Ninth Street Espresso (Gowanus) — 64.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The Gowanus location of Ninth Street Espresso is located In the same space as Threes Brewing, a bar and brewery with food by The Meat Hook. Threes Brewing takes up the ground floor.  It’s a very large, very open, and very loud space–we wouldn’t dream of going there for a beer on a busy night, as we’ve walked by and heard the noise level. But Ninth Street Espresso is open during the day and occupies a separate space near the front of the building. When you walk in, turn to your right and climb the small stairway.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

At the top of the stairs you will see the service counter.  Ninth Street Espresso doesn’t have a long menu. Rathe, it lists just four coffee options: hot coffee, cold coffee, espresso, and espresso with milk. Tell them what you like–we are partial to cortados–and they’ll get you the right combination of espresso and milk.

Along with really good coffee, there are plenty of places to sit. There’s a small space near the counter with a couple of small tables and a sunny window. Walk through to the back and there’s a roomy space with six tables, plenty of chairs, and an unused upright piano with a sign reading “Please do not touch piano,” which was fine by us.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

There was music playing in the background throughout our visit. And if you were a Dylan fan, it would have been your lucky day. The volume was a hair louder than we would have liked, but as the reading shows the overall noise level was perfectly fine.  We think Ninth Street Espresso offers excellent coffee in a very comfortable space and recommend it.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. 3rd and 4th Avenue), Brooklyn, NY 11217

WEBSITE

Ninth Street Espresso

Pomme Frites — 74.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

 

The menu at Pomme Frites couldn’t be simpler: Belgian fries, poutine, sauces, garnishes, and beverages.  It’s a place to visit with friends for some very tasty fries, a couple of dipping sauces–and the choices are extensive–and a beer.  Given it’s location and menu, it is almost always filled with NYU students.

During the day and early evening, the soundscape is fine, even when crowded.  At night, though, one must assume that throngs of drunk students will ensure a “livelier” soundscape.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Music played in the background during our visit, but it was louder in the back by the kitchen.  For the most part, the soundscape was dominated by voices.  Since we stopped by in the early evening, those voices weren’t that loud–everyone appeared to be sober. Overall, we found the noise level to be pretty good given the circumstances, but caution that it was early in the evening.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Pomme Frites occupies a small space with a limited menu that is perfect drunk student food.  Expect a tolerable soundscape during the day, but proceed at caution at night, particularly after the bars empty out.

HOURS

Sunday through Thursday: 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Friday and Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 a.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. W. Houston and Prince Streets), New York, NY 10012

WEBSITE

Pomme Frites

Cafe Grumpy (Chelsea) — 68.9 decibels

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We were wandering around Chelsea and jonesing for a coffee when we spotted Cafe Grumpy.  We’ve read that it was known for good coffee, so we stopped in.  There was music playing a bit louder than we liked in the front of the space where you order, but as we soon discovered, the place is a lot bigger than it looks from the street.

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One thing we noticed immediately is that there weren’t many laptops visible.  Then we saw a sign by the cash register stating that the cafe is a “no laptop zone.”  When asked, the server told me they “aren’t Nazis about it” but they want to cultivate a “social place.”  Still, while I didn’t see laptops deployed on tables, I did see that most people were by themselves reading or writing.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Since the front of the space was louder than we liked, we went to down the long narrow corridor connecting the front to a back room that was noticeably quieter. We had our coffee in this space,  finding it basically calm though we could hear someone washing dishes in the nearby dish room. There are french doors at the very end of the space that open on to an absolutely serene garden.  How serene?  You can hear birdsong.

If you are in Chelsea and want a coffee and a really quiet space, go to Cafe Grumpy, avoid the front space,  walk to the back room, and don’t stop until you are in the garden. It was lovely. Sadly, the Xelerator hand dryer in bathroom is not.

