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WTF is up with the noise level in Toronto restaurants?

ascendance Jan 12, 2013 09:54 PM

Seriously, the insistence on hard surfaces like polished concrete makes for a lousy dining experience.

Just came back from a mediocre meal (yes, the Carte Blanche) made terrible by the 92 db volume (pulled out the phone and checked with an app). 92 db is equivalent to factory equivalent at 3 feet away. If I had to sit for 3 hours at work at a 92 db volume, I'd be issued ear protectors. As it stands, I was ready to leave at the 2.5 hour mark. Too bad I had 2 courses to go.

I recently went to the Grove. My meal was also made much worse by the very loud argument coming from the next table. The tables were squeezed so close, I didn't have much choice but to listen.

Seriously, people who review restaurants should be looking more at the whole dining experience, not just the food. Service, attention to detail, and yes, volume, all count.

  1. Flexitarian Jan 12, 2013 10:26 PM

    I totally agree and have rallied against this for years to no avail. For me a great dining experience is great food, good value, a nice ambience and the actual ability to hear the person or people you are dining with (imagine that?). Other than food the main reason (actually probably even more than the food) people dine out is too socialize. But if socializing is a challenge then why bother?

    I've been told that my problem is I am too old and I don't get that loud noise makes for a cool place. But, if you can't enjoy the experience and socialize then why bother? It never used to be this way in Toronto.

    35 Replies
    1. re: Flexitarian
      ascendance Jan 12, 2013 10:30 PM

      It's certainly not this was in Paris. I was packed in like a sardine at Cafe Constant, and I wasn't subjected to a 92 db volume. Same thing at Rino, and Le Dauphin.

      1. re: Flexitarian
        DUH CAR Jan 13, 2013 04:33 AM

        I also agree. If we are going out with another couple to catch up on things, I now only go to places with lower noise levels. And we do spend lots on food and wine on occasions like this, so it is the restauranteur's loss............

        1. re: DUH CAR
          KAYLO Jan 13, 2013 07:52 AM

          +1 here! Table 17 was our most recent "screaming across the table" experience, and I have never returned to Colborne Lane, either. "Background" music is supposed to be in the BACKGROUND. If I wanted a nightclub experience to revv me up, I'd go to one, or to a sports bar for dinner.

          Does this turn tables faster? Or just lower the check? Certainly we skip dessert if the noise is giving me a headache. ANd we never, ever, go back.

          We do ask when it is lunchtime or dinnertime in a bar-less bistro if the staff could turn it down a bit, and they usually do...a bit.

          ANd that's without commenting on the weird TASTES in music. "I want to eff you in the ass bah dum bah dum" is not conducive to my appetite.

          Call me a young fart at age 55, but I am a young fart with good hearing and I want to keep it that way. Above 65 db causes damage to the ears!

          We spend about half the year in Europe, Asia, and the States. And we almost never have this problem.

          Just curious: how old are the posters on this topic? ANd are the younger ones already deaf from their earbuds?

          1. re: KAYLO
            ascendance Jan 13, 2013 08:02 AM

            I'm only 34-35, but I work in education and I'm constantly yelling at kids to turn down the volume :D

            1. re: ascendance
              hungryabbey Jan 14, 2013 01:58 PM

              I'm only 25, and I despise loud restaurants. I do believe there is a place where you can feel a "buzz" or "vibe" in a place (aka. not feeling like you're out to dinner in a seniors home), while still being able to carry a conversation with your companions. Honestly, I find it exhausting being in a restaurant trying to tell at my partner, and usually I just give up the pursuit. As a result, the iphones come out. It's not that I don't want to talk to my partner, it's just that I don't want to ruin my voice and get a headache while trying.
              So you are not being a crockedy old person if you complain about noise level. If we didn't care about talking with one another, we would have gone out alone. It totally ruins the experience for me.

