Phebe’s — 70.8 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We have walked by Phebe’s many times and on one hot summer day we actually walked in.  Immediately we heard music that was louder than we would have liked, and certainly too loud at first, but we suspect that the song that was playing when we entered was someone’s favorite–it featured a long guitar solo and once the song was over, the volume was decreased.  Although things improved once the volume was lowered, we found the music to be fairly trebly which some people find uncomfortable.

The bar was mostly full during our visit, but there were plenty of empty tables.  We sat in a small alcove off the entrance.  There was a small wall separating the alcove from the bar but the sound still spilled over.   An open door let in street noise.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Despite the street noise and music, we would recommend a visit to Phebe’s.   While it was not calm, it was good enough.  Add in great service, good food, and very good prices, and Phebe’s lands on the tolerable list.  That said, we would have assumed that it is probably raucous at happy hour, brunch, and late week dinners, but our excellent waitress told us that brunch is fine if you visit between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.–the space gets a bit rowdier afterwards.  She added that there is a DJ on Thursday and late week dinners are louder.  Phebe’s has a back room and two alcove areas, so you may be able to find a quiet nook even on busy nights.

HOURS

LOCATION

(at the corner of E. 4th Street), New York, NY 10003

WEBSITE

Phebe’s

 

Delimarie — 70.2 decibels

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

 

Scotty’s Diner — 74.8 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Our visit at Scotty’s Diner was more comfortable than the meter reading might suggest. Even though we had the worst seat in the place–opposite the area the wait staff called in orders to the cooks–we didn’t think it was that bad. Sure, there was unnecessary dance music played quietly in the background, but it wasn’t loud enough to offend and probably only added a decibel or two to the overall soundscape.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We came for a mid-morning breakfast and found the place rather crowded. It was perfectly fine, even with an almost full house.  The drop ceiling may help with noise mitigation, but the quiet crowd didn’t hurt. The only obvious voices we heard were staff barking out orders to the cooks. Otherwise there were no obnoxious sounds, despite there being a semi-open kitchen.

Scotty’s offers standard diner fare–breakfasts, burgers, sandwiches, pasta, etc.–in a traditional old-school diner setting.  We recommend it.

HOURS

Open 24 hours (diner is closed from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. on Mondays)

LOCATION

Avenue (near the corner of 39th Street), New York, NY 10016

WEBSITE

Scotty’s Diner

Double Wide — 70.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We went to Double Wide for brunch one Saturday because one of us was craving biscuits with gravy, something that isn’t readily available in New York City.  But Double Wide had it and it was delicious.  And, as you can see from the meter reading, the soundscape was perfect!

Not so fast.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The absolutely wonderful 70.9 dBC reading was taken in Double Wide’s small back patio, which was blissfully calm during our visit.  But to get to the back patio you have to walk through the  oh-so-loud bar first. That is, small back patio aside, the rest of the space is too damn loud.

So during the warmer weather months, you can enjoy your biscuits and gravy and conversation with your companions if you can score a seat outside.  And that is fine, because Double Wide is not a place you should eat at every day.  Why? Three words: loaded tater tots.  And yes, they were appallingly delicious.

HOURS

Monday through Wednesday: 3:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.

Thursday and Friday: 3:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.

Saturday: 11:30 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.

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

LOCATION

Street (betw. Avenues A and B), New York, NY 10009

WEBSITE

Double Wide Bar

Meme Mediterranean West Village — 81 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We’ll start out by saying how disappointed we were with our visit to Meme Mediterranean in the West Village.  Why? The space is attractive, the food was good, but the space was intolerable.  The usual culprit was at play–the music was entirely too loud.  In fact, the music alone clearly pushed the meter reading into the “avoid category.”  That said, music aside, the room is just poorly designed–it’s too damn live.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

How bad could it be?  When we arrived, we were the only table in the restaurant, as all of the other diners opted for sidewalk tables, and yet the space was uncomfortably loud.  It only got worse as people straggled in.

