Waiter, I Can’t Hear My Food: Survival Tips for Noisy Restaurants #hackdining

restaurant, food, dining

So, you recently enjoyed a tasty meal at a noisy, hip restaurant only when you were headed home you noticed your ears and head were throbbing leaving you wondering if you had just dined at an industrial construction site? Don’t worry, you haven’t suddenly morphed into your grandparents (unless you’re also dining at 4:30PM), and you probably aren’t imagining things either. You’ve just entered the increasingly common, ear-splitting world of high-volume modern fine dining.

Following of the trend that accompanied the California cuisine wave of the 80’s and 90’s, more and more fine dining places have broken with tradition and are jettisoning stuffy settings and dress codes while focusing their energy on exceptional food. Now you can eat like a VIP but still wear jeans. The casual vibe has moved from décors to DJs.

As chef-proprietors have become the norm, they also bring their sensibility from the kitchen to the front of the house. The thinking is if their Spotify playlist is good enough for the back, it is good enough for the dining room. And the volumes can be ear shattering. While it’s nice to no longer have to wear a tie to dinner, I might like to hear from my date before paying the check.

Part of this trend is economics: an environment of loud music creates a party-like atmosphere and, it turns out, is a proven method to boost alcohol sales. More booze, more profits. A collateral effect is that it also tends to drive customers out faster… tables turn quicker, more profit.

So, what to do about noisy restaurants? Unless you’re regularly packing ear plugs, here are some more practical tips that might help:

1. Do some homework. If you’re unsure about your destination’s atmosphere and you need a place with a quiet vibe, do some research on what kind of acoustic environment to expect; reading through recent reviews on OpenTable is a good place to start. You may not mind a full-on raucous hoopla on a casual night out with some friends. But if you are taking out your future in-laws for the first time, you’d be well advised to head someplace you can savor their every

2. Share your beef. If you find yourself sitting inside a human snare drum, don’t be afraid to ask the management to adjust the volume. Just know that they may well resist. One critically-acclaimed, but infamously cacophonous Italian eatery has been known to inform their customers that neither the music selection nor the decibel level are negotiable and have gone so far to nudge their diners to head elsewhere if it’s not to their liking. Other, less rigid restaurants, however, typically strive to keep their customers happy and may bend to accommodate your polite request.Continue Reading

Dining Poll: Would You Like Some Music with Your Meal?

One of diners’ most frequent complaints about a restaurant is that it’s noisy. But, what about when restaurants pipe in music? Is that noise? Do great tunes complement great food? Or, is anything over a certain decibel level annoying? Chime in on our latest dining poll!


Dining Dilemmas: Meeting the Chef, Ordering for Your Date, and the Art of Noise

* Marina O’Loughlin thinks meeting the chef is as overrated as everything else that’s overrated these days. [The Guardian]

* Can you stay slim if you dine out often? You can if you follow Ed Levine’s three simple tips. [Serious Eats]

* Portland restaurateurs discuss their different approaches to the art of noise in their establishments. [OregonLive.com]

* What should you do when your date orders for you? [Chow]

* Some folks think restaurants discriminate against twentysomething diners. Discuss. [InsideScoopSF]

* You can play games with your kids at a restaurant that don’t involve electronics. [Babble]

* In honor of the 4th of July, here are the Diners’ Bill of Rights. [Journal-Sentinel Online]

Noisy Restaurants Prove Unappetizing for Some Diners

Noisy-restaurantsSan Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer understands that not every diner can (or wishes to) tolerate noisy restaurants. In his ratings, in fact, you’ll find a special category that addresses noise levels, such as this from his recent review of Ristobar: “Noise rating: BOMB; Too noisy for normal conversation (80+ decibels).” (He very much enjoyed the food, however.) Likewise, Washington Post reviewer Tom Sietsema began rating noise levels in restaurants two years ago, writing, “More than bad food, more than tipping quandaries, more than someone wondering if a free meal should follow a rodent sighting in a dining room, the most frequent concern I get from readers involves loud restaurants.”

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