            2. re: KAYLO
              ascendance Jan 13, 2013 09:06 AM

              At least the Chef's table at Colborne Lane is nice and quiet :)

              1. re: KAYLO
                KitchenVoodoo Mar 24, 2014 11:25 PM

                I'm a young fart too, but to the credit of Table 17, when I ask them to turn down the volume, they always do. And I've noticed that it now isn't as loud as it was when I first started going there. Perhaps an old dog can be trained new tricks ;)
                I also spend a lot of my time each year in Europe, and the difference I noticed is that there is little or NO music - just the harmonious buzz of congenial people enjoying good food and drink - there's no artificiality, and I think that's the difference. In Toronto, people are so tense and uptight, it would be hard for them to go out to a restaurant and just eat food and have a good discussion. They need to have this artificial envelope of noise or else they don't feel adequate to the situation, it's too adult to simply sit down over good food and talk.
                Rant over, but let's keep trying!

            3. re: Flexitarian
              KitchenVoodoo Jan 15, 2013 09:39 PM

              You said it all.
              I am also old, and I have lots of money to spend on dining out, and often treat friends who are less well off.
              I agree with another poster's comment, I NEVER GO BACK to a place where I had to SCREAM at my dining companions.
              Increasingly, my dining dollars end up in my own kitchen where we can speak at the volume that humans are meant to, especially when relaxing over a meal.
              Loudness = (overpriced interpretation of cheap ethnic food by skinny ponytailed over tattood George Brown grads wearing ridiculous hats) x (urgency to ignore landlord's demands for rent)
              My formula may be off, but I still have full hearing, and intend on keeping it by staying away from ridiculous palces like Grand Electric.
              By the way, if you want to try tacos and don't want permanent ear damage, just go to one of the Mexican places on Agusta Ave in Kensington Market.

              1. re: Flexitarian
                KitchenVoodoo Mar 23, 2014 10:42 PM

                Bumping this up - MODERATORS feel free to join this thread with my new one about restaurant noise levels.
                Flexitarian - you are right - it never used to be this way in Toronto. In the early 80's I enjoyed countless meals in many amazing restaurants such as Fenton's, the Danish Center on Bloor Street West, I could go on and on.
                In those days, the diner was always in charge, and the idea of imposing loud music, or grubby pierced and tattooed waiters who looked as though they hadn't bathed for days, would be unthinkable.
                Nowadays, sadly, we have successfully won the race to the bottom. Hurray!

                1. re: KitchenVoodoo
                  pourboi Mar 25, 2014 07:28 AM

                  Really? "In those days, the diner was always in charge, and the idea of imposing loud music, or grubby pierced and tattooed waiters who looked as though they hadn't bathed for days, would be unthinkable."

                  Now go back and read the "old dive bars" thread and see how many people miss the places that were dark dingy smokey and dangerous from 30 years ago... There have always been loud places with tattooed waiters in the city.. it is just now that they are trendy... AND they are trendy BECAUSE the loud music keeps the "non-trendy" people out...

                2. re: Flexitarian
                  KitchenVoodoo Mar 24, 2014 11:11 PM

                  Completely agree - you know from the other thread that I started that I am stunned by the noise levels in restaurants these days. Let's escalate this any and every way we can - mainly by voting with our wallets, and posting comments on restaurants websites, and here of course.
                  The number of places that I can afford to dine out at in the evening is shrinking because so many of these new trendy places are completely deafening!
                  I'm old too, but I'm wise enough to discern a genuine restaurateur who provides all aspects of hospitality, from some ex art student who thinks he or she can be the next James Beard because he or she can heat up a disc of corn dough whilst blowing out their diner's eardrums.
                  Let's take our wallets to places that respect the idea of civilised dining.

                  1. re: KitchenVoodoo
                    TeRReT Mar 25, 2014 06:29 AM

                    I get your complaint, but your constant complaining about "art students" is rather offensive. There is no need to assign a label. Just say you don't like the current trends in restaurant, your mentioning art students in the majority of your posts doesn't add anything.

                    1. re: TeRReT
                      BigBabyYeezuS Mar 25, 2014 06:39 AM

                      Restaurants are places where people spend time together and eat. There are lots of ways people want to spend time together. Grand Electric wants to create a party in Parkdale, like a house party with tacos and bourbon. It does that well. Edulis wants to create a different experience - the Canadian equivalent of a small European restaurant. It does that well.

                      Unsurprisingly, both places are very popular and are popular with, generally, different crowds. Different people have different preferences and it's good that places cater to those different preferences.

                      Grand Electric would be a very different place if it was quiet; Edulis a very different place if it was loud.

