It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a café or restaurant these days that not only serves up delicious food with good service, but also offers a pleasant environment where one can indulge in some good conversation. Some cool music in keeping with the theme of the place would be nice, but dining out usually means fighting an incessant cacophony of restaurant noise pollution.
It seems that most eateries now offer horrendous acoustics that amplify every spoken word, plate-clatter, howling espresso machine and such, to the point where conversation is all but impossible. And that’s before they turn on the “background” music that just adds to the already congested audio spectrum. There seems to be an epidemic of “eat ‘n’ shout” spreading around the country’s eateries; and I’m sick of it!
The cause is to be found in the décor, or lack of it. Hard plaster walls and ceilings with wooden floors and glass makes for an acoustic hell for diners wanting to talk, rather than shout at each other. The problem is not always evident early in the evening when you are shown to your table, but as the room fills with more people, all raising their voices to be heard, the volume gets out of control. At this point the bartender turns up the music because it is being drowned by voices, and a vicious cycle is perpetuated, the noise level increasing by several decibels, approaching that of a rock concert! (I have nothing against a good rock concert; but not over dinner, when I’d like to hear what my friends are saying. Over the last 15 years I have become wiser to the acoustics of the room when we first walk in. If it produces an echoing reverberant acoustic, I walk right out again. Suffice to say I walk out of most of them these days.
When are the reviewers going add “acoustics” to their list of services on offer?
Am I alone in my quest for a pleasant acoustic dining experience?
Those of us who are passionate about enjoying good food and good conversation should speak up up tell the restaurant mangaer (as I do), “ I loved the food and the service, but I’m sorry to say I will not be coming back again” . When he recovers from the death-like look on his face, just tell him,
“I don’t want to come to your restaurant and spend the evening shouting at my friends!”.