Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Entrée?

Finally – someone has written an exasperated article in the food blog Grubstreet about a growing trend that drives me and the missus absolutely crazy, given that we’re even bigger “acoustics snobs” than foodies.  We will turn-and-bolt in a flash if the noise level – or shall we say “sonic misfortunes” (like weird cone filtering or slapback) are on the menu in a trendy new spot.    The good news is we’re not alone…


But ask any weary gastronaut about the single most disruptive restaurant trend over the past decade or so, and they’ll give you a succinct, one-sentence answer. It’s the noise, stupid. When I began reviewing restaurants over a decade ago, we critics whiled away our days in hushed, cocooned dining rooms, quietly noting the lightness of this or that soufflé in our little leather chapbooks. Not anymore.

The BAD news, however, is that we’re on the wrong end o’ the trend. Writer and food critic Adam Platt goes on:

Most of the restaurants I write about these days aren’t restaurants at all in the classic sense that she would recognize. They’re noisy bars, built for sound, that happen to serve good, sometimes excellent food. ….. “It’s a snowball effect,” one of the chefs who’s worked for both restaurateurs told me the other day. “You get a hundred drunk people in a small room and crank up the music, and soon they’re screaming at the tops of their lungs to hear each other. It’s the perfect storm.”

Platt paints a pretty grim picture of New York joints with 90dB levels and more…and even food critics taking decibel meters with them.  But is it really the customers that want the volume pumped up….or the owners?  A CNN article calls it a classic table turnover trick: :

It turns out these not-so-good vibrations might be on purpose. Studies show people drink more, eat faster and leave sooner when the bass is thumping, so restaurants are bringing the noise.

Yikes!  Makes me hanker for a classic Italian restaurant with a violinist going table to table..Image

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