                      It's a problem when there's a mismatch between the restaurants goals and its noise level or when a city has too many of one kind of restaurant. But that's not a noise problem, that's a business or culture problem.

                      1. re: BigBabyYeezuS
                        justxpete Mar 25, 2014 06:52 AM

                        If I don't like how loud a given place is, I stay away and go elswhere.

                        It's that ever-elusive common sense thing.

                        1. re: justxpete
                          atomeyes Mar 25, 2014 07:46 AM

                          see, here's my problem.
                          I like Grand Electric.
                          but i hate their food, music, alcohol and clientele.
                          should i stop going there?

                          1. re: atomeyes
                            TeRReT Mar 25, 2014 07:57 AM


                          2. re: justxpete
                            BigBabyYeezuS Mar 25, 2014 10:04 AM

                            Of course. Totally agreed. There's a valid point, I think, if there's a disconnect between the food and the atmosphere. Imagine showing up to, say, Scaramouch and finding a room so loud that you can't have a conversation. That's a pretty valid complaint.

                            It's another thing to show up at a restaurant that's basically billed as a taco and bourbon party and find that what you get is a taco and bourbon party.

                            1. re: BigBabyYeezuS
                              justxpete Mar 25, 2014 10:19 AM

                              Or, like, going to Scaramouche and finding the decor wasn't dated. That'd be a shocker too.

                              1. re: justxpete
                                BigBabyYeezuS Mar 25, 2014 10:25 AM

                                Or showing up to Grand Electric and finding table cloths and first growth Bordeaux to go with your tacos!

                                1. re: BigBabyYeezuS
                                  justxpete Mar 25, 2014 10:28 AM

                                  Yeah, it's almost as if people know what to expect from places. Almost!

                        2. re: TeRReT
                          KitchenVoodoo Mar 25, 2014 09:29 PM

                          OK - take it easy - the reference to "art students" was meant to be ironic.... ?
                          Why so serious? Sense of humour anywhere?

                          1. re: KitchenVoodoo
                            frogsteak Mar 25, 2014 09:53 PM

                            can you explain the irony?

                            1. re: frogsteak
                              KitchenVoodoo Mar 25, 2014 10:48 PM

                              OK, I'll bite.
                              So, art students have a reputation of being "right brain" thinkers, they like to create, and sometimes their creativity leads them towards opening a restaurant. But because their "left brain" is less exercised, they neglect to notice that it's actually a business they are running, and to sustain it, they need repeat customers who have lots of cash to throw their way. For BIG money (the sort that I would spend) they need to replace the Frat House party ambience and its eardrum destroying misogynistic rap "music" with something low and more civilised.
                              And really good food would be a bonus.
                              Are you really mad now? The moderators will probably kill our communications, but stay cool OK?I
                              I think my point is valid, and I'm not attacking art students, but it's a running joke out there, when you go to a new place, and all the staff are covered in tattoos and piercings, and so full of themselves, and the food is merely adequate to mediocre, the noise levels are damaging, the usual summation is "Yeah, another start up place by art students".
                              It's just a slogan, didn't mean to offend you. So get the joke, and laugh!

                              1. re: KitchenVoodoo
                                szw Mar 25, 2014 10:57 PM

                                You'd be surprised who is actually behind these restaurants. Here's a hint..you are wrong.

                                1. re: KitchenVoodoo
                                  aser Mar 25, 2014 11:30 PM

                                  You old bro.....

                                  it's just a joke, don't forget to laugh.

                          2. re: KitchenVoodoo
                            pourboi Mar 25, 2014 10:35 AM

                            Only in Toronto! this would never happen in New York... nobody like Mario Batali would open a restaurant and play Load Rock Music there! (cough.. Babbo) and if theydid it would not last 10 years.. (cough.. Babbo)

                            1. re: pourboi
                              TeRReT Mar 25, 2014 03:34 PM

                              Don't worry, all the loud places will close soon. Look at guu for example, well known to be loud, and now they are struggling so much they had to open a second guu and a ramen shop to get more money :(

                              1. re: TeRReT
                                pourboi Mar 25, 2014 07:32 PM

                                Same with the Drake they had to open one downtown because everyone is sick of the Parkdale location... Plus Grand Electric had to open Electric Mud... it all makes sense now..

