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Quiet Please: Anywhere Left to Go? And I don't want to bump elbows or know about your trip to Paris

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i am totally aggravated with the prevailing mood in LA (and American) restaurants-- noise.

although i liked going to Jiraffe the noise drives me away. same for Nobu, Brass Cap, Spago, Mozza, Lucques, AOC, etc. There are many places I won't go to b/c I hear they're loud (chinois, opus, la terza for ex.).

Then there is the lack of space. I don't want to hear anything from the next table, let alone
be crammed in. but people order drinks and get louder and louder by the minute. people send me to places that they say are quiet and it simply isn't true.
A place is quiet if you can whisper at the table.
A place is too loud if you have to raise your voice to be heard.

i go to the omakase sushi bars usually, which are quiet.
La Cacchette is ok if you get there early enough, same for Melisse. but those aren't exactly places i always want to bring my kids.

I like to linger, stay several hours. sometimes halfway into my 4th course the crowds start arriving-- i walk out.
I'm looking for other places.
Quiet places with a great chef (and no publicist), a table not jammed in with another. Are those days really over in America? To me it is a sham.

i may have to move, unless i hear of some decent recommendations.

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  1. Maybe it was just the time I went, but the patio at Joe's was quiet in the evening.

    But I TOTALLY agree with you! I hate being bumped (I wrote a letter to the manager at Zucca beause I was bumped all night long by waitstaff who did not even excuse themselves). Its tough because my mom is really sensitive to the noise, and she will not go back to a place if its noisy. I recently had a good dinner at Blairs but would NEVER take her after 7 PM because we would not be able to comfortably converse. She even thought Napa Rose was too loud (I did not).

    1. You've really touched upon some restaurant issues that have become deal breakers for me too. It seems most people don't seem to mind being crammed in like sardines and having to endure loud conversations from adjoining tables. Have you tried Josie in Santa Monica?? It might be what you are looking for.

      1. once went to I Cugini in santa monica VERY early evening, and it was relatively quiet.

        1. agree, Josie's in the back or by the fireplace...also maybe Catch at Casa del Mar hotel, by the window...

          3 Replies
          1. re: Local

            The Belvadere in Beverly Hills is very quiet.

            1. re: handlertaper

              not much information about the food at Belvedere, even on Chowhound... this one is tempting, even though when i stayed at the hotel a while back i found that things sometimes didn't live up to their wish to extract dollars from us.

              1. re: handlertaper

                I remember sitting at a very quiet table in the Belvedere, when suddenly an entire basketball team of 10 showed up (all hotel guests), sat in the tables immediately near, all hell broke loose.

            2. Isn't PROVIDENCE relatively quiet?

              4 Replies
              1. re: Liquid Sky

                The main dining room isn't that quiet but the smaller room to the rear is. As with any restaurant, it really boils down to who's sharing the dining room with you.

                1. re: hrhboo

                  we were in the back smaller room and it was pretty quiet, it's got to vary night to night and completely dependent on who is on either side of you. At Providence there is a lot of talking going on since the waitstaff is pretty detailed about it is in the course they are bringing you if you do the fixed menu.

                2. re: Liquid Sky

                  No, obviously you've never been there! :)

                  1. Cucina Paradiso on Motor near Culver City is usually quiet, and I would think kids would feel fine being there. Also the Palms branch of Guelaguetza didn't strike me as especially noisy, though the tables may feel too close together. Warszawa might be another option. I wouldn't say Opus is especially noisy, then again, I don't usually notice noise in restaurants unless it's over the top like Luna. But even then, it doesn't really bother me. (So you may want to check my recs with someone who's a little more noise-averse.)

                    Part of the reason restaurants are noisy these days is the decor. High ceilings and minimalist furnishings don't absorb noise like low ceilings, plush seats and draperies etc.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: writergirl

                      I've been told that the architects today are deliberately making restaurants noisy. Makes people feel like they are somewhere "happening".

                      What about some old school places that aren't trendy? Steakhouses and the like.

