Delimarie — 70.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Delimarie is a low-cost option in that yet unnamed area where Tribeca meets City Hall and various state and federal government buildings.  It follows the standard lunch buffet model: grab a container, pick and choose among the hot and cold options, and pay by the pound.  But Delimarie is so much better than your average deli buffet place.

Deli buffets usually offer the same choices no matter where you go, and everything looks like it was made in the same offsite industrial kitchen.  Not so at Delimarie.  The entrees and vegetables looked fresher and were tastier; the salmon was moist and tasted of salmon, not some packaged sauce.  Like most delis, Delimarie also offers sandwiches to order, and like their buffet options, the sandwich options were more interesting than what you typically find on offer. More importantly, the long lines of customers waiting to order suggests that they are much better than the typical deli sandwich too.

As if that weren’t enough, Delimarie offers something that no other deli has: beignets.  And these are real beignets, made to order, that are almost as good as those you get in New Orleans (we believe there is a connection to that city).  We didn’t try them during our lunch time visit, but we had heard that they are excellent.  We did try the beignets at Delimarie’s West Village sister restaurant, Cafe Marie (a future review), and they did not disappoint.

Finally, Delimarie offers another option that most delis do not–a relatively quiet eating area that seats at least 25 (look for the stairs in the back of the space).  There was background music playing during our visit but the volume was low, and although every seat was taken, the chatter was more than manageable.  It wasn’t the prettiest space, but it served it’s purpose and it was clean.

If you are in the Tribeca/City Hall area and want an inexpensive, quick, and quiet nosh, head on over to Delimarie.  Just remember to save some room for the beignets!

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (but buffet closes at 4:00 p.m., sandwiches at 5:00 p.m.)

Closed Sundays

LOCATION

Street (betw. Broadway and Church Street), New York, NY 10007

WEBSITE

No website

Jackson Square Park — 73.3 decibels

20160321_120717_resizedThis pretty little square is actually a triangle that bisects 13th Street and is bordered by 8th Avenue to the east, Greenwich Avenue to the west, and Horatio Street to the south.  It’s an adorable space that is sadly marred by street noise–loud idling trucks, honking taxis, and impatient drivers.  The trees and shrubs can only block so much noise, but it’s a losing battle as there is constant frenzied traffic around the square, at least during the week.

And so, in the end, Jackson Square Park is merely tolerable for a quick respite.  This is a damn shame, as it is clear that the park is well loved by area denizens who thoughtfully and tastefully decorate the park for holidays and otherwise keep it in tiptop shape.

Jackson Square

Jackson Square

That said, the reading was taken around noon on a busy Friday.  As we recall, the pace is a bit less frantic on the weekends–we will go back to take a reading on a future weekend to confirm.  For now, if the weather is nice,  traffic isn’t hellish, and you are looking for a place to rest your feet in the West Village, check out Jackson Square Park.  It really is a pretty green space.

HOURS

Dawn to 10:00 p.m. every day

LOCATION

At the conflux of 8th Avenue, Greenwich Avenue, and Horatio Street, New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Jackson Square Alliance

Kings Kitchen — 81.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

In a word, no.  The kitchen noises, yelling waitstaff, and constant clatter from dishes coming into contact with hard surfaces made for an uncomfortable experience.  There were occasional pockets of relative calm during our visit, but they were dwarfed by the general cacophony.   We came for an early bird dinner on a Sunday evening specifically to avoid a crowd.  Our timing was right–the place wasn’t packed during our visit, but it was busy.  That said, 81.2 decibels for a busy but not full restaurant does not augur well.  It was plainly obvious to us that a packed restaurant would be intolerable.

The reason to go to Kings Kitchen isn’t for the decor or the atmosphere, it’s for good food that is reasonably priced.   But good food, reasonable prices, and attentive waitstaff could not compensate for the noise.  It simply was intolerable.

If you are in Chinatown looking for a nosh and see that Kings Kitchen is empty, you could take a chance and go in for a quick meal.   Otherwise, the only safe option is take away.

HOURS

6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day

LOCATION

92 E. Broadway (betw. Eldridge and Pike Streets), New York, NY 10002

WEBSITE

No website

The Ginger Man — 71 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The Ginger Man is best characterized as a bar with food rather than a restaurant with drinks.  Beer is the focus here, and for the beer lover The Ginger Man must be nirvana.  We counted at least 50 beers and ciders on tap, and at least as many available in bottles.   The long bar and seating areas are meant for some serious drinking, and we suspect that happy hour is fairly raucous.

Fortunately, our visit was at lunch time.  We were in that part of town where Murray Hill meets a number of loosely named neighborhoods and needed a quick nosh.  Our visit, therefore, cannot be used as a fair measure of what the space would be like during a crowded happy hour, because, among other things, it appeared that only a few customers were drinking.  That said, the background music was a bit louder than we would have liked, but earlier that day it was announced that David Bowie had died and The Ginger Man, like most other venues in the city, was playing his music to honor his memory.  We will have to return to see what the volume is like on a typical day.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We were seated in the front dining area and it wasn’t crowded, so we could easily manage the music volume.   No doubt this was due, at least in part, to the design of the space.  Although there was a large glass window in the front, the unfinished wood floor had a couple of large wool rugs strewn about.  There also were a few upholstered arm chairs and leather sofas, and several fabric cushions placed around the space.  The wood, rugs, and fabric all help to absorb sound and keep it from resounding.  It also made the space feel comfortable, like a cross between a pub and a gentlemen’s club.

