French Louie — 70.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

French Louie was busier on a Tuesday lunch than one might expect for a restaurant on Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. It was more than half full when we arrived, and there was turnover during our visit.  Because we visited on the first really warm day of the year, it was no surprise that the back garden was open and mostly occupied.

We noticed that the front of the house, where the bar and a small dining area are located, was noisier than the back dining room where we sat. The bar runs the length of the front of French Louie.  It is flanked by a narrow dining area with smaller tables sharing a long banquette.  The dining space in the back is wider with more banquettes and some larger tables; it seats at least 20.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

There is a glass wall at end on the indoor space, with French doors leading to garden.  Music was playing during our visit.  The volume  in the back dining area was fine, but the music was louder in the front by the bar.  Overall, the soundscape was perfectly fine for lunch.

That said, busier times will be louder, particularly during brunch or dinner as people are more likely to drink and in our experience people + booze = noise.  But since there is a nice-sized back garden, there should always be a relatively calm space available.  Among other things, the garden shares a fence with abutting residential properties.  That alone suggests the garden space will not be uncomfortably loud, lest the restaurant wants to incur the wrath of its neighbors.

We can recommend French Louie for lunch and feel fairly confident that a quiet option should be available during the milder weather months.  Busier times will be louder, but they should be tolerable.  If the indoor space is too loud for your tastes, ask for a garden table and enjoy the very good food and excellent service.

HOURS

Monday through Thursday: 11:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Three course prix fixe menu offered Monday evenings along with regular menu

LOCATION

320 Atlantic Avenue (betw. Smith and Hoyt Streets), Brooklyn, NY 11201

WEBSITE

French Louie

Local & Vine — 76.5 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We stopped by Local & Vine for happy hour one Tuesday evening.  Local & Vine is located in Hudson Square, the real estate branded neighborhood that also could be called West Soho or South West Village. The area is pretty quiet in the evening after the nearby office buildings empty.

Local & Vine wasn’t full when we arrived, but it slowly filled up. There was music was playing in the background throughout our visit.  It wasn’t overpowering, just a hair louder than we would have liked.  Despite all the hard surfaces, including a lot of glass, the space didn’t feel that live, and we were able to carry on a conversation comfortably throughout our visit.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Overall, we have to say that the soundscape was perfectly fine for a bar.  And the lighting was just right–dim but not dark.  Local & Vine offers ten or twelve small plates that you can order with your drinks.  We tried a couple nosh options and thought they were just ok.  But very reasonably priced happy hour specials featuring three two-for-one options (wine, beer, and mimosas) made up for the middling munchies.

If you are looking for a place downtown to hang with your friends, Local & Vine should be on your short list. It’s a relaxed spot and you can actually have a conversation without screaming.  It would also be a great first date venue.   Recommended.

HOURS

Monday: 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

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

Wednesday: 12:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. | 4:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Thursday and Friday: 12:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. | 4:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Saturday: 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Sunday: 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

LOCATION

(at the corner of Dominick Street), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

Local & Vine

A&E Supply Co. — 78.4 decibels CLOSED

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

A & E Supply Co. is a hipster rbutcher shop/estaurant/bar in Gowanus, Brooklyn. It’s an attractive spot, with a “butcher shop” (i.e., small display of meat for sale) by the front door and a large open dining area with an open kitchen at the end.  A bar runs half the length of the space, and there is no separation between the bar and dining space.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We stopped by at lunch and were joined by maybe three people sitting silently at their tables.  All were staring at their laptops, but we noted that two were sporting headphones. That is almost always a bad sign, because it suggests that they couldn’t concentrate on their work because of the soundscape.  And neither could we.

A & E Supply is a very live space with lots of glass, metal, and tile.  It’s almost as if someone handed the designer a brief that asked for a space that would reflect every sound. The end result is that we were seated in an attractive space marred by its soundscape, and once again the music volume was a big factor–it was entirely too loud.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We raced through our meal to get out as quickly as possible.  Something that wasn’t difficult given that our order–a decent if overpriced sandwich–was definitely on the small side.   A small roast beef sandwich for $9, with no sides or garnish.  Someone should remind the owners that they are located in Gowanus, not TriBeCa.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

More importantly, the noise level simply wasn’t tolerable.  Yes the space felt pretty live, but the decibel reading was absolutely attributable to the music volume and the staff shouting over it–and yes, the staff was yelling at each other to be heard. If it’s this loud during a mostly empty lunch service, dinner must be horrific.  Which is a shame, because it is an attractive space and the food was tasty if less than filing.  We suggest that you avoid.

HOURS

Closed Mondays

Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday: 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Friday and Saturday: 7:00 a.m. through 2:00 a.m.

Kitchen stops at 10:00 pm. during the week, 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday

LOCATION

(at the corner of 15th Street), Brooklyn, NY 11215

WEBSITE

A & E Supply Co.

