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

 

 

Everyman Espresso (East Village) — 69.7 to 70.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We visited the East Village location of Everyman Espresso twice, and both times we found it to be a very relaxed space.  During our first visit on a Wednesday afternoon, most people were working on laptops, with just one chatty, but not particularly annoying couple engrossed in conversation nearby.  Music played softly in the background and was mostly fine, if unnecessary.

One thing we couldn’t help noticing was that the espresso machine was one of the quietest we’ve heard.  We suspect the reason for this is because it’s on the front counter, with the working bits facing the back wall.  In many coffee shops, the espresso machine is on a back or side counter facing the seating area.  In any event, the coffee-making noises were really manageable and they didn’t feel jarring or startling at all.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

On our second visit a week later, the place was nearly perfect.  The only thing we would change is to lower the background music, but the noise level is still very low compared to many places.   As before, the coffee machines were not a distraction, and the crowd was very relaxed.  If the background music were lowered or shut off, the space would be perfect.  But it’s nearly there and that’s pretty fabulous.

If you are looking for a comfortable spot in the East Village/Union Square area, Everyman Espresso should be on your short list.  There is plenty of seating and the place is pretty comfortable.  Throw in very good coffee and great service, and there’s no reason not to go.  Recommended.

HOURS

Monday: 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Tuesday through Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. 3rd and 4th Avenues), New York, NY 10003

WEBSITE

Everyman Espresso

Jean Claude II — 66 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

This French bistro was an absolutely blissful 66 decibels!  Yes, it was a Monday lunch.  Yes, the room was not crowded.  But there was background music–appropriate and low–and chatty fellow diners.  No doubt the space is louder at brunch and dinner–will visit then to confirm–but for lunch, very little comes close to this oasis of peacefulness.  Bonus?  The food is lovely.

HOURS

Monday through Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

LOCATION

1343 2nd Avenue (betw. 70th and 71st Streets), NY, NY 10021

WEBSITE

Jean Claude II

Three Lives & Company — 61.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Simply the best bookstore in New York City.  It’s smaller than most, so it doesn’t have the same selection as a megastore, thank goodness.  None of the tat, just a great selection of fiction and nonfiction classics and newly published books.  There is a small but excellent collection of cookbooks, and a wonderfully curated selection of books about New York City.  Most importantly, Three Lives looks and sounds like a bookstore should: quietly creaky wooden floors, very low and appropriate background music, small niches where you can sit and preview your potential purchase, and staff and customers (usually) talking at a whisper.  No surprise that it registered at a calming 61.9 decibels.   A must visit for the book lover.

HOURS

Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Monday and Tuesday: 12:00 p.m. to 8:00

Wednesday through Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

LOCATION

154 W. 10th Street (at the corner of Waverly Place), New York, NY 10014

WEBSITE

Three Lives & Company

Irving Farm Coffee Roasters — 77.6 decibels

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: quietcitymap

The decibel meter clocked in at 77.6 decibels, but we are not sure why.  While the space could have been quieter, the noise level didn’t seem quite that high.  As usual, the background music was louder than necessary, but the high ceilings must have made up for that.  There also is an almost hidden seating area in the basement that was serene.

A menu featuring breakfast options, sandwiches, and salads is offered through out the day.  If you are wandering around the Lower East Side and looking for a coffee or a nosh, Irving Farm is worth checking out.   If the first floor is too crowded or loud, head downstairs and enjoy the quiet.

HOURS

Monday through Thursday: 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Sunday: 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

LOCATION

88 Orchard Street (at the corner of Broome), NY, NY 10002

WEBSITE

Irving Farm Coffee Roasters

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

Round K Cafe — 71.5 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We loved the physical space of Round K Cafe, which was matched by great service and very nice coffee.  When you enter you will see a takeaway space in the front where you can order a beverage and a sweet or savory treat.  The takeaway space  is separated from seating in the back by not one but two sets of drapes, which helps to keep the noise from the espresso maker and takeaway chatter from entering the back seating area.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

During our visit the space was almost serene.  It would have been perfect except for one couple–they both were loud and they did not stop talking, even while they were eating.   When the male got up to use the restroom we noticed that our decibel meter, which continually averages the decibel reading, dropped by five points!  In fact, it was so quiet we could hear him flush and leave the restroom without the benefit of stopping at the sink to wash his obviously filthy hands.  Together again, they were insufferable (which was not the cafe’s fault at all, of course)

We only ordered a coffee and kept our visit short because of them, but note that there were other customers in the room who were quiet.  Some Sinatra played softly In the background, and we realized that if that one couple wasn’t there the space would have been perfect.  Which is why we intend to follow up this visit with another in the near future.

The website indicates that there may be events scheduled occasionally in the space, so you may want to check their schedule to avoid it (or join in).  Round K Cafe is cash only, so hit the ATM before you visit.

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. Delancey and Broome Streets), New York, NY 10002

WEBSITE

Round K 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

 

Darbar Grill — 63.5 decibels

Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  A quiet midtown restaurant!  Darbar Grill wasn’t crowded when we visited for their excellent Indian buffet lunch (a great value for midtown, by the way), but we think that the place should pass with flying colors (green, of course) even when full.  The background music was a hair louder than necessary, but it could generally be called background music.  Although the room was only half full, there was one fellow diner with a booming voice (there’s always one, no?).  He stood out, but he failed to destroy the tranquility of the space.  Why?  Lots of wood (both flooring and paneling), upholstered chairs, table linens, and we were seated in the back dining room (which had a tray ceiling), not the front dining space near the bar.

Whatever the reason for this oasis of calm in midtown Manhattan, embrace it.  We will return.

HOURS

Sunday through Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

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

LOCATION

WEBSITE

Darbar Grill