Doma Na Rohu — 73.6 decibels

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: quietcitymap

This German-Czech-Hungarian restaurant is relaxed at lunch, but can be busy–and loud–at brunch.  It clocked in at 73.6 decibels during a early autumn lunch.  The background music wasn’t too loud, and fellow diners were relatively quiet, but the front door was open allowing street noise from a very busy 7th Avenue to waft in.   Overall, the sound level was manageable but punctuated by the occasional impatient driver honking his or her horn or the sound of not so distant sirens.

Note that live music is on the menu for Wednesday and Saturday nights, usually spotlighting gypsy, swing, and jazz bands.  Given the size of the space, and the omnipresent background hum from street noise, it’s best to assume that Doma will be very loud to intolerable on live music nights–either avoid them or come with a very good set of ear plugs.  That said, things should be different on Mondays (Drawing Club) and Sundays (Game Night).  Drawing Club or Game Night participants get a 10% discount.

With cautions noted, Doma Na Rohu is worth checking out.  It offers good food that focuses on cured meats and cheeses (vegetarian options are offered), a nice selection of craft beers, and excellent coffee.

HOURS

Sunday through Wednesday: 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Thursday through Saturday: 9:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.

LOCATION

WEBSITE

Doma Na Rohu

Johny’s Luncheonette –73 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Johny’s Luncheonette is an authentic old-school luncheonette.   The narrow space has a long lunch counter lined with stools, two small tables in the back, and a wall mounted tv tuned to CNN (on very low volume, mercifully) hovering over a refrigerator holding cold drinks.  The prep space and grill is in full view, so you can watch your meal being made as you join the regulars at the counter and enjoy the very friendly vibe.

Almost every seat was taken during our visit, yet the place was comfortable.  The amiable owner (Johny, of course) chatted with chummy regulars as he prepared the orders, but it wasn’t too loud even with CNN playing in the background.  And this highlights an important point about restaurant comfortability in general: music or tv can play in the background in a smaller place without making the space uncomfortable as long as some restraint is shown with the volume.  At Johny’s, the tv was loud enough for someone to hear what was being reported, but not so loud that one could not read or have a conversation or just relax as they ate.

Johny’s offers breakfast and lunch all day long.  We loved the burgers, but questioned our choice when we saw the plate of perfect pancakes that were delivered to a customer near us.  The food is straightforward, simple diner fare done right.  And as an added bonus, a taste of old New York:  To access the bathroom, you have to walk through the small kitchen/dish washing space in the back, open a door into the hallway of the building’s residential space, and look for the tiny bathroom on the right.  It was a little more aromatic than we would like, but serviceable.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Located in the unnamed sliver that is squeezed between Chelsea and the Flat Iron District, Johny’s Luncheonette delivers good, basic, American diner classics.  It is definitely worth a visit.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. 6th and 7th), New York, NY 10001

WEBSITE

Johny’s Luncheonette

O’Hara’s Restaurant and Pub — 78.6 decibels

Can you see all the flat screen tvs?

Can you see all the flat screen tvs?

A reading of 78.6 decibels insured a harried lunch.  While the waitstaff were friendly and efficient, there is no compelling reason to eat here.  The space is designed for noise: mounted televisions set to CNBC, loud patrons, and absolutely unnecessary background music that featured lesser-known numbers by one-hit wonder 80’s bands.  Why?

If you are visiting the 9/11 memorial, or just dropped some dough at Century 21, suddenly find yourself ravenously hungry, and are a huge Survivor fan, this is your place.   For everyone else, avoid.  Food is barely adequate American bar fare (fried appetizers, burgers, wraps, etc.).

HOURS

Tuesday through Thursday: 11:00 am to 12:00 a.m.

Friday through Monday: 11:00 am to 2:00 a.m.

LOCATION

120 Cedar Street (betw. Greenwich Street and Trinity Place), NY, NY 10006

WEBSITE 

O’Hara’s Restaurant and Pub

Kinokuniya New York — 61 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Bliss.  Kinokuniya is a Japanese-based retailer selling books, magazines, and Japanese pens and stationery.  Those of you who love to try out new pens and pencils already know that Japanese stationery products are compelling, and Kinokuniya has an excellent selection that is unmatched in the city.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

That said, what makes the store so delightful is seeing the interesting array of products displayed in such a peaceful space.  Books and magazines are on the ground floor, stationery and novelties are in the basement. Give yourself some time to look around, because there is a lot more on display than you may first appreciate.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

This delightful store is located directly across from hectic Bryant park, a beautiful park marred by constant, jarring street noise.  Check out the park and then escape to Kinokuniya for some peace.