We wouldn’t go out of our way to have a meal at The Ginger Man, as the food was just adequate pub grub.  This is, as noted, a place meant for drinking.   That said, the front area, if packed, would probably be difficult to tolerate.   We assume that happy hours and evenings later in the week may be difficult to bear.  But the hours are long and there are, no doubt, periods when the place is not crowded.  Aim for those times, and you should be able to comfortably drink your beer(s) of choice.

There also is a small room in the back of the space, near the restrooms, that seems much quieter.  This small room is carpeted with upholstered sofas.  There is a bar opposite the room, but it appears to be used as staging for staff.  If the front bar is too loud, check out the back room.

HOURS

Monday through Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 a.m.

Saturday: 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.

Sunday: 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.

LOCATION

reet (betw. Madison and 5th Avenues), New York, NY 11016

WEBSITE

The Ginger Man

601 Lexington — 68.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The atrium at 601 Lexington (formerly known as the Citigroup Center) is a covered, climate controlled 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.”  POPS can vary in quality, but the covered public spaces tend to offer more amenities, like cafes and public restrooms, and they tend to be better maintained.  The atrium at 601 Lexington is no exception, as it offers plenty of amenities for visitors.

There are lots of tables and chairs in the multi-story atrium, which is surrounded by shops, restaurants, and delis.  But as with all POPS, you don’t have to buy anything from the commercial spaces within the public space to use the amentities.  In fact, you can bring in your own food or beverages and use the tables and chairs that are provided.

The plaza outside of the building is also available for public use 24 hours, but it’s uncomfortably loud during the work week due to street noise and a really noisy water feature.  The atrium, in contrast, was serene even though more than half of the tables were taken, no doubt due, at least in part, to its height.

The public space is served by large and clean bathrooms.   The only drawback is that the restrooms use the dreaded and LOUD Xcelerator hand dryer and there is no alternative hand drying option.

If you want to rest your feet, have a coffee, or just stop to relax somewhere in midtown, 601 Lexington is an excellent option.

HOURS

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

LOCATION

601 Lexington Avenue (betw. 53rd and 54th Streets), New York, NY 11022

WEBSITE

NYC POPS Info on 601 Lexington

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

Muji Soho — 68.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Muji must be the Japanese word for civilized, because this Japanese housewares/lifestyle store was absolutely pleasant when we visited the Soho location.  All the more remarkable because there was a big sale on and the place was packed.  Packed yet quiet.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The only downside to visiting a Muji store is that It’s hard to leave without buying something.  Everything is so well designed for its purpose.  So if you feel the need to lighten your wallet, head on over to Muji and shop in peace and quiet.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

LOCATION

WEBSITE

Muji

David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center — 67 to 72.5 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

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 at Lincoln Center.   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.

The Atrium 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.   Additionally, there are two well-maintained restrooms in the Atrium and additional facilities on the second floor.

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 was 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 (7th Avenue) — 72.4 decibels CLOSED

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

What a lucky find!  We were wandering around the upper reaches of Chelsea, jonesing for a coffee, and there it was–Filicori Zecchini, one of three New York locations of an Italian coffee chain of the same name.  As you enter you will see a long counter where you can order your coffee and drool over the beautiful treats on display below.  We showed restraint and only purchased coffee, but it required a heroic exercise of will power.

Armed with our choice of caffeine, we looked for an empty spot.  There were plenty of places to sit and linger, but most were taken.  We found a spot and settled in.  The coffee was very good and was accompanied by a little wrapped rectangle of chocolate.  Most importantly, we were able to collect our thoughts as we enjoyed a perfectly made cortado because the space was fairly quiet despite being mostly full.

It should come as no surprise that the laptop brigade present in spades–their presence is almost always an excellent sign, as they seek silence and respect it.  We did find the background music to be just a hair louder than we would prefer, but the space was still comfortable because the music, which featured jazz and bossa nova, was calming.  It was, in fact, perfect coffee house music that, volume aside, added to the atmosphere and comfortability of the place.  And unlike some coffee shops in Manhattan, a restroom is available for customers.  Filicori Zecchini is definitely worth checking out.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 5:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

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

LOCATION

(at the corner of 21st Street), New York, NY 11011

WEBSITE

Filicori Zecchini NY

550 Madison — 71.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The lobby of 550 Madison Avenue is 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.”   The amenities typically offered are outdoor plazas or seating areas that may be used by the general public without charge.  Here, the space is indoors and climate controlled, and there are plenty of table and chairs available to the public.  There are a couple of cafes in the lobby should you wish to purchase food or beverages, but you may bring food or drink from outside of the building and use the tables and chairs.

The space was very busy during our visit.  Given all of the people who were present, the sound level was manageable.  There were banging noises from the Rieu Cafe every time the barista emptied the espresso maker.  This added to the chatter and made the decibel level rise, but overall we found the space to be very tolerable.

Public toilets are available; they are located in the SONY Wonder Technology Lab (closer to the 56th Street exit).  The restrooms are hardly fabulous, but they are mostly clean and well-stocked, just suffering from a little neglect.

HOURS

Arcade is open 24 hours

Covered pedestrian space is open 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day

The space may be closed occasionally for private events.

LOCATION

WEBSITE

550 Madison Avenue