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

Good Stuff Diner – 65.4 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

By Jeanine Botta

On a recent morning, I’d been running errands in Manhattan and decided to try the Good Stuff Diner on West 14th Street before heading home to Brooklyn.  I love diners and was drawn to the place’s gleaming retro design and warm tones.  A manager greeted me at the door and accommodated my request for a booth, which doesn’t always happen with solo diners.  I sat in the back among a mix of other solo diners, pairs, and groups.  Two men sat alone at separate tables eating breakfast and reading newspapers, then said goodbye to each other when one of them left.

It was just after 10:00 a.m. when I arrived, so it was somewhere between the end of the breakfast rush and the start of the lunch rush; around half of the tables were occupied in each dining area. I ordered eggs with toast and home fried potatoes, orange juice, and coffee.  All were good, and the service was fast and friendly, but not rushed.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

There was no music playing in the back section of the diner while I was there.  The average sound level  was only 65.4, but the ambience wasn’t hushed.  The predominant sound was that of lively conversation.  It was only when I walked to the front of the diner as I was leaving that I heard music, but the music was playing softly in the background and didn’t distract.

The Good Stuff Diner is recommended to tourists and other travelers, as evidenced by online reviews.  But on this weekday morning I could tell by nearby conversations that many of the diners were locals, some were regulars, and most were New Yorkers, which says good things about the place.  Given the sound level when the restaurant was just over halfway occupied, I wouldn’t hesitate to schedule a meeting or meet up with friends during a busier time.  It was good to find an aesthetically appealing, affordable, friendly restaurant with a robust menu in a part of the city where I often find myself wishing for exactly this kind of eatery.

HOURS

Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week

LOCATION

109 West 14th Street (near 6th Avenue), New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Good Stuff Diner

Everyman Espresso (Soho) — 69.3 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The Canal Street location of Everyman Espresso is smaller than the East Village location.  Only a couple of chairs at two small tables and a few benches are available for seating, but they were more than enough to accommodate all who entered on a Thursday evening.

LIke the East Village location, the espresso machine in this location of Everyman Espresso was one of the quietest we’ve experienced.  We assume that Everyman uses special noise-sensitive machines, or maybe it’s because the espresso maker was situated so that the noise making elements face away from the seating area (similar to the East Village location).  Whatever the reason, it is appreciated, particularly since many of the surfaces are hard and more than capable of bouncing the sound around the small space.  Wood slats on the ceiling may have helped deflect sound, but other than a couple of mats on the floor (probably there temporarily to sop up rain), there were no textiles or softer materials to absorb sound.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We liked this location as much as the East Village spot, but note that since it is smaller it doesn’t have a restroom (the East Village location does).  That aside, the Canal Street location of Everyman Espresso is a nice little niche of serenity near chaotic Canal Street.  It’s worth a visit.

HOURS

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

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

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

LOCATION

(betw. Canal and Grand Streets, closer to Canal), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

Everyman Espresso (Soho)

Archestratus Books + Foods — 70.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Archestratus Books + Foods is a very calm space, even with unnecessary music playing in the background. It should be calm, as it is a cafe burrowed into the back of a bookstore.  There is a short menu offering a few savory and sweet treats during the day, and a selection of coffees and teas.  Service is friendly and relaxed.

Archestratus Books + Foods offers a well-liked dinner on Thursday nights.  We’ve never been, but given the rave dinner reviews on Yelp and other rating sites, it’s on our short list to try for this year.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The bookstore portion of the space features books on food and cooking–it’s easy to get lost in the space for hours.  There is also a small selection of interesting gift items on offer.  Overall the entire space is quiet and comfortable.

There were only a couple of people sharing the cafe when we visited, so we can’t say conclusively that the space would be comfortable when full.  Still, the cafe soundscape should be fine even when crowded, as it only seats 12.

Archestratus Books + Foods is highly recommended.