Now Hudson at Bank Street isn’t as heavily trafficked as other streets, but it’s still busy and can get noisy.  Plus we would rather not breath in car exhaust as we eat. But the sidewalk tables appeared to be more tolerable, as least as far as sound levels are concerned.  So if you want to take a chance, go ahead.  But if you will only eat in the restaurant, take a pass.  It simply isn’t worth it.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (at Bank Street), New York, NY 10014

WEBSITE

Meme Mediterranean West Village

Sarabeth’s at Lord & Taylor — 62.5 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Here’s something we don’t often write: it was almost too quiet at Sarabeth’s at Lord & Taylor. Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, especially since we could have done without the background music, but this location of Sarabeth’s was not live at all and could best be described as sedate.

Upholstered banquettes lining the walls, a drop ceiling, and some structure kept the room calm.  Except for the unnecessary and inappropriate background music, this was one of the most serene meals we have had in a long time.  And the music–current pop hits that were most definitely not being enjoyed by the older crowd–was a mere annoyance in the otherwise comfortable space.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We understand that some of the larger department stores in Manhattan have cafes, and some of them have been well received. The food at Sarabeth’s was fine for what it was, but no one is going to go out of their way to eat there unless they are shopping beforehand or afterwards. This restaurant exists for convenience.  And it’s worth a visit if you have some shopping to do, as it’s nice to have a civilized lunch in chaotic midtown. Sarabeth’s at Lord & Taylor is definitely a place were you can have a meal and a conversation. We recommend it.

HOURS

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

LOCATION

424 Fifth Avenue (at 39th Street), New York, NY 10018

WEBSITE

Sarabeth’s

 

East One Coffee Roaster — 73.3 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We stopped by East One Coffee Roaster one Sunday afternoon as we meandered around Carroll Gardens, one of our favorite parts of Brooklyn. Despite the relatively quiet streets, the place was bustling. East One Coffee Roaster, the Brooklyn outpost of a London coffee shop, sits on the corner of Court and Carroll Streets. It has a large coffee shop in the front of its space and an even larger dining room in the back. Although the coffee shop was pretty packed when we arrived, there were a few seats available.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We’ve noticed recently that some coffee shops are designating various areas within their space as “no laptop zones.”  East One is no exception. In fact, we sat in one of the two laptop-free  zones (and must confess that we occasionally looked furtively at a smart phone, which may have violated the spirit of the zone but not the directive). Essentially, East One, like other coffee spots, doesn’t want to become a caffeinated version of WeWork.  That said, laptops were visible, but the laptoppers were outnumbered by the couples or groups engaging in conversation.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The doors and windows of the place were open to the street, but since this part of Court Street doesn’t get a lot of traffic, it was fine.  Music was playing and it was a bit louder than we liked, but it was manageable.  We liked the space, finding it comfortable.  Except for waiting a little longer than expected for our coffee–the  sole barista was distracted–our visit was perfectly pleasant.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Given the heavy embrace of industrial design elements (e.g., lots of glass, a cement floor, etc.), we had expected an echo chamber but were pleasantly surprised that the room didn’t feel live. The ceiling of rough-hewn, though painted, wooden boards probably helped to diffuse the sound. Our guess is that the designer opted to paint the ceiling joists rather than cover them with wall board. It looked attractive and no doubt helps to control the sound level, so kudos for the clever design.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We checked out the back dining space and saw that it looked roomy and had a slightly quieter soundscape.  It was, however, mostly empty.  It too was heavy on the usual design elements, so proceed with caution if crowded.

Overall, we highly recommend a visit to East One Coffee Roaster. The space was attractive, and we enjoyed our coffees.  And while we wouldn’t say no to turning down the music, the soundscape was perfectly respectable despite being a very crowded space.

HOURS

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

Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Saturday:  9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

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

(Hours are for coffee shop. Dining space opens at 8:00 a.m. Monday through Friday.)

LOCATION

Street (at the corner of Carroll Street), Brooklyn, NY 11231

WEBSITE

East One Coffee Roaster

Forgtmenot — 73.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Located in Chinatown where it merges into the Lower East Side, Forgtmenot is a laid back place that’s perfect to sit, eat, drink, and chill. It’s relaxing despite having doors and windows open to the street because this part of Division Street gets very little traffic.  There was music playing in the background, but it was fine because it actually was in the background.  Only one table was engaged in “animated” conversation, but they could be ignored for the most part.

