Edward’s — 73.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We visited Edward’s for a quick lunch one February afternoon.  Edward’s is a neighborhood restaurant serving classic American comfort food–burgers, chicken fingers, pasta, and salads.  The place was about half full when we entered, but was a bit busier by the time we left. The front of the space has a bar to one side and tables on the other.  It is somewhat separated from back dining area by a short divider.  There are high ceilings, unfinished floors, and banquettes lining the back dining area.  Given the decor we thought we should be pretty comfortable during our meal.

But we weren’t as comfortable as we anticipated.  Why?  Guess.  Yes, once again a perfectly fine space was marred by music that was too loud.  It wasn’t horriblly loud but it was completely unnecessary.  And the problem wasn’t simply the volume, it was also the type of music that was playing–fast paced, with a horn section, absolutely not calming or relaxing.  Whoever chose the music needs to be reminded that Edward’s is  a restaurant not a club–we just wanted a meal, not a dance with a stranger.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

As a consequence, we are concerned about what the sound level is like when every table is taken. So for now, we will say the space is tolerable but it could have been better.  Edward’s might be a good spot if you are dining with children.  It looks like a kid-friendly space, and we saw a couple of moms with strollers in the front of the house.

HOURS

Sunday and Monday: 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

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

LOCATION

(betw. Duane and Thomas Streets), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

Edward’s

The Little Sweet Cafe — 71.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The Little Sweet Cafe is a self-described “taste of France” in the Boerum Hill section of Brooklyn. It was very quiet when we stopped by on a Monday morning.  Most of the other customers were getting coffee and treats to go, but eventually all four tables and the three stools hugging a shelf were taken.

Even after the placed filled up, the space was comfortable. Jazz played softly in the background, and the volume was fine though the music was unnecessary. The place would have been perfect without it and could have easily clocked in at under 70 decibels.  But even with the music the reading was perfectly fine, and it was easy to have a conversation.  Except for when the barista was making espresso drinks, and a mercifully short visit by a mother and toddler, both of whom were speaking very loudly to each other, the soundscape was mostly mellow.

The Little Sweet Cafe offers a variety of coffees, pastries, and crepes, with a few savory options at lunch.  It was a tad noisier during the morning rush, but quickly calmed down afterwards.  Recommended.

HOURS

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

Saturday and Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. Atlantic Avenue and State Street), Brooklyn, NY 11217

WEBSITE

The Little Sweet Cafe

 

A&E Supply Co. — 78.4 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

A & E Supply Co. is a hipster rbutcher shop/estaurant/bar in Gowanus, Brooklyn. It’s an attractive spot, with a “butcher shop” (i.e., small display of meat for sale) by the front door and a large open dining area with an open kitchen at the end.  A bar runs half the length of the space, and there is no separation between the bar and dining space.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We stopped by at lunch and were joined by maybe three people sitting silently at their tables.  All were staring at their laptops, but we noted that two were sporting headphones. That is almost always a bad sign, because it suggests that they couldn’t concentrate on their work because of the soundscape.  And neither could we.

A & E Supply is a very live space with lots of glass, metal, and tile.  It’s almost as if someone handed the designer a brief that asked for a space that would reflect every sound. The end result is that we were seated in an attractive space marred by its soundscape, and once again the music volume was a big factor–it was entirely too loud.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We raced through our meal to get out as quickly as possible.  Something that wasn’t difficult given that our order–a decent if overpriced sandwich–was definitely on the small side.   A small roast beef sandwich for $9, with no sides or garnish.  Someone should remind the owners that they are located in Gowanus, not TriBeCa.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

More importantly, the noise level simply wasn’t tolerable.  Yes the space felt pretty live, but the decibel reading was absolutely attributable to the music volume and the staff shouting over it–and yes, the staff was yelling at each other to be heard. If it’s this loud during a mostly empty lunch service, dinner must be horrific.  Which is a shame, because it is an attractive space and the food was tasty if less than filing.  We suggest that you avoid.

HOURS

Closed Mondays

Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday: 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Friday and Saturday: 7:00 a.m. through 2:00 a.m.

Kitchen stops at 10:00 pm. during the week, 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday

LOCATION

(at the corner of 15th Street), Brooklyn, NY 11215

WEBSITE

A & E Supply Co.