                      1. re: mlgb

                        When I was at Pacific Dining Car one night, it was pretty sedate. Not dead, but quiet enough that I could talk at a normal level with my friend.

                    2. I suspect the dining room at the Hotel Bel Air would be pretty quiet.

                      I think Joe's patio is quiet, but their main room is not, so you would need to insist on the patio.

                      1. another vote for josie...and valentino is usually pretty sedate.

                        1. I wouldn't move because of loud restaurants.

                          This is my #1 pet peeve too, though the two (crammed seating, noise in general) are separate, and yes, I've walked out for both offenses (before ordering, of course).

                          For the seating/over-hearing issue, I always just wait until they can seat us (usually just 2) at a non-cramped table. Life's too short to deal w/ that. If you go early (pre-7) or late, it isn't usually a problem, unless you're insisting on going to uber-trendy restaurants.

                          For noise, yes, it's bad and getting worse. I remember Ortolan as being sedate, but I was there right when it opened so it's been a while.

                          The big, plush booths at steakhouses might work (e.g. Taylor's), as would certain nicer Korean restaurants have private dining nooks which are very quiet (Yougsusan?). I can't think of a really quiet Chinese or Mexican rec, but maybe they exisit. How do you feel about Mariachis? (kidding)

                          Where are you located?

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: cant talk...eating

                            thx, all, for the recommendations given so far. a couple of these i haven't tried (for fear that they might be loud).

                            west side location, Can't Talk. i'm glad you don't think i should move (i'm a bit restless) but there are things that irk me here, most of all that besides the best of sushi places i can't seem to find a few favorites for dining, as i had in nyc (some of those could be loud or cramped too, like Babbo and Aquagrill).

                            i don't like trendy but i do love exquisite cooking.

                            as for moving, well, my other gripe is that very often i seem to be the only person walking around, no matter how perfect the weather is. + what other city in the world closes its cafes so early??? don't get me wrong, i love living here, in spite of some of the inanity.

                            1. re: epop

                              oh, ...another thought- possibly Chameau or Tagine, per others on the board...relatively quiet (neither have entertainment, as with some of the other popular Morrocan restaurants here in LA). Both have received high marks for quality of food and dining experience.

                              www.chameaurestaurant.com
                              www.taginecuisine.com

                              1. re: Local

                                Yes, Chameau is ideal provided you can get a booth. On the other side of the wall, though, the tables are very close together. If you're open to a breakfast/lunch type of place, try Cafe Verona on LaBrea & 2nd. The only time I've seen it crowded is Saturday across the late morning/early afternoon hour. I think it's open from 8-6.

                            2. re: cant talk...eating

                              west side residence.

                              i think what i'll do is press the Reset button on some of the places i go to, like Brass Cap (which was very bad and very loud this time i went), jiraffe.
                              then with the new list simply stick to those quieter places mentioned. i haven't figured out the best place to become a regular, other than the sushi places. la cachette is almost that but the crowd is almost always exclusively older. that's fine and great but sometimes if i show up w/ my baby i get looks, even though she is quieter than most yuppies.

                            3. I love the layout at Cut because the tables are spaced well. It's very comfortable and private at your table.

                              I share your frustration. Some of our favorite places are just painfully noisy. My dad joins us for a lot of lunches and some dinners and he's more comfortable leaving his hearing aides OUT because they only amplify the sound!! As a result, I am screaming even louder than most would have to speak for him to hear the conversation. I leave many meals just exhausted from yelling.

                              1. Water Grill for dinner (not lunch).

                                Bistro Verdu

                                Babita

                                Valentino

                                The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton, Pasadena

                                Sai Sai (in the Biltmore)

                                Thousand Cranes (at the New Otani in Little Tokyo)

                                Saddle Peak Lodge (esp. the upper floors)

                                Sushi Nozawa and Golden Deli ... ok, just kidding.

