Ost Cafe — 67.5 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Ost Cafe is a very nice little coffee shop offering coffee, tea, and sweet treats.  It’s located on the very edge of the Lower East Side where it meets Two Bridges.  This part of the Lower East Side hasn’t been over-developed yet; many of the nearby stores still have signs written in Hebrew.

Music played quietly in the background during our visit–mostly jazz instrumentals, no voices–and there were only four other patrons working silently on their laptops.   So we were not surprised that the decibel reading was under 70.  Other than the four laptoppers, a couple of people stopped by for a coffee to go, waiting quietly until their drinks were served.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Overall, we had a very pleasant visit to Ost Cafe.  It was very nearly perfect except for one thing– the front door was open to the street.   We assume the door was open because it was a mild late spring afternoon and the space was cooled by the gentle breeze.  Presumably the door is shut during the dog days of summer and in the winter, so street noise should not be a problem most of the year.  But street noise was an issue during our visit because several too-big-for-the-city semi-trailers were stopped outside the entrance, idling loudly as they waited for the green light.  The only other source of noise was the occasional buzz of the bean grinder.

Ost Cafe was very manageable even with the doors open.  It should be absolutely delightful in the height of the summer and winter.   We recommend that you visit.

HOURS

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

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

LOCATION

Street (betw. East Broadway and Henry Street), New York, NY 10002

WEBSITE

Ost Cafe

Black Cat LES — 69.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Black Cat LES is another nearly perfect coffee shop in the Lower East Side.  We really liked the feel of this space.  Yes, there was background music, but it was playing at the best possible volume.   If a restaurant, bar, or coffee shop insists on playing background music, Black Cat should be used as the example of how to play music comfortably.  We guess that on a range of one to ten the volume was set around two or three–high enough to be heard but not so high as to interfere with conversation.  It was perfect.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The design of the space feels organic, as if the owners added bits and pieces that they acquired over time.  It’s dotted with padded chairs and upholstered armchairs and sofas, which no doubt help to absorb sound.  Most of our fellow customers were glued to their laptops, but a few fellow patrons sat together and chatted, including a family of five with two young children.   One nearby customer was talking urgently to an unseen friend, but otherwise the room was fairly quiet.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Black Cat LES is what a bohemian coffee shop should be: a casually quirky space where conversation is easy.   Add in very good coffee–a latte with a double shot of espresso was fairly priced and delicious–and there is no reason not to visit.  If you live in this neighborhood, we just found your new neighborhood coffee shop.  You’re welcome.  The only black mark we could find was the jarringly loud electric hand dryer in the restroom, which appeared to be a used Xlerator slathered with red paint.  While not ideal, it did not mar an otherwise delightful visit.   Black Cat LES is definitely worth a visit.

HOURS

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

Saturday and Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. Clifton and Attorney Streets), New York, NY 10002

WEBSITE

Black Cat LES

 

Atlas Cafe — 67.9 decibels CLOSED

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Our visit to Atlas Cafe was almost perfect.  The background music not too loud though it seemed louder than necessary since the place was otherwise calm and quiet.  The laptop brigade was present, of course, so not a sound was to be heard as they focused on their screens and quietly drank their coffees, bless them.  This is a truly quiet space.  That said, within a second of shutting off our meter someone ran a very small dish washer that was located right behind the counter area.  It was annoying, but not horrible.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Atlas Cafe features very good bagels, but also offers paninis, salads, and coffee.  The bathroom was small and, um, aromatic (not in a good way), but they have paper towels instead of a loud and useless electric hand dryer, so there’s that.

If you need a quiet place to do your work, or you want to linger over a well-made coffee, stare quietly into the distance, and contemplate the world, come to  Atlas Cafe.  You will not be disappointed.

HOURS

Open daily 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. Rivington and Stanton Streets), New York, NY 10002

WEBSITE

Atlas Cafe

 

Ost Cafe — 67.5 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Ost Cafe is a very nice little coffee shop offering coffee, tea, and sweet treats.  It’s located on the very edge of the Lower East Side where it meets Two Bridges.  This part of the Lower East Side hasn’t been over-developed yet; many of the nearby stores still have signs written in Hebrew.

Music played quietly in the background during our visit–mostly jazz instrumentals, no voices–and there were only four other patrons working silently on their laptops.   So we were not surprised that the decibel reading was under 70.  Other than the four laptoppers, a couple of people stopped by for a coffee to go, waiting quietly until their drinks were served.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Overall, we had a very pleasant visit to Ost Cafe.  It was very nearly perfect except for one thing– the front door was open to the street.   We assume the door was open because it was a mild late spring afternoon and the space was cooled by the gentle breeze.  Presumably the door is shut during the dog days of summer and in the winter, so street noise should not be a problem most of the year.  But street noise was an issue during our visit because several too-big-for-the-city semi-trailers were stopped outside the entrance, idling loudly as they waited for the green light.  The only other source of noise was the occasional buzz of the bean grinder.

Ost Cafe was very manageable even with the doors open.  It should be absolutely delightful in the height of the summer and winter.   We recommend that you visit.

