Eataly Downtown– 74.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Eataly Downtown is an American take on an Italian food hall.  Gone are the stucco walls, thick wooden beams, and big bins of olives, instead this location of Eataly is located in a mall and has all the warmth and allure of a giant food court.  It’s a chaotic, often loud, tourist-filled space pockmarked with various stalls or displays–produce, cheese station, bread station, pastries, etc.–interspersed with restaurants and more casual eating options. We have recorded higher decibel readings before, but Eataly Downtown is uncomfortable in its own special way–not solely due to noise level–though it was loud in spots–but mostly due to the crowds.

It’s clear that Eataly would best be enjoyed during an off time (though we doubt that one exists) or if one is comfortably numb. If you are the type who likes to keep an emergency Xanas in your bag, take it and wait a half hour before entering. It may make things better.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We did a complete circuit of the space twice–yes, we forced ourselves round more than once just for you. The main restaurants, which are located closer to the entrance, are live, loud, and packed. Eataly is co-owned by Mario Batali, who, it is rumored, is responsible for the unforgivably loud music in New York City restaurants. Click the link in the previous sentence to find out why.  Even if we didn’t mind having our ear drums assaulted, that was not an option as just about every seat was taken in the restaurant dining spaces. Pressing on, we saw a better option.

I Ravioli is a stall offering three types of ravioli and the promise of a quieter meal. There is no dedicated seating space. Rather, there are two seating areas located within a short distance.  Avoid the seating immediately nearby and walk about 25 feet away to a dining area a near the display of packaged cookies. You will still hear the unnecessary music there, but the volume is much lower.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

As for the ravioli (we opted for ravioli made with peas in a butter and pecorino sauce), they were tasty. And the seating area we chose was fine. In fact, this relatively calm spot could have approached comfortable if the music was turned off, but that won’t happen. So recharge in this  relatively relaxing chunk of the space, and gird yourself for the run to the exit. The rest of Eataly is filled with slow-moving people, too much noise, and lots of lights and shiny things.  We were suffering sensory overload by the time we left.

Although we haven’t taken a decibel reading at the original Eataly location in the Flatiron district, we think Eataly Downtown matches it with regard to noise and crowd level. There is no question that the Eataly sites have almost anything you would want for your Italian pantry, but at a price.  Yes, there are few bargains at Eataly and fighting your way through the crowds is a chore. Still, the selection is pretty damn good and the food is well done.  So if you must go, know what to expect and be prepared for the crowds and noise.

We suggest that you proceed with caution with either Eataly space.  Aim for a less crowded time–perhaps at 7:00 a.m.?–and look for a quiet niche somewhere in the sea of people.

HOURS

7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day

LOCATION

4 World Trade Tower, 3rd Floor (Street at Church Street), New York, NY 10007

WEBSITE

Eataly NYC Downtown

Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine (Fulton Street) — 75.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We used to eat regularly at a Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine near our workplace, but they lost their lease or otherwise closed.  We missed their filling and tasty takeaway, but generally avoided eating in because it was so loud and crowded.  So when we happened upon a new location of  Sophie’s near our old work space recently, we had to go in and check it out.

Sophie’s is a local chain of Cuban restaurants.  They have a cafeteria line for ordering sandwiches and platters to go, but also offer table service if you are eating in.  The food is freshly prepared, delicious, and filing, but it’s not necessarily the healthiest option.  If you manage to eat all of your lunch, you can skip dinner, and maybe even breakfast the next day.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Because we remembered Sophie’s as being really loud, we were very pleasantly surprised by the Fulton Street location.  So surprised that for the first time ever we opted to eat in.  This location of Sophie’s isn’t calm–it can’t be with the crowds–but it was manageable.  The music volume was low, which made all the difference in the overall noise level in the space.  Drop ceiling tiles probably helped too, as the place was otherwise filled with hard surfaces.   Remarkably, the noise level was very tolerable from start to finish, which was pretty impressive given that the place was packed when we arrived.

We don’t know if this Sophie’s is an anomaly, so the review and our recommendation is limited to the Fulton Street location.   If you are in the Financial District and are jonesing for some Cuban food, or you are very hungry and want a big, satisfying lunch, go to Sophie’s on Fulton Street.  The food is tasty, filling, and very inexpensive for what you get, and the dining space should be tolerable even if packed (and it is often packed).

Note to hot sauce fans: Ask for the green sauce.   It varies in strength depending on the heat of the jalapenos used when they make the sauce–and they make their own hot sauce regularly–but it is always delicious.  Just try a little before you douse your entire meal with it.  There is also a white garlic sauce, too.   We suggest getting them both and experimenting.  And don’t forget to get a guava and cheese empanada for dessert.  It’s served warm and it’s fantastic.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 10:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

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

Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

LOCATION

76 Fulton Street (at Gold Street), New York, NY 10038

WEBSITE

Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine

Matryoshka — 64 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

It’s in here somewhere

Finding Matryoshka, an old-school restaurant featuring Russian comfort food, takes some effort–you have to walk through a labyrinthian space to find it, as it is hidden within a Russian bathhouse (the front desk clerk will give you directions).

