Tom & Jerry’s — 84.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Tom & Jerry’s looks like a fun place to meet friends for a drink.  Located on Elizabeth Street north of Houston, it’s right in the thick of things and yet it isn’t overwhelmed by car or human traffic.  But we wouldn’t suggest you meet your PETA buddies there–the righthand wall sports a number of taxidermied hunting trophies (click the photo above to see the stuffed bear on the righthand side).

We stopped by on the early side of happy hour for a quick drink before another engagement.  The bar’s space is physically comfortable (taxidermy excepted) and one could imagine aimlessly hanging out with friends, except for one glaring flaw: the music volume was set at 11.   Simply put, Tom & Jerry’s is entirely too loud.   A nearby table of workmates was shouting at each other just to be heard.  The shouting wasn’t the cause of our discomfort–and yes, we were not comfortable–it was the music.  Setting the music volume this loud makes absolutely no sense, because scoping the crowd it seemed clear that Tom & Jerry’s is the place you go to hang out with friends or work buddies, not hook up with a stranger (although later on the scene could be much different).

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We were terribly disappointed because we wanted to like Tom & Jerry’s, but a potentially comfortable spot was ruined by unnecessarily loud music.  It’s possible that the volume is manageable in the afternoon when the bar first opens and crowds have yet to gather.  Try your luck, if you wish.  As for us, we must recommend that you avoid.

HOURS

12:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. every day

LOCATION

Street (betw. E. Houston and Bleecker Streets), New York, NY 10012

WEBSITE

Tom and Jerry’s

Malatesta Trattoria — 88.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

What a disappointing visit.  We enjoyed the food and loved the look and layout of the space, but  Malatesta Trattoria is the single loudest restaurant that we have visited to date.  The design elements did not bear the brunt of the blame this time.  No, it was the combination of unnecessary background music, an open kitchen,  yelling staff, and overwhelming street noise that combined to make for one of the most unpleasant dining experiences we have ever had.

August 2016 will be remembered as a particularly uncomfortable, hot, and humid month; it was a real struggle slogging through the month.  Opening the windows may have seemed a sensible choice, particularly as Malatesta is located close to the Hudson River and the open windows invited in the occasional breeze.  But you know what also helps?  Air conditioning.  And under the circumstances–it was hot as hell and muggy to boot–air conditioning was called for.

There was some air conditioning or a strong fan going in the space, but the open windows meant the space was not going to approach cool.  And if the windows were closed, at least the traffic noise could have been kept out.  That said, if the windows were closed and the music was kept at the same volume, the experience might have been worse since glass is unforgiving.  So what could they do to mitigate the sound overload?

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

As usual, the simple act of shutting off the music that no one was listening to would have gone a long way to make the space more hospitable.   We could hear the other patrons screaming over the music but we could not hear the music clearly enough to “enjoy” it.  In short, it simply added a thick layer of unnecessary sound that brought no pleasure to anyone.  The only reason we didn’t run from the place was because the open windows kept the space from being live and, to be frank, it was too damn hot to contemplate finding another place for a nosh.

The physical space is charming and the food was lovely–we wanted to fall in love with Malatesta Trattoria.  Sadly, we could not, and must regretfully recommend that you avoid it.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (on the corner of Christopher Street), New York, NY 10014

WEBSITE

Malatesta Trattoria

 

High Street on Hudson — 81.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We normally avoid new or notable places because they tend towards the boisterous, but this NYC location of a Philly fave restaurant received nothing but raves, so we aimed for a Thursday lunch to avoid the evening crush.  When we arrived we saw that about half the tables were taken, but even with empty tables we were confronted with a wall of noise.  We braved on and managed to eat a rushed meal.

Reviews have mentioned that High Street breads are fabulous–and they are–and we loved our side order of Sicilian cauliflower.  That said, we won’t be back.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Why?  High Street was too loud from the get go despite being less than half full–ear plugs had to be deployed.   We can’t even contemplate how loud a packed house at night would be, which is a real shame because place is getting a lot of deserved buzz and the food was delicious.  But delicious food served in an echo chamber with music that is too loud and trebly simply is not enjoyable.  Even if the music were lowered it unclear if the space could be comfortable.  Once again, the typical design culprits were present–glass, glass, and more glass–and we could hear the people around us raising their voices to be heard.