                                1. re: pourboi
                                  KitchenVoodoo Mar 25, 2014 09:22 PM

                                  That doesn't make much business sense - why re-create the same scene that drove patrons away?
                                  Unless you tell me that Drake 150 and Electric Mud actually have muted background music? I highly doubt that, and I won't spent by cash at either.
                                  Voting with my wallet!

                                  1. re: KitchenVoodoo
                                    szw Mar 25, 2014 09:36 PM

                                    KV, you missed some sarcasm. Nothing has driven anyone away.

                                    1. re: szw
                                      KitchenVoodoo Mar 25, 2014 10:51 PM

                                      I did miss the sarcasm - thanks for pulling me up - but once again, I'll vote with my wallet!

                                    2. re: KitchenVoodoo
                                      pourboi Mar 26, 2014 05:09 AM

                                      lol ... can I ask how old you are?

                                      1. re: pourboi
                                        1sweetpea Mar 26, 2014 12:11 PM

                                        Can't answer for KV, but I am 41 and despise shouting over music or other shouting diners. I like virtually any music that is appropriate to a given venue's vibe, but when it prevents conversation at a table of 2-6 diners, it's too freakin' loud!

                                        1. re: 1sweetpea
                                          petek Mar 26, 2014 12:25 PM

                                          I'm 54 and I like all kinds of music, from hip hop to metal but not if I'm eating and it's making my ears bleed. It distracts me from my food, personally I could care less about conversation most of the time( I usually just pretend I'm listening anyway).

                                          To avoid this problem I (a) try and go for lunch (also no lineups and the music is a decent level)
                                          (b) go early (less chance of a line up and the "scene' hasn't started yet)
                                          (c) If a and b are not an option I'm shit outta luck I guess...

                                          1. re: petek
                                            1sweetpea Mar 26, 2014 12:47 PM

                                            Yup, me too, Petek.

                          3. t
                            terrycar Jan 13, 2013 08:39 AM

                            Apparently loud music encourages patrons to drink more. Yep.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: terrycar
                              iamafoodie Jan 13, 2013 09:56 AM

                              Terrycar is correct. Research conducted by Cornell University and published in their H & R Journal about a decade ago discovered bar sales increased proportionately to ambient sound levels. It also found that higher sound levels also increased table turnover. If you can't carry on a conversation all you can do is drink up and get out. Contemporary restaurant designers have employed this information to sell owners on their interior finishes, or lack thereof.

                              All we can do is advise restaurant managers and owners that it is uncomfortable and unwanted.

                              Employees might be more successful in bringing about change by advising the Ontario Department of Labour of their harmful working conditions. If a complaint is made an inspector will follow up and take measurements and while there proceed to look for every other possible facility violation. It might work.

                              1. re: iamafoodie
                                Googs Jan 13, 2013 12:32 PM

                                Further research proves these restaurateurs should be in the bar business.

                                Employees are too frightened of losing their jobs. Wanna help them out? You complain to the MoL. They'll inspect an unsafe workplace oh yes indeedy. 'cause remember that level of exposure over time means the staff will all be wearing hearing aids by 30. Either that or the volume will hit Disaster Area @ Milliways level.

                            2. ingloriouseater Jan 13, 2013 11:10 AM

                              who gets to decide what is too loud or too soft or just right?

                              as for me, i don'thave a problem with loud-if i want to eat in a library-i'd eat in a library. what offends me is when they play commercial radio stations (they aren't even trying to create ambiance). music needs to fit the vibe of the bar or resto and for the music should be a couple of db above the ambiant noise (just above the sound of the voices and clatter). i have little interest in the conversation taking place next to me and i don't know if i have ever been to a restaurant where i couldn't hear what was being said at my table.

                              23 Replies
                              1. re: ingloriouseater
                                crawfish Jan 13, 2013 12:22 PM

                                I find the problem gets much worse when you are a table of more than 2. At a deuce you can hear the person right across the table if you really focus but when there are more you can only speak to one person at a time, it's impossible to have a group discussion. Our office Christmas dinner stumbles on this problem every year.

                                1. re: ingloriouseater
                                  ascendance Jan 13, 2013 01:09 PM

                                  Why, if only there was some kind of objective scale by which we can determine what is a safe level of exposure to sound... oh wait, there is.