                                1. Beau Rivage, back room at Josie, Il Cielo, Giorgio Baldi, Bel-Air hotel (outdoors), Shiro in South Pas, off hours at some otherwise noisy places. My daughter and I had breakfast at IHOP this morning. We arrived around 8:00. It was dead quiet. By 8:45 noise was starting to pick up, but still fairly quiet. Quixotically, I have found that dinner at the bar (other than Thurs, Fri & Sat) can be pretty quiet generally.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: chefthisguy

                                    I have to disagree about Restaurant 561.

                                    When it gets crowded it is not quiet. That said, it is quite a gem of a restaurant. Not always consistent, but you can tell the place always tries to put its best foot forward, and after all, it is a cooking school cum restaurant ... so a little leeway is in order.

                                  2. I use hearing aids and noise is a very real problem for me. Even a reasonable level of noise can stop me from hearing anything being said to me by the person sitting next to me at my table. Also, as for space, I have enjoyed popcorn at the AMC with more space between my seat and the row in front of me than some tables and chairs have been spaced at "nice" places that I have been to. To answer your question, the only place that comes to mind is Park Ave. The tables are set further apart than any place I can recall in LA/OC. Noise has never been an issue for me at Park Ave. either. One thing you did not mention is how nice it is having a high quality, safe, and comfortable chair to sit in at the table. Yep, add a cool classy Googie ambiance and very good food at a rerasonable price and that pretty much sums up Park Ave.

                                    Park Ave. In Stanton, 10 minutes toward the beach from Knott’s.
                                    http://www.parkavedining.com/

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: JeetJet

                                      went to brass cap again. they had the music way up so that we couldn't speak to one another. every time i asked them to turn it down i got that "please don't ask me that" look and the volume lowered temporarily for a bit of peace and then was raised again to an even higher volume. i won't be going there again. at least there is space between tables there.

                                      i think it is true: architects and designers want the noise. it is like a laugh track during a tv show

                                      1. re: epop

                                        They want buzz. It's supposed to make you feel like you are important and their spot is a happening place. Whatever.

                                        1. re: mc michael

                                          actually, it's more scientific than that. studies have shown that restaurant diners tend to eat more quickly and consume larger amounts of food when exposed to faster and/or louder music. so it's actually a strategy to get you to eat/order/spend more.

                                          granted, some restaurants miss their mark and end up creating a dining environment so unpleasant that the last thing you want to do is linger...but the smart ones know exactly what they're doing, and you can be sure that every ambient detail, from the wattage of the light bulbs, to the color of the walls, and the genre & decibel level of music are all chosen very deliberately with one goal in mind...to increase profits.

                                          1. re: mc michael

                                            yes, like a laugh track. it's supposed to make you feel like it is funny. instead it is very irritating, to those that still aren't numb

                                      2. I agree with the others who recommended Josie - it is very quiet and intimate in the back room. Also, although the main dining room at AOC is very loud, the patio upstairs has always been nice and quiet for me. Also, the side porch at Hatfield's is quite quiet. As for Providence, I had a horrible experience there with a loud and obnoxious person at a neighboring table - but you can't really blame the restaurant for that. Wouldn't it be awesome if restaurants could have a "Do Not Serve" list for loud and obnoxious people? Perhaps a little difficult to enforce, but it would be great... =)

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: aching

                                          I third the Valentino recommendation.

                                          We went there for dinner at 6:15 on a saturday and it was a quiet experience that I've not had before at a restaurant. It was eerie at first but felt so luxurious by the end to be able to pretty much whisper across the table.

                                          1. re: aching

                                            agree...too many people are using their "outdoor" voices indoors.

                                            1. re: Local

                                              Perhaps it's the "wine voice" they're using??

                                              1. re: Liquid Sky

                                                In defense of some people, unfortunately, my stepfather and mom are in their late 70's, losing their hearing (especially my stepdad), and I find I have to talk louder than I would like in order for them to hear/understand me. In fact, my sister just "shushed" me at a French restaurant Saturday night, and I shrugged my shoulders as if to say, "What am I supposed to do?"

                                            2. re: aching

                                              contact Homeland Security-- maybe there's a way

                                              1. re: epop

                                                No, if Homeland Security were in charge, all the good people would be denied entry and sent to Guantanamo while our favorite restaurants would be filled with terrorists!

