High Street on Hudson — 81.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We normally avoid new or notable places because they tend towards the boisterous, but this NYC location of a Philly fave restaurant received nothing but raves, so we aimed for a Thursday lunch to avoid the evening crush.  When we arrived we saw that about half the tables were taken, but even with empty tables we were confronted with a wall of noise.  We braved on and managed to eat a rushed meal.

Reviews have mentioned that High Street breads are fabulous–and they are–and we loved our side order of Sicilian cauliflower.  That said, we won’t be back.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Why?  High Street was too loud from the get go despite being less than half full–ear plugs had to be deployed.   We can’t even contemplate how loud a packed house at night would be, which is a real shame because place is getting a lot of deserved buzz and the food was delicious.  But delicious food served in an echo chamber with music that is too loud and trebly simply is not enjoyable.  Even if the music were lowered it unclear if the space could be comfortable.  Once again, the typical design culprits were present–glass, glass, and more glass–and we could hear the people around us raising their voices to be heard.

High Street on Hudson has a take away counter.  Use it.

HOURS

Monday: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. | 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Tuesday: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Wednesday and Thursday: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. | 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. | 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. | 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. | 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Note: Hours are for summer; winter dinner hours will close an hour later

LOCATION

Street (at the corner of Horatio Street), New York, NY 10014

WEBSITE

High Street on Hudson

 

Pizzetteria Brunetti — 75.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Pizzetteria Brunetti is a reasonably priced restaurant located in the West Village.  We visited at lunch time and took advantage of their $10 lunch options, which included pizzas, salads, and sandwiches.  We opted for a pizza and salad and it was more than enough food for two people.  Throw in a couple of glasses of wine, and you can dine leisurely for about $20 each.

Our visit would have been perfect but the space is a bit live and there was unnecessary background music. The volume wasn’t oppressive, but we could hear people trying to speak over the music.   Once again, the music selection did not add anything to the experience other than frustration.  Throw in one or two louder than average people and the meter soon crossed 75 decibels.   In the end, though, the space wasn’t so loud that we regretted staying, but we were not entirely comfortable either.

That said, the food was good and the prices are great for the West Village.  We noticed a small garden in the back.  It wasn’t open during our Friday lunch time visit, but we were told that it is usually open in the evenings.

We can recommend that you visit Pizzetteria Brunetti for lunch but suggest that you proceed with caution for dinner, particularly if the space is full.  The back garden should be a safer space, however, as most restaurants try to keep the noise level down so that they don’t have to deal with complaints from nearby residents.

HOURS

Sunday through Thursday: 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 12:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

LOCATION

626 Hudson Street (at Jane Street), New York, NY 10014

WEBSITE

Pizzetteria Brunetti

 

Corner Bistro — 72.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Corner Bistro’s burger always seems to make the “best burger” lists, no doubt due to its status as a village institution (“the last of the bohemian bars in West Greenwich Village,” proclaims the Corner Bistro website).   We thought the burgers were fine, though not the best we’ve had, but the prices are good (drafts under $5) and the place was surprisingly pleasant at lunch.  The tables in the front were almost all taken when we stopped by, and the bar was about half full.  We avoided the back room because one guy–one very loud guy–made the space noisier than we liked, so we went to the front and took the last empty table.

The Corner Bistro has tin ceilings and corner windows, but the space didn’t feel live or pingy. There’s a lot of wood to absorb and deflect sound.  The tables are fairly close together, but it was fine.   A group of women to our left were great–chatty but not at all loud.  A couple to our right, on the other hand, were loud, with one of the couple  laughing as she spoke….endlessly.  But even with a loud laughing-talker nearby we found the space to be mostly relaxing and would definitely recommend Corner Bistro for lunch.

We couldn’t extrapolate for dinner or later, though, as the room could get packed and the introduction of large quantities of beer could change things.  After all, the following equation is almost always true: people + booze = noise.  That said, we can unreservedly recommend Corner Bistro for lunch, and simply advise that you proceed with caution at happy hour and on busy evenings.

Cash only.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 a.m.

Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.