High Street on Hudson has a take away counter.  Use it.

HOURS

Monday: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. | 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Tuesday: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Wednesday and Thursday: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. | 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. | 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. | 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. | 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Note: Hours are for summer; winter dinner hours will close an hour later

LOCATION

Street (at the corner of Horatio Street), New York, NY 10014

WEBSITE

High Street on Hudson

 

L’Express — 75.4 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

L’Express is a perfect example of when a restaurant with a reading of 75 decibels is so uncomfortable that we cannot recommend that you go there.  We raced through our meal when we visited on an early Sunday evening.  The culprit?  It was the music.  Sure the design elements could have been more forgiving, but the place was far less than half full–only three other tables were occupied–and there were maybe seven people at the bar.   A flat screen tv hovered over the bar, but we couldn’t hear it over the music, which was a forgettable mash of bland pop played too loud with an echo-y reverb that we felt as well as heard.  What purpose did it serve?  The other customers were speaking with their companions–no one was listening to the music.

Our meal at L’Express was fine, but we won’t return.  After all, if L’Express was this uncomfortable on an early Sunday evening, imagine how unpleasant it must be when it’s busy.  Avoid.

HOURS

Open 24 hours every day

LOCATION

(betw. 19th and 20th Streets), New York, NY 10003

WEBSITE

L’Express

Jefferson Market Garden — 74.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Jefferson Market Garden is similar to another of our favorite outdoor spaces, Jackson Square, in that it is an absolutely beautiful, well-tended, and well-loved park, but it suffers from its location.  Located on the site of a former women’s prison, the garden is bordered by 6th Avenue and Greenwich Avenue and is plagued with constant traffic, unrelenting horn honking, and never-ending construction noise of some sort or another.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Our visit was short.  It started off louder than it ended due to a utility truck that was idling very loudly nearby.  There’s a fire house about a block away, so loud sirens are common (one returning fire truck made its way back home during our visit), as are those purposefully loud motorcycles.  There wasn’t one silent moment, not a minute of calm during our visit.

That said, Jefferson Market Garden is still worth visiting.  The plantings are lovely, with bursts of color throughout, and fragrance has not been ignored.  We could smell the roses whenever a breeze swept through.   So come and enjoy the lush plantings and riot of color.  Just don’t expect a peaceful visit, because you won’t get it.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The garden is open when a member is present, which generally is not a problem during the season (April through November).  Some bench seating is provided but is often occupied as the garden is very popular.

HOURS

Tuesday through Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to dusk (from April through October), weather permitting

Closed Mondays

LOCATION

70 A Greenwich Avenue (betw. 6th Avenue and W. 10th Street), New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Jefferson Market Garden

Gotham West Market — 76.4 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We visited Gotham West, the “first-of-its-kind day & night market dining destination in Hell’s Kitchen,” on a not very busy Monday afternoon for a late lunch.  The space is an open floor plan with mostly shared seating that houses ten vendors selling better than average takeaway fare.  Gotham West Market essentially is a high-end food court.

We enjoyed our meal at The Cannibal.  While we were sitting at The Cannibal’s lunch counter and not the shared seating area, the reading should fairly represent the entire space as there were no walls or other barriers separating the various vendor spaces.  We were a bit surprised with the 76.4 decibel reading, as the sound level did not feel as loud as the reading might suggest.  We suspect the reason for the higher than expected reading was that every surface in the space is hard: glass, cement, metal, and tile.  Not a textile was to be found except for our napkins.  That said, the background music throughout the space was actually in the background, which certainly helps, as do the high ceilings.

While the noise level was acceptable during our visit, we suspect that on a very busy day the place could be excruciatingly loud.   When we chatted up a one of the workers, we were told that lunch hours later in the week and weekends, particularly around brunch, can be very crowded and very loud.  So aim for a visit earlier in the week or off hours.