                                            3. This is my opinion, of course, but you're out in public at a restaurant. If you want it silent and bump free, stay home and hire someone to cook for you.

                                              One of the best parts of L.A. is the variety of people out and about. While our culture is going in two directions (an interesting dichotomy where one is an influx of individualism, and one is communities drawing together) I'd rather be aware of those around me, and appreciate the fact that I'm at a restaurant where others are enjoying the food/atmosphere/service etc. The joy of being out can be quite contagious.

                                              I also need to say that I'm somewhat happy that America could be veering away from the sterile individualistic style of dining. Ever eaten out in Europe? There are many places where you share the same table with (gasp) strangers! It really can be a beautiful thing if you're interested in letting it be.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: Melissavina

                                                nobody said anything about silence. i love to go out and watch people, here and in europe. what i am referring to is the shouting one has to do to be heard over the music and chatter.

                                                restaurants aren't night clubs. conversation is crucial

                                                1. re: epop

                                                  I seem to recall Patina as being relatively quiet. Expensive, but quiet.

                                                  1. re: epop

                                                    Epop:
                                                    I hear you, and the other side of my brain is saying this:

                                                    Typically American restaurants have moved toward not only providing quality food, but feeling the need to entertain their guests too. That entertainment usually means loud decorations/sound systems/atmosphere. So I hear what you're saying.

                                                    It's great when you can find a place that relies only on it's food and service and doesn't need to stimulate every one of your senses.

                                                    So I guess I can see both sides of the fence.

                                                2. This post brings up an interesting issue.

                                                  There are restaurants that are loud, but have good acoustics. In other words, the decibel level might be high, but you can generally hear the conversation you're having with no problems.

                                                  Then, there are restaurants that aren't even necessarily that loud, but have really bad acoustics such that the diner way across the room quietly sipping tea will make the din in the room defeaning.

                                                  I have the problems with the former, but can't stand the latter.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    I feel the same way. I can't eat at Rustic Canyon or Axe because the acoustics make the room unbearably loud.

                                                    1. re: mollyomormon

                                                      Literati II also falls in that category. My throat was sore for days after eating there from shouting - and we were sitting at a small table!

                                                      1. re: aching

                                                        so glad to know that--- i almost went there today but it is X'd

                                                        1. re: epop

                                                          The food was really good - but it was incredibly loud I thought!

                                                          1. re: aching

                                                            my taste buds complain when the volume increases so no meal seems fine when i can't hear myself think and i'm rushing to leave

                                                  2. Guido's on Bundy and Santa Monica in West LA is very quiet. And it actually has booths vs. tables!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: dinami

                                                      Booths are not comfortable for more than a party of two. I hate having to get up every time someone else has to pee, or being stuck up against the wall. Having your own chair means more elbow room and you can move about as you please.

                                                    2. I'm with you! Noise can definitely ruin an evening of fine food and wine. Like others have posted, Josie always delivers in terms of food and ambiance; some would call it "boring", but I appreciate the serene envirnment.

                                                      I'm still scratching my head wondering why everyone is so enamored with Mozza. By far, it's one of the loudest restaurants I've ever been in. The food is good, but c'mon, it's pizza and not worth losing my voice the next day just to carry on a conversation.

                                                      8 Replies
                                                      1. re: vinosnob

                                                        For a Saturday afternoon lunch, I did not find the noise unbearable. And I have a low tolerance for noise due to a hearing loss, so if I am not complaining, then most people wouldn't.

                                                        1. re: glutton

                                                          Don't buy that generalization, but I would imagine afternoons are quieter than evenings...

                                                        2. re: vinosnob

                                                          Maybe Mozza is a secret plot to make us all New Yorkers.

                                                            1. re: Maxmillion

                                                              Does that mean Angelenos will start saying "Mutha" and "tawk"? Dear God!

                                                                1. re: mc michael

                                                                  Ya, dats Mudder, Fodder and Gawd. Now dat you mention'n it, L.A. is off to a pretty good start. Dem Brooklyn Bums are already play’n here, and Mozza, Vito’s and maybe one mo NY Pizza Paula and Angelenos will become mo like New Yorkers. Maybe it is a plot.

