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Michael Bauer Wonders If You Could All Use Your Inside Voices, Please

Scott Lucas | July 22, 2014 | Story

The food? Marvelous. The wait staff? Attentive. There's just one tiny problem with your restaurant, says the Chron's food critic, Michael Bauer: It's too loud.

He writes today that in the decade since the Chronicle began printing noise-level ratings along with food ratings that "noise levels have continued to increase." In fact, he says, "in the last two years the large majority of restaurants reviewed have fallen in the 4-bell or Bomb category." Those are the two highest levels—75-80 decibels and above 80, respectively.

Though noise complaints seem like the kind of thing that would bother most everyone, Bauer adds another wrinkle: It's particularly rough for older people. He quotes a reader in his late 60s who carped about the noise: "Every new hot spot seems to want to be louder than the last and Lord knows they’re packed."

Culprits? Hard to pick just one. Bare metal and wood furnishings—all the rage—bounce sound off of themselves more readily than carpet and tablecloths. Or maybe it's just brash American culture? Or the fact that you really don't get the sonic nuances of Grizzly Bear's music unless it's turned all the way up to eleven. Or could it be all those drunk dining patrons who don't realize how loud they are?

All we know is this: Bauer is right. He may have a few years on us, but even we admit that the sonic arms race can leave us feeling a bit blasted. If only we could find some spot that knows how to "indulge the privileged set."

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