I went down to Jonathan’s on a Sunday night, looking forward to a quiet drink, some good conversation with friends, and maybe the chance to catch a bit of the live lounge music that’s rumored to be a pleasant and casual constant playing wistfully in the background.

It was one of those perfect summer nights with warm weather and quiet breezes setting the framework for a fine and mellow evening.

For those of us who work in the food industry, Sundays are typically the day to catch your breath, relax a bit and slow down from the adrenaline rush of Saturday night. But when it came to the bar and restaurant at Jonathan’s, boy was I ever wrong. Simply put, Jonathan’s was happening.

I suppose this shouldn’t have come as such a shock, considering the fact that for years Jonathan’s has been an active and solid fixture in the Ogunquit music and arts community. The venue consistently brings in a broad range of big-name acts (such as Joan Osborne, Leon Redbone, Shawn Mullins and Crooked Still, to name just a few), catering to crowds of all ages and from all walks of life.

And so when, slightly cluelessly, I wandered in on a hoppin’ Sunday night, the phrase “you should have known better” wagged its parental, guilt-filled finger at me. Yes, I probably should have done my homework beforehand, and yes, I should have known that Jonathan’s never has a slow night — especially when Judy Collins is the headliner. Oops.

The kind folks directing traffic by the host stand at Jonathan’s are used to telling people about the waiting list for the dining room, and apparently most diners are used to receiving this news and take it rather gracefully. But if you’re headed to the bar, you’re happily (and thankfully) waved on through.

The bar itself seats only about 15 people, but there are a few dining tables that fall under the bar’s jurisdiction as well. Tucked away in a corner are a few musicians playing casual, calming jazz numbers that are a stark contrast to the hectic buzz of the restaurant and bar. And buzzing it was.

I waited 20 minutes to land a beer, only after helping myself to a drink list from across the bar and a dinner menu from the cozy couple sitting next to me. But once a cocktail menu was captured, I was treated to a list of wine bottles that ranged in price from $20 to more than $200. They covered a broad range of geographical territories and tastes.

The by-the-glass selection was mainly focused on California wines and was relatively limited, but the wine options are nicely balanced by the more than full bar, as well as Jonathan’s well-known signature drink, the elderberry martini (Cold River vodka and elderberry nectar). The beer department is kept straightforward and simple, with three drafts on tap (Shipyard seasonal, Frye’s Leap IPA and Michelob Light), and an efficient selection of domestic, local and international bottles.

The bar itself can be likened to an island; it’s surrounded by the dining room on three sides, but has been sunk a few steps lower and separated from the restaurant by windowed walls. You’re still part of the whole restaurant experience and can see what’s happening on the dining floor, but you’re able to have your own unique bar experience, away from some of the fray, enjoying the music and conversation with new friends.

The lighting is low, and a tangle of branches weaves its way across the ceiling, making it feel like perpetual fall. There are a few flatscreen TVs on the walls, but they take a back seat to the excellent people-watching and music that provide equal, if not better, entertainment. And if you’re not in any rush, the service is both personable and down to earth.

Johanna Sorrell is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.