Far From the Maddening Crowd

I’m all for having a good time.  However, have you eaten at a “trendy” restaurant where you can’t even hear yourself think let alone have a conversation?  Some of these eateries actually believe that the louder the noise the more fun you are having.  I have a problem with that.  Not only is it not fun, I usually come away with a horrible sore throat for speaking over the din.  I also can’t hear for the rest of the evening.

A friend and I visited a New York restaurant on the lower East Side a few weeks ago.  We heard the food was excellent and it was highly recommended by professional reviewers and personal friends.  As it was an occasion dinner (our mutual birthdays) we thought this restaurant would be an excellent place to celebrate.   Our reservations were for 6:30 p.m.

I arrived first and sat at the bar waiting for my friend.  As I sat there, I don’t believe I saw anyone entering over the age of 20-something.  An alarm went off which I ignored. Not intimidated by youth, I watched each reed thin “model-want-to-be” enter on five-inch platform heels.  Really, can anyone actually walk on these stilts?  Personally I would be tripping all over myself (but then, I am just a teeny bit older).

My friend arrived at the appointed time and we were taken to a very nice table.  There weren’t very many people seated in this beautifully appointed interior, as it was still early evening. The service was excellent with the waiters hovering around to make certain we had everything we needed.  Of course we order wine to toast another year.  The waiter approached a few minutes later and I think he asked for our selections.  I am not quite sure about that as I didn’t notice him until he practically yelled in my ear.  The noise level, as people were being seated at tables (now it was going on 7:00 p.m.), had gone up several decibel.  And, with each successive minute, with additional customers swelling the noise level, I saw my friend’s lips moving, but I could not make out what she was saying.

We couldn’t eat fast enough.  We both wanted to get out of this noisy place as quickly as possible.  I don’t remember the reviewers indicating the noise level in their columns.  Zagat  sometimes does provide that information in their guide.  Perhaps it would have been wiser to have checked this resource out before we made the reservation as when I consulted Zagat afterwards, it describes this restaurant as a “crushingly noisy scene.”  Which is an understatement.

Patroon dining room

Personally, my favorites for special occasions are where not only can you have a wonderful meal and exceptional ambiance, you can also have great conversation!  The following are some comfortably priced restaurants I would highly recommend for a lovely evening out.  In a contemporary setting, Patroon  features lovely banquets and excellent food.  Unpretentious, Gotham Bar & Grill in the Village is warm and welcoming and the food is delectable.  Like French food?  Then the bistro-like restaurant L’Absinthe might be one you might want to try out.  Of  course New York City offers a bounty of wonderful eateries but these three are worth a try.  Bon Apetite and enjoy your conversation!