It seems to me that most people go out to eat with family, friends and business associates. People they know and like, or hope to know, or hope to like. It would seem to me that conversation would be an important part of the meal, maybe even as important as what's on the plate or in the glass.
And yet, so many restaurants are so loud you can't hear yourself think, much less catch what the people across the table are trying to tell you.
Sometimes, music is the problem. I love live music, and enjoy going to concerts and jazz clubs. But why do so many restaurants play recorded music, and so loud? For me, recorded music in a restaurant is like the laugh track on a television sitcom. It's just trying to influence my perception. When I hear Frank Sinatra, I'm supposed to think I'm in a swanky saloon, part of the Rat Pack. I wish! But since Frank and his buddies aren't at the table, I'd rather have a conversation with the people that are there, thanks.
Even restaurants that don't play music are often too loud. They're just built that way, with hard surfaces, low ceilings, open kitchens and close-set tables.
Recently, I took some new acquaintances to one of my favorite local restaurants. I wanted to get to know them, and I wanted to give them a good impression of the neighborhood. The place emphasizes fresh, local ingredients in dishes that have big flavors but don't make a big show about them. You might say it's quiet food.
Alas, that's where the quiet ends. The small dining room, done mostly in wood, has a farmhouse feel; it seats about 50 people, without much room to spare. The restaurant is thriving, and I'm happy for their success, but when it's full, it's loud. I found myself shouting at my guests. It was exhausting.
So are all these loud restaurants loud on purpose? Do they think we like it that way? Maybe I'm wrong on this one. What do you think? When you go out, what kind of noise level makes you happy?
Troy Peterson — Burbank, CA — August 30, 2010 11:28am ET
Larry Lascola — Healdsburg, CA, USA — August 30, 2010 1:38pm ET
Leonard Nole — Larchmont, NY — August 30, 2010 2:16pm ET
Sandy Fitzgerald — Centennial, CO — August 30, 2010 2:28pm ET
Thomas Matthews — New York City — August 30, 2010 2:42pm ET
Eric Swanson — Westlake — August 30, 2010 3:33pm ET
William Newell — Buffalo, NY — August 30, 2010 4:27pm ET
Michael Schulman — Westlake Village, CA — August 30, 2010 7:17pm ET
Morgan Dawson — Rochester, NY — August 30, 2010 8:31pm ET
Thomas Kobylarz — Hoboken, NJ — August 30, 2010 10:44pm ET
David Peters — Mission Viejo, CA — August 30, 2010 11:24pm ET
David Tietz — Columbus, OH — August 31, 2010 1:05am ET
Thomas Matthews — New York City — August 31, 2010 8:44am ET
Mark Holmberg — Edina, MN — August 31, 2010 9:03am ET
Tony Aukett — Chicago, IL — August 31, 2010 9:23am ET
Michael Haycook — Miami, FL — August 31, 2010 11:17am ET
Jason Fernandez — Boston, MA — August 31, 2010 8:16pm ET
Michael Krogh — Eden Prairie, MN USA — September 1, 2010 7:43pm ET
Lowry Sweney — Los Angeles, CA — September 3, 2010 4:58pm ET
Vincent Pellegrino — Smithfield,RI — September 6, 2010 8:21am ET
M J Kollar — PALM BEACH GARDENS — September 7, 2010 12:53pm ET
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