HOURS

Monday and Tuesday: Closed

Wednesday through Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Dinner is available Thursday evenings from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. Manhattan Avenue and Franklin Street), Brooklyn, NY 11222

WEBSITE

Archestratus Books + Foods

Han Dynasty (East Village) — 75.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The East Village location of Han Dynasty was less than half full when we arrived for lunch, but it quickly filled up and was at least half full by the time we left.  Overall we found the space merely tolerable, which raises concerns for the noise levels when the space is packed.  Han Dynasty has lots of hard surfaces with few few elements that could absorb sound, though unframed art work may have mitigated noise a hair.  Once again there was one overarching factor for the less than optimal soundscape: the music was too loud.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Yes, it could have been worse–our ears weren’t bleeding, after all–but we found the space to be  rather live, and the music (odd choices, by the way) just dominated the soundscape.  There were lots of work groups in the place and they were chatty, but their voices were manageable.  If the music were lowered a couple of notches, the space could have been comfortable.  It was, instead, merely tolerable, and that depended, more on less, on the song that was playing at any given time.

Han Dynasty offers very reasonable and tasty lunch specials.  If the place is packed and the music volume is as loud as it is at lunch, the noise level  probably will be intolerable.  That said, we tolerated the noise level during our visit, but wish it was better.  Why not aim for comfortable?  We suggest that you proceed with caution.

HOURS

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

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

LOCATION

Avenue (betw. 12th and 13th Streets), New York, NY 10003

WEBSITE

Han Dynasty–East Village

Govinda’s — 65.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Located on the bottom floor of the Hare Krishna Temple on Schemerhorn near Nevins, Govinda’s is not to be missed.  On the Temple’s website they extoll the virtues of Govinda’s, inviting the public to enjoy “great Vegetarian food at affordable prices and served to you in a peaceful stress free environment.”  And they delivered on what they had promised.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Govinda’s is located in a large meeting room.  A buffet style counter is set up by the entrance, to the space.  You wait in line, tell the server what you want, pay, and find a free seat at one of the large shared tables throughout the roomy space.  It feels like a church basement and not a restaurant for good reason, but this church basement restaurant is packed with believers and non-believers who enjoy a good vegetarian nosh.

Govinda’s features one entree that changes every day–eggplant parmagiana was offered when we visited–and a number of side dishes.  You pay for the number choices you want: two choices are $7, and a combo plate of eggplant Parm, string beans, cabbage and potatoes, and a very tasty slaw set us back $10.  A “complete meal,” which must feature everything, is only $12 and apparently is enough food for two people.  Free bread and unlimited water or orange lemonade (very good and refreshing) come with the meal.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

There were lots of coworkers (it’s located near city government buildings) or friends chatting as they ate during out visit, and music playing in the background, but it the soundscape was mostly comfortable.  The room was half full when we first entered but quickly filled up; it was nearly full by the time we left.  Because the space is roomy and there is a drop ceiling, the sound level was more than manageable.  The only thing that made the space less than perfect was the sitar music, which can be a bit trebly–if high-pitched sounds are your personal nemisis, you may want to avoid Govinda’s.  That said, the space is very comfortable and it’s easy to carry on a conversation here.

If you enjoy a good vegetarian meal in a fairly relaxed setting, you must stop by Govinda’s.  Note that Govinda’s is only open for lunch Monday through Friday, and it is cash only.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 12:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Closed Saturday and Sunday

LOCATION

305 Schermerhorn Street (betw. Nevins and Bond Streets), Brooklyn, NY 11217

WEBSITE

Govinda’s Vegetarian Lunch

 

Everyman Espresso (East Village) — 69.7 to 70.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We visited the East Village location of Everyman Espresso twice, and both times we found it to be a very relaxed space.  During our first visit on a Wednesday afternoon, most people were working on laptops, with just one chatty, but not particularly annoying couple engrossed in conversation nearby.  Music played softly in the background and was mostly fine, if unnecessary.

One thing we couldn’t help noticing was that the espresso machine was one of the quietest we’ve heard.  We suspect the reason for this is because it’s on the front counter, with the working bits facing the back wall.  In many coffee shops, the espresso machine is on a back or side counter facing the seating area.  In any event, the coffee-making noises were really manageable and they didn’t feel jarring or startling at all.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

On our second visit a week later, the place was nearly perfect.  The only thing we would change is to lower the background music, but the noise level is still very low compared to many places.   As before, the coffee machines were not a distraction, and the crowd was very relaxed.  If the background music were lowered or shut off, the space would be perfect.  But it’s nearly there and that’s pretty fabulous.