                                                          1. re: vinosnob

                                                            No, no,no...its pizza AND pudding, silly :-)

                                                          2. La Cachette is Century City is pretty and quiet, with tables that are very widely spaced for LA. It is getting a little old (chairs rock, and not on purpose, paint is chipping, etc), but it is still a pretty elegant place. The fact that the average patron is over 50 also contributes to the peacefulness. Food is not what I would call elegant, but is honest Provencal with a touch of individuality. NOT CHEAP, though.

                                                            1. Hotel Bel Air
                                                              Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel
                                                              Arnie Morton's Downtown
                                                              Caffe Pinguini

                                                              La Dolce Vita - quiet lovely booths, you can linger forever, great food and service, one of my favorites when I want to relax

                                                              Barney's Gourmet Hamburgers in Brentwood, if you sit outside in front, and it's great for kids, though probably not a place you'd really want to linger for several hours, but you could if you wanted...

                                                              Also I was just at 26 Beach last night, and while I don't think you could be heard at a whisper, you could probably be fine using a very low voice. I was using my regular, fairly quiet, voice and was heard. The servers definitely don't rush you.

                                                              9 Replies
                                                              1. re: LisaStitch

                                                                Agree with everything said except:
                                                                Arnie Morton's Downtown is often overpacked past the gills and, while not overly raucous is very, very far from quiet.

                                                                1. re: Griller141

                                                                  Wow, I must have been there at an odd time then - 9pm on a Wednesday - because there was hardly anyone else in there, my friend and I had a huge booth, and you could almost hear a pin drop.

                                                                  1. re: LisaStitch

                                                                    Morton's in downtown is only a zoo during weekday lunch hour. Otherwise, it's pretty sedate.

                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                      Many evenings around 6-7 pm it is hard to physically enter and far from sedate. Empties out by 8.

                                                                      1. re: Griller141

                                                                        Good to know everyone, thanks! I'll stick to going late on weeknights!

                                                                        1. re: LisaStitch

                                                                          But will you be able to get the burger then?

                                                                          1. re: mc michael

                                                                            I believe the burger is lunch only, so sadly, I have never had it. But their steaks, service, and souffle desserts are great distractions from its absence!

                                                                2. re: LisaStitch

                                                                  Ditto on the Caffe Pinguini in Playa del Rey. It's a quiet little Italian restaurant a block away from the beach. I'm somewhat reticent to heartily recommend it in fear that too many will discover it. :-)

                                                                  Also, their Filetto Pizzaiola was one of the best filet mignons I have ever eaten.

                                                                  1. re: eat_n_run

                                                                    Caffe Pinguini is excellent. A few girlfriends and I go every couple of months for "cheese Tuesdays" - when we only order cheese dishes. The pizza margherita is wonderful.

                                                                3. Of all the very pleasant things I remember about our family's meal at Maison Akira (in Pasadena), one of the best parts was the murmur of conversation, the slight sounds of china and silverware and glasses, and the chamber music playing only just loud enough to hear if you wanted to, equally easy to talk over without raising your voice. The sense of well-being thus engendered made the frankly rather expensive food very much worth it, in my books.

                                                                  1. Try Risotto on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City. Every time I have been there it has been very civilized and they do have a patio as well

                                                                    1. Moun of Tunis, you can get a private room. No noise, no getting bumped. Decent food. You will have more privacy then you probably want. Even in the rest of the restaurant there's only 4 tables to each room. But, you'd better like Morrocan food.

                                                                      1. how about Vito on Ocean Prk Blvd? It's pretty quiet.

                                                                        1. epop,
                                                                          Try Catch, at the Casa del Mar hotel in Santa Monica. I wouldn't take really young kids there, as the interiors are white leather woven "beach" chairs, but older kids should be okay and it's a pretty space with great views of the ocean, excellent food (imho), and a pleasant ambiance with plenty of room between tables and a low-key buzz that won't kill conversation. (You might like the omakase sushi bar.)