HOURS

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

Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

LOCATION

(betw. 40th and 41st Streets), New York, NY 10018

WEBSITE

Kinokuniya US

The Gardens at St. Luke in the Fields — 68.1 to 71.2 decibels

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: quietcitymap

The gardens at St. Luke in the Fields are a beautiful and peaceful hideaway in the West Village.  Narrow walkways meander through the gardens, and there are plenty of benches to accommodate visitors.  The gardens are rarely empty, but they are quiet. Signs are posted throughout asking visitors to refrain from cell phone use and visitors actually exercise self-control.  The noisiest section of the gardens is on the Barrow Street (south) side which gets more street noise; it registered at 71.2 decibels.  The quietest section is in the back (west side) of the garden, which registered at a peaceful 68.1 decibels.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to dusk

Sunday: 8:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m.

Close on holidays

LOCATION

487 Hudson Street (betw. Barrow and Christopher), New York, NY 10014

WEBSITE

The Gardens at St. Luke in the Fields

Delimarie — 70.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Delimarie is a low-cost option in that yet unnamed area where Tribeca meets City Hall and various state and federal government buildings.  It follows the standard lunch buffet model: grab a container, pick and choose among the hot and cold options, and pay by the pound.  But Delimarie is so much better than your average deli buffet place.

Deli buffets usually offer the same choices no matter where you go, and everything looks like it was made in the same offsite industrial kitchen.  Not so at Delimarie.  The entrees and vegetables looked fresher and were tastier; the salmon was moist and tasted of salmon, not some packaged sauce.  Like most delis, Delimarie also offers sandwiches to order, and like their buffet options, the sandwich options were more interesting than what you typically find on offer. More importantly, the long lines of customers waiting to order suggests that they are much better than the typical deli sandwich too.

As if that weren’t enough, Delimarie offers something that no other deli has: beignets.  And these are real beignets, made to order, that are almost as good as those you get in New Orleans (we believe there is a connection to that city).  We didn’t try them during our lunch time visit, but we had heard that they are excellent.  We did try the beignets at Delimarie’s West Village sister restaurant, Cafe Marie (a future review), and they did not disappoint.

Finally, Delimarie offers another option that most delis do not–a relatively quiet eating area that seats at least 25 (look for the stairs in the back of the space).  There was background music playing during our visit but the volume was low, and although every seat was taken, the chatter was more than manageable.  It wasn’t the prettiest space, but it served it’s purpose and it was clean.

If you are in the Tribeca/City Hall area and want an inexpensive, quick, and quiet nosh, head on over to Delimarie.  Just remember to save some room for the beignets!

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (but buffet closes at 4:00 p.m., sandwiches at 5:00 p.m.)

Closed Sundays

LOCATION

Street (betw. Broadway and Church Street), New York, NY 10007

WEBSITE

No website

David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center — 67 to 72.5 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We had previously stated that the public space at 575 5th Avenue (L’Oreal building) was our favorite publicly owned private space (POPS), but that was before we visited the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center.   Everything about this POPS is just right.  There is plenty of seating, with at least a dozen tables available to the public.  A ‘wichcraft offers  sandwiches and coffee (but you are not required to purchase from them and may bring in food from outside), and you can purchase tickets for Lincoln Center events.

The Atrium has a number of electrical outlets available throughout the space and free wifi; unsurprisingly, these amenities attract the laptop brigade.  This is almost always a very good indicator that a space is quiet, and it certainly is true here.   Additionally, there are two well-maintained restrooms in the Atrium and additional facilities on the second floor.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We visited the atrium on three occasions.  During our two weekday visits we found the space to be pretty serene, until, that is, a Lincoln Center promo came on a very large screeen.  Fortunately, the promo wasn’t terribly loud and only ran about a minute, but it is played every half hour or so.  The place was packed during a lunch time visit, yet it remained peaceful.  Background music played softly in the background, and while there were one or two noisy people on cell phones,  everyone else was well behaved.

Our weekend visit on a busy Sunday clocked in at 72.5 decibels.  Once again there was music was playing softly in the background (bossa nova) but the bass needed to be lowered a notch. There were fewer laptop workers and more couples or small groups chatting and having a nosh.  Still very pleasant, just a bit louder than during the work week.

The David Rubenstein Atrium is definitely worth visiting if you want a place to relax or to work remotely.  One caution: free performances are held in the space from time to time, but they generally are scheduled in the evening.  You can visit the website listed below and click on the “free weekly performances” link to get the current schedule.

