Duke’s (Murray Hill) — 79.3 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Yes, we went to Duke’s in Murray Hill for lunch on purpose.  What were we thinking? In our defense, we were very hungry and entered Duke’s dripping with trepidation. On entering it was immediately clear that the decor was as loud and as the soundscape, but we were hungry, it was there, and our attempt to get a seat at nearby Sarge’s Deli, our first option, was thwarted when no one could be bothered to show us to a table.  Yes, we knew what we were getting into from the get go, but hunger won over common sense–and despite everything, we wanted to believe that we might be pleasantly surprised.  Unsurprisingly, our visit was far from pleasant.

Just four flat screen tvs over the bar?

If you look at the photos, you’ll see at least seven flat screen tvs.  There are more, of course.  All tuned to sports or cable news channels.  If an important game was playing on the tvs, there would, no doubt, have been screaming.  But there wasn’t, thank goodness, because that would have made the loud space even louder.  Mind you, there was no one noise source that stood out. It was the whole package–this sparsely populated space clocked in at 79.3 decibels and it was clear that there was nowhere to go but up.

So how was our meal? The food at Duke’s is ok for what it is, but face facts, no one really comes here for the food. It feels like a frat bar–all beers and burgers (though it is allegedly”southern,” hence food items called “The Old Kentucky Club” and “Billy Bob’s BBQ’D Brisket Sliders”). For people who like this sort of thing–drinking in a crowded bar, watching a game, and screaming at a large flat screen tv–this is the sort of thing they like.  And they should be happy to know that there are plenty of options as to where to direct their screams.

No worries, there are three larger tvs on the opposite wall!

We’re sure that Duke’s is absolutely intolerable at happy hour, late week evenings, and during their “boozy Brunch.” We could barely tolerate it at a fairly empty lunch. The only saving grace were the wait staff, who couldn’t have been lovelier.  Still, that’s hardly a reason to trek to Duke’s.  In short, there is absolutely no reason to go there unless you like to get drunk while watching sports in an uncomfortably loud space. In a word, avoid.

HOURS

Monday through Wednesday: 12:00 pm. to 1:00 a.m.

Thursday through Saturday: 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Sunday: 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Last call for food is two hours before closing

LOCATION

(betw. 37th and 38th Streets), New York, NY 10016

WEBSITE

Duke’s (Murray Hill)

 

Duke’s (Murray Hill) — 79.3 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Yes, we went to Duke’s in Murray Hill for lunch on purpose.  What were we thinking? In our defense, we were very hungry and entered Duke’s dripping with trepidation. On entering it was immediately clear that the decor was as loud and as the soundscape, but we were hungry, it was there, and our attempt to get a seat at nearby Sarge’s Deli, our first option, was thwarted when no one could be bothered to show us to a table.  Yes, we knew what we were getting into from the get go, but hunger won over common sense–and despite everything, we wanted to believe that we might be pleasantly surprised.  Unsurprisingly, our visit was far from pleasant.

Just four flat screen tvs over the bar?

If you look at the photos, you’ll see at least seven flat screen tvs.  There are more, of course.  All tuned to sports or cable news channels.  If an important game was playing on the tvs, there would, no doubt, have been screaming.  But there wasn’t, thank goodness, because that would have made the loud space even louder.  Mind you, there was no one noise source that stood out. It was the whole package–this sparsely populated space clocked in at 79.3 decibels and it was clear that there was nowhere to go but up.

So how was our meal? The food at Duke’s is ok for what it is, but face facts, no one really comes here for the food. It feels like a frat bar–all beers and burgers (though it is allegedly”southern,” hence food items called “The Old Kentucky Club” and “Billy Bob’s BBQ’D Brisket Sliders”). For people who like this sort of thing–drinking in a crowded bar, watching a game, and screaming at a large flat screen tv–this is the sort of thing they like.  And they should be happy to know that there are plenty of options as to where to direct their screams.

No worries, there are three larger tvs on the opposite wall!

We’re sure that Duke’s is absolutely intolerable at happy hour, late week evenings, and during their “boozy Brunch.” We could barely tolerate it at a fairly empty lunch. The only saving grace were the wait staff, who couldn’t have been lovelier.  Still, that’s hardly a reason to trek to Duke’s.  In short, there is absolutely no reason to go there unless you like to get drunk while watching sports in an uncomfortably loud space. In a word, avoid.

HOURS

Monday through Wednesday: 12:00 pm. to 1:00 a.m.

