Rosa Mexicano (Lincoln Center) — 79.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We went to the Rosa Mexicano located just across the street from Lincoln Center to meet up with friends who were attending a midday performance.  The space began to fill up as the other patrons streamed in to what is one of the larger restaurants nearest to the Center.

As soon as we walked in we knew that the space was going to be live, as there was a large expanse of glass in the front of the space on both levels.  Fortunately there were curtains and a textile floor covering, but it didn’t appear that the textiles helped to absorb much of the sound.

We were seated on the second level.  It was fairly noisy, with the main source of the noise  coming from the other guests.  This is one of the few times that the noise was primarily due to voices rather than music.  In fact, we weren’t even certain if music was playing.  If it was, we couldn’t hear it because of the chatter.  We suspect that the second floor is louder than the first floor, most probably because the chatter from the first floor was wafting up and adding to the chatter on the second.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Rosa Mexicano was fairly crowded but not packed during our lunch visit.  We think the combination of the hard surfaces and the lack of a barrier between the two floors made the second floor hard to tolerate. The space simply wasn’t pleasant, and we would advise that you proceed with caution. There aren’t many options that are as close to Lincoln Center, so either plan to eat a little farther away or pack a pair of ear plugs.

HOURS

Sunday and Monday: 11:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Tuesday through Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

LOCATION

Avenue (betw. 62nd and 63rd Streets), New York, NY 10028

WEBSITE

Rosa Mexicano/Lincoln Center

Old John’s Luncheonette — 74 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We think you’ll agree that 74 decibels was not bad for a Sunday brunch, particularly since there were more than a few small children near our table.  Background music was playing in the front of the restaurant by the small three-seat counter, but we were in the back near the busing station, so the music wasn’t a problem (though we heard occasional pings from dishes hitting each other).   We wouldn’t say our brunch time visit was peaceful, but it wasn’t bad.  The place was packed and the floors were tiled, but there were upholstered banquettes and high ceilings and room to sit–we weren’t sitting cheek to jowl with our immediate neighbors.  Hard to know if weekday lunches are about the same noise level, but Old John’s can’t be busier–every table was taken during out visit.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Old John’s Luncheonette serves typical American diner fare.  It is worth considering if you are visiting Lincoln Center or contemplating a stroll through Central Park and want a quick and inexpensive nosh.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 7:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Sunday: 7:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (near Amsterdam Avenue), New York, NY 10023

WEBSITE

Old John’s Luncheonette

David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center — 67 to 72.5 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center has a number of electrical outlets available throughout the space and free wifi; unsurprisingly, these amenities attract the laptop brigade.  This is almost always a very good indicator that a space is quiet, and it certainly is true here. In addition to free power and wifi, the Atrium offers two well-maintained restrooms with extra facilities on the second floor.

We had previously stated that the public space at 575 5th Avenue (L’Oreal building) was our favorite publicly owned private space (POPS), but that was before we visited the David Rubenstein Atrium. Everything about this POPS is just right. There is plenty of seating, with at least a dozen tables available to the public.  A ‘wichcraft offers  sandwiches and coffee (but you are not required to purchase from them and may bring in food from outside), and you can purchase tickets for Lincoln Center events.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We visited the atrium on three occasions. During our two weekday visits we found the space to be pretty serene, until, that is, a Lincoln Center promo came on a very large screeen.  Fortunately, the promo wasn’t terribly loud and only ran about a minute, but it is played every half hour or so.

The place was packed during a lunch time visit, yet it remained peaceful.  Background music played softly in the background, and while there were one or two noisy people on cell phones,  everyone else was well behaved.

Our weekend visit on a busy Sunday clocked in at 72.5 decibels.  Once again there was music playing softly in the background (bossa nova) but the bass needed to be lowered a notch. There were fewer laptop workers and more couples or small groups chatting and having a nosh. Still very pleasant, just a bit louder than during the work week.

The David Rubenstein Atrium is definitely worth visiting if you want a place to relax or to work remotely.  One caution: free performances are held in the space from time to time, but they generally are scheduled in the evening.  You can visit the website listed below and click on the “free weekly performances” link to get the current schedule.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

LOCATION

reet (betw. Broadway and Columbus Avenue), New York, NY 11023

WEBSITE

David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center

Filicori Zecchini (Upper West Side) — 80.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We were wandering around the Upper West Side, enjoying a constitutional after a lovely meal at Ayurveda Cafe (to be reviewed soon), when we spied Filicori Zecchini.  We fondly remembered visiting their Chelsea location last year and eagerly went inside.  What a disappointment.  It quickly became clear that this space was not at all like the Chelsea location, which we remembered as a calm oasis (and reading our review later, saw that despite being crowded, the Chelsea location clocked in at a  very comfortable 72.4 decibels). No, this location was loud and uncomfortable.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Why? They were playing loud music in a live box. The front of the store is a wall of glass.  The floors are tiled, the counter area was covered with some shiny, hard surface, and the bean grinding and espresso machines were loud.  Throw in the other customers screaming over all of the above and you have the recipe for not very comfortable experience.