                                  1. re: ascendance
                                    justsayn Jan 13, 2013 01:13 PM

                                    Rock concerts aren't safe. Bars aren't safe. I don't get it. Don't people simply choose where they wish to work or where they wish to go for entertainment/meals? It's like when people compain about food served with nuts. The whole world shouldn't stop serving nuts because of allergies.

                                    1. re: justsayn
                                      Googs Jan 13, 2013 02:37 PM

                                      Working isn't voluntary. Think of this as the next smoking ban front. People don't get to determine work circumstances. Their employer does with a healthy dose of regulations and training.

                                      1. re: Googs
                                        justsayn Jan 13, 2013 03:06 PM

                                        I see a huge difference between the two. Smoking was everywhere and thus it was impossible to seek employment, or even live safely, away from it. Dangerously noisy restaurants account for a tiny percentage overall and people do not need to work there...just as they pick the type of bar they wish to tend. Secondly, if you really want to be a server at a super loud restaurant so badly you see no choice...wear earplugs.

                                        Its a sad day when Guu is told to keep the noise down by the gov.

                                        1. re: justsayn
                                          Googs Jan 13, 2013 05:04 PM

                                          Get ready for it. Regulations come to those who disregard the safety of their employees. The tiny percentage ruin it for everyone.

                                          Earplugs are a double-edged sword. They protect you from extremes while they can also protect you from hearing things like "look out!" or "fire!". Do you really want your server to reach into their ears and pull out a plug each time they come to your table? Thinkin' not.

                                          And no, people take any job they can get that furthers their personal ambitions. Its incumbent upon employers to respect and help them along the way. If you were lucky enough to handpick your job, more power to ya. You're the minority.

                                          1. re: Googs
                                            justsayn Jan 13, 2013 05:43 PM

                                            Hey Googs. I agree with you on the earplugs. Sorry, that was somewhat facetious on my part as I didn't mean to suggest that servers should wear them actually. I was suggesting that if you want to work at Grand Electric and you don't like noise, then you really don't want to work at GE. It is a noisy place...don't do it.

                                            If by stating "the tiny percentage who ruins it for everybody" you are referring to the workers who demand conformity, I agree they would ruin it for everyone and let's hope that day never comes. Imagine rules are made because somebody insisted on working at a quieter GE.

                                            If the tiny few you refer to are the restaurants, I wonder who it is they could ruin it for? Either the noise level is deemed unsafe or it isn't. Those who don't have unsafe noise levels won't even notice such a law. GE would merely be part of a group of establishments with unsafe noise levels so I don't get how they would have ruined anything as they would all be equally "at fault" and they would all feel the blow against free enterprise together.

                                            The list of unique (niche) employment situations runs long and it would be crippling to our culture IMO to try to shorten it with such self entitlement as this example.

                                            I won't go for brunch [at 11 am] at County General to scream across a table, but I will gladly go to GE after work.

                                            You certainly may be right Googs. It's a very real argument.

                                            1. re: justsayn
                                              Flexitarian Jan 13, 2013 06:03 PM

                                              I was in a bar in Amsterdam a few months ago and they had a LED decibel meter (about 10" in tall) above the bar section that all could see. There was also a DJ in the bar. I asked the DJ who kept looking at it throughout the evening, why the decibel meter. He told me he was not allowed to increase the music beyond a certain level.

                                              I have marked late onset hearing loss in one ear and a bit in the other due to the exceptionally loud noise level of the rock bands at high school gym dances in the 70's at my high school. I remember when the dances were over our ears felt numb. No one talked about potential for hearing loss and the school clearly did not limit it. The various band members must be deaf by now unless they wore ear plugs as they were subject to the noise levels every time they played.

                                              Although I have little difficult hearing in a quieter environment it's tougher on those with hearing loss in a very noisy environment. But, even with the hearing loss I still find it loud. It must be very loud for others without hearing loss. Be forwarned.

                                              I think it would be great if Toronto restaurants were required to be checked with a decibel meter when they were full and required to adjust the environment (by changing the interior, ie using sound absorbing panels, etc - it`s not that hard to do) to reduce noise levels below that which would cause hearing loss. I am sure years later that those who do experience the hearing loss, given a choice, would rather have not been exposed to the high level of noise in those restaurants, regardless of whether it was 'cool' or 'fun'. It's not fun having hearing loss.

