St. Dymphna’s Bar & Restaurant — 73.2 decibels

East Village Irish bar and restaurant featuring 12 beers on tap (and bottled options) plus good pub grub.  A meaty full Irish breakfast (vegetarian version available) is available everyday until 5:00 p.m., and happy hour runs from noon until 8:00 p.m. with $4 drafts.  A lunch time visit averaged a manageable 73.2 decibels.  It wasn’t very crowded, but there was background music, the handful of customers were chatty, and the front door and windows were open allowing street noise to enter.   The main bar and dining area is probably louder in the evening as booze tends to increase noise volume, but lunch and brunch should be fine.   A back garden, which should be quieter, is available at brunch and dinner.

HOURS

Weekdays 12:00 p.m. to ? | Weekends 11:00 a.m. to ?

LOCATION

118 St. Marks Place (betw. 1st Avenue and Avenue A), NY, NY 10009

WEBSITE

St. Dymphna’s Bar & Restaurant

A.O.C. — 69.5 to 78.5 decibels

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: quietcitymap

A.O.C. had been a well frequented West Village haunt in the past.  The food is reliably good, featuring French bistro classics (croque monsieur, mussels, coq au vin, etc.) and a very good burger with salad and fabulous fries.  Sadly, we had a disappointingly loud Saturday brunch visit that clocked in at 78.5 decibels.  The waitstaff will lower background music if asked, and, in fact, they complied with our request on this visit, but the volume crept up when someone’s favorite song came on.

A lunch time visit was a more tolerable 74.8 decibels, but it could have been better.  Two exuberant and chatty patrons at the bar and an open the front door that let in street noise from a very busy Bleecker Street were the offenders.  A visit in late fall or the winter should be more pleasant as the door will be closed.  Once again the background music was louder than necessary, but this time the level was lowered it as soon as we requested it and it did not creep back up.  As soon as one of the loud chatty patrons left, the sound level became appreciably better.  It is worth checking out A.O.C. at lunch, but the space will likely be more pleasant earlier in the week when it is less crowded (Friday lunch is busy).

Finally, a breakfast visit was a mostly pleasant 71 decibels.  Once again the background music was a little louder than it needed to be, but there were only a handful of patrons so the space was relatively quiet by default.  The front door was open when we got there, allowing in noticeable street noise, but was shut on request (due to temperature not noise).

Overall, A.O.C. is worth the visit but should be avoided at brunch or during busy lunches and dinners.  There is a back garden that is almost always calm.  If you can get a seat in the back garden, take it–it should be tolerable at any time.  The indoor space is noticeably calmer during weekday lunch service and off hours.  One ear friendly factor: they offer paper towels along with an electric hand dryer in bathrooms.

Update: A recent mid-afternoon visit for a cafe au lait was wonderful.  Not surprising, as the place was empty.  The background music was fine this time and featured French ballads, jazz, and instrumentals.  Most importantly, the music was loud enough to be heard and no louder. Bliss.

HOURS

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

Friday and Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

LOCATION

314 Bleecker Street (at the corner of Grove), New York, NY 10014

WEBSITE

A.O.C.

Cafe Nadery — 76.9 decibels CLOSED

Cafe Nadery is a West Village Persian cafe offering sandwiches, small plates, coffee, a variety of teas, and a varied and inexpensive beer menu.  The cafe was quieter at the beginning of our visit, but a second server inexplicably increased the volume of the background music, raising the averaged decibel reading to 76.9 decibels.  Two tables requested that the music be lowered and it was done immediately.  Once the music was lowered, the space was much more pleasant.

The place was relaxed, and our fellow diners were not loud.  Except for the small period during the  background music mishap, the noise level allowed for normal conversation.  The coffee was good, and you will not feel rushed.  If you are in the neighborhood, it is worth checking out.

HOURS

Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

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

Friday: 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.

Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.

LOCATION

16 W. 8th Street (betw. 5th and 6th Avenues, closer to 5th), New York, NY 10011‎

WEBSITE

Cafe Nadery

Malai Marke — 75.2 decibels

Malai Marke clocked in at 75.2 decibels during a lunch time visit, but the decibel reading initially fluctuated between 77 and 79 decibels due to just one very loud customer.  About half of the tables were occupied during our visit and there was Indian background music, but as soon as Mr. Loud left the restaurant the reading dropped immediately and the space was comfortable.  But the design choices–brick wall, glassed entry, tiled floor–insure that just one loud person can make the space unbearable.  The food was lovely, so it’s worth taking the chance for a lunch time visit–just be cautious and size up your fellow diners.  For dinner, proceed with caution.

HOURS

Monday through Thursday: 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. | 5:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. | 5:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. | 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

LOCATION

WEBSITE

Malai Marke

Murray’s Cheese Bar — 83.6 to 85.5 decibels

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: quietcitymap

At 85.5 decibels, our visit to Murray’s Cheese Bar was one of the most uncomfortable dinners we have had in the city.  The restaurant was entirely too loud due to obviously deliberate design choices: subway tiles, glass, and metal surfaces, with nothing available to absorb the ricocheting sound.  Add in unnecessarily loud “background” music, open front windows which allowed in traffic noise from always crowded Bleecker Street, and customers and waitstaff screaming to be heard, and the end result was an unbearable cacophony of city noise.  And there was no respite in the restroom, as the only hand drying option was an air dryer, of course.

In short, our visit to Murray’s Cheese Bar was a complete aural assault which compelled earplug use.  The reading was taken at dinner but a brunch visit was also very loud.  We must advise that you avoid Murray’s Cheese Bar, which is a real shame because the cheese is lovely.

Update: A request was made to meet at Murray’s Cheese Bar for an early Sunday brunch.  We were hoping that the space would be comfortable at such an early hour (11:00 a.m.), but we were wrong as the reading during our visit was 83.6 decibels.  The space was less than half full, so it the other diners weren’t the cause.  No, the culprit was music, which was set at an unnecessarily loud volume.  This would be an easy fix if anyone cared.   Without the music we think the reading would have been under 80 decibels.   The cheese is great and we liked the food, but the noise level makes the place irredeemable.  We recommend that you avoid it.

HOURS

Monday: 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Tuesday: 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

LOCATION

264 Bleecker Street (betw. 6th and 7th Avenues), NY, NY 10014

WEBSITE

Murray’s Cheese Bar

Pies ‘n’ Thighs — 85.9 decibels CLOSED

85.9 decibels!

It is with sadness that we must advise that you avoid Pies ‘n’ Thighs. We came here once many months ago and had a lovely meal in a relatively quiet space, but we came early–10:00 a.m.–and the waiter lowered the music on his own without request!  Our most recent visit, however, was painful.  The counterman who greeted everyone as they entered was LOUD–someone get that guy a hearing test, stat!–as was the music and most of the other customers.  Add in the loud design troika (subway tiles, glass, and stainless steel) and an open kitchen and you are left with an unpleasant aural assault as you eat, which is a real shame because the fried chicken is great and the chicken biscuit is sublime.  Only enter if the place is empty or if you are buying for takeaway.

HOURS

Weekday: Breakfast/lunch 9:00 a.m. to 4:00p.m. | Dinner 5:00p.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Weekend: Brunch 10:00a.m. to 4:00p.m. | Dinner 5:00p.m. to 12:00a.m.

LOCATION

43 Canal Street (betw. Ludlow & Orchard), New York, NY 10002

WEBSITE

Pies ‘n’ Thighs