Brooklyn Roasting Company (Dumbo Headquarters) — 70.5 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We visited the Jay Street location of Brooklyn Roasting Company on a late Saturday afternoon and found it very busy but relaxed.  This location is the company’s headquarters and “roastery,” so there is a lot of space.  Large bags of green coffee beans were piled artistically around the space.  It was a bit disconcerting to see some people use them as seating, but they seemed to serve that purpose.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Because it’s a big space so you should always be able to find a relatively quiet corner.  Something that is almost guaranteed as it’s very popular with people who are beavering away on their computers.  In fact, there are always lots of laptop brigade members here, which is always a good sign.

Music played softly in the background during our visit, but as it was truly in the background we did not mind.  The coffee, unsurprisingly, is excellent and reasonably priced for Dumbo.  It should be, since they roast their own beans and sell them.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We highly recommended this location of Brooklyn Roasting Company.  There usually are savory and sweet snacks on offer, but the cupboard was a bit bare in the late afternoon.  We remember their version of a pop tart with some fondness, so if you want a snack to go with your coffee try visiting a little earlier in the day.

If you like the feeling of a big lofty space in the middle of a very industrial looking part of Brooklyn–a Con Ed transmission substation is across the street–you will be in your element.   The Dumbo location of Brooklyn Roasting Company is well worth a visit.

HOURS

7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. every day

LOCATION

Street (at the corner of John Street), Brooklyn, NY 11201

WEBSITE

Brooklyn Roasting Company

Good Stuff Diner – 65.4 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

By Jeanine Botta

On a recent morning, I’d been running errands in Manhattan and decided to try the Good Stuff Diner on West 14th Street before heading home to Brooklyn.  I love diners and was drawn to the place’s gleaming retro design and warm tones.  A manager greeted me at the door and accommodated my request for a booth, which doesn’t always happen with solo diners.  I sat in the back among a mix of other solo diners, pairs, and groups.  Two men sat alone at separate tables eating breakfast and reading newspapers, then said goodbye to each other when one of them left.

It was just after 10:00 a.m. when I arrived, so it was somewhere between the end of the breakfast rush and the start of the lunch rush; around half of the tables were occupied in each dining area. I ordered eggs with toast and home fried potatoes, orange juice, and coffee.  All were good, and the service was fast and friendly, but not rushed.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

There was no music playing in the back section of the diner while I was there.  The average sound level  was only 65.4, but the ambience wasn’t hushed.  The predominant sound was that of lively conversation.  It was only when I walked to the front of the diner as I was leaving that I heard music, but the music was playing softly in the background and didn’t distract.

The Good Stuff Diner is recommended to tourists and other travelers, as evidenced by online reviews.  But on this weekday morning I could tell by nearby conversations that many of the diners were locals, some were regulars, and most were New Yorkers, which says good things about the place.  Given the sound level when the restaurant was just over halfway occupied, I wouldn’t hesitate to schedule a meeting or meet up with friends during a busier time.  It was good to find an aesthetically appealing, affordable, friendly restaurant with a robust menu in a part of the city where I often find myself wishing for exactly this kind of eatery.

HOURS

Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week

LOCATION

109 West 14th Street (near 6th Avenue), New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Good Stuff Diner

B & H — 71.3 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

B & H is a longstanding kosher dairy restaurant located in the East Village.  Essentially it’s pescatarian, as they don’t serve meat but fish is on the menu, and it’s really more of a lunch counter than a restaurant.  An open grill is located behind the counter which runs the length of the space; the counter is lined with stools.  Someone decided there was enough room for a handful of small tables for two that hug the opposite wall (there isn’t), so navigating your way in the space is a challenge but it’s worth it.

Soups reign at B & H. A big bowl of whatever soup you choose (choices include hot borscht, mushroom and barley, vegetable, and matzoh ball) is only $5.50 with bread and butter.  Definitely get the bread–it’s soft and slightly sweet and comes pre-buttered.  Service is very efficient and friendly.  If you order soup, your order will be placed in front of you within a minute or two.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We found the space to be calm even with the counter man shouting phone orders to his co-worker.  A radio played in the background but the volume was very low.  There were some sharp kitchen sounds of dishes being thrown into a bin, but basically the soundscape was  comfortable.  And even though we visited on a Monday night, the place was pretty packed, so we think the reading and this review reasonably reflects what one can expect when B & H is busy.

If you want to experience a bit of old school New York City, come to B & H. After you finish your meal, head on over to nearby Moishe’s Bake Shop (where everything looks kind of stale but it’s actually pretty good).

Highly recommended.  Cash only.