                                              1. re: Flexitarian
                                                justsayn Jan 13, 2013 06:28 PM

                                                I haven't seen that in my travels but it is interesting indeed. I would think the meter and related protection you describe is in place to protect the general public, and the workers alike. I would guess the music venues pushed the volumes too far and it got out of hand venue after venue. Amsterdam is a much more responsible city than many people realize given how liberal they are.

                                                I always wonder and hope that concert venues here are regulated and that laws are enforced to protect the unsuspecting concert goers. Most of my friends wear plugs at concerts.

                                                I agree with protecting the citizens and tourists alike. I disagree with making laws so that every establishment caters directly to every person who wants to work there regardless of the absurdity of their expectation.

                                                1. re: Flexitarian
                                                  KitchenVoodoo Mar 23, 2014 10:48 PM

                                                  BEST post ever on this issue - thanks!

                                                2. re: justsayn
                                                  Googs Jan 14, 2013 01:37 PM

                                                  No, I mean the restaurants. I am an employer and I can tell you there's nothing like a new boatload of regulations and inspections coming at you because someone ELSE couldn't adequately care about safety. It doesn't make you feel all warm and fuzzy about them.

                                          2. re: justsayn
                                            ascendance Jan 13, 2013 07:37 PM

                                            I'm not saying loud bars shouldn't exist. I'm just getting annoyed that the prevailing trend is for every new neighbourhood restaurant to double as a very loud bar.

                                            1. re: ascendance
                                              justsayn Jan 13, 2013 07:55 PM

                                              It is just one more nail in the coffin of TALKING to each other. Let's face it, they could go even louder and the patrons will simply text each other as needed.

                                              1. re: justsayn
                                                Flexitarian Jan 13, 2013 10:41 PM

                                                Come to think of it, you`re right! The number of people that go out to eat and ostensibly socialize with those they are with seems to be in the miniority in Toronto. Most seem to be texting, tweeting, twittering, snapchatting, etc with the people that are somewhere else, always to the annoyance of the lone person who is not which, sadly, I have seen too many times happen when a couple are dining out and the guy is more into his smartphone than his date! A few times, I have noticed the ignored date looking at our table in jealousy as we chat away and actually engage with the people we came with. Imagine that!

                                                1. re: Flexitarian
                                                  justsayn Jan 14, 2013 06:53 AM

                                                  Yep. Its the natural cause and effect of changing habits. We were sitting beside a couple on Sunday at brunch and both were busy on their phs the entire time. Then they split an order of L'ouvrier french toast and went about sharing in silence. So for these people the walls could be falling down around them, forget loud noise, and they would simply go about their separate lives unphased.

                                                  1. re: Flexitarian
                                                    KitchenVoodoo Mar 23, 2014 10:56 PM

                                                    Yep. Saw that behaviour at Gio Rana's. I was dining alone, next to me were 2 men, they spent the ENTIRE evening texting other people. They rarely spoke to each other. What is the point of having dinner with someone if texting is much more important to you?

                                                    1. re: KitchenVoodoo
                                                      atomeyes Mar 24, 2014 05:06 AM

                                                      maybe they were on a business meeting?
                                                      maybe one of them had an issue at home?
                                                      maybe one of their spouse's flights was delayed and they needed to check the time?
                                                      or maybe they were texting each other, pre-judging that person dining alone next to them, wondering why they were staring at them while they tried to have a private dinner?

                                                      in the end: who cares? it's their table. maybe you should hold up scorecards and judge the quality of a table's interactions, depth of conversation and degree of sincerity.

                                                      1. re: atomeyes
                                                        frogsteak Mar 24, 2014 05:58 AM

                                                        i'd rather my partner and i express nothing instead of petulant gossip.

                                                        and i doubt those judging texting at the dining table never engage in it themselves.