Speaking of experience, we also were confused/amused by a little interchange with the barista.  We had ordered a cortado.  On ordering, the barista said, “oh, water comes with this.  Would you like some.”  “Sure, ” we replied.  And then the barista poured sparkling water into a one-ounce jigger glass.  No, really.  He poured us an ounce of sparkling water.

We’d rather have a tasty cortado and mouthful of sparkling water at Zecchini’s Chelsea location.  This one should be avoided.

HOURS

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

Monday through Saturday: 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

LOCATION

(at the corner of 95th Street), New York, NY 10025

WEBSITE

Filicori Zecchini

 

Rosa Mexicano (Lincoln Center) — 79.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We went to the Rosa Mexicano located just across the street from Lincoln Center to meet up with friends who were attending a midday performance.  The space began to fill up as the other patrons streamed in to what is one of the larger restaurants nearest to the Center.

As soon as we walked in we knew that the space was going to be live, as there was a large expanse of glass in the front of the space on both levels.  Fortunately there were curtains and a textile floor covering, but it didn’t appear that the textiles helped to absorb much of the sound.

We were seated on the second level.  It was fairly noisy, with the main source of the noise  coming from the other guests.  This is one of the few times that the noise was primarily due to voices rather than music.  In fact, we weren’t even certain if music was playing.  If it was, we couldn’t hear it because of the chatter.  We suspect that the second floor is louder than the first floor, most probably because the chatter from the first floor was wafting up and adding to the chatter on the second.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Rosa Mexicano was fairly crowded but not packed during our lunch visit.  We think the combination of the hard surfaces and the lack of a barrier between the two floors made the second floor hard to tolerate. The space simply wasn’t pleasant, and we would advise that you proceed with caution. There aren’t many options that are as close to Lincoln Center, so either plan to eat a little farther away or pack a pair of ear plugs.

HOURS

Sunday and Monday: 11:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Tuesday through Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

LOCATION

Avenue (betw. 62nd and 63rd Streets), New York, NY 10028

WEBSITE

Rosa Mexicano/Lincoln Center

Parm (Upper West Side) — 73.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We were surprised that our visit to the Upper West Side location of Parm was unexpectedly comfortable.  Why unexpectedly?  Because we’ve been to the original Parm on Mulberry Street and it was LOUD.   And, to be frank, a quick look around the place was concerning because there were lots of hard surfaces–glass, tin ceiling, mirrors, tile floor, and marble bar top–and two flat screens tvs at the bar where we ate our lunch.

So why was the space pleasant?  First, the tv volume appeared to be off–we couldn’t hear it.  Second, while we could hear music, it was playing very softly in the background.  Third, nearby tables were quiet, including a table that had a handful of very small children.   All in all our experience was perfectly fine, but we must note that our visit was at lunch time so it may not be a fair indicator of what the space is like during a busier seating.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The bar counter is in the front of the large space, which also housed a number of tables and an outdoor seating area.  There are larger dining spaces in the back that are separated from the front of the house by a column or archway.  We checked out the main back dining area and it was fine, but not many tables were occupied.  Given the hard surfaces, large flat screen tv, and the bigger space, it is very likely that the back space would be uncomfortably loud when packed, but we think the front dining area would be fine even if the back is busy.

We can certainly recommend this location of Parm for lunch and suggest a seat in the front area, particularly if the back dining area is busy.  The food is good (although the chicken parm sandwich was not quite as good as was at the original location) and at 73.6 decibels the space is quiet…for the Upper West Side (at least at lunch time).

HOURS

Sunday to Thursday:  11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p..m.

Friday and Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p..m.

LOCATION

nue (betw. 70th and 71st Streets), New York, NY 10023

WEBSITE

Parm

 

Edgar’s Cafe — 75 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We stopped by Edgar’s Cafe for a leisurely lunch, opting for an inside table as the sidewalk tables on busy Amsterdam Avenue would be uncomfortablly loud.  Sadly, the front door was open, allowing street noise to enter the dining room.  And the street noise had a negative impact, as at least one nearby siren and a couple of motorcycles contributed to the soundscape which, while not awful, was not calm.

Unnecessary music played in the background adding a layer of noise.  The music wasn’t too loud, but what we could hear sounded like the sound track to a middling 1960s film.  In the end we were left with a recurring question that was highlighted here: If a restaurant, bar, or coffee shop insists on playing background music, why can’t they show some care with the music they choose to play?   That is, if you are going to deny the customer a quiet space, at least pick something that doesn’t bore or insult them.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

All of the  surfaces at Edgar’s are hard– stone tile floor, stone topped tables, lots of windows, hard plaster walls.  Nothing was forgiving.  And when a metal cafe chair was dragged across the floor, the sound was loud and jarring.  The traffic noise was coupled with the high-pitched pinging coming from a bus boy who was setting up for the evening–we could hear every plate and fork–and the milk frother was one of the loudest we’ve ever encountered.   We can only assume that the space would be uncomfortably loud when full, as our visit reached 75 decibels even though only a few tables were occupied.