LOCATION

(at Jane Street), New York, NY 10014

WEBSITE

Corner Bistro

 

Pho Sure — 74.8 to 75 decibels CLOSED

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We visited Pho Sure twice in as many weeks.  Our first visit was for a quick, early-ish dinner on a wet Saturday night.  We were in the front by the counter and cash register.  Music played in the background, but it was too loud.  No doubt the back dining room gets louder when packed, but it seemed fine too (we checked).  Pho Sure is not a place where people linger–diners come in for a good meal and leave.   We think it’s worth a visit because the noise level was more than manageable, the food is very good, and the prices are very reasonable, especially for the West Village.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We visited a second time in as many weeks as we were in the neighborhood, feeling a little peckish, and remembered Pho Sure’s crispy spring rolls (lovely), which we enjoyed with an iced Vietnamese coffee chaser (we will never sleep again).  This time we sat in the back dining room, which was full.  Once again music was playing in the background, and, as before, the volume was low.  Even though there are plenty of hard surfaces in the dining room, the space was pleasant.  We noted that a soft, textile curtain was decoratively draped over one side of the room.  No doubt it absorbs sound, but the curtain by itself could not explain why the space was fairly comfortable.  Our guess is that the music was low enough that people didn’t feel compelled to shout.  Whatever the reason, we were comfortable and happy for it.  If you are looking for good inexpensive eats in the West Village, you couldn’t do better than Pho Sure.

HOURS

Monday through Wednesday: 11:30 a.m. through 10:30 p.m.

Thursday through Saturday: 11:30 a.m. through 11:30 p.m.

Sunday: 11:30 a.m. through 10:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. Bleecker and Bedford Streets), New York, NY 10014

WEBSITE

Pho Sure

 

Idlewild Books — 65.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Idlewild Books is a travel bookstore and langauge school which was located on 12 W. 19th Street but recently moved to 7th Avenue in the West Village.  They were in the process of unpacking some of the boxes and arranging the space when we visited, but they were open for business and customers were streaming in.  As with their older location, books are arranged by continent and country, with each section offering guidebooks, fiction, and nonfiction.  They also sell gift items (a selection of maps and cards), and offer language classes (all levels) on site in French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The decibel level during our visit registered a very quiet 65.6 decibels even with several customers browsing and chatting.  Because language classes will now be held in dedicated classrooms in the back of the space, visiting while class is in session should be fairly quiet.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

If you are looking for books about a specific country or region, or just want to get inspiration for your next vacation, Idlewild Books is not to be missed.

HOURS

Monday through Thursday: 12:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

LOCATION

WEBSITE

Idlewild Books

Jefferson Market Garden — 74.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Jefferson Market Garden is similar to another of our favorite outdoor spaces, Jackson Square, in that it is an absolutely beautiful, well-tended, and well-loved park, but it suffers from its location.  Located on the site of a former women’s prison, the garden is bordered by 6th Avenue and Greenwich Avenue and is plagued with constant traffic, unrelenting horn honking, and never-ending construction noise of some sort or another.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Our visit was short.  It started off louder than it ended due to a utility truck that was idling very loudly nearby.  There’s a fire house about a block away, so loud sirens are common (one returning fire truck made its way back home during our visit), as are those purposefully loud motorcycles.  There wasn’t one silent moment, not a minute of calm during our visit.

That said, Jefferson Market Garden is still worth visiting.  The plantings are lovely, with bursts of color throughout, and fragrance has not been ignored.  We could smell the roses whenever a breeze swept through.   So come and enjoy the lush plantings and riot of color.  Just don’t expect a peaceful visit, because you won’t get it.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The garden is open when a member is present, which generally is not a problem during the season (April through November).  Some bench seating is provided but is often occupied as the garden is very popular.

HOURS

Tuesday through Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to dusk (from April through October), weather permitting

Closed Mondays

LOCATION

70 A Greenwich Avenue (betw. 6th Avenue and W. 10th Street), New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Jefferson Market Garden

Coffee Foundry — 68.5 to 71.5 decibels CLOSED

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Coffee Foundry is our current favorite coffee shop, so we’ve had a number of visits.  Our first visit clocked in at a surprising 71.5 decibels.  Why was that surprising?  Because we did not expect to find a relatively quiet coffee shop on usually loud, and often raucous W. 4th Street in the heart of the West Village.  Background music was playing but the volume was very low, and only a few people were chatting (and they were chatting quietly).  The space is filled with hard surfaces, but there appears to be acoustic tiles on the ceiling.  That makes sense as  Coffee Foundry is an ongoing pop-up in a karaoke bar (the bar starts after the coffee shop closes).