If you are looking for a comfortable spot in the East Village/Union Square area, Everyman Espresso should be on your short list.  There is plenty of seating and the place is pretty comfortable.  Throw in very good coffee and great service, and there’s no reason not to go.  Recommended.

HOURS

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

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

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

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

LOCATION

Street (betw. 3rd and 4th Avenues), New York, NY 10003

WEBSITE

Everyman Espresso

Seaport Smorgasburg — 82.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

As charmless as a typical mall food court, as annoying as the original Smorgasburg outdoor locations (though no strollers), the only reason to stop by the Seaport Smorgasburg is if you are a tourist, you are in the Seaport, and you are very hungry. The food is a bit better than typical food court offerings–and a bit pricier, too–but NYC has lots of these food courts now and they all seem to feature the same players.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

In the end, this location of Smorgasburg feels like it could be at any destination space in any big U.S. city.  There was unnecessary music playing a bit too loudly in the background, a constant mechanical hum, lots of hard surfaces, and lots of people.  It’s an uncomfortable space that is meant to get you in and out as quickly as possible.  Our reviews involve actually using the space as intended–i.e., ordering and eating a meal when reviewing a restaurant–so we ordered a few items and waited for them to be announced.  When they were, we went to the quietest spot we could find and ate as quickly as possible.  It was a relief to take the last bite and leave.

There is no reason to plan a visit to Seaport Smorgasburg unless you must (can’t think of why, but who knows?) or you step in to use the public restrooms.  If you are compelled to order food here, take it to go or eat very quickly.  One mitigating factor is booze.  You can buy some.  It may help.

HOURS

Sunday through Thursday: 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

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

Closed in winter

LOCATION

11 Fulton Street (betw. Water and Front Streets), New York, NY 10038

WEBSITE

Seaport Smorgasburg

Penelope — 77.7 decibels CLOSED

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Penelope offers “[h]eartwarming comfort food just like your mom used to make,” or so their website declares.  Well, perhaps we were lucky, because we recall eating far better in our youth.  What we found at Penelope was inoffensive food served in a “rustic” cafe that felt like it was designed by a successful if boring restaurant partnership.

The physical space was fine: unfinished wood floors, some tile.  At least the space wasn’t live, which was good, but what could have been a relaxing spot was not because the background music was too loud by two or three notches.  Loud and bland.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We tried the BBLT, a BLT with double the bacon, and found it  forgettable.  The french fries were meh.  The service was the best thing about the place–it was very good–and the coffee wasn’t bad.  But honestly, there is no compelling reason to eat here.

We wandered into Penelope looking for a relaxing lunch and we did not get it.  We don’t know dinner would fare, except it probably will be louder.  If you are in the neighborhood, are desperately hungry, and can’t find something acceptable nearby, lunch should be tolerable, barely, most days.  But if it’s this loud in a half-filled room at lunch, it must be intolerable when fully packed.  Proceed with caution.

HOURS

8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day

LOCATION

Avenue (at 30th Street), New York, NY 10016

WEBSITE

Penelope

Amber West Village — 75.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Amber West Village is part of a small New York City chain that focuses on Japanese and Asian cuisine (sushi plus Thai noodle dishes).  It wasn’t very crowded during our lunch time visit, but the background music was a little louder than it should have been and we could hear kitchen noises, including banter among the staff.  That said, we were surprised that the meter read 75.1 decibels because the space felt more comfortable than that.   We assume the decibel reading  was due, in part, to the large front windows, sealed brick wall, and tiled floor, but there were mitigating design features, such as the upholstered banquettes and a wall of unfinished wood, that kept the sound from ricocheting around the small space.  The hard surfaces were balanced with more forgiving materials, resulting in a reasonably manageable experience.

Overall, Amber is worth considering for lunch.  We’ve been told that dinner is usually tolerable, but there advertisements for evening and weekend happy hour events that could be much louder.  One nice touch: no electric hand dryer in the bathroom.

HOURS

Monday through Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

LOCATION

WEBSITE

Amber West Village