HOURS

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

Saturday: 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Sunday: 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. 7th and 8th Avenues), New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Cafe Grumpy — Chelsea

 

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

Maggie Reilly’s — 72.7 to 73.1 decibels

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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

Tekoa — 66.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Tekoa is a lovely coffee shop in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn.  It offers more sweet and savory offerings than most, making it a sort of marriage between a coffee shop and a cafe.  And it’s a happy marriage, certainly a peaceful one.  We visited on a Thursday afternoon and found the place to be fairly serene.  About half the tables were taken, but most of the customers were very quiet–only one couple was chatting, while the others wiled away on their laptops.  As a result, the soundscape was absolutely perfect.

A small shelf at the front window has three stools for people watchers, and there is a dining area with eight tables for two or four in the back.  The space is painted a bright white, but it’s not blinding.  Most importantly, Tekoa serves as an example to places that insist on playing music, as they do it absolutely right.  The music was in the background and the sound was balanced–it wasn’t trebly nor did it have throbbing bass.  Even if a song featured a vocalist with a high-pitched voice, the sound was never uncomfortable or screechy.  A good sound system makes a huge difference.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

And playing well-balanced, low volume music was key, particularly since the space was filled with mostly hard surfaces, including a tin ceiling.  The combination of soft music and little to no conversation resulted in a really serene experience.  The coffee is very good, and though we didn’t try any of the sweet and savory items on offer, they looked delicious.  We will try them next time, because there will be a next time.

Tekoa serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  We highly recommend it.

HOURS

Monday through Wednesday: 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Thursday and Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. | 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. | 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Kitchen opens at 9:00 a.m. and closes at 10:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (at Verandah Place), Brooklyn, NY 11201

WEBSITE

Tekoa

The Red Flame Diner — 70.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Looking for a no-nonsense place in midtown for a quick meal in relatively peaceful surroundings? Look no further than The Red Flame Diner on W. 44th Street, near 6th Avenue.  The Red Flame Diner has plenty of booths for two or four and a small counter with stools near the back.  This is not haute cuisine–the food is straight forward diner classics done right.  More importantly, you can eat and have a conversation with your guests–and most people were chatting–with ease.  No straining, no screaming.

The Red Flame will have you in and out in short order.  But despite the bustle–and the place was nearly filled to capacity during our Saturday brunch time visit–it’s comfortable.  The only black mark was background music, but the volume was low enough so it could be ignored.  That said, why have it at all?  No one was listening to it and it added an unnecessary layer of sound.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Given that almost every seat was filled, we were pleased with the noise level during our visit.  It’s unlikely that it would be much louder if the few empty seats were filled, so we have no reservations in recommending the Red Flame Diner.  If the music were turned off or lowered, we would give this place our highest mark.  Still, second place isn’t bad at all.

HOURS

Open 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. every day

LOCATION

67 W. 44th Street (betw. 5th and 6th Avenues), New York, NY 10036

WEBSITE

The Red Flame Diner

Almondine Bakery — 73.1 decibels

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We believe that Almondine makes the best baguette in the city, so when we were in Dumbo recently we had to stop by and pick up a couple for later.   And since we were there, we stayed for a quick lunch.

Almondine offers a nice selection of savory items–sandwiches, soups, and quiche.  It also has lovely croissants, cakes and tarts, and the best fruit danish in town.  Really, just order the danish (it’s half-apricot, half-pear, and totally fabulous).  On the weekends raspberry beignets are available.  If you are there when they are freshly made the scent of raspberries washes over the entire space, and you’ll agree that the it’s worth a trip to Dumbo for the beignets alone.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Almondine’s decor sports a lot of glass, metal, and brick,  and yet the small space is mostly comfortable. In fact, the reading was higher than we expected but was probably due to two cranky toddlers who were subject, along with the rest of us, to an endless parental rant. The reason the space was comfortable was that there was no music playing.  Even a live space can be comfortable if there is no music, and Almondine proves it.  As a result, we can easily recommend you stop in for a nosh at any time.

So definitely stop by Almondine if you are in Dumbo.  Have a coffee and a quiche, and don’t forget to grab a baguette or two (and a fruit danish) on the way out the door.  You’ll thank us.

HOURS

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

Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. Main and Dock Streets), Dumbo, Brooklyn, NY 11201

WEBSITE

Almondine Bakery.