Rosa Mexicano (Lincoln Center) — 79.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We went to the Rosa Mexicano located just across the street from Lincoln Center to meet up with friends who were attending a midday performance.  The space began to fill up as the other patrons streamed in to what is one of the larger restaurants nearest to the Center.

As soon as we walked in we knew that the space was going to be live, as there was a large expanse of glass in the front of the space on both levels.  Fortunately there were curtains and a textile floor covering, but it didn’t appear that the textiles helped to absorb much of the sound.

We were seated on the second level.  It was fairly noisy, with the main source of the noise  coming from the other guests.  This is one of the few times that the noise was primarily due to voices rather than music.  In fact, we weren’t even certain if music was playing.  If it was, we couldn’t hear it because of the chatter.  We suspect that the second floor is louder than the first floor, most probably because the chatter from the first floor was wafting up and adding to the chatter on the second.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Rosa Mexicano was fairly crowded but not packed during our lunch visit.  We think the combination of the hard surfaces and the lack of a barrier between the two floors made the second floor hard to tolerate. The space simply wasn’t pleasant, and we would advise that you proceed with caution. There aren’t many options that are as close to Lincoln Center, so either plan to eat a little farther away or pack a pair of ear plugs.

HOURS

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

Tuesday through Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

LOCATION

Avenue (betw. 62nd and 63rd Streets), New York, NY 10028

WEBSITE

Rosa Mexicano/Lincoln Center

Hudson Diner — 73.4 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We stopped by the Hudson Diner in the West Village for brunch one Saturday.  The Hudson Diner is a friendly neighborhood place, a favorite of nearby residents, many of whom are regulars. It offers basic American diner standards–a safe bet for burgers, breakfasts, and sandwiches–but its voluminous menu also offers Greek specialties, salads, seafood, chops, and pasta dishes.

The place was fairly crowded during our visit, but the soundscape wasn’t bad at all.  There was music playing in the background but the volume was so low that you could barely hear it.  Chatter predominated, with the sounds of the staff shouting orders to the short order cooks standing out.  Still, for a place that is bustling–and there was a lot of turnover–73.4 decibels is very respectable, particularly at brunch.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Hudson Diner has plenty of seating, so there generally isn’t a wait even during the height of brunch.  It’s worth checking out if you want something quick and relatively inexpensive in the West Village.

HOURS

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

LOCATION

Street (betw. Barrow and Grove Streets), New York, NY 10014

WEBSITE

Hudson Diner

Local & Vine — 76.5 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We stopped by Local & Vine for happy hour one Tuesday evening.  Local & Vine is located in Hudson Square, the real estate branded neighborhood that also could be called West Soho or South West Village. The area is pretty quiet in the evening after the nearby office buildings empty.

Local & Vine wasn’t full when we arrived, but it slowly filled up. There was music was playing in the background throughout our visit.  It wasn’t overpowering, just a hair louder than we would have liked.  Despite all the hard surfaces, including a lot of glass, the space didn’t feel that live, and we were able to carry on a conversation comfortably throughout our visit.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Overall, we have to say that the soundscape was perfectly fine for a bar.  And the lighting was just right–dim but not dark.  Local & Vine offers ten or twelve small plates that you can order with your drinks.  We tried a couple nosh options and thought they were just ok.  But very reasonably priced happy hour specials featuring three two-for-one options (wine, beer, and mimosas) made up for the middling munchies.

If you are looking for a place downtown to hang with your friends, Local & Vine should be on your short list. It’s a relaxed spot and you can actually have a conversation without screaming.  It would also be a great first date venue.   Recommended.

HOURS

Monday: 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Tuesday: 4:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Wednesday: 12:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. | 4:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Thursday and Friday: 12:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. | 4:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Saturday: 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Sunday: 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

LOCATION

(at the corner of Dominick Street), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

Local & Vine

Paul’s Da Burger Joint — 74.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We stopped by Paul’s Da Burger Joint despite its name because we read that it had been around for at least 25 years, which is starting to be a real milestone for New York City restaurants.  We assumed that the good reviews on various restaurant sites, coupled with the 25+ year history meant we were going to have some pretty fabulous burgers.  But we were wrong.  There’s no compelling reason to come here.

