If St. Andrews, a Scottish restaurant and bar, were in any other part of town, we would advise that you only stop in when it’s empty. But it’s in Times Square and that makes it a viable option at most times (but not happy hour). Simply put, there are very few quiet places in Times Square that offer decent food at a reasonable price, which is why St. Andrews is one of the loudest places we will recommend.
We visited St. Andrews for a Friday lunch and were seated in the ground floor dining room; it was at least half full. Background music played throughout our visit, and while it was mostly in the background (at least at first) it unnecessarily added a layer of sound. Midway through our meal the music volume was suddenly increased. We asked if the volume could be lowered and were pleased when it was immediately adjusted to what it had been earlier.
In addition to the music, unnecessary noise was provided by two customers seated near our table who were very noticeably loud (a sign of early hearing loss, we suspect). Fortunately the ceilings were of a good height and upholstered banquettes may have absorbed some of the sound. In addition, the dining area was separated from the bar by a wall that had a couple of open spaces between both rooms. This design choice kept most, but not all, of the sound emanating in one room from ricocheting into the other. Overall, the sound level during our lunch visit was manageable, particularly after one of the loud customers left.
We also visited St. Andrews at brunch, which generated the higher decibel rating. While the noise level wasn’t ideal, it was more manageable than the reading alone would suggest. We were seated near the entrance during that visit and suspect that our decibel meter may have picked up the sound of customers and staff entering and leaving the dining space and bar, resulting in the higher than expected reading. St. Andrews has an upstairs dining room that was not available at lunch but generally is open for brunch. If that space is available, our experience is that it is a better option than the ground floor.
We did not visit St. Andrews during happy hour, but we’ve been told that happy hour is very popular, crowded, and loud. In short, avoid.
Overall, St. Andrews is not a bad option if you must be in Times Square and want to get a drink or a nosh. It has a great selection of beers and scotch, the food is decent bar grub (not fabulous, but not bad), and the prices are reasonable for Times Square. Just don’t expect a serene space, and avoid happy hour.