What do you all think about adding ratings for "noise levels" to reviews of restaurants? I have several favorites in Tucson where, if I want to have a conversation over dinner, I need to avoid because it's so damned loud. I think that restaurateurs could be made aware that noise level is part of the ambience and can cause an otherwise delightful experience to be exhausting.
I agree, Roberta. I think some people like the excitement of noise, but many of us do not.
I can remember being stuck on Beacon Hill in Boston during a near-blizzard and making my way (on foot) down slick streets to a restaurant where there was only one other table occupied, because of the weather. I had a delightful meal with soft chamber music playing. It must have been twenty-five years ago, but the quietness is what sticks in my memory.
I also remenber a student dining room at Haverford College, PA where hundreds of us dined around tables for ten, and could hear each other perfectly - architects can create quiet when they want to.
Now that I'm elderly, and wear hearing aids, I hate a noisy dining room, because all sounds are magnified, not just the voices of my companions. We usually resort to going to selected resturants at the beginning of their dining hours and sit in a corner away from amplifiers, but it's a nuisance to make that request.
A noise level rating would be wonderful.
While I find myself agreeing that I don't like restaraunts with excessive noise, don't you think the perception amongst many diners that noise adds a type of energetic ambiance? After all, if a place is noisy, it suggests there's "life" there. Granted, the noise can be intrusive, but I'm sure there are some who find that type of atmosphere to be invigorating. It's like going to a loud bar where the band's warming up--you can't understand a damn word your friend is saying to you, but there's something internally pleasing about being a *part* of that type of atmosphere--that is, if you like that sort of thing.
re: Joseph P. Wood
Yes, I agree that a certain level of noise, excitement, etc can be very desireable. BUT, when I'm dining with friends, part of our "agenda", pleasure, if you will, is in having conversation, even about the food, wine we're having. And, when I have to practically SHOUT at my friends, or vice-versa, it detracts from the experience. If I go to a bar where there's live music, I EXPECT the main feature has to do with the sound and I go for that purpose. I don't go expecting to have a conversation, au contraire. Two very different experiences, I think.
I agree entirely..... dining (or just chowing) is best when it is actually possible to share some conversation instead of grunting and pointing like cave people. It seems to me that some architects, restaurant designers and owners must think that restaurants are best (maybe implying popularity and success?) if impossibly noisy. The appropriate noises are things like lip smacking, cork pulling, noodle sucking and excessive drooling.