HOURS

Sunday through Thursday: 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Frirday and Saturday: 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

LOCATION

Avenue (betw. St. Marks Place and 7th Street), New York, NY 10003

WEBSITE

B & H Dairy Kosher Restaurant

 

Govinda’s — 65.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Located on the bottom floor of the Hare Krishna Temple on Schemerhorn near Nevins, Govinda’s is not to be missed.  On the Temple’s website they extoll the virtues of Govinda’s, inviting the public to enjoy “great Vegetarian food at affordable prices and served to you in a peaceful stress free environment.”  And they delivered on what they had promised.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Govinda’s is located in a large meeting room.  A buffet style counter is set up by the entrance, to the space.  You wait in line, tell the server what you want, pay, and find a free seat at one of the large shared tables throughout the roomy space.  It feels like a church basement and not a restaurant for good reason, but this church basement restaurant is packed with believers and non-believers who enjoy a good vegetarian nosh.

Govinda’s features one entree that changes every day–eggplant parmagiana was offered when we visited–and a number of side dishes.  You pay for the number choices you want: two choices are $7, and a combo plate of eggplant Parm, string beans, cabbage and potatoes, and a very tasty slaw set us back $10.  A “complete meal,” which must feature everything, is only $12 and apparently is enough food for two people.  Free bread and unlimited water or orange lemonade (very good and refreshing) come with the meal.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

There were lots of coworkers (it’s located near city government buildings) or friends chatting as they ate during out visit, and music playing in the background, but it the soundscape was mostly comfortable.  The room was half full when we first entered but quickly filled up; it was nearly full by the time we left.  Because the space is roomy and there is a drop ceiling, the sound level was more than manageable.  The only thing that made the space less than perfect was the sitar music, which can be a bit trebly–if high-pitched sounds are your personal nemisis, you may want to avoid Govinda’s.  That said, the space is very comfortable and it’s easy to carry on a conversation here.

If you enjoy a good vegetarian meal in a fairly relaxed setting, you must stop by Govinda’s.  Note that Govinda’s is only open for lunch Monday through Friday, and it is cash only.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 12:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Closed Saturday and Sunday

LOCATION

305 Schermerhorn Street (betw. Nevins and Bond Streets), Brooklyn, NY 11217

WEBSITE

Govinda’s Vegetarian Lunch

 

Archestratus Books + Foods — 70.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Archestratus Books + Foods is a very calm space, even with unnecessary music playing in the background. It should be calm, as it is a cafe burrowed into the back of a bookstore.  There is a short menu offering a few savory and sweet treats during the day, and a selection of coffees and teas.  Service is friendly and relaxed.

Archestratus Books + Foods offers a well-liked dinner on Thursday nights.  We’ve never been, but given the rave dinner reviews on Yelp and other rating sites, it’s on our short list to try for this year.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The bookstore portion of the space features books on food and cooking–it’s easy to get lost in the space for hours.  There is also a small selection of interesting gift items on offer.  Overall the entire space is quiet and comfortable.

There were only a couple of people sharing the cafe when we visited, so we can’t say conclusively that the space would be comfortable when full.  Still, the cafe soundscape should be fine even when crowded, as it only seats 12.

Archestratus Books + Foods is highly recommended.

HOURS

Monday and Tuesday: Closed

Wednesday through Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Dinner is available Thursday evenings from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. Manhattan Avenue and Franklin Street), Brooklyn, NY 11222

WEBSITE

Archestratus Books + Foods

Raclette — 78.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The restaurant was packed when we got there, even though our reservation was set for a time squarely between the end of brunch and beginning of dinner.  Yes, the place is that popular that a reservation is a must.  As a conseqence, the small space was louder than we would have liked, at first, but the noise level improved.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

About halfway through our visit, the sound level became a lot better.  The tenor changed after a couple of tables left and someone appeared to have lowered the unnecessary music.  In fact, the room was perfect. The second half of the visit made up for the first half, helped in no small part by the food.  If you love cheese–particularly melted cheese–Raclette is a must visit.  Perfect on a cold winter’s afternoon.

HOURS

Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Monday through Thursday: 12:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Friday: 12:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Saturday: 11:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.

LOCATION

WEBSITE

Raclette

Everyman Espresso (East Village) — 69.7 to 70.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We visited the East Village location of Everyman Espresso twice, and both times we found it to be a very relaxed space.  During our first visit on a Wednesday afternoon, most people were working on laptops, with just one chatty, but not particularly annoying couple engrossed in conversation nearby.  Music played softly in the background and was mostly fine, if unnecessary.

One thing we couldn’t help noticing was that the espresso machine was one of the quietest we’ve heard.  We suspect the reason for this is because it’s on the front counter, with the working bits facing the back wall.  In many coffee shops, the espresso machine is on a back or side counter facing the seating area.  In any event, the coffee-making noises were really manageable and they didn’t feel jarring or startling at all.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

On our second visit a week later, the place was nearly perfect.  The only thing we would change is to lower the background music, but the noise level is still very low compared to many places.   As before, the coffee machines were not a distraction, and the crowd was very relaxed.  If the background music were lowered or shut off, the space would be perfect.  But it’s nearly there and that’s pretty fabulous.

