How To Keep It Down in Noisy Restaurants

The Bristol, before the sound-dampeners were installed.
The Bristol, before the sound-dampeners were installed. Photo: Neil Burger

Sure, those chic restaurants with high ceilings and wooden tables might look pretty, but the open spaces and hard surfaces make for an awfully noisy dining experience, notes the Wall Street Journal. While the raucous volume level might seem lively to some, it’s a turnoff for many diners. So how to fix it? L2O designer Dirk Denison had to contend with chef Laurent Gras’s refusal to use tablecloths and insistence on electronic music, counterbalanced by carpeting, “a porous, acoustical plaster” on the ceiling, and insisting that the music couldn’t contain lyrics or be faster than 100 beats per minute. Still, there’s hope for those restaurants that, unlike L2O, don’t realize their noise until after they open.

The Journal cites the case of L.A.’s Comme Ça, who installed acoustical panels on the ceiling because the restaurant was so epically loud that the owner says “I had friends who didn’t want to come back because it was so loud.” (Similarly, we rejoiced when The Bristol hired Oprah’s sound team to tone down their deafening dining room.)

And what if you find yourself trapped in a thunderous restaurant that hasn’t yet cottoned on to their volume problem? The Journal suggests sitting in an alcove or corner, or just throwing it in and being that guy: ask the manager to turn down the volume. It’s a double blessing because “the music itself gets softer, and then other diners lower their voices because they are no longer competing with the music.”

Why New Restaurants Are So Noisy [WSJ]
Related: A Nice, Quiet Dinner at the Bristol

How To Keep It Down in Noisy Restaurants