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Seeking recommendation for quiet restaurant with well-spaced tables

f
Frisbie Jul 28, 2009 12:42 PM

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.

  1. MMRuth Jul 28, 2009 12:47 PM

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

    1. k
      kathryn Jul 28, 2009 12:54 PM

      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. j
        jenhen2 Jul 28, 2009 12:54 PM

        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. c
          City Kid Jul 28, 2009 01:13 PM

          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.

          www.kellari.us

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

          1. r
            RGR Jul 28, 2009 01:26 PM

            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
              k
              kathryn Jul 28, 2009 04:26 PM

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

            2. w
              wooster5 Jul 28, 2009 01:40 PM

              Sorella on the lower east side -- tables are spaced extremely far apart and the noise level is quiet (particularly in the back room). Decent food too...

              1. beaulieu Jul 28, 2009 06:57 PM

                The Danny Meyer group is usually well spaced, as is the Livanos Group (Molyvos, Abboccato, Oceana.) Michael's, Telepan and Picholine also. All of these have calm or no music, which is as much of a problem in most places as the crowding.

                1 Reply
                1. re: beaulieu
                  r
                  RGR Jul 28, 2009 09:32 PM

                  While Picholine does not play music and the overall noise level is low, most of the tables are along banquettes and are quite close together. The few tables in the middle of the back room are for parties larger than two.

                  The banquette tables in the dining room at Gramercy Tavern are fairly close to one another. In the Tavern Room, all the tables are very close to one another.

                  ETA: Oceana closed on July 25th and will reopen in its new Rockefeller Center location in a few weeks. It remains to be seen what the table spacing will be like.

                2. r
                  rrems Jul 28, 2009 08:18 PM

                  I don't understand the recommendation of Perilla above. Though it is a favorite of mine, it is not quiet and the tables are not well-spaced. Some tables are better than others, but overall it does not qualify. One of the most comfortable restaurants is Olana, and the prices are very reasonable. I will also echo the recommendations of Compass and Picholine. Perry St. and Tailor are other possibilities.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: rrems
                    k
                    kathryn Jul 28, 2009 09:36 PM

                    When I've been to Perilla it has seemed unnaturally spacious for a West Village restaurant... and it wasn't insanely loud. Maybe I only go at slow times?

                    Note Tailor is closed for the summer, though the bar is open.

                    1. re: kathryn
                      p
                      planetjess Jul 29, 2009 04:55 AM

                      While I wouldn't necessarily go as far as saying Perilla is spacious, its layout helps for dinners with friends--it's where I always go for these kinds of evenings. There are relatively few two-tops, and none of that side-by-side banquette seating, so you either get seated in one of the two-tops along the right-side wall past the bar, in which case there's a wall on one side and the aisle on another, or in one of the couple of tables at the front behind the hostess station--those tables are positioned next to each other but with the possibility of sitting with your backs to the other table. If you happen to get sat in the back (I never do, as a two), there is more space back there anyway. I wouldn't call Perilla quiet as a rule, but I also don't feel like I'm on top of the other diners or that we're hearing each others' conversations (for this a bit of background noise, which Perilla has, is actually helpful).

                  2. LeahBaila Jul 29, 2009 05:44 AM

                    Bar Artisanal
                    Bistro Chat Noir
                    Naima
                    Tamarind
                    Almond

                    www.thelunchbelle.com

                    1. f
                      Frisbie Jul 29, 2009 10:55 AM

                      Hi, all. I'm Frisbie (who asked the question), and I just wanted to thank everyone for the responses. I printed all of them and am excited to try some of these suggestions. Thanks again for taking the time to write.

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