It’s obvious that the space is a favorite of the laptop brigade, which explains why it is so calm.  And why wouldn’t it be a favorite?  Coffee Foundry offers them useful amenities, such as electric outlets along the bar, co-working spaces for rent, and an $11 unlimited tea/coffee offer (but not special tea or coffees).

Photo credit: Helene Gross

Photo credit: Helene Gross

Our second visit was even better than the first–the reading clocked in at a very respectable 70.1 decibels.  The crowd was very quiet, with most  staring at their laptops.  There was some unnecessary background music but, as during our first visit, the volume was very low.  This time there was one chatty and animated guy who apparently didn’t notice that everyone else was working (or otherwise quiet).  There almost always is one.

Finally, our most recent visit came in at only 68.5 decibels.  The music was a bit louder than we would liked this time, but the reading was under 70 decibels (and we were under the speaker).

The reason Coffee Foundry is so peaceful is that most people come here alone to do work, but it doesn’t feel like a library or an office.  It’s a comfortable space with varied seating (stools and tables/chairs), sweet and savory offerings, and outstanding service.  The two guys who are most frequently behind the bar are friendly and more than accommodating.   So come and visit.  Just don’t be the chatty guy.

HOURS

Monday through Friday:

Saturday:

Closed Sunday

LOCATION

Street (betw. Barrow and Jones), New York, NY 10014

WEBSITE

Coffee Foundry

McNulty’s Tea & Coffee — 68.2 decibels

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: quietcitymap

You’ll step back in time as you enter McNulty’s, a West Village tea and coffee purveyor that has been in business since 1895.  Looking around the small but well stocked store confirms the suspicion that much of that time was spent at the current Christopher Street location.  Look up and you will see the patched tin ceiling, look down and observe the dinged brass scale still serviceable after decades of use.  And be sure to breathe deeply as you wait for your order and enjoy the musky smell of freshly ground coffee comingling with the clean scents of the black, green, and herbal teas.  There are a range of coffees from all parts of the world (and flavored coffees for those who like that sort of thing).  There is also a large selection of loose, tinned, and bagged teas, coffee makers, tea pots, and related goods.

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: quietcitymap

McNulty’s has two grinders and when both are working there will be noise.   That said, during a  short visit that included the use of one of the grinders the decibel reading was a very manageable 68.2.   If you love tea or coffee, McNulty’s is not to be missed.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Sunday: 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Summer hours: Closed Tuesdays

LOCATION

WEBSITE

McNulty’s Tea & Coffe

Meskerem — 71.6 decibels

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Meskerem is a West Village Ethiopian restaurant located on MacDougal Street in the heart of NYU’s main campus.  It offers a very inexpensive and tasty vegetarian combo special at lunch ($10 + tip weekday, a bit more on the weekend).

Lunch time visits tend to be less crowded.  While the background music was a bit louder than we would have liked, it was more than manageable and always interesting.   Service is relaxed but attentive.   Expect a louder space in the evening.

HOURS

12:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. every day

LOCATION

124 MacDougal Street (betw. 3rd and Bleecker), NY, NY 10012

WEBSITE

Meskerem

Doma Na Rohu — 73.6 decibels

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: quietcitymap

This German-Czech-Hungarian restaurant is relaxed at lunch, but can be busy–and loud–at brunch.  It clocked in at 73.6 decibels during a early autumn lunch.  The background music wasn’t too loud, and fellow diners were relatively quiet, but the front door was open allowing street noise from a very busy 7th Avenue to waft in.   Overall, the sound level was manageable but punctuated by the occasional impatient driver honking his or her horn or the sound of not so distant sirens.

Note that live music is on the menu for Wednesday and Saturday nights, usually spotlighting gypsy, swing, and jazz bands.  Given the size of the space, and the omnipresent background hum from street noise, it’s best to assume that Doma will be very loud to intolerable on live music nights–either avoid them or come with a very good set of ear plugs.  That said, things should be different on Mondays (Drawing Club) and Sundays (Game Night).  Drawing Club or Game Night participants get a 10% discount.

With cautions noted, Doma Na Rohu is worth checking out.  It offers good food that focuses on cured meats and cheeses (vegetarian options are offered), a nice selection of craft beers, and excellent coffee.

HOURS

Sunday through Wednesday: 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Thursday through Saturday: 9:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.

LOCATION

WEBSITE

Doma Na Rohu