                                                        1. re: atomeyes
                                                          KitchenVoodoo Mar 24, 2014 11:52 PM

                                                          OK, they were so LOUD on their phones I had to hear all the details in stereo - no family emergencies, no flight delays, no business deals... I wasn't "that person dining alone next to them, wondering why they were staring at them while they tried to have a private dinner."
                                                          How is non stop cell phone chatter a "private dinner'? especially when your dining companion is doing the same thing?
                                                          You're right, who cares, it's inconsequential nonsenses, but it seems to me if two friends go out for dinner together they should put away the phones and talk to each other - personally I would feel pretty insulted if my dining companion started dialling somebody else for a chat whilst I'm sitting across from him!

                                                          1. re: KitchenVoodoo
                                                            terrycar Mar 25, 2014 12:00 AM

                                                            Well said KV.

                                            2. re: ingloriouseater
                                              ingloriouseater Jan 14, 2013 12:35 PM

                                              8 hours at 85 db is the maximum before leading to hearing loss:

                                              from a washington post article

                                              The ratings will be determined using a combination of a sound-level meter reading and the reviewer's personal reaction to the acoustics over multiple visits. Here's the breakdown:

                                              Quiet (under 60 decibels)

                                              Conversation is easy (60-70 decibels)

                                              Must speak with raised voice (71-80 decibels)

                                              Extremely loud (over 80 decibels)

                                              For the sake of comparison, 50 decibels is equivalent to the sound of a moderate rain shower; 60 decibels represents normal conversation; 70 decibels is akin to the noise made by a vacuum cleaner; and noise levels higher than 80 decibels (conjure up city traffic) are potentially hazardous if listened to for a sustained period.

                                              The brain registers every 10-decibel increase as a doubling of loudness. Thus, a restaurant that measures 80 decibels sounds twice as noisy as a place that measures 70 decibels.

                                              1. re: ingloriouseater
                                                Flexitarian Jan 14, 2013 12:52 PM

                                                Oh geez, this is going to result in me pulling out my iPhone decibel measurement app now every time I am in a restaurant! ;)

                                                1. re: Flexitarian
                                                  1sweetpea Mar 26, 2014 12:15 PM

                                                  Me too! Just downloaded a free db app.

                                            3. justxpete Jan 14, 2013 01:14 PM

                                              Beware measuring decibels on your iphone/android app. Proper measurement of sonic levels are done through sensitive equipment, not accurately done through a mic that happens to be on your phone which someone created an app for.

                                              You know what I find much worse than loud music? Loud talkers in the more quiet restaurants - those people that seem to think everyone in the entire restaurant needs to hear their conversation. They're so completely and totally oblivious. Drives me absolutely crazy. You can easily avoid restaurants w/ loud music, but you never know when a loud talker is going to pop up. I've moved tables before.. all the way to the other side of the restaurant.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: justxpete
                                                Flexitarian Jan 14, 2013 02:26 PM

                                                What's even worse than a loud talker is a someone talking on a cell phone while dining at a restaurant, because people tend to talk even louder when on a cell phone.

                                                1. re: justxpete
                                                  Googs Jan 16, 2013 08:12 PM

                                                  Your iPhone can control the foh audio console from anywhere in the room. You think it can't be a db meter too?

                                                  1. re: Googs
                                                    justxpete Jan 18, 2013 01:11 PM

                                                    No, I don't "think" that it can't be a DB meter, I know that it cannot be an accurate one (as mentioned). One technology has absolutely nothing to do with the other.

                                                    1. re: justxpete
                                                      Googs Jan 19, 2013 06:57 AM

                                                      I'm not suggesting you could use one professionally. But for the average diner, they're accurate enough to know "loud". Then again, their ears can do the same.

                                                2. p
                                                  plasticanimal Jan 14, 2013 02:06 PM

                                                  I think the simple answer is that many Torontonians like noise. Many move here from quieter places for that reason. Also, people in Toronto tend to be a bit shyer than others, and noise helps you feel like your conversation isn't being overheard.

                                                  Fortunately, volume is the first thing you can detect about a place's ambiance, so you can turn around right away and find somewhere else, like I do when I walk into a place that is too quiet for me.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: plasticanimal
                                                    Flexitarian Jan 18, 2013 12:47 PM

                                                    The 80% of the people who smoked didn't like the smoke that was created by 20% of the people who smoked in bars and restaurants when it was allowed in Toronto (and 99.999% were not smoke-free at one time), yet it existed. By your logic one should take away from that that many people in Toronto liked smokey bars and restaurants, but that was not the case. It wasn't the majority and it wasn't even many. It was likely less than the 20% who did smoke as many smokers don't even like the smoke they create.