Rosa Mexicano (Lincoln Center) — 79.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We went to the Rosa Mexicano located just across the street from Lincoln Center to meet up with friends who were attending a midday performance.  The space began to fill up as the other patrons streamed in to what is one of the larger restaurants nearest to the Center.

As soon as we walked in we knew that the space was going to be live, as there was a large expanse of glass in the front of the space on both levels.  Fortunately there were curtains and a textile floor covering, but it didn’t appear that the textiles helped to absorb much of the sound.

We were seated on the second level.  It was fairly noisy, with the main source of the noise  coming from the other guests.  This is one of the few times that the noise was primarily due to voices rather than music.  In fact, we weren’t even certain if music was playing.  If it was, we couldn’t hear it because of the chatter.  We suspect that the second floor is louder than the first floor, most probably because the chatter from the first floor was wafting up and adding to the chatter on the second.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Rosa Mexicano was fairly crowded but not packed during our lunch visit.  We think the combination of the hard surfaces and the lack of a barrier between the two floors made the second floor hard to tolerate. The space simply wasn’t pleasant, and we would advise that you proceed with caution. There aren’t many options that are as close to Lincoln Center, so either plan to eat a little farther away or pack a pair of ear plugs.

HOURS

Sunday and Monday: 11:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

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

LOCATION

Avenue (betw. 62nd and 63rd Streets), New York, NY 10028

WEBSITE

Rosa Mexicano/Lincoln Center

Hudson Diner — 73.4 decibels CLOSED

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We stopped by the Hudson Diner in the West Village for brunch one Saturday.  The Hudson Diner is a friendly neighborhood place, a favorite of nearby residents, many of whom are regulars. It offers basic American diner standards–a safe bet for burgers, breakfasts, and sandwiches–but its voluminous menu also offers Greek specialties, salads, seafood, chops, and pasta dishes.

The place was fairly crowded during our visit, but the soundscape wasn’t bad at all.  There was music playing in the background but the volume was so low that you could barely hear it.  Chatter predominated, with the sounds of the staff shouting orders to the short order cooks standing out.  Still, for a place that is bustling–and there was a lot of turnover–73.4 decibels is very respectable, particularly at brunch.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Hudson Diner has plenty of seating, so there generally isn’t a wait even during the height of brunch.  It’s worth checking out if you want something quick and relatively inexpensive in the West Village.

HOURS

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

LOCATION

Street (betw. Barrow and Grove Streets), New York, NY 10014

WEBSITE

Hudson Diner

Maggie Reilly’s — 72.7 to 73.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Located at the point where upper Chelsea meets Hudson Yards, Maggie Reilly’s is a cosy spot in a restaurant-poor part of town.  There aren’t a lot of options in the area because it is right across the street from the Hudson Yards construction site,  a multi-block project that is in the process of being developed into a mixed used area of large commercial and residential buildings.

We visited Maggie Reilly’s twice.  Our first visit was during a not very crowded brunch, so we realized that it might not be the best measure of the place. There is a bar in the front of the house that is surely loud and boisterous at happy hour or when there is an important game playing on one of many flat screen tvs, but the back dining room is a smaller and quieter space.

The dining area floors are lightly finished wood, and there is an upholstered panel running along the length of the room–there weren’t many hard surfaces. Unnecessary but interesting music was playing a hair louder than we like during our visit, but it wasn’t blaring. One of us finished off a tasty full Irish breakfast, while the other enjoyed a salad. The coffee tasted like it was freeze-dried and not brewed, but it’s a bar not a coffee shop. The staff was friendly and, except for the music, we were happy with our visit.

On our second visit we again were in the back dining room, but this time we came for a mid-week lunch.  Once again we enjoyed our visit but there was one glaring drawback–the music volume was too loud and trebly.  It was a real shame, because the music only served to make an otherwise comfortable space merely manageable.  What made it worse was that, unlike our brunch visit, the music was bland, generic, modern-day bubblegum pop.  Absolutely forgettable and totally unnecessary.  That aside, we enjoyed our very tasty burgers.

Based on our two experiences, we think lunch and brunch at Maggie Reilly’s should always be fine unless there is a big important game or some other event playing on the multiple tvs.  The noise level at dinner will depend on the day, with a greater likelihood that the space will be relaxed earlier in the week. Happy hour, especially later in the week, should probably be avoided, as the place is pretty popular and Maggie Reilly’s offers a special of a sandwich or burger plus a beer for $10 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m.

