Telegraphe Cafe — 75.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Telegraph Cafe was fairly busy during our visit, but despite being completely full it was comfortable.  It’s a small space with a handful of tightly packed tables to the right of the entrance and stools lining the counter and the front windows.  Despite having a large glassed front, the sound level was manageable.  We assume that window shades, which had been drawn halfway down, helped to absorb or deflect the sound.

Music was playing during part of visit, but the volume was low so it didn’t add much to the soundscape.  All told, given how crowded the space was, we were quite happy with the sound level and would gladly return.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Telegraphe Cafe offers breakfast and lunch items and well made coffees.  In an neighborhood that offers few comfortable options, Telegraphe Cafe is worth visiting.

HOURS

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

Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. 6th and 7th Avenues), New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Telegraphe Cafe

 

Gila’s Nosh — 70.8 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Gila’s Nosh is a nice little place located in Kips Bay.  Even though it’s home to plenty of hard surfaces, including the floor to ceiling glass front window and entrance, It’s too small to get uncomfortably loud (the  drop ceiling tiles probably help).  There was unnecessary music playing during our visit, as usual, but it wasn’t not too loud.  We were surprised to find a place this calm on 23rd Street, which is, after all, a busy cross town road.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Gila’s Nosh is perfectly fine for a nosh or a coffee.  The food is Middle Eastern/Mediterrenean, with very good, friendly service.  It’s a nice alternative to the chains that proliferate around this area.   We recommend a visit.

Note: There is scaffolding next to Gila’s Nosh which may make it appear to be closed, but the restaurant is open.

HOURS

9:45 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. every day

LOCATION

. 23rd Street (betw. 2nd and 3rd Avenues), New York, NY 10010

WEBSITE

Gila’s Nosh

 

Katsu-Hama– 75.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Katsu-Hama is a calm oasis in midtown.  The menu features panko-breaded fried pork or chicken cutlets.  They offer a number of lunch specials for all appetites, including a seafood katsu option.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The decibel reading for our visit was higher than we would have guessed, because we found the place to be very comfortable, even relaxing.  Although we were seated in the front where parties of one or two are placed, we believe the reading fairly reflects the entire space as we checked out the back dining area and found it to be consistent with our experience up front.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Calm is the word that best describes Katsu-Hama.  Instrumental jazz played very softly in the background.  Nearby diners chatted, in person or, sigh, on their phones, but it wasn’t bad–no screamers.   We did pick up some kitchen sounds, but they weren’t jarring or pingy.  The space is not live, and the low lighting and soft music really make for a relaxing experience.  We highly recommend a visit to Katsu-Hama.

HOURS

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

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

LOCATION

Street (betw. 5th and Madison Avenues), New York, NY 10017

WEBSITE

Katsu-Hama

Caffébene — 64.1 decibels

Photo credit: Jeanine Botta

Photo credit: Jeanine Botta

By Jeanine Botta

With my first bite of caramel cinnamon honey bread at Caffébene’s Brooklyn College location, I thought, “I will have to get more of this!” and absolutely meant it.  But the serving size was generous, and I almost couldn’t finish it.  With a cup of Americano coffee and the Sunday paper, it was the perfect brunch.

If you’ve ever thought of exploring central Brooklyn, a good place to start is at the end of the 2 and 5 subway lines where the corners of four neighborhoods converge: Flatlands, East Flatbush, Flatbush, and Midwood.  Local destinations include Brooklyn College, home to the Conservatory of Music and the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts, which has a peaceful and beautiful campus.  Just south of the campus and across Nostrand Avenue is Triangle Junction, a busy shopping center anchored with a Target store and featuring HomeGoods, David’s Bridal, and other retail stores.

Caffébene is located off campus, just across from one of the main campus entrances on Campus Road and one block from the subway station on Nostrand Avenue.  The cafe runs the length of the building, and there is another entrance on Kenilworth Place.  The menu includes specialty coffees and teas, smoothies, power shakes, non-alcoholic mojitos, pastries, waffles, gelato, hot sandwiches, and several kinds of honey bread, a Korean dessert.  The Caffébene franchise was started in South Korea and is said to have been inspired by old world European coffee houses.

There is no music playing at Caffébene, making it is easy to communicate with companions without having to raise your voice or strain to hear.  When I was there, there were solo diners, pairs, and small groups of friends, and tables can be arranged to accommodate larger groups.  With its earth tones and book shelves along one wall, the atmosphere is warm and calming.

Whether you are stopping by on your way from another destination, or exploring the area, you’ll find this café to be a great place to relax and recharge or as a good meeting place.  If you live in the neighborhood, Caffébene is the perfect place to grab a coffee and read the Sunday paper.  Free wifi is available.

HOURS

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

Saturday and Sunday: 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

LOCATION

150 Kenilworth Place, Brooklyn, NY 11210

WEBSITE

Caffébene

Mimi’s Hummus (14th Street) — 73.5 decibels CLOSED

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The food at Mimi’s Hummus is absolutely fabulous.   We think it’s the best hummus in the city, and many food writers and sites agree.  All around us plates were emptied, leaving not a crumb–ours were wiped clean.  Yes, it’s that good.

Mimi’s first Manhattan location is a small space with lots of tile and glass, so we were apprehensive when we entered.  But the side walls in the dining space sport wooden panels with uniform holes that look like they may have sound abatement properties.  Or not.