                                                                          Longer review of a recent visit at: http://cynematic.wordpress.com/2007/0...

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: munchy

                                                                            i went there and while i really like the quiet ambience, the service and the space i was greatly disappointed by the food, unfortunately; it was almost the right fit.

                                                                            1. re: epop

                                                                              Epop,
                                                                              Just curious, what did you eat that you didn't like? (It floated my boat, sorry it didn't do for you.)

                                                                              Chacun a son gout!

                                                                              1. re: munchy

                                                                                yes, agree, taste is so personal yet not.

                                                                                i was thinking about it and we were there on a holiday evening so it was a special (and especially expensive) menu. i tried a lot from different plates and i had the ceasar salad and the ny steak while someone else nearby had the roast chicken and the ravioli. none of it impressed me. and the desserts were standard hotel fare. i was really disappointed b/c i wanted to like the place. but thank you, i think i will give it another shot, with their regular menu, if you can swear (not on your life) that it doesn't taste like it came out of a hotel kitchen.

                                                                                1. re: epop

                                                                                  Epop,
                                                                                  I had good luck with the halibut and the pork recently, and if you're an omakase sushi type, you might like their sushi bar. You can of course also get sushi at your table. I was pleasantly surprised that the food DIDN'T taste hotel-kitcheny, at least not to me.

                                                                                  Their desserts need some re-envisioning, though...or perhaps we should've gone with the chocolate terrine instead of a mango tart tatin.

                                                                                  1. re: munchy

                                                                                    the burger and fries at catch were surprisingly good.

                                                                          2. Just had another perfectly relaxing dinner at Shiro on Sat night.
                                                                            ...just enough buzz to feel like people were enjoying themselves-every so often, I would notice some great jazz coming from who knows where...it wasn't too quiet in the room to make you feel as if you're at a library...4 hours of relaxing dining and drinking and great conversation in a busy place with lots of eating, drinking, and laughing.

                                                                            Now, there even quieter places where you feel as if you're in a retirement community.

                                                                            Sunday night, we went to Pinot Bistro to try out the Locals Dinner NIght (it was really good)...my friend and I laughed a bit because of how in our face it was that some day we too will be old...we started counting...5 canes, 3 walkers, and a lot of leaning into the older folks ears to loudly and slowly describe what was on the menu.

                                                                            The room was quiet and the food was good but I felt as if we would be required to order aplle sauce and prunes.
                                                                            Great service. Good wine list.

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: tatertotsrock

                                                                              Speaker of walkers and such, we went to the Pacific Dining Car (Sixth St.) recently on aSaturday night...place was quiet as a tomb, some fairly elderly clients as well as a few younger ones (and James Ellroy!) but far from full. The good thing is that there's several rooms and they space the parties out among them, rather them cramming them all into one.

                                                                              1. re: Chowpatty

                                                                                Yes! PDC on Sixth. Very quiet and subdued. Genteel servers -- none of those jarring interruptions. Excellent recommendation.

                                                                                1. re: Chowpatty

                                                                                  Hi Chowpatty,
                                                                                  Totally agree with you on PDC...love the place late at night to curl up with a good book, Eggs Sardu and a glass of red wine...great combo especially in a quiet room with the best service ever...I've been there at 3am after flying back in to town on a red eye and I couldn't sleep...it blew my mind how they always knew when to check on me and for all I knew, they were curled up on a cot somewhere.
                                                                                  Have been there for breakfast on a busy (packed) Sunday, seated near the entrance and the noise level was still quite nice.

                                                                              2. I hate loud restaurants, too. It almost seems like my tastebuds shut down when the noise level gets too high.

                                                                                Perhaps not the most chic or trendy spot, but I've always found the Hamburger Hamlet in Beverly Hills to be peaceful, quiet, and with tables nicely spaced. I would think it would be a good choice when dining with kids.

                                                                                1. Derek's Bistro in Pasadena provides quiet private tables if you call ahead for a reservation. The food is good, service great, and it is QUIET! Google Dereks Bistro for a menu.