Once Upon A Tart — 70.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We wandered over to Soho’s Once Upon A Tart for a quick lunch early in the week. Once Upon A Tart consists of a coffee and bake shop in one space, and a small restaurant in the space next door.  Our review is limited to the restaurant.

About half of the tables were filled when we arrived.  There was music playing in the background–jazz standards–which was a bit loud at first, but the second song was much quieter.  Whether the volume was tolerable depended, in large part, on whether the song featured a horn section.  If yes, the sound bounced around the live space, if not, it was fine.  We aren’t sure but we suspect that the volume was lowered as the tables filled up.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

There are five stools lining a bar and eight tables for two plus one larger table for about six in the restaurant.  Design choices result in a fairly live space: terrazzo floor, tin ceiling, glass windows  lining the front, and a couple of large mirrors on both side walls.  It didn’t help that the front door was open to street noise.  That said, Sullivan Street isn’t heavily trafficked so our meal wasn’t interrupted by loud sirens or insecure motorcyclists, but as the restaurant is located between Houston and Prince Streets we could hear the faint roar of the traffic from a half block away.

The reading also reflects the sound emanating from a fellow customer who talked on her phone the entire time.  She was so engrossed in conversation that she even ignored her meal.  Circumstances like that add to the soundscape, but they are arbitrary and, thankfully, not normal. Personally, we find it hard to fault the restaurant for this behavior, as it can be uncomfortable to ask a customer to refrain from cell phone use unless they have a very public policy against cell phone use (rare, but we spotted a sign asking customers to refrain from cell phone use at a downtown restaurant).

In the end, while the space was not calming or serene, it was tolerable.  Given that Once Upon A Tart is located in the thick of Soho, where there are very few reasonably priced eating options, it’s fine.

HOURS

Restaurant: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day

Coffee and Bake Shop:

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

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

LOCATION

Street (betw. W. Houston and Prince Streets), New York, NY 10012

WEBSITE

Once Upon A Tart

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)

Lan Larb — 73.4 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We were wandering around the edge of Soho where it borders the Lower East Side and City Hall, when we spied Lan Larb, a restaurant featuring classic Thai cuisine.  The Soho location of Lan Larb is a favorite among nearby workers, so we stopped in for a quick lunch. Overall, we found the space to be acceptable–it wasn’t too loud despite all he hard surfaces. That’s not to say the space is serene–it leans towards live–but a drop ceiling may have helped to absorb sound. Otherwise the space is filled with the catalog of noisy design choices: tile floor, lots of glass, and a mirrored wall. But the other wall running the length of the space had rattan mats attached to it which may have minimized reflection.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

As usual, there was background music.  Once again the music choice was at least as offensive as the fact that music was playing at all.  Namely, the music was courtesy of a radio station that featured dance music. Why this genre? We don’t know. There was no obvious reason other than someone must think that the customers enjoy it. They don’t.

Fortunately the other diners were fairly quiet, so the noise level was fine. In the end, Lan Larb is the kind of place you go to for a quick work day lunch.  It’s nothing special, just a good meal at a decent price.  And while it’s not calm, it isn’t terrible either.  You could do worse.

HOURS

11:30 a.m. to 10:15 p.m. every day

LOCATION

Street (betw. Grand and Broome Streets), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

Lan Larb

Lan Larb — 73.4 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We were wandering around the edge of Soho where it borders the Lower East Side and City Hall, when we spied Lan Larb, a restaurant featuring classic Thai cuisine.  The Soho location of Lan Larb is a favorite among nearby workers, so we stopped in for a quick lunch. Overall, we found the space to be acceptable–it wasn’t too loud despite all he hard surfaces. That’s not to say the space is serene–it leans towards live–but a drop ceiling may have helped to absorb sound. Otherwise the space is filled with the catalog of noisy design choices: tile floor, lots of glass, and a mirrored wall. But the other wall running the length of the space had rattan mats attached to it which may have minimized reflection.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

As usual, there was background music.  Once again the music choice was at least as offensive as the fact that music was playing at all.  Namely, the music was courtesy of a radio station that featured dance music. Why this genre? We don’t know. There was no obvious reason other than someone must think that the customers enjoy it. They don’t.