Perhaps the wooden panels helped to keep the noise level at a reasonable level, we aren’t certain, but there was one thing that could have been done to make the space really comfortable but was not–lower the music.  Once again what could have been a comfortable space was made merely tolerable because the music volume was too loud.  In addition, the sound system gave certain songs an odd reverb or echo-like quality that could be felt as well as heard.  There was no reason for playing the music at the volume  we experienced, as most people were engaged in conversation with workmates or friends.

Without the music the space would have been ideal.  At least it wasn’t so so loud that we ran out screaming–it’s tolerable.   And the food is so good that it’s still worth going to Mimi’s even with the music volume higher than we would like.  One hopes that they consider turning down the volume going forward, because the space would be much more comfortable.

Although we paid a  lunch time visit, the place was busy enough to give a good indication of what one could expect when it is packed.  It’s a small space, so it is not likely that the noise level will top 80 decibels, but that’s a low bar.  Please, Mimi’s, lower the music.

HOURS

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

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

LOCATION

Street (betw. 2nd and 3rd Avenues), New York, NY 10003

WEBSITE

Mimi’s Hummus

Milk & Hops — 71.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Milk & Hops focuses on beer and sandwiches featuring a selection of good cheeses.  A BLT was served naked on a plate–just one pickle slice and one cornichon cut in half–but the bacon was very good and crisp.  Ten beers are available on tap (you can get your growler filled here, too); the selection rotates so check the website for what’s on offer.   Flights are available, with four 4 oz. servings for $10.

Although the design choices favor hard surfaces–everything is covered in marble and subway tiles–the sound level was a reasonable 71.6 decibels during our visit.  No doubt the high ceiling helped, but we must note that the reading was taken on a not very busy Saturday afternoon.  Given the design choices, it is likely the space will be noisy when crowded.  Still, it’s worth poking your head in to check.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Milk & Hops also has a small market selling hipster staples (McClure pickles, Mast Brothers chocolate, etc.) and, of course, a really good selections of beers to go.

HOURS

Sunday through Wednesday: 12:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Thursday through Saturday: 12:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

LOCATION

WEBSITE

Milk & Hops

Hungarian Pastry Shop — 72.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Our visit to Hungarian Pastry Shop was surprisingly relaxed given how crowded it was–there were lots of students hanging out during our visit.  We ordered at the counter and found our way to a small table.  When an order is ready, a name is called and acknowledged, and someone ferries your order to you.  We thought the coffee was good enough and a Napoleon wasn’t as sweet as it looked (which was a good thing).

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Importantly, despite being crowded the place was calm.  Why?  No music!  The benefits of not playing music is on display at Hungarian Pastry Shop.  Even though the space was almost fully occupied, and at least half of the occupied tables were small groups of friends chatting with each other, the other half could comfortably work on their laptops or read a book. Yes, a real book.  And yes, it was comfortable enough to do it.

And that’s the word that’s best used to describe this place, comfortable. The coffee is decent, not great, and the pastries looked better than they taste, but the space is comfortable and for New York City that’s saying something.

Hungarian Pastry Shop is located across the street from St. John the Divine.  It’s worth a visit.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Sunday: 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

LOCATION

nue (at 111th Street), New York, NY 10025

WEBSITE

Hungarian Pastry Shop

 

Joe Coffee (Lexington Avenue) — 76.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The Lexington Avenue location of Joe Coffee was crowded when we arrived.  A long table with stools placed around took up most of the space; a ledge ran along a wall providing some additional seating.  The space was tight as a line of people waiting to order snaked around the seating area, making for a less than pleasant experience.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

This location of Joe is a very live space.  It was tolerable but not comfortable.  One annoying customer who droned on to anyone and everyone was distracting, and in a small space there is no escape.  Unnecessarily loud music did not help.

If you really need coffee and you’re standing on Lexington Avenue between 74th and 75th Street outside of Joe, sure, consider it.  But if you want a calm, comfortable spot to enjoy that coffee, we suggest keep on walking.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

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

LOCATION

nue (betw. 74th and 75th Streets), New York, NY 10021

WEBSITE

Joe on Lex

La Bonbonniere — 76.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

La Bonbonniere is an old school diner on 8th Avenue, where the West Village folds into the Meat Packing District.  It’s a neighborhood favorite that feels like it’s been around forever, the go to place for breakfast or a burger.  In short, it’s the kind of place every neighborhood should have (and, miraculously, it still exists in the West Village somehow).

The place was relatively full during our lunch time visit, so full that we had to sit at the counter.  The front door was open to the street since the weather was mild.  Despite the open door, the street noise wasn’t that bad.  There was no music playing, which helped a lot.  The only real noise was from the staff talking to each other and the short order cook’s metal spatula hitting the grill top.  It’s an open kitchen, so that can’t be avoided. The sound was more noticeable for those of us who were seated at the counter; kitchen sounds should be less obtrusive at the tables.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Overall, for a full place with a door open to 8th Avenue, La Bonbonniere was quieter than we  expected.  It’s not calm, but it is at least tolerable.  It is a good, Inexpensive option in the West Village.  Cash only.  Odd hours.

HOURS

Monday: 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Tuesday: 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Wedensday: 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Thursday: 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

LOCATION

nue (betw. W. 12th and Jane Streets), New York, NY 10014

WEBSITE

La Bonbonniere