Bannock- sometimes energetic, but conversation isn't difficult
Le Select- energetic, but I haven't found conversation difficult
Zee Grill- energetic but tolerable
The Coffee Mill
The Monk's Table
Volos is relatively quiet. Conversation isn't difficult when the restaurant is mostly full.
Pizzeria Libretto at lunch
Pizzeria Libretto Danforth at lunch
Queen Margherita Pizza at lunch
Globe at lunch
Globe Earth at lunch
The Hellenik Grill
Dynasty for weekday dim sum
Linda at lunch
Quiet lunch downtown:
Quiet in the east end:
Quiet in Yorkville/ Yonge & Bloor: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/875842
Quiet old school Italian: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/814738
what's with noise levels in TO restaurants:
Restaurants: A piece of quiet: http://news.nationalpost.com/2010/07/...
Most newer, trendier restaurants are going to be on the loud side, since so many of them have the flat surfaces that you described in your thread, ascendance. Some trendy restaurants jack up the music because they think the noise adds to the experience for their customers. I get the feeling some restaurants turn up the music because it makes their chefs, bartenders and/or servers feel like rock stars. I've walked into some restaurants that have the music turned up when the restaurant is nearly empty.
Raijin is new, and relatively quiet, even when it's full. I understand it's quieter than most of the other popular ramen spots.
JaBistro was quiet when I went for dinner in November, but I would think the restaurant has been much louder lately. JaBistro might still be relatively quiet at lunch. I haven't been for lunch. Maybe another poster can add some comments.
The Grove wasn't as loud as other trendy Dundas W restaurants when I was there.(Edit: I see you mentioned the Grove was too loud while you were there. Maybe the noise levels mostly depend on the particular day and time you dine there, and on who the people seated at the neighbouring table happen to be.)
White Brick Kitchen is quiet earlier on Sat and Sun mornings, but somewhat energetic by 1 pm lately.
Why don't you add some newer restaurants you like, that you consider quiet or tolerable?
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.
While decibels can be measured, what's too loud or too soft for each Chowhound is going to vary from Chowhound to Chowhound. Another YMMV situation.
This Board deals with Goldilocks-type situations with respect to food and service all the time, so I'd think our subjective comments re: what's too loud or what's too soft work for a thread like this. While the restaurant owner or manager might think he's matching the sound, vibe and decor appropriate to his restaurant, ultimately, the customer has the choice of whether or not he wants to tolerate the noise. The customer also has the choice to ask the restaurant to turn down the music, or leave a quiet restaurant to find another place that's louder and/or plays better music.
Chantecler was too loud for me the night I was there, regardless of whether the music fit the vibe. I don't think the volume or music bothered the rest of the clientele.
It is a YMMV situation, but within limits.
Obviously it is a qualitative assessment that can be one thing for some and another for others, but having to keep asking the other person to repeat what they are saying or having to talk in an above normal volume to be heard seems to fit the case for most. That is, unless you enjoy asking someone to repeat themselves or enjoy shouting and the other people you are with are similarly inclined.
Unless you have super-normal hearing there is definitely a noise level that bothers most people and, regardless of that, there is scientific proof of what noise level, measured on a decibel scale, causes hearing loss depending on the length of time one is subjected to it. This is irrespective of what whether the person being subjected to that particular noise level thinks it is too loud or not. It causes hearing loss over time plain and simple. And, hearing loss due to loud noise does not occur immediately but much later in life due to high levels of noise one was subjected to earlier in life. They say it is one of the most preventable handicaps today.
We went to lobsterlicious at Scaramouche midweek, last week, at 7:30...noise was almost deafening from the crowd (no music). Lots of boisterous conversations. Maybe a modest prix fixe priced meal brings out more people who talk loudly? I could barely hear the server who had to bend down to talk into our ears...It wasn't until almost 10 that it got quiet -- when fewer people were around.
But otherwise, normally, Scaramouche can be funereal...
Too quiet in a reflective room and you'll know what the guy on the other side of the room is ordering for dinner. Too loud and you won't know what you're having.
Reflective surfaces are a challenge, but they're also a poor excuse for driving the system too hard. Better audio distribution will address a good deal of the concerns.