Still, it’s hard to find a reasonably quiet place in the Upper West, so you could do worse.  Our meal was fine–everything looked and tasted freshly made–and service could not have been better.  We would recommend visiting only if the place is not busy, as the design choices insure a live space.  Avoid if packed.

HOURS

Sunday through Thursday: 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Friday and Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.

LOCATION

Avenue (betw. 91st and 92nd Streets), New York, NY 10025

WEBSITE

Edgar’s Cafe

Nanoosh (Upper West Side location) — 81.5 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We were catching a movie at the AMC Loews at Lincoln Square and decided to try out Nanoosh, a local mini-chain of “mediterranean” restaurants offering a selection of salads, hummus (many varieties), and “powerfood plates.”  It seemed like a safe choice, particularly since  the place was far from crowded.  But we were wrong.

Despite being a Monday night, and with just a few tables occupied, Nanoosh was unnecessarily loud.  Why?  There was not one forgiving material in the place.   Despite the high ceilings, the dining room pulsated with sound as music and chatter bounced off of the large glass windows, on to the slate floor, and off of the tiled niches.  It didn’t help that the music volume was set on loud.  When we asked if the music could be lowered our waitress said that it could not because “the music can only be turned on or off,” and, apparently, off wasn’t an option.  To add insult to injury, the music selection was largely beige talentless chewing gum for the ears.  Why?

Our one-word recommendation: Avoid.  The food was ok, but there’s much better hummus in the city.  More importantly,  we make it a point to avoid places that will not lower the music when asked.  The customer may not always be right, but if a polite request to lower the music is made and ignored then it’s clear that your patronage is not needed or welcomed.

HOURS

11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. every day

LOCATION

(betw. 68th and 69th Streets), New York, NY 10023

WEBSITE

Nanoosh

 

Old John’s Luncheonette — 74 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We think you’ll agree that 74 decibels was not bad for a Sunday brunch, particularly since there were more than a few small children near our table.  Background music was playing in the front of the restaurant by the small three-seat counter, but we were in the back near the busing station, so the music wasn’t a problem (though we heard occasional pings from dishes hitting each other).   We wouldn’t say our brunch time visit was peaceful, but it wasn’t bad.  The place was packed and the floors were tiled, but there were upholstered banquettes and high ceilings and room to sit–we weren’t sitting cheek to jowl with our immediate neighbors.  Hard to know if weekday lunches are about the same noise level, but Old John’s can’t be busier–every table was taken during out visit.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Old John’s Luncheonette serves typical American diner fare.  It is worth considering if you are visiting Lincoln Center or contemplating a stroll through Central Park and want a quick and inexpensive nosh.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 7:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Sunday: 7:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (near Amsterdam Avenue), New York, NY 10023

WEBSITE

Old John’s Luncheonette

A.G. Kitchen — 70.4 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We planned our trip to the Upper West Side intending to visit Alice’s Tea Cup, which was recommended to us by a reader.  Sadly, Alice’s was packed and we were a bit short of time, so we pulled out our phone and looked for a nearby place that had uniformly good reviews.  Hence our visit to A.G. Kitchen, which features a lunch time menu of sandwiches, burgers, salads, and what their website describes as a collection of “Latino classics.

The restaurant was about half full during our visit, and the other customers were fine–no screamers.  What wasn’t fine was the background music, which, for some reason, featured only 50’s tunes, leading us to ask our waiter whether 50’s music was a theme for the place.  “No,” he answered, “the music changes each day and depends on who chooses it and what they want to listen to.”  Perhaps on another day the music would not be as jarring–during our visit one song featured a glockenspiel and another was Little Richard’s “Lucille.”  The music was a bit too loud throughout our visit and emphasized the treble range; we found the driving beats and high-pitched sounds really irritating.  Which was a real shame, because a 70.4 decibel rating generally is very good and should have garnered a better review.  In fairness, we should note that we did not ask anyone to lower the music.  We suspect they would have considered our request.

Our meal was acceptable, not great but not bad.  A.G. Kitchen felt a bit like it was part of a chain, and for good reason–it is one of many restaurants owned and operated by a restaurant partnership.  Long and short, you could do worse than A.G. Kitchen as a fallback option.

HOURS

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

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

Friday:  11:30 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Saturday:  10:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

LOCATION

(betw. 72nd and 73rd), New York, NY 11023

WEBSITE

A. G. Kitchen