I want to find a local coffeehouse / restaurant / pub that is quiet, damnit! Not whisper-quiet, simply quiet enough where my hubby and I can talk and both hear and understand each other.

I want to find a place that does not employ the latest design conceits of noise magnification: “Hey I know! Let’s eliminating the ceiling tiles to show off the HVAC ductwork. Let’s add lots of sheet metal and concrete floors and other hard surfaces. Let’s have the kitchen open to the dining area, so they can hear the staff yelling at each other, and doing all that food preparation. Let’s eliminate any room dividers, and skip curtains on the windows. Let’s put on loud background music or several televisions — maybe even both!”

It’s one set of issues for me to feel overwhelmed by overly-sociable waiters who want to play “best buds”, or to flinch at the inevitable crash of the broken glass du jour, or pick through menus that are dietary land-mines, but it’s quite another when the two of us have to spend the evening recursively repeating, rephrasing, lipreading and periodically abandoning lines of discussion just because it’s too f—ing loud! (Pardon the cussing; been watching Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant shows.)

Does the general public really think that the background has to be loud for them to have fun? When even the ordinary people can hardly converse without yelling at each other, that means the noise level is too much.

Please. We would be glad to spend our rare dining-out money on a nice cozy place where we can enjoy our food and chat with each other. Good heavens, we might be persuaded to linger long enough to bother ordering a bottle of wine, or some desserts and coffee. We would even want to come back — with our friends.

(Oh, and while you’re at it, could you install some hooks somewhere so I can hang up my hat instead of balancing it on my knee all through dinner?)


  1. yanub said,

    8 June 2008 at 22:03

    My daughter and I have discussed this same issue. She has seizures from migraines, and the migraines are caused by excess auditory and visual stimulation. We have taken to scouting new places with me going in and coming back out to report on the ambience. I really don’t understand why so many places are so noisy, have so much visual noise, and have such cluttered dining rooms. It is like an adult version of Chuck E. Cheese in most of these places. All that’s missing is a bin full of non-hygenic plastic balls.

  2. 4 January 2008 at 15:43

    Oh, I absolutely agree. I used to love the little independent teashops – with real pots of tea! – that were around a lot when I was a child and young teenager. Nowadays all I can find is Starbucks – their tea is terrible, they’re too loud (I can’t go with my father, who is deaf), and they’re soulless. And, what’s worst for me – they think they’re accessible because they usually have ramped entrances. Goody for them. In reality, the ones near me usually have about two tables on the ground floor, which are always full – and the rest are downstairs – but it’s OK, because the cafe’s accessible, and I have nothing to complain about… The independent tea and coffee places I remember had proper seating, didn’t play stupid loud music non-stop, and there were always some that my wheelchair-using friends (this was before I was disabled) could get into. Blah. Soulless international capitalism.

  3. Leila said,

    3 January 2008 at 0:40

    That would be a good story for a local magazine… To rate the acoustic quality or cozyness of the restaurants in town. I’d avoid the trendy places favored by the young, and aim for non-chain, gourmet places with an excellent wine chart.

    Since I have a 4-year-old now, I look for the opposite – loud, family-friendly places where people won’t mind if my son is making too much noise and using the booth upholstery as a slide, for instance. Better even if they have paper covers on the tables so he can write and draw on it.

  4. Cilla said,

    2 January 2008 at 19:02

    We feel the same. And… what happened to applause. Is it no longer good enough to clap your hands? Why must we whoop and holler and scream and whistle mind-numbing auditory assaults for even the most mundane of shows of appreciation?

  5. Rose said,

    2 January 2008 at 13:32

    My husband has never been able to talk to me easily in a restaurant. He feels your pain!

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