Archestratus Books + Foods — 70.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Archestratus Books + Foods is a very calm space, even with unnecessary music playing in the background. It should be calm, as it is a cafe burrowed into the back of a bookstore.  There is a short menu offering a few savory and sweet treats during the day, and a selection of coffees and teas.  Service is friendly and relaxed.

Archestratus Books + Foods offers a well-liked dinner on Thursday nights.  We’ve never been, but given the rave dinner reviews on Yelp and other rating sites, it’s on our short list to try for this year.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The bookstore portion of the space features books on food and cooking–it’s easy to get lost in the space for hours.  There is also a small selection of interesting gift items on offer.  Overall the entire space is quiet and comfortable.

There were only a couple of people sharing the cafe when we visited, so we can’t say conclusively that the space would be comfortable when full.  Still, the cafe soundscape should be fine even when crowded, as it only seats 12.

Archestratus Books + Foods is highly recommended.

HOURS

Monday and Tuesday: Closed

Wednesday through Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Dinner is available Thursday evenings from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. Manhattan Avenue and Franklin Street), Brooklyn, NY 11222

WEBSITE

Archestratus Books + Foods

Amber West Village — 75.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Amber West Village is part of a small New York City chain that focuses on Japanese and Asian cuisine (sushi plus Thai noodle dishes).  It wasn’t very crowded during our lunch time visit, but the background music was a little louder than it should have been and we could hear kitchen noises, including banter among the staff.  That said, we were surprised that the meter read 75.1 decibels because the space felt more comfortable than that.   We assume the decibel reading  was due, in part, to the large front windows, sealed brick wall, and tiled floor, but there were mitigating design features, such as the upholstered banquettes and a wall of unfinished wood, that kept the sound from ricocheting around the small space.  The hard surfaces were balanced with more forgiving materials, resulting in a reasonably manageable experience.

Overall, Amber is worth considering for lunch.  We’ve been told that dinner is usually tolerable, but there advertisements for evening and weekend happy hour events that could be much louder.  One nice touch: no electric hand dryer in the bathroom.

HOURS

Monday through Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

LOCATION

WEBSITE

Amber West Village

Gorilla Coffee (Bergen Street) — 71.8 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The Bergen Street location of Gorilla Coffee was louder than it needed to be at the beginning of our visit on a Friday afternoon.  The culprit, as usual, was the music volume.  But shortly after we sat down the volume was lowered, immediately improving the space, and our experience went from tolerable to positively pleasant.

The place was pretty full during our visit, but most people were working on their laptops or chatting softly with their companions.  None of the parties was loud.  So this location of Gorilla coffee can be recommended, but whether the experience will be pleasant versus tolerable depends on the vagaries of whomever determines the music volume.  Right after we stopped the meter, the volume again increased.  We suspect the reason for the leap in volume was that the counterperson liked the song, because once the song was over, the volume was reduced to the previous setting.

Expect a tolerable experience, with the possibility of comfort, at the Bergen Street location of Gorilla Coffee.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. Flatbush and 5th Avenues), Brooklyn, NY 11217

WEBSITE

Gorilla Coffee

 

Underline Coffee — 75.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Underline Coffee is located by the 20th Street entrance to the High Line in West Chelsea.  The attractive space was busy during our early afternoon visit.  While the crowd was mostly quiet, once again we were assaulted by music that was too loud.  There were the usual coffee-making sounds, but they weren’t that bad.  No, it was just the music.  Had the volume been lowered one or two notches, the space could have been comfortable.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Still, there aren’t many other options in the immediate location, and the coffee was good, so you could do worse.  With luck, perhaps whoever is working that day may show some restraint.  The noise level wasn’t awful, but that shouldn’t be the measure.  Underline Coffee is tolerable, but it could be far more.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (close at 6:00 p.m. in winter)

Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. 10th and 11th Avenues), New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Underline Coffee

 

Telegraphe Cafe — 75.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Telegraph Cafe was fairly busy during our visit, but despite being completely full it was comfortable.  It’s a small space with a handful of tightly packed tables to the right of the entrance and stools lining the counter and the front windows.  Despite having a large glassed front, the sound level was manageable.  We assume that window shades, which had been drawn halfway down, helped to absorb or deflect the sound.

Music was playing during part of visit, but the volume was low so it didn’t add much to the soundscape.  All told, given how crowded the space was, we were quite happy with the sound level and would gladly return.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Telegraphe Cafe offers breakfast and lunch items and well made coffees.  In an neighborhood that offers few comfortable options, Telegraphe Cafe is worth visiting.

HOURS

Monday through Thursday: 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. 6th and 7th Avenues), New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Telegraphe Cafe

 

St. Andrews — 77.9 to 79 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

If St. Andrews, a Scottish restaurant and bar, were in any other part of town, we would advise that you only stop in when it’s empty.  But it’s in Times Square and that makes it a viable option at most times (but not happy hour).  Simply put, there are very few quiet places in Times Square that offer decent food at a reasonable price, which is why St. Andrews is one of the loudest places we will recommend.

We visited St. Andrews for a Friday lunch and were seated in the ground floor dining room; it was at least half full.  Background music played throughout our visit, and while it was mostly in the background (at least at first) it unnecessarily added a layer of sound.  Midway through our meal the music volume was suddenly increased.  We asked if the volume could be lowered and were pleased when it was immediately adjusted to what it had been earlier.

In addition to the music, unnecessary noise was provided by two customers seated near our table who were very noticeably loud (a sign of early hearing loss, we suspect).  Fortunately the ceilings were of a good height and upholstered banquettes may have absorbed some of the sound.  In addition, the dining area was separated from the bar by a wall that had a couple of open spaces between both rooms.  This design choice kept most, but not all, of the sound emanating in one room from ricocheting into the other.  Overall, the sound level during our lunch visit was manageable, particularly after one of the loud customers left.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We also visited St. Andrews at brunch, which generated the higher decibel rating.  While the noise level wasn’t ideal, it was more manageable than the reading alone would suggest.  We were seated near the entrance during that visit and suspect that our decibel meter may have picked up the sound of customers and staff entering and leaving the dining space and bar, resulting in the higher than expected reading.  St. Andrews has an upstairs dining room that was not available at lunch but generally is open for brunch.  If that space is available, our experience is that it is a better option than the ground floor.

We did not visit St. Andrews during happy hour, but we’ve been told that happy hour is very popular, crowded, and loud.  In short, avoid.

Overall, St. Andrews is not a bad option if you must be in Times Square and want to get a drink or a nosh.  It has a great selection of beers and scotch, the food is decent bar grub (not fabulous, but not bad), and the prices are reasonable for Times Square.  Just don’t expect a serene space, and avoid happy hour.

HOURS

11:30 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. every day

(kitchen closes at midnight on Monday and Sunday, 2:00 a.m. every other day)

LOCATION

(betw. 6th and 7th Avenues), New York, NY 10036

WEBSITE

St. Andrews

 

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