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. Broadway and Columbus Avenue), New York, NY 11023

WEBSITE

David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center

Peter McManus Cafe — 65.3 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

What a pleasant surprise we had when we ducked into the Peter McManus Cafe, an Irish pub located in Chelsea, for a quick midweek lunch.   The pub, which was founded in 1932,  has been in its current location since 1936.   We can vouch that it looks like very little has been done to the interior since that time (which we think is a good thing).  The cafe has a bar in the front that is lined with stools, with a few tables and two or three flat screen tvs playing the game du jour.  In the back there is a dining room that is open to the bar area, but somewhat shielded from bar noise.

When we arrived all the tvs were on in the bar and dining room, but only one tv in the bar had the volume turned on.  This was not a problem at all, as it could easily be heard by the patrons sitting at the bar but was merely a background hum in the dining area, where we had our meal. With a decibel reading of 65.3, this was one of the most peaceful lunches we have had in a long time.

There is no question that the place was so quiet because is wasn’t crowded. In fact, the bar was only half full and the dining room was mostly empty.  That said, we think lunches generally should be comfortable, particularly in the dining space.  Our suspicion was confirmed by our friendly and efficient waitress who said that lunches tend to be quiet unless there was a big game on tv.  She noted that the space tends to be louder at dinner, but added that the jukebox in the front did not play in the dining area.   And no surprise, she confirmed that the place will be packed and noisy anytime there is a big game.

Peter McManus Cafe felt more like a pub with food than a restaurant, but they turned out a very freshly made and tasty club sandwich.  There are at least a dozen beers on tap and another dozen in bottles, plus an extensive list of whiskies from around the world.   More importantly, the place felt like a real neighborhood bar, and it was clear that the patrons lining the bar were regulars.

If you want to enjoy a beer and a burger in relative peace, head on over to the Peter McManus Cafe.   Neighborhood bars are a real rarity in Manhattan.  Enjoy this one while it’s still around (just don’t come during the Superbowl).

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 am.

Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.

LOCATION

WEBSITE

Peter McManus Cafe

Winston Churchill Square — 73.5 decibels

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Sir Winston Churchill Square is a little pocket of serenity in the sea of insanity that is the conflux of 6th Avenue and Carmine and Bleecker Streets.  The square is directly across from the much larger, and much louder, Father Demo Square, which is always crowded on mild days and overwhelmed by small children (and their minders) who flock to its fountain in the summer.  With the commotion going across the street, it is easy to miss Winston Churchill Square entirely, which explains why it is generally quiet(ish) and calm.

That said, our sound meter registered at 73.5 decibels during our visit to the square.  At first that seemed anomalous, because we have been to the square a number of times and it was always calmer.  But then we recalled that during the reading period a couple of purposely loud motorcycles passed by, increasing the overall reading by at least two or three points.  [Aside: Why do people like to make that much noise and why do cities tolerate them?]

In any event, the immediate space of the square is lovely but street noise does intrude.  If the city were to ban the toys of the desperately insecure (look at me!), the square would be almost perfect.  Almost perfect because outdoor spaces are always vulnerable to the sounds and smells of the city.  For example, on the August afternoon that we took our decibel reading there was the occasional whiff of eau d’New York City (stale urine).  It wasn’t overpowering or constant, just noticeable with the intermittent breeze.

Winston Churchill Square is heavily shaded by mature trees, which cools the space down by about ten degrees–a very good thing on hot and humid days.  But be sure to keep an eye out for the bench under the pigeons’ toilet (no worries, it’s easy to spot).

If you are in the West Village near Bleecker Street and 6th Avenue on a muggy summer afternoon, grab a treat from one of the nearby ice cream shops, walk past Father Demo Square, and head on over to Winston Churchill Square to enjoy the (relative) serenity.

HOURS

Dawn (generally 7:00-7:30 a.m.) to dusk

LOCATION

1 Downing Street (where Downing, Bleecker, and 6th Avenue meet), NY, NY 10014

WEBSITE

Winston Churchill Square

 

Terrior Tribeca — 85.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We wanted to love Terrior Tribeca but we love our hearing more.  Terrior is located on quiet cobblestone street in Tribeca.  We liked the feel of the space, the selection of wines, beers, and ciders is extensive, and the cheese board was lovely (though small for the price).  What’s not to love?  The noise.   We visited on a Monday night–not Friday or Saturday–and yes there were a fair number of people in the space, but Terrior Tribeca was surprisingly and disappointingly loud.   The usual suspects were present, of course: louder than necessary background music, hard surfaces, et cetera.   We had assumed that a wine bar might be a bit more subdued or relaxing than an ordinary bar.  We were wrong.

Terrior Tribeca is a great place for a glass of wine and a nosh, but only if you are prepared to wear a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.  If not, avoid.

HOURS

4:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. every day except Sunday (closes at 11:00 p.m.)

LOCATION

WEBSITE

Terrior Tribeca