Background music was playing softly when we entered, which was encouraging. There’s an open kitchen, so you’ll hear the annoying grill sounds along with the cooks and staff chatting but it’s manageable.  Shortly after we were seated the waitress took our order. Then, inexplicably, someone raised the volume of the music–a classic rock radio station–when a song by Meatloaf came on.  On purpose.  Just our luck, it turns out it was a block of Meatloaf.  While the volume wasn’t set at 11, it was too loud.  And it was Meatloaf.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

A really tasty burger could have made up a bit for the soundscape, but what we got was just meh.  The burger looked good but it had an odd taste, or, more accurately, not much taste–it was more like a chopped steak than a burger, and not in a good way.  The space smells of beef fat and whatever oil they use to fry their french fries, and it didn’t smell fresh.  So we thought to ourselves, why come here? Streecha is around the corner, Veselka is nearby, and if you want a good old-fashioned burger, walk nine short blocks to Joe Jr. to taste what a great diner burger should taste like.

In short, there’s no reason to eat here: the place smells of stale fried beef fat, the burger is fairly tasteless, and the music is too loud.  Ok, one reason to eat here would be that you’ve completed an East Village bar crawl, you drank way too much, and you need to put something–anything–in your stomach right this minute.  Otherwise, avoid.

HOURS

Sunday through Thursday: 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

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

LOCATION

Avenue (betw. 7th and 8th Streets), New York, NY 10003

WEBSITE

Paul’s Da Burger Joint

Maggie Reilly’s — 72.7 to 73.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Located at the point where upper Chelsea meets Hudson Yards, Maggie Reilly’s is a cosy spot in a restaurant-poor part of town.  There aren’t a lot of options in the area because it is right across the street from the Hudson Yards construction site,  a multi-block project that is in the process of being developed into a mixed used area of large commercial and residential buildings.

We visited Maggie Reilly’s twice.  Our first visit was during a not very crowded brunch, so we realized that it might not be the best measure of the place. There is a bar in the front of the house that is surely loud and boisterous at happy hour or when there is an important game playing on one of many flat screen tvs, but the back dining room is a smaller and quieter space.

The dining area floors are lightly finished wood, and there is an upholstered panel running along the length of the room–there weren’t many hard surfaces. Unnecessary but interesting music was playing a hair louder than we like during our visit, but it wasn’t blaring. One of us finished off a tasty full Irish breakfast, while the other enjoyed a salad. The coffee tasted like it was freeze-dried and not brewed, but it’s a bar not a coffee shop. The staff was friendly and, except for the music, we were happy with our visit.

On our second visit we again were in the back dining room, but this time we came for a mid-week lunch.  Once again we enjoyed our visit but there was one glaring drawback–the music volume was too loud and trebly.  It was a real shame, because the music only served to make an otherwise comfortable space merely manageable.  What made it worse was that, unlike our brunch visit, the music was bland, generic, modern-day bubblegum pop.  Absolutely forgettable and totally unnecessary.  That aside, we enjoyed our very tasty burgers.

Based on our two experiences, we think lunch and brunch at Maggie Reilly’s should always be fine unless there is a big important game or some other event playing on the multiple tvs.  The noise level at dinner will depend on the day, with a greater likelihood that the space will be relaxed earlier in the week. Happy hour, especially later in the week, should probably be avoided, as the place is pretty popular and Maggie Reilly’s offers a special of a sandwich or burger plus a beer for $10 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m.

Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.

Kitchen open daily 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. | Saturday and Sunday brunch served until 4:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Avenue (betw. 29th and 30th Streets), New York, NY 10001

WEBSITE

Maggie Reilly’s

Wasan — 64.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We stopped by Wasan for a Monday lunch and found it surprisingly busy.  Perhaps it shouldn’t have been surprising, as this small space was perfectly comfortable–despite one boomy and animated customer who spoke nonstop.  Jazz played softly in the background throughout our lunch, and the other guests either tuned in to their laptops or chatted very softly to each other. The soundscape was exactly what we like. Not silent, but the sound from chatter and music was in the background and wafted around, never dominating or intruding into our space.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

There is a large window in the front of the restaurant, but fabric drapes the bottom half and a heavy curtain hangs by the front door.  No doubt the drapery helped absorb sound. The seats have fabric covers and that may have helped too. Mostly, the space works because the atmosphere is serene and most people respect it by speaking softly.

At least half the tables were taken during our visit, so even if full the space should be at least tolerable.  Wasan offers lunch specials, including fabulous bento boxes.  We really enjoyed our meal and highly recommend a visit.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. | 6:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

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

LOCATION

Street (at 5th Avenue), Brooklyn, NY 11217

WEBSITE

Wasan-NY