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

At first, we were the only patrons during a lunch time visit, but other diners followed (including a table of chatty, jovial co-workers).  When we first walked in the waitress went up to the wall mounted tv and lowered the volume on her own initiative, so that the program played softly in the background.  The channel was one we never heard of, OANN, which reported on worldwide weather anomalies, followed by a documentary on the Hittites.  An odd choice, perhaps, but much better than loud, pulsating music.  There is no doubt that the space would have been louder if the room was full, but at 64 decibels there is room to accommodate additional diners.   [When we visited Matryoshka for lunch a few months later, the experience was the same.  There was one loud table but the tv volume was very low, resulting in a reading of 65.8 decibels.]

Matryoshka offers two prix fixe menus at lunch time ($12.95 or 16.95), both of which include a choice of salads (the house salad was simple but very fresh), soup, and an entrée, along with a basket of brown bread and butter.  The food was very good and filling and service was excellent.  We suspect the space may be louder in the evening when fellow diners are more likely to drink, so we will return to get a decibel reading during dinner service.

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

You just don’t find many places like Matryoshka any more.  If you are in the Financial District/South Seaport area, are very hungry, and like Russian food, we heartily recommend that you check out Matryoshka.  It is well worth the visit.

HOURS

7:00 a.m. to midnight every day

LOCATION

88 Fulton Street (betw. William and Gold, closer to Gold), NY, NY 10038

WEBSITE

Matryoshka

Eataly Downtown– 74.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Eataly Downtown is an American take on an Italian food hall.  Gone are the stucco walls, thick wooden beams, and big bins of olives, instead this location of Eataly is located in a mall and has all the warmth and allure of a giant food court.  It’s a chaotic, often loud, tourist-filled space pockmarked with various stalls or displays–produce, cheese station, bread station, pastries, etc.–interspersed with restaurants and more casual eating options. We have recorded higher decibel readings before, but Eataly Downtown is uncomfortable in its own special way–not solely due to noise level–though it was loud in spots–but mostly due to the crowds.

It’s clear that Eataly would best be enjoyed during an off time (though we doubt that one exists) or if one is comfortably numb. If you are the type who likes to keep an emergency Xanas in your bag, take it and wait a half hour before entering. It may make things better.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We did a complete circuit of the space twice–yes, we forced ourselves round more than once just for you. The main restaurants, which are located closer to the entrance, are live, loud, and packed. Eataly is co-owned by Mario Batali, who, it is rumored, is responsible for the unforgivably loud music in New York City restaurants. Click the link in the previous sentence to find out why.  Even if we didn’t mind having our ear drums assaulted, that was not an option as just about every seat was taken in the restaurant dining spaces. Pressing on, we saw a better option.

I Ravioli is a stall offering three types of ravioli and the promise of a quieter meal. There is no dedicated seating space. Rather, there are two seating areas located within a short distance.  Avoid the seating immediately nearby and walk about 25 feet away to a dining area a near the display of packaged cookies. You will still hear the unnecessary music there, but the volume is much lower.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

As for the ravioli (we opted for ravioli made with peas in a butter and pecorino sauce), they were tasty. And the seating area we chose was fine. In fact, this relatively calm spot could have approached comfortable if the music was turned off, but that won’t happen. So recharge in this  relatively relaxing chunk of the space, and gird yourself for the run to the exit. The rest of Eataly is filled with slow-moving people, too much noise, and lots of lights and shiny things.  We were suffering sensory overload by the time we left.

Although we haven’t taken a decibel reading at the original Eataly location in the Flatiron district, we think Eataly Downtown matches it with regard to noise and crowd level. There is no question that the Eataly sites have almost anything you would want for your Italian pantry, but at a price.  Yes, there are few bargains at Eataly and fighting your way through the crowds is a chore. Still, the selection is pretty damn good and the food is well done.  So if you must go, know what to expect and be prepared for the crowds and noise.

We suggest that you proceed with caution with either Eataly space.  Aim for a less crowded time–perhaps at 7:00 a.m.?–and look for a quiet niche somewhere in the sea of people.

HOURS

7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day

LOCATION

4 World Trade Tower, 3rd Floor (Street at Church Street), New York, NY 10007

WEBSITE

Eataly NYC Downtown

Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine (Fulton Street) — 75.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We used to eat regularly at a Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine near our workplace, but they lost their lease or otherwise closed.  We missed their filling and tasty takeaway, but generally avoided eating in because it was so loud and crowded.  So when we happened upon a new location of  Sophie’s near our old work space recently, we had to go in and check it out.