Fortunately the other diners were fairly quiet, so the noise level was fine. In the end, Lan Larb is the kind of place you go to for a quick work day lunch.  It’s nothing special, just a good meal at a decent price.  And while it’s not calm, it isn’t terrible either.  You could do worse.

HOURS

11:30 a.m. to 10:15 p.m. every day

LOCATION

Street (betw. Grand and Broome Streets), New York, NY 10013

WEBSITE

Lan Larb

Once Upon A Tart — 70.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We wandered over to Soho’s Once Upon A Tart for a quick lunch early in the week. Once Upon A Tart consists of a coffee and bake shop in one space, and a small restaurant in the space next door.  Our review is limited to the restaurant.

About half of the tables were filled when we arrived.  There was music playing in the background–jazz standards–which was a bit loud at first, but the second song was much quieter.  Whether the volume was tolerable depended, in large part, on whether the song featured a horn section.  If yes, the sound bounced around the live space, if not, it was fine.  We aren’t sure but we suspect that the volume was lowered as the tables filled up.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

There are five stools lining a bar and eight tables for two plus one larger table for about six in the restaurant.  Design choices result in a fairly live space: terrazzo floor, tin ceiling, glass windows  lining the front, and a couple of large mirrors on both side walls.  It didn’t help that the front door was open to street noise.  That said, Sullivan Street isn’t heavily trafficked so our meal wasn’t interrupted by loud sirens or insecure motorcyclists, but as the restaurant is located between Houston and Prince Streets we could hear the faint roar of the traffic from a half block away.

The reading also reflects the sound emanating from a fellow customer who talked on her phone the entire time.  She was so engrossed in conversation that she even ignored her meal.  Circumstances like that add to the soundscape, but they are arbitrary and, thankfully, not normal. Personally, we find it hard to fault the restaurant for this behavior, as it can be uncomfortable to ask a customer to refrain from cell phone use unless they have a very public policy against cell phone use (rare, but we spotted a sign asking customers to refrain from cell phone use at a downtown restaurant).

In the end, while the space was not calming or serene, it was tolerable.  Given that Once Upon A Tart is located in the thick of Soho, where there are very few reasonably priced eating options, it’s fine.

HOURS

Restaurant: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day

Coffee and Bake Shop:

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

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

LOCATION

Street (betw. W. Houston and Prince Streets), New York, NY 10012

WEBSITE

Once Upon A Tart

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)

Muji Soho — 68.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Muji must be the Japanese word for civilized, because this Japanese housewares/lifestyle store was absolutely pleasant when we visited the Soho location.  All the more remarkable because there was a big sale on and the place was packed.  Packed yet quiet.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The only downside to visiting a Muji store is that It’s hard to leave without buying something.  Everything is so well designed for its purpose.  So if you feel the need to lighten your wallet, head on over to Muji and shop in peace and quiet.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

LOCATION

WEBSITE

Muji

12 Chairs Cafe — 76.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

12 Chairs Cafe was mentioned in one of those compilations of quiet restaurants that appears every now and again in the mainstream media, so it went on our list of places to check out.  We had high expectations because it was on a very short list, but those expectations were not met.  Frankly, we didn’t think 12 Chairs Cafe was very quiet at all.

Almost every tightly packed table was taken during our lunch time visit (and there are more than 12 chairs, by the way), so we can fairly say that our visit should give a good approximation of what the space would be like during dinner service.  The noise came was mostly from our fellow diners, work colleagues out for a leisurely lunch, but the background music didn’t help.  Although the music wasn’t overpowering, it was unnecessary.  No one was there for the music; rather, the other diners clearly wanted to have a conversation with their table mates.  Had the music volume been lowered, the space could have been pleasant.  We should note that our table was under a speaker, so it’s possible that another table may have been marginally quieter.  Possibly.

We liked the food at 12 Chairs Cafe and the lunch time crowd suggests that it’s a neighborhood favorite.  Given how busy it was and the number of people packed into the space, it could have been worse.  But that shouldn’t be the measure.  Long and short, 12 Chairs Cafe was sort of tolerable but it could be so much more.

HOURS

Sunday through Thursday: 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

LOCATION

WEBSITE

12 Chairs Cafe