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Jul 28, 2009 12:42 PM

Seeking recommendation for quiet restaurant with well-spaced tables

Hi, all. I don't live in NYC but I rent a tiny apartment and spend as much time as possible in your amazing city. One thing I struggle with, though, is finding a restaurant where I can have a quiet conversation with a friend and not be forced to hear all the people around me. In fact, a lot of times I'm sitting closer to the strangers next to me than my companion (for example, in restaurants where two-person tables are set up in a long row with each table just a foot or so apart). Of course I realize Manhattan is busy and noisy, and maybe I need to learn how to tune people out, but I find it uncomfortable being forced to listen to conversations of people around me. I'm sure there are some restaurants where tables are well spaced and more private, and I would really appreciate any suggestions. I don't have specific cuisines or price ranges in mind, although I'm certainly willing to pay a premium for a more private, quiet setting. My apartment is in Clinton so I would love to find a couple options in Midtown, but I would gladly travel to other neighborhoods to try out any recommendations people may have. Thanks very much.

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  1. It would be helpful to have some sense of cuisine and cost ....

    1. Off the top of my head, for nicer but not super-upscale, less cramped dining, I would go to Perilla, Kyo Ya, Red Egg, Chinatown Brasserie.

      Sometimes the more spacious spots are on the loud side, though, like Boqueria Soho or Cookshop.

      Most of the Danny Meyer restaurants are pretty good in this regard, too. And if you search for wheelchair accessible spots, those tend to be spacious.

      1. Chanterelle is the most spacious, elegant and calm restaurant I have ever been too. You'll pay dearly for that, but I think it's well worth it. Another idea is the Harrison which has decent sized tables.

        1. I recommend it frequently, but Kellari Taverna is one of my favorite spots for great food and the sort of ambiance that is conducive to conversation: nice lighting, large, well-spaced tables, effective sound-proofing, lovely modern decor, and good service. Excellent Greek/Med specialties with some of the freshest fish you will find anywhere. It could be a good midtown option for you.

          19 W 44th St
          New York, NY 10036-5902
          (212) 221-0144

          1. I agree about Chanterelle. However, note that they are closing after August 16th until nearly the end of October in order to redecorate and make some other interior changes (they'll be adding a bar) in preparation for celebrating their 30th anniversary in November. I truly hope that one thing that will not change is the *very* widely-spaced tables.

            per se is another restaurant where tables are very widely-spaced. Of course, you do have to pay *very* handsomely for the privilege.

            Jean Georges has two small alcoves on either side of the dining room with a table for two in each. Very cozy and no worries about hearing other conversations.

            Eleven Madison Park has a number of free-standing tables which are quite nicely-spaced. Along the banquettes, the tables' the spacing isn't quite as wide but still better than it is in other restaurants with banquette seating.

            In The Modern's formal dining room, the best table for not being on top of another is the one furthest to the rear alongside the windows looking out to the Sculpture Garden.

            A good option for more "privacy" is a booth -- though during prime dining hours, restaurants will usually not seat two people in a booth that accommodates four. One restaurant that has always acceded to our request for a booth for just the two of us no matter the hour is Compass.

            I'm surprised that Kathryn mentioned Cookshop. The one time we had dinner there, the tables -- at least, where we were seated -- were practically on top of one another. The only reason we couldn't hear every last word being said at the table next to ours was that the overall noise level was exceedingly high.

            1 Reply
            1. re: RGR

              I've never felt crowded at Cookshop but as you mention it depends where you are in the room.