We came to eat, but Forgtmenot probably gets more use as a bar.  It’s bigger than it looks because it extends from Division Street through to Canal Street.  The interior is divided into three separate spaces–two with bars and one smaller space in between the two.  At lunch, only the Division Street side was being served and there were some empty tables for passersby.

We were surprised how comfortable we felt given that the usual hard surface design mix was present–concrete floor, tin ceiling, and similar materials.  Maybe it was due to the oddly shaped space, or the use of textiles in the decor, or the mostly quiet crowd, but whatever the reason we really liked the space and felt relaxed and unrushed.  Conversation was not a problem, and we could easily see spending an afternoon at Forgtmenot with friends for a chat and a cocktail.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Very good service and tasty food rounded out our visit.  We added avocado to the shrimp po boy per the waiter’s suggestion and it was delicious (there’s a little heat, so ask for no hot sauce if you aren’t a fan).  We definitely recommend a visit at lunch or when it’s not packed.  Our waiter said all three rooms can get really crowded on the weekend, so if you want to visit then, or during happy hour, proceed with caution.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. (kitchen closes at midnight)

Saturday and Sunday: 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. (kitchen closes at midnight)

LOCATION

Street (betw. Ludlow and Orchard Streets), New York, NY 10002

WEBSITE

Forgtmenot

Utsav — 75.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We were in midtown craving an Indian buffet for lunch in one of the few parts of the city where  they still happen. We love a good Indian buffet, and Utsav did not disappoint. There was a great selection of dishes (vegetarian and non-vegetarian), accompanied by desserts, salads, appetizers, and chutneys. Yes, we did try a little of everything and were completely satisfied with our meal.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

And we were not alone. The place was packed and, given the design choices, it wasn’t exactly  calm. Among other things, the dining area is one large room with no dividers to deflect or segregate sound.  At least there were some textiles in the space–curtains framed the windows running the length of the room, and there were upholstered banquettes spanning the middle of the room–but it’s not clear that they offered much sound absorption or diffusion.

But considering how busy the place was, we thought the noise level was perfectly acceptable.  And we must note that the reading reflects that there was one large and chatty table near ours. Once they left, the space got a lot quieter.

Utsav is a popular lunch spot, so this was its busy time. We think the reading was respectable and feel comfortable recommending it as a midtown lunch option. We were advised that dinner tends to be less crowded and is noticeably quieter.

HOURS

Lunch 12:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily | Dinner 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily

LOCATION

(entrance on 46th Street betw. 6th and 7th Avenues), New York, NY 10036

WEBSITE

Utsav

Clark’s — 73.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Clark’s is a diner in the heart of Brooklyn Heights, located directly across the street from the Clark Street 2/3 subway station. It is almost always bustling, with tables of two, four, or more that cycle in and out quickly.  Clark’s offers the usual diner classics–burgers, sandwiches, salads, and extensive breakfast options–along with chicken, steaks, and seafood entrees.  The food comes out quickly, so the staff are constantly moving.

The main dining area runs the length of the space along a glass wall on the Henry Street side of the building, and the floor is tiled. Despite the presence of hard, reflective materials, the sound level was more than tolerable when we visited during a very busy lunch service. It was noticeably louder when we first entered because the place it was packed and one nearby customer had a particularly loud voice. That can’t be helped and can happen anywhere.  After  she left, the space was almost pleasant.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

When packed the place sounds a bit live as the sound from people talking bounces off the glass, but it is less obvious if the room is only half full. Classical music played softly in the background, and while not necessary, the volume was fine.  Even when the place was full it was at least tolerable.  We think Clark’s is a safe bet if you are looking for a good quick meal in Brooklyn Heights.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 7:00 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.

Sunday: 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (at the corner of Henry Street), Brooklyn, NY 11201

WEBSITE

Clark’s