Meanwhile, in the UK….

The Guardian’s Rachel Cooke asks, “Who wants a din with their dinner?”  The answer, of course, is no one.  But we don’t always get what we want.  That could change, though.  Cooke reports that UK charity Action on Hearing Loss is stepping up to the plate to take on restaurant noise head on.  Namely, the organization is in the process of “funding the development of a mobile phone app that will enable customers to record decibel levels when they go out to eat.”  Cooke says that “[t]he idea is that, duly named and shamed, the noisiest offenders will perhaps be minded to do something about the pain they seem so determined to inflict on diners and, far worse, their own long-suffering staff.”

Cooke likes the idea, but she doesn’t think it will work.  She notes that “a certain tabloid newspaper” sent reporters armed with decibel recorders to various well-known restaurants and recorded punishingly high decibel readings–two restaurants clocking in at over 105 decibels–but the restaurants are still loud after the tabloid’s exposé.

So is there anything that can be done?  Yes there is.  Cooke writes:

A tolerance for extreme noise is, alas, just another aspect of what we might call the booming 21st-century restaurant industry’s near sadistic approach to customers: the same treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen attitude that brought us restaurants which refuse to take bookings, and maitre d’s who would rather stare at an iPad than meet your eye. * * * All this is beyond infuriating, of course – except we’ve only ourselves to blame. The customer, in these scenarios, might well seem to be a craven, masochistic figure, contemptible in his desperate willingness to be humiliated and kept in line all for the sake of a few small plates and a bottle of slightly filthy organic wine.  But that doesn’t mean he isn’t still king.  If only more of us walked, fingers in ears, things would change faster than you can shout “uproar”.

She’s right.  Until more of us refuse to eat in loud restaurants by walking out after telling management why we are leaving, things won’t change.  But until they do New Yorkers can check out our sister site, Quiet City Maps for reviews on restaurants, bars, and coffee shops in the city based on noise level.  With Quiet City Maps you won’t have to deal with punishing noise over a plate of pasta, cafe au lait, or cocktail again!

Link via @QuietEdinburgh.

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