                                                    1. re: Flexitarian
                                                      plasticanimal Jan 18, 2013 01:31 PM

                                                      Not the same at all. Only some restaurants are loud, as opposed to all bars being smokey at the time. If you didn't want a smokey environment back then, you couldn't go out at all. You literally have thousands of restaurant options in Toronto if you don't want a noisy meal. Thousands.

                                                      1. re: plasticanimal
                                                        Flexitarian Jan 18, 2013 02:26 PM

                                                        My point was that because something is prevalent does not mean it is generally accepted. The way the topic of this thread was phrased strongly suggests that there is a problem generally with noise levels in Toronto restaurants being too loud, which appears to be the general view of it (acceptance or not of it notwithstanding), as opposed to being isolated cases or in the miniority as you seem to suggest.

                                                  2. p
                                                    PilaSugar Jan 16, 2013 04:16 PM

                                                    I've just been sharing this super interesting thread with my SO. We keep threatening to post a list of Toronto's loudest restaurants because he has ADHD and is distracted by loud noises. We try to avoid noisy places, but we've sometimes eaten in restaurants that get louder as the evening wears on. He can't focus on what I'm saying so we can't have a conversation. We have to cut these dinners short and he leaves the restaurant feeling jumpy and frustrated.

                                                    1. a
                                                      ascendance Jan 17, 2013 10:43 AM

                                                      What's the noise level like at Actinolite? I've seen a few positive reviews, and a $75 7 course tasting menu seems fairly reasonable to me.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: ascendance
                                                        KAYLO Jan 18, 2013 05:58 AM

                                                        "I think the simple answer is that many Torontonians like noise."

                                                        And yet, there are so few threads about restaurants that are too quiet.

                                                        So few complaints about restaurants with expensive high--maintenance surfaces, well-spaced tables so that your neighbor's spit when he shouts at his date doesn't wind up in your salad.

                                                        I will ask my restaurant-worker friends how often patrons ask them to turn UP the music.

                                                        1. re: KAYLO
                                                          justsayn Jan 18, 2013 02:19 PM

                                                          It would suck if the trend for louder and louder restaurants continued unabated at the exclusion of our own individual preferences but it's really not uncommon for trends to take hold and push aside other options in its related genre as they "take off".

                                                          Personally, I prefer to live in a city where this happens from time to time, than one that stays frozen in time!

                                                      2. d
                                                        Dean Tudor Jan 19, 2013 10:28 AM

                                                        We eat out lunches, almost no noise. Discreet conversations.

                                                        When we eat out at dinner, it is usually at 5:30 or 6...The music is already playing, usually loud.

                                                        I tell the server to turn the music off or down, until 6:30 or whenever we leave. 100% of the time they do.

                                                        Moral: eat early...

                                                        1. a
                                                          A flock of seagulls Apr 7, 2014 03:01 PM

                                                          I just found this thread after posting about noise levels at a specific restaurant. So loud I just won't go back. Add me to the list of people trying to find more tasty places where I can talk to my friends without yelling across the table.

                                                          1. Charles Yu Apr 7, 2014 03:11 PM

                                                            If you think that is bad, try having a Dim Sum lunch on a Saturday in a packed Chinese restaurant with low ceiling and hard stone flooring! So loud, teens are communicating with 'What's App' instead. Ha!

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Charles Yu
                                                              foodyDudey Apr 7, 2014 03:15 PM

                                                              Better check if the teens are using Whats App, or Tinder !

                                                            2. Googs Apr 8, 2014 11:12 AM

                                                              I think the loud places should lose their fear of the word "tavern". Please don't call yourself a restaurant. Clearer terms would save everyone from the hassle of guessing no matter what the age or preference.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Googs
                                                                pourboi Apr 8, 2014 01:00 PM

                                                                Like "Bar Isabel"?

                                                                1. re: pourboi
                                                                  frogsteak Apr 8, 2014 01:02 PM

                                                                  and "the Saint Tavern"? or "Grand Electric Bar"?

                                                                  1. re: frogsteak
                                                                    Googs Apr 9, 2014 11:06 AM


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