HOURS

Hours vary according to the vendor, but one or more vendors should be available from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

LOCATION

600 11th Avenue (betw. 44th and 45th Streets), New York, NY 10036

WEBSITE

Gotham West Market

Lombardi’s Pizza — 80.5 decibels

Lombardi's

Lombardi’s

Lombardi’s claims to be America’s first pizzeria as well as the birthplace of New York style pizza.  It’s been going strong for over 100 years and is an established tourist destination, which explains the almost full main floor dining room during a midweek lunch service.

The restaurant’s design features mostly hard surfaces–tile floor, glass, metal–and they are unforgiving.  When completely packed, which is likely most evenings, the noise level must be unbearable as there is a full bar along one wall that must be jammed with people waiting for an available table.  And there are always people waiting for a table on nights and weekends.

If you are doing a pizza history tour and absolutely must visit Lombardi’s Pizza, go during off hours and hope for the best.  Otherwise, bring your ear plugs or avoid.

HOURS

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

Friday and Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

LOCATION

Street (at the corner of Mott Street), New York, NY 10012

WEBSITE

Lombardi’s Pizza

City Winery (the Barrel Room) — 83.7 decibels

City Winery Barrel Room

City Winery Barrel Room

It was a Monday night.  The restaurant was less than half full.  And the decibel reading averaged 83.7 decibels over one hour, twelve minutes, and 48 seconds.

City Winery has two restaurants: one is in a performance space and the other (the “Barrel Room”) is a restaurant/bar in an adjoining building.  We had our meal in the Barrel Room, the restaurant sans performance space.   But you wouldn’t have known that by the meter reading, as the space was really really loud.  We repeat:  83.7 decibels.  On a Monday night.  With more than half the tables empty.

There was absolutely no reason for the place to be this loud.  Avoid.

HOURS

Sunday and Monday: 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. | 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. (bar closes at 11:00 p.m.)

Tuesday through Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. | 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. (bar closes at 12:00 a.m.)

Saturday: 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. (bar closes at 12:00 a.m.)

LOCATION

Street (betw. Spring and Vandam Streets), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

City Winery | New York City

Jackson Square Park — 73.3 decibels

20160321_120717_resizedThis pretty little square is actually a triangle that bisects 13th Street and is bordered by 8th Avenue to the east, Greenwich Avenue to the west, and Horatio Street to the south.  It’s an adorable space that is sadly marred by street noise–loud idling trucks, honking taxis, and impatient drivers.  The trees and shrubs can only block so much noise, but it’s a losing battle as there is constant frenzied traffic around the square, at least during the week.

And so, in the end, Jackson Square Park is merely tolerable for a quick respite.  This is a damn shame, as it is clear that the park is well loved by area denizens who thoughtfully and tastefully decorate the park for holidays and otherwise keep it in tiptop shape.

Jackson Square

Jackson Square

That said, the reading was taken around noon on a busy Friday.  As we recall, the pace is a bit less frantic on the weekends–we will go back to take a reading on a future weekend to confirm.  For now, if the weather is nice,  traffic isn’t hellish, and you are looking for a place to rest your feet in the West Village, check out Jackson Square Park.  It really is a pretty green space.

HOURS

Dawn to 10:00 p.m. every day

LOCATION

At the conflux of 8th Avenue, Greenwich Avenue, and Horatio Street, New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Jackson Square Alliance

Kings Kitchen — 81.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

In a word, no.  The kitchen noises, yelling waitstaff, and constant clatter from dishes coming into contact with hard surfaces made for an uncomfortable experience.  There were occasional pockets of relative calm during our visit, but they were dwarfed by the general cacophony.   We came for an early bird dinner on a Sunday evening specifically to avoid a crowd.  Our timing was right–the place wasn’t packed during our visit, but it was busy.  That said, 81.2 decibels for a busy but not full restaurant does not augur well.  It was plainly obvious to us that a packed restaurant would be intolerable.

The reason to go to Kings Kitchen isn’t for the decor or the atmosphere, it’s for good food that is reasonably priced.   But good food, reasonable prices, and attentive waitstaff could not compensate for the noise.  It simply was intolerable.

If you are in Chinatown looking for a nosh and see that Kings Kitchen is empty, you could take a chance and go in for a quick meal.   Otherwise, the only safe option is take away.

HOURS

6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day

LOCATION

92 E. Broadway (betw. Eldridge and Pike Streets), New York, NY 10002

WEBSITE

No website