Bread & Butter — 77.1 to 81.3 decibels

Photo credit: Jeanine Botta

By Jeanine Botta

When it comes to nutrition and healthy eating, salad bars have a bad reputation, and concerns are often justified. People tend to make unhealthy decisions that cancel out healthier choices, selecting all the right vegetables before adding hundreds of calories worth of salad dressing and fats that should be eaten sparingly. But if you make smart choices, you can eat well and get your recommended daily requirements of fruits and vegetables that real world American diets often lack.

Working for several years in Midtown, I’d sometimes fit twenty minutes at a gym, thirty minutes at a salad bar, and a quick walk into my lunch hour. Then my company’s headquarters moved to North Carolina and the rest of us started working from home. How I missed the salad bar! Suddenly I had to be more responsible for buying, cleaning, and preparing my own vegetables.

Bread & Butter on Fifth Avenue is the salad bar I visited most often during those years, and even now I’ll go there sometimes for a quick meal. During peak hours, the food is fresh, the recipes are good, and there are abundant healthy choices. Like most salad bars where food is weighed, prices are on the high side. But without having to tip a server or buy, clean, and prepare fruits and vegetables, you save money and time, and boost consumption of those foods.

When I measured sound levels at Bread & Butter, I was surprised the decibel reading wasn’t  lower, because I’d always considered both dining areas to be moderately quiet. Upper and lower levels each feature a television set and piped in music set at low volumes, and on the lower level, sounds of voices at high occupancy can block out television and music. I measured sound sitting directly under a speaker and sitting several feet away – where you can’t hear the music – and obtained similar sound level readings.

If you prefer a predictably quiet sound level and prefer to avoid any amount of broadcast sound, you’ll be taking your chances at Bread & Butter. It is quieter before noon and after peak hours, but after the lunch rush some food selections are not replenished when they run out. Food is also replenished less frequently in the salad bar, there are fewer food selections, and the lower level may be closed on weekends.

But if you’re happy with moderate sound levels in a busy Midtown eatery, the ease of communication is usually decent at Bread & Butter on Fifth Avenue, especially on the lower level.


Open 24 hours


303 Fifth Avenue (at the corner of 31st Street), New York, NY 10016


Bread & Butter

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