Sophie’s is a local chain of Cuban restaurants.  They have a cafeteria line for ordering sandwiches and platters to go, but also offer table service if you are eating in.  The food is freshly prepared, delicious, and filing, but it’s not necessarily the healthiest option.  If you manage to eat all of your lunch, you can skip dinner, and maybe even breakfast the next day.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Because we remembered Sophie’s as being really loud, we were very pleasantly surprised by the Fulton Street location.  So surprised that for the first time ever we opted to eat in.  This location of Sophie’s isn’t calm–it can’t be with the crowds–but it was manageable.  The music volume was low, which made all the difference in the overall noise level in the space.  Drop ceiling tiles probably helped too, as the place was otherwise filled with hard surfaces.   Remarkably, the noise level was very tolerable from start to finish, which was pretty impressive given that the place was packed when we arrived.

We don’t know if this Sophie’s is an anomaly, so the review and our recommendation is limited to the Fulton Street location.   If you are in the Financial District and are jonesing for some Cuban food, or you are very hungry and want a big, satisfying lunch, go to Sophie’s on Fulton Street.  The food is tasty, filling, and very inexpensive for what you get, and the dining space should be tolerable even if packed (and it is often packed).

Note to hot sauce fans: Ask for the green sauce.   It varies in strength depending on the heat of the jalapenos used when they make the sauce–and they make their own hot sauce regularly–but it is always delicious.  Just try a little before you douse your entire meal with it.  There is also a white garlic sauce, too.   We suggest getting them both and experimenting.  And don’t forget to get a guava and cheese empanada for dessert.  It’s served warm and it’s fantastic.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 10:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

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

Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

LOCATION

76 Fulton Street (at Gold Street), New York, NY 10038

WEBSITE

Sophie’s Cuban Cuisine

French Cafe Gourmand — 74.4 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

You will be hard pressed to find a more comfortable coffee shop/cafe in the Financial District than French Cafe Gourmand.  It is a small space with only five tables for two plus two stools sharing a ledge.  Because it is so small, it is unlikely to get too loud and should always be manageable.  We didn’t hear music during our visit, which helps, but the size is the main reason the space is mostly comfortable.

The owner of the cafe is genuinely French and she serves a lovely selection of fresh and tasty salads, soups, and sandwiches.  There are nice pastries as well–if you like cheese danish this is the place to order it.

French Cafe Gourmand is an odd place for the Financial District, which is a good thing.  It’s hard to find a coffee shop that isn’t a chain (or feels like a chain), the food is genuinely good, and the space is a little quirky.  One black mark: like many small coffee shops in the city, the cafe does not have a public restroom.  Never fear.  The nearby World Trade Center Transportation Hub sports a large mall with plenty of clean bathrooms.

French Cafe Gourmand is the most civilized coffee shop in the Financial District.  We recommend it.

HOURS

Monday through Thursday: 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

LOCATION

9 Maiden Lane (betw. Broadway and Nassau Street), New York, NY 10038

WEBSITE

French Cafe Gourmand

Clinton Hall — 87.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

It’s early evening and you’re in the Financial District looking for a place to chill with your friends.  You spy Clinton Hall and see that there is plenty of seating and a nice crowd.  Should you pay a visit?  Nope.  Why?  We have 87.7 reasons why you should avoid Clinton Hall (with a proviso below).  Which is sad, really, because Clinton Hall has the potential to be a good bar option as it has a very good beer list and tasty snacks.  But a good beer list and tasty snacks cannot make up for a punishing noise level.

We were seated inside during our visit and wondered if the noise level might be more tolerable sitting outside during the warmer months, but we were advised by someone familiar with the place that it is just as loud outside as it was inside.   So what was the culprit?  The usual, very loud music.  And once again it was very loud bland, nondescript music.  We didn’t recognize a song–it was nonstop forgettable corporate pop drivel.  Why do places do this?  If they are going to bombard their guests with loud music, they should at least have the decency to play something interesting.  But we shouldn’t have been surprised as Clinton Hall smells like it’s owned by one of those hospitality partnerships.  That said, it has the potential to be a mostly fun place as they have lots board games, including some oversized games meant for groups, and plenty of seating inside and out.  That is, It could be fun if one could hear one’s companions, but it was really difficult to do so during our visit.

We must note that within minutes of turning off the decibel meter the music volume dropped off dramatically.  Why?  It was 10:00 p.m. and we assume that they were observing the New York City Noise Code rules governing places that play music.  Good for them for being observant.  One hopes they eventually recognize that the bar becomes comfortable only after the music volume is lowered.  And yes, it was actually comfortable once the volume was lowered.