HOURS

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

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

LOCATION

Street (betw. East Broadway and Henry Street), New York, NY 10002

WEBSITE

Ost Cafe

Cafe Katja — 70.8 to 78.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We decided to check out Cafe Katja, an Austrian restaurant on the Lower East Side, for lunch.  During our visit the decibel meter initially hovered under 70 decibels, closer to 67 decibels.  No surprise, as only one other table that was occupied, and even though the windows were open, there wasn’t much street noise.  But then a party of approximately 20 teenaged girls walked in.  We expected the worst, but the space remained comfortable (it must be noted that the group was very well behaved and, while chatty, not that loud).  No doubt a different group may have resulted in a much different experience.

That said, even with the party of 20 the place was not quite half full and bar was empty, so the noise levels were very manageable.  This made it difficult to guesstimate what the noise level would be like at brunch or dinner.  There is a tin ceiling and large windows in the space, but wood floors and upholstered banquette seating compensate for the hard surfaces, and the space is broken up into distinct seating areas (bar, dining room, and side dining space) by the use of a column or other divider.  We can unequivocally state that for a Thursday lunch, the space was comfortable.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

To see how things panned out at dinner, we visited Cafe Katja again.  Our reading of 78.2 decibels shows the space was plainly louder, but it wasn’t as uncomfortable as the reading may suggest.  The culprit was the background music, which was too loud for the first 30 minutes of our visit.  You can imagine how happy we were when the music volume was lowered, because once the volume was adjusted the space was comfortable.

Our comfort level pre- and post-music lowering highlights an obvious problem seen (well, heard) at most restaurants, bars, and coffee shops.  Namely, background music generally encourages people to raise their voice to be heard over the music, which then encourages their neighbors to raise their voices to be heard over the music and the other speakers, and so on.  It’s a known phenomenon, see The Lombard Effect.

In any event, our dinner ended on a high (but not too loud) note.  We must point out that our visit was on the early side on a Saturday evening–the space may have been louder later that night.  That said, we would recommend a visit to Cafe Katja.  The space is very nice, the service is good, and the food is delicious.  Cafe Katja also has a nice selection of beers and very good coffee.  Keep in mind, however, that the menu is meat centric– there aren’t many options for vegetarians.

HOURS

Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. | 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Monday: 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Tuesday through Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. | 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. | 5:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. | 5:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. Grand and Broome Streets), New York, NY 10002

WEBSITE

Cafe Katja

 

Irving Farm Coffee Roasters — 77.6 decibels

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: quietcitymap

The decibel meter clocked in at 77.6 decibels, but we are not sure why.  While the space could have been quieter, the noise level didn’t seem quite that high.  As usual, the background music was louder than necessary, but the high ceilings must have made up for that.  There also is an almost hidden seating area in the basement that was serene.

A menu featuring breakfast options, sandwiches, and salads is offered through out the day.  If you are wandering around the Lower East Side and looking for a coffee or a nosh, Irving Farm is worth checking out.   If the first floor is too crowded or loud, head downstairs and enjoy the quiet.

HOURS

Monday through Thursday: 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Sunday: 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

LOCATION

88 Orchard Street (at the corner of Broome), NY, NY 10002

WEBSITE

Irving Farm Coffee Roasters

Round K Cafe — 71.5 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We loved the physical space of Round K Cafe, which was matched by great service and very nice coffee.  When you enter you will see a takeaway space in the front where you can order a beverage and a sweet or savory treat.  The takeaway space  is separated from seating in the back by not one but two sets of drapes, which helps to keep the noise from the espresso maker and takeaway chatter from entering the back seating area.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

During our visit the space was almost serene.  It would have been perfect except for one couple–they both were loud and they did not stop talking, even while they were eating.   When the male got up to use the restroom we noticed that our decibel meter, which continually averages the decibel reading, dropped by five points!  In fact, it was so quiet we could hear him flush and leave the restroom without the benefit of stopping at the sink to wash his obviously filthy hands.  Together again, they were insufferable (which was not the cafe’s fault at all, of course)

We only ordered a coffee and kept our visit short because of them, but note that there were other customers in the room who were quiet.  Some Sinatra played softly In the background, and we realized that if that one couple wasn’t there the space would have been perfect.  Which is why we intend to follow up this visit with another in the near future.

The website indicates that there may be events scheduled occasionally in the space, so you may want to check their schedule to avoid it (or join in).  Round K Cafe is cash only, so hit the ATM before you visit.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

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

LOCATION

reet (betw. Delancey and Broome Streets), New York, NY 10002

WEBSITE

Round K Cafe

Pies ‘n’ Thighs — 85.9 decibels CLOSED

85.9 decibels!

It is with sadness that we must advise that you avoid Pies ‘n’ Thighs. We came here once many months ago and had a lovely meal in a relatively quiet space, but we came early–10:00 a.m.–and the waiter lowered the music on his own without request!  Our most recent visit, however, was painful.  The counterman who greeted everyone as they entered was LOUD–someone get that guy a hearing test, stat!–as was the music and most of the other customers.  Add in the loud design troika (subway tiles, glass, and stainless steel) and an open kitchen and you are left with an unpleasant aural assault as you eat, which is a real shame because the fried chicken is great and the chicken biscuit is sublime.  Only enter if the place is empty or if you are buying for takeaway.

HOURS

Weekday: Breakfast/lunch 9:00 a.m. to 4:00p.m. | Dinner 5:00p.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Weekend: Brunch 10:00a.m. to 4:00p.m. | Dinner 5:00p.m. to 12:00a.m.

LOCATION

43 Canal Street (betw. Ludlow & Orchard), New York, NY 10002

WEBSITE

Pies ‘n’ Thighs