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No. 151: Quiet Restaurants

The new Paramount Theatre at Emerson University, Boston

The new Paramount Theatre at Emerson University, Boston

After following Button around on a 10-day audition whirlwind tour between Boston and New York City, my appreciation for the quiet and calm restaurants of France has only deepened.


Holy Smokes! Eating out in America can be agitating.

Between the throbbing red lights at Lolita’s Mexican Restaurant in Boston and the Vanderbilt in Brooklyn serving up pounding heavy metal music at 11 p.m. on a Sunday evening, my vocal cords and eyeballs could use a rest. There is nothing worse than shouting at your girlfriends or daughter between bites of a fancy meal or $15 cocktails.  So glad we had a kitchen to cook in for most of our days in the States.

The best meal we had was a late-lunch at Legal Seafood in Boston (a chain restaurant of all places) because we arrived at 3 p.m. after the lunch crowd and were the sole guests dining. The lobster rolls and crab cakes were wonderfully fresh and the noise level was limited to two expats using our “French voices”, or our inside voices, which Americans seem to have forgotten how to use inside. To top things off there were no flashing lights, no obnoxious soundtrack imposed on our meal, and no one trying to rush us out so they could give the table to the next guest.

The crab cakes in Boston are amazing...

The crab cakes in Boston are amazing…

Lovely lobster roll

Lovely lobster roll

I know some Anglophones complain about restos being so hush-hush in France and the French squelching the fun out of dinnertime, but I am convinced that the unruffled atmosphere in French restaurants makes French food taste even better, is infinitely better for the digestion, and certainly more conducive to cultivating friendships.  Even in a crowded café the noise levels never require you to raise your voice. I couldn’t imagine the French engaging in a shouting conversation over a meal, and I wish it wasn’t the norm in the States too.

While it is always nice to spend some time in my homeland and there are many things I miss, I am happy to be headed home today and am looking forward to enjoying some serene meals en famille surrounded by quiet French voices.


en famille: with family

restos: short for restaurant

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. I, too, recently visited family in the U.S. and yes, I too, noticed the overall level of loudness in restaurants – it is indeed nice to be back home in Nice!

    February 25, 2014
    • And meals in Boston and NYC are not cheap, so I was really put out by how noisy it is when you are eating out. The contrast is stark.

      February 26, 2014
      • Very stark – not to mention having to leave a tip for less than mediocre service!

        February 26, 2014
      • Amen sis-tah…I had forgotten how much a tip adds to the bill.

        February 28, 2014
  2. Great post!

    March 1, 2014

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