If you are looking for a comfortable spot in the East Village/Union Square area, Everyman Espresso should be on your short list.  There is plenty of seating and the place is pretty comfortable.  Throw in very good coffee and great service, and there’s no reason not to go.  Recommended.

HOURS

Monday: 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday through Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. 3rd and 4th Avenues), New York, NY 10003

WEBSITE

Everyman Espresso

La Bonne Soupe — 71.2 to 75.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We’ve visited La Bonne Soupe for lunch on three separate occasions, as it’s conveniently located a few blocks away from The Museum of Modern Art.  On our first visit, we had a very pleasant late lunch at this midtown French bistro.  The door was open to the street–and there was street noise–but it really did not impact the noise level in the place.  The main space was at least half full, and the other patrons were chatty, but the space was really comfortable.  There were a couple of obvious reasons for this: background music was actually in the background, there were upholstered banquettes lining the room, and the cloth-covered walls appeared to be padded.  The design decisions, coupled with restraint with regard to the background music, kept the noise at reasonable levels.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Our second and third visits were in late autumn, so the door was not open to the street, but the dining room was packed.  On both occasions we were seated near the loudest part of the first floor dining room–tables situated near the bar.  This area is bustling, as the busboys come over to replenish glassware and to grab utensils to reset tables, and the very friendly bartender has a booming voice.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Still, despite the chatter and glassware noise, we would still recommend a visit but would suggest that you ask for a table furthest away from the bar or ask if there is a free table on the second floor.  While we haven’t eaten in the second floor dining room, we popped up for a quick visit and discovered that it was quieter than the first floor.  There also appears to be a back dining space on the first floor, but it wasn’t clear whether customers were seated there during lunch service.

Long and short, La Bonne Soupe is a good safe option for bustling midtown.  The sound level is mostly manageable, the food is good, service was fine, and the meal was reasonably priced for the location.

HOURS

Sunday: 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Monday through Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m..

LOCATION

WEBSITE

La Bonne Soupe

Think Coffee @ Bowery & Bleecker — 71.8 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Think Coffee’s Bowery location was packed but quiet when we visited.  Why was it quiet?  Because most of the customers were members of the laptop brigade and they spent their time  staring intently into their laptop screens as they silently sipped their coffees.  There were a few chatty couples present, but they weren’t screamers.  And while the space had mostly hard surfaces, an unfinished wood floor probably helped absorb some sound.

But the primary reason the space was fairly comfortable was the absence of loud music.  There was music playing during the first few minutes of our visit, but then it stopped.  Which was a very good thing, as the piece that was playing had to have been the single most annoying thing ever–the “music” was a series of high-pitched synth sounds, with no voice, no other instruments.   Fortunately, it only lasted a minute or two, and once it was turned off, the space was perfectly fine.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We must note that although it wasn’t a particularly hot day when we visited, the air conditioner was set on max–it felt like we were sitting in a meat locker.  Perhaps we shouldn’t have ordered cold brew coffee, but it hit the spot and at only $3.50 for a large serving, they were a real bargain for downtown Manhattan.   Think Coffee offers free wifi at some locations but not one.  Still, the laptop brigade has adopted this spot, which is why you can enjoy  it.  Recommended.

HOURS

Monday through Thursday: 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Saturday: 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Sunday: 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

LOCATION

1 Bleecker Street (at Bowery), New York, NY 10003

WEBSITE

Think Coffee

Russ & Daughters Cafe — 78.5 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We were pleasantly surprised about the noise level at Russ & Daughters Cafe–it wasn’t bad at all for a very busy, celebrated place.  Every food site has written it up, and the food is very good, so of course there was a wait (45 minutes at 10:00 a.m. on a Sunday in August).  As a consequence, almost every seat was taken during our brunch time visit, so we think the decibel reading can be relied on for lunch and dinner as well.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We were seated in the front dining space.  The music was a bit louder than we would have liked, but in the end it was tolerable and sometimes more than tolerable (depending on the song), which was astonishing given that every surface in the front was hard.  We can only speculate that something was done to mitigate the noise.  Did the rounded ceiling helped to deflect sound?  Maybe, but we can’t be sure.  The back dining room is separated from the front, which helped, but the kitchen was open.  That said, the open kitchen occupied the space between the front and back dining areas, so kitchen noises didn’t intrude as much as one might have thought.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Whatever the reason, the space was not as loud as we anticipated.  In fact, we thought the space felt more comfortable than 78.5 decibels.   So, despite the hype and crowds, Russ & Daughters Cafe is worth a visit.  Yes, it could be a bit more comfortable, and it would have if they just lowered the music, but in the end it’s tolerable and the smoked salmon makes the visit worth it.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. Rivington and Delancey Streets), New York, NY 10002

WEBSITE

Russ & Daughters Cafe