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

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