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

Kitchen open daily 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. | Saturday and Sunday brunch served until 4:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Avenue (betw. 29th and 30th Streets), New York, NY 10001

WEBSITE

Maggie Reilly’s

Wasan — 64.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We stopped by Wasan for a Monday lunch and found it surprisingly busy.  Perhaps it shouldn’t have been surprising, as this small space was perfectly comfortable–despite one boomy and animated customer who spoke nonstop.  Jazz played softly in the background throughout our lunch, and the other guests either tuned in to their laptops or chatted very softly to each other. The soundscape was exactly what we like. Not silent, but the sound from chatter and music was in the background and wafted around, never dominating or intruding into our space.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

There is a large window in the front of the restaurant, but fabric drapes the bottom half and a heavy curtain hangs by the front door.  No doubt the drapery helped absorb sound. The seats have fabric covers and that may have helped too. Mostly, the space works because the atmosphere is serene and most people respect it by speaking softly.

At least half the tables were taken during our visit, so even if full the space should be at least tolerable.  Wasan offers lunch specials, including fabulous bento boxes.  We really enjoyed our meal and highly recommend a visit.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. | 6:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (at 5th Avenue), Brooklyn, NY 11217

WEBSITE

Wasan-NY

 

 

Trestle on Tenth — 75.3 decibels CLOSED

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Trestle on Tenth offers Swiss cuisine in the upper reaches of Chelsea.  We visited Trestle on a Saturday for brunch.  On entering we noticed that the music was a bit louder than necessary, but as the place filled up–and just about every seat was taken by the time we left–the volume was either lowered or it assumed its rightful place in the background. Whatever the reason, the music level was fine after the first few minutes.

An unsealed brick wall and unfinished wood floor may have mitigated the sound reflection otherwise caused by the large expanse of glass at the front of the space.  We were unsure whether the slatted wood ceiling also helped.  One thing was clear–the space didn’t feel live even though there were few elements to absorb sound.  In fact, we  found the soundscape to be at least tolerable and sometimes approaching comfortable.

Overall we were happy with the sound level at Trestle onf Tenth.  While it wasn’t quiet, no one should expect quiet at a popular restaurant during a usually busy time.  In fact, for a fully packed spot at brunch, we were very happy with our visit.  It didn’t hurt that Trestle offers really tasty, filing breakfast dishes.  We recommend a visit.

HOURS

Sunday and Monday: 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Tuesday through Thursday: 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

LOCATION

(at the corner of 24th Street), New York, NY 10001

WEBSITE

Trestle on Tenth

 

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)

Annam Brahma – 63.4 to 63.6 decibels

Photo credit: Jeanine Botta

By Jeanine Botta

I discovered Annam Brahma years ago while walking through Queens, searching for a cold drink on a hot day.  I’ve returned dozens of times since, alone, with family, and with friends, and I’ve ordered food for large and small parties from the catering menu.  Others find the restaurant through reviews or word of mouth or in vegetarian restaurant guides.  One of four restaurants in Queens run by students of the late Sri Chinmoy, an artist, poet, and spiritual teacher who encouraged vegetarian diet, meditation, and fitness, Annam Brahma attracts diners from all over the world.

On a recent visit, I placed an order of soup, salad, and appetizers for a party of eight from the catering menu and also ordered a small meal. My meal began with a cup of ginger and honey tea selected from a drink menu, followed by a cup of dal, a savory lentil soup that is very popular.  I also ordered a samosa, a potato filled pastry, and bhajiia, a lightly spiced fritter, both served with chutney.

Annam Brahma serves vegetarian and vegan Indian cuisine, but it also features vegetarian Chinese, Italian, and American options on certain days.  The restaurant has long featured an international smorgasbord on Sundays, but at the time of this writing the website states that the Sunday smorgasbord is not available. The menu includes Indian breads, desserts, coffees and teas, as well as omelettes, sandwiches, and a delicious selection of vegetarian burgers.

Annam Brahma is quiet enough to lose oneself in a book in a cozy corner or to chat with companions easily without straining to hear or be heard. There is subtle instrumental music playing in the background, but it is never loud or distracting. The dining room is decorated with Sri Chinmoy’s paintings and other artwork (greeting cards featuring Chinmoy’s art, displayed along one wall, are available for purchase). The space is soothing and visually appealing, open and airy with a distinct rustic charm.

To reach Annam Brahma by subway, take the Jamaica-bound F train to Parsons Boulevard, walk up the hill along the two-lane boulevard, turn right on 85th Avenue, and walk five blocks to 164th Street.  Alternatively, you can take the 65 bus from the Parsons Boulevard F train station, but it might be worth skipping the wait for a bus and walking.  If traveling by car, Annam Brahma is four blocks east of the Grand Central Parkway, and street parking is available. The surrounding Jamaica Hills neighborhood is safe, friendly, and walkable.

Annam Brahma is cash only.

HOURS

Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday through Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Wednesday: 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (near 85th Avenue), Jamaica, Queens, NY 11432

WEBSITE

Annam Brahma