like the Boston Street spot is having a bit of an identity crisis.
The outside of Canton Arts and Entertainment is painted gold, which is awesomely tacky, or, as I like to call it, Baltimore chic ...
When you walk in, a mini-directory greets you, with arrows pointing to the restaurant, oyster bar and bar. Our group was there for the bar. Even with the building split into distinct spaces, the bar area is still big.
The room itself has exposed brick, a long bar and high ceilings. The black leather couches and chairs in the middle of the bar appear to be the same ones that have been there since Huckas opened several years ago. Heck, they might even pre-date Huckas.
Odder still: The men's bathroom was small and shabby -- strange, considering how spacious the building is.
Oh, and there is a fountain. In the middle of the bar. Don't ask me what place a fountain has in the middle of a bar, but it was there.
The only other bar I can think of with a fountain is Carlos O'Charlies in Highlandtown, an equally bizarre (but more popular) spot.
Though it's been open for about a month, Canton Arts and Entertainment doesn't seem to have caught on yet. At 10:30 p.m. last Saturday, when our party of six rolled into My Generation, we immediately doubled the number of people there. That's including the staff.
Even with the noise from the flat screen TVs behind the bar, we could hear the fountain gurgling in the background. That's not a good sign. It's also kind of a shame, because Canton Arts and Entertainment had a decent drink selection.
The bar itself looked fully stocked with cold and hot drinks, and I counted at least 25 bottled beers and several quality drafts. I ordered a Magic Hat, which cost about $5 and tasted fresh.
The six of us sipped our beers and watched an MMA match on one of the TVs. When we finished our round, we split.
At this point, I wonder how long such a big restaurant and bar can sustain itself when it's that empty on a Saturday night. I don't like to make projections, but at this rate, I will be shocked if Canton Arts and Entertainment is still open a year from now.
(Photo by Shankman)