Baby’s On Fire offers alternative to Hampden

By VERONICA REARDON | April 13, 2017

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COURTESY OF VERONICA REARDON Baby’s on Fire is located on the relatively idyllic Morton Street, not far from the bustle of North Charles.

In the spirit of searching for new potential study spaces as the end of the semester draws near and deadlines loom, this past week I went to check out Baby’s On Fire, a coffee shop and record store in Mount Vernon. Named after the Brian Eno song, it opened just last year to generally positive reviews.

Baby’s On Fire is on Morton Street, just a block away from the Mount Vernon CVS on North Charles Street. It’s a JHMI ride and a short walk away from campus, or it could be a very chill bike ride.

While Charles Street is always busy, Morton Street feels quiet and tucked away. It definitely showcases some of my favorite characteristics of Mount Vernon, with historic buildings, potted trees tucked away in alcoves and a feeling that is urban but not overwhelmingly so.

The tables outside are painted bright red. While the color certainly fits with the whole “Baby’s On Fire” theme, it looked more cheerful than fiery on the day I went, especially with the blue sky and the rainbow flag waving from beside the shop’s door.

The whole front window is full of tiny lights, and sandwich boards outside proclaim the specials in neon colors.

The interior is bright white and arranged in a way that feels social without being too crowded. Their record selection is displayed on a table in the middle of the shop.

I flipped through several, and many were bands that I’d never heard of. Prices ranged from $8 or $10 to $25 for the records.

Any true hipster or big fan of music, especially alternative or classic rock, would be very happy in there.

Albums they had on display included Brigitte Bardot Sings and Aldhils Arboretum. Featured artists were Future Islands, Tame Impala, My Bloody Valentine and others I didn’t know such as Sneaks and Charles Mingus. I feel like I could learn a lot about music there.

Like Artifact, XS and some other coffee shops, Baby’s on Fire has a sit-down meal option as well as traditional coffee shop offerings. Either way, you order at the counter. Their food was about typical for a coffee shop as far as price goes — a few dollars for a pastry or a bagel, with sandwiches between $5 and $8.

Their coffee was actually a step up from other shops. I had plain black coffee, and it was tastier than most coffee, both when it was fresh and after it had cooled.

They had some tasty-sounding beverages advertised as well, including an orange-caramel latte which would likely taste either really good or truly terrible. They are also BYOB-friendly.

While the scene there is very hipster and fairly similar to the semi-pricey places you will find in Hampden, it is also very friendly, perhaps more so than places like Spro or Artifact. It seems like a good alternative to Hampden.

It seemed a lot less obnoxiously hipster than I expected somewhere named after a Brian Eno song to be, and yes, I realize that the previous statement makes me sound a little bit hipster.

They hosted a number of concerts during the winter, mainly of local artists and will likely host more. People who played there included Seth Adam Kallick, a local who works in the restaurant business, and J. Robbins, a Baltimore/DC post-punk artist.

Although my positive feelings about the place might be more attributable to the beautiful weather than to the café itself, I will definitely be revisiting Baby’s on Fire, in part because I like their menu, and because I like the idea of sitting outside on Morton Street on a quiet and sunny afternoon, with a friend or a book.

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