Thursday through Saturday: 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Sunday: 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Last call for food is two hours before closing

LOCATION

(betw. 37th and 38th Streets), New York, NY 10016

WEBSITE

Duke’s (Murray Hill)

Sons of Thunder — 75.1 to 76.3 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

With a name like Sons of Thunder one wouldn’t expect to find a pocket of quiet, and one would be right.  Sons of Thunder is located in that unnamed stretch of the city by the Queens Midtown Tunnel exits, bordered by Murray Hill to the west and Turtle Bay to the north.  We found the  noise level to be tolerable–barely–but think it’s worth a visit for their take on poke, a Hawaiian raw fish salad that they serve over steamed rice or tortilla chips.  We really enjoyed the poke over steamed rice–it was fresh, delicious, and a fairly healthy meal.   They also offer chili and hotdogs, french fries, and shakes.  It’s an odd menu, but the crowds prove that it works.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The noise level of the space varied depending on where you were at any given time.   There was  loud music blaring in the  back dining room, thanks to a large speaker mounted by the entrance to the space.  Most of surfaces in the dining space were hard, except for some  fabric covered panels mounted on the back wall.  The panels must have absorbed some sound, because despite all the hard surfaces, the blaring music, and a nearby table of six chatty and loud co-workers seated near us, we were able to tolerate the noise level.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We followed our first review with a very short second visit a week later.  That visit clocked in at 75.1 decibels.  This time we focused on the hot dog options, which did not disappoint.  What was disappointing was the unnecessarily loud music in the dining area.   Despite the lower decibel reading during this visit, we believe the music was louder during this second visit than the first but there were fewer fellow patrons as we visited shortly after Sons of Thunder opened and before the crowds descended.  Because the space has a lot of unforgiving hard surfaces, it will never be pleasant.  But if the music volume was reduced just a few notches, the space would have been fine.  As it was, it was merely tolerable.

Sons of Thunder is not a place for lingering.  To be frank, if it didn’t serve really good food in a in a park of the city not known for its food scene, we wouldn’t have bothered reviewing it.  To be safe, aim for off-peak hours.  Avoid if crowded.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Closed Sunday

LOCATION

Street (betw. 37th and 38th Streets), New York, NY 10016

WEBSITE

Sons of Thunder

The Ginger Man — 71 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The Ginger Man is best characterized as a bar with food rather than a restaurant with drinks.  Beer is the focus here, and for the beer lover The Ginger Man must be nirvana.  We counted at least 50 beers and ciders on tap, and at least as many available in bottles.   The long bar and seating areas are meant for some serious drinking, and we suspect that happy hour is fairly raucous.

Fortunately, our visit was at lunch time.  We were in that part of town where Murray Hill meets a number of loosely named neighborhoods and needed a quick nosh.  Our visit, therefore, cannot be used as a fair measure of what the space would be like during a crowded happy hour, because, among other things, it appeared that only a few customers were drinking.  That said, the background music was a bit louder than we would have liked, but earlier that day it was announced that David Bowie had died and The Ginger Man, like most other venues in the city, was playing his music to honor his memory.  We will have to return to see what the volume is like on a typical day.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We were seated in the front dining area and it wasn’t crowded, so we could easily manage the music volume.   No doubt this was due, at least in part, to the design of the space.  Although there was a large glass window in the front, the unfinished wood floor had a couple of large wool rugs strewn about.  There also were a few upholstered arm chairs and leather sofas, and several fabric cushions placed around the space.  The wood, rugs, and fabric all help to absorb sound and keep it from resounding.  It also made the space feel comfortable, like a cross between a pub and a gentlemen’s club.

We wouldn’t go out of our way to have a meal at The Ginger Man, as the food was just adequate pub grub.  This is, as noted, a place meant for drinking.   That said, the front area, if packed, would probably be difficult to tolerate.   We assume that happy hours and evenings later in the week may be difficult to bear.  But the hours are long and there are, no doubt, periods when the place is not crowded.  Aim for those times, and you should be able to comfortably drink your beer(s) of choice.

There also is a small room in the back of the space, near the restrooms, that seems much quieter.  This small room is carpeted with upholstered sofas.  There is a bar opposite the room, but it appears to be used as staging for staff.  If the front bar is too loud, check out the back room.

HOURS

Monday through Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 a.m.

Saturday: 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.

Sunday: 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.

LOCATION

reet (betw. Madison and 5th Avenues), New York, NY 11016

WEBSITE

The Ginger Man

Keko Cafe — 70.7 decibels CLOSED

Keko Cafe is a restaurant/coffee shop featuring breakfast all day, sandwiches, and Tunisian couscous and salads.   It was absolutely serene for the first ten minutes of our visit, with the sound meter hovering around 67 decibels.  The reading was impressive given that the cafe occupies a small space and was about half full.  Then, sadly, someone turned on the background music.  The volume wasn’t that loud, but the selection had an urgency that didn’t jibe with what had been a peaceful Friday morning.  We could have asked to have them lower the music, but opted not to as we had stopped by for a quick coffee and our visit was going to be short.  That said, even with the background music the place was pretty comfortable.

Given the neighborhood, which is short on good, independent restaurants and coffee shops and long on national chains, Keko Cafe is probably your best shot for a civilized meal or coffee break (and the coffee was good).

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 9:00 a.m. to 7:45 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

LOCATION

WEBSITE

Keko Cafe