Generally we would advise you to avoid a place with a decibel reading this high, but the Financial District has few real options and there are ways you could negotiate a visit to Clinton Hall.   Long and short, we advise that you visit only if the temperature is warm enough to allow you to sit outside, you aim for a table furthest away from the indoor space, and the place is fairly empty.  Or you could stop by after 10:00 p.m.

NOTE: Our visit occurred before the scaffolding appeared.  With the scaffolding there could be a difference in noise level, certainly for the outdoor seating.  Proceed with caution.

HOURS

Sunday through Wednesday: 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Thursday through Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

LOCATION

90 Washington Street (betw. Rector and Joseph P. Ward Streets), New York, NY 10006

WEBSITE

Clinton Hall

 

60 Wall Street (Deutsche Bank Building) — 66.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The lobby of 60 Wall Street, the American headquarters of Deutsche Bank, is a privately owned public space (POPS).  A POPS is an “amenity provided and maintained by a developer for public use, in exchange for additional floor area.”  Amenities typically are outdoor plazas or seating areas that may be used by the general public without charge, but occasionally, as here, the space is indoors and climate controlled.

During an early afternoon visit, the lobby of 60 Wall Street registered a positively peaceful 66.9 decibels.  Even though every inch of the lobby is clad in stone, glass, or some other hard surface, peace is maintained due to the high vaulted atrium.  The lobby is much louder during the morning and evening rush as employees stream into the space and head to the elevators, but the space was not empty during our visit.  In fact, three separate tour groups were assembling in the lobby, and many of the tables and chairs were occupied.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The lobby has a Starbucks, newsstand, and a deli/cafe available for food and drinks, but you are not required to purchase from them to sit at the tables.  One public toilet is also provided, but use it only if absolutely necessary as it can best be described as challenging.  The rest of the space is very well maintained.

HOURS

Covered pedestrian space open 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. | Arcade open 24 hours

LOCATION

60 Wall Street (betw. William and Pearl), NY, NY 10005

WEBSITE

60 Wall Street

O’Hara’s Restaurant and Pub — 78.6 decibels

Can you see all the flat screen tvs?

Can you see all the flat screen tvs?

A reading of 78.6 decibels insured a harried lunch.  While the waitstaff were friendly and efficient, there is no compelling reason to eat here.  The space is designed for noise: mounted televisions set to CNBC, loud patrons, and absolutely unnecessary background music that featured lesser-known numbers by one-hit wonder 80’s bands.  Why?

If you are visiting the 9/11 memorial, or just dropped some dough at Century 21, suddenly find yourself ravenously hungry, and are a huge Survivor fan, this is your place.   For everyone else, avoid.  Food is barely adequate American bar fare (fried appetizers, burgers, wraps, etc.).

HOURS

Tuesday through Thursday: 11:00 am to 12:00 a.m.

Friday through Monday: 11:00 am to 2:00 a.m.

LOCATION

120 Cedar Street (betw. Greenwich Street and Trinity Place), NY, NY 10006

WEBSITE 

O’Hara’s Restaurant and Pub

Matryoshka — 64 decibels

Photo credit: GMB

It’s in here somewhere

Finding Matryoshka, an old-school restaurant featuring Russian comfort food, takes some effort–you have to walk through a labyrinthian space to find it, as it is hidden within a Russian bathhouse (the front desk clerk will give you directions).

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: quietcitymap

At first, we were the only patrons during a lunch time visit, but other diners followed (including a table of chatty, jovial co-workers).  When we first walked in the waitress went up to the wall mounted tv and lowered the volume on her own initiative, so that the program played softly in the background.  The channel was one we never heard of, OANN, which reported on worldwide weather anomalies, followed by a documentary on the Hittites.  An odd choice, perhaps, but much better than loud, pulsating music.  There is no doubt that the space would have been louder if the room was full, but at 64 decibels there is room to accommodate additional diners.   [When we visited Matryoshka for lunch a few months later, the experience was the same.  There was one loud table but the tv volume was very low, resulting in a reading of 65.8 decibels.]

Matryoshka offers two prix fixe menus at lunch time ($12.95 or 16.95), both of which include a choice of salads (the house salad was simple but very fresh), soup, and an entrée, along with a basket of brown bread and butter.   The food was very good and filling and service was excellent.  We suspect the space may be louder in the evening when fellow diners are more likely to drink, so we will return to get a decibel reading during dinner service.

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: quietcitymap

You just don’t find many places like Matryoshka any more.  If you are in the Financial District/South Seaport area, are very hungry, and like Russian food, we heartily recommend that you check out Matryoshka.  It is well worth the visit.

HOURS

7:00 a.m. to midnight every day

LOCATION

88 Fulton Street (betw. William and Gold, closer to Gold), NY, NY 10038

WEBSITE

Matryoshka