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Today we're talking about the unpalatable nature of noisy restaurants.
Why is it that a meal out often comes with an unwanted side order of very loud noise?
I'm Next Act editor Claer Barrett.
Joining me now is the FT's arts editor, Jan Dalley,
the FT's food and drink editor, Alexander Gilmour,
and our Money Mentor columnist, Lindsay Cook.
Noisy restaurants.
This is a particular bugbear for FT readers,
not necessarily because of their age,
but because they like to enjoy a decent conversation with their meal.
This is becoming increasingly more difficult.
It is.
I think in the past maybe 20 years ago, 30 years ago,
the white table cloth was still popular.
White tablecloths have disadvantages
insofar as they shame diners for their bad table manners.
They are stuffy and pompous.
But they also are good for acoustics.
They absorb noise.
Indeed.
Likewise, cushions and curtains.
Carpet.
And carpets, and tapestries.
And these have been axed by the new aesthetic,
which is intended to be more democratic and more accessible
and aimed, perhaps, at a younger diner.
But it means that the acoustics tend to be terrible
and can make dining an unpleasant experience.
So Jan and Lindsay,
are we being old curmudgeons here in saying that the modern restaurant is too noisy?
Do you think we're being whingeing old gits?
Possibly, but I find that when we go out,
we choose the restaurant not only for the food now,
but also for whether you can hear yourself speak.
I mean, if you're going to take your aged aunt out to dinner,
obviously you're going to need somewhere quieter,
so you actually choose it accordingly.
Interviewing is a nightmare.
Doing lunch with the FT interviews,
you have to really, really think about where you can go.
And the interviewee is supposed to choose the lunch,
and sometimes they choose something
that's right beside the kitchen, beside a squeaky door.
You come back and what you have on your
tape is absolutely impossible.
You have nothing there.
I'm not saying we didn't commission
this piece with that particular problem in mind.
And it's a slightly esoteric problem,
but I was just backing up Al's point
about the incredible noise levels.
And Lindsay, when it comes to your choice of restaurants,
is noise a big factor, or is the food more important?
I wouldn't say it's a big factor,
but I really hate quiet restaurants.
I choose the time I go to a restaurant
so that we're not the first ones in,
because you then either hear the whole conversation of two tables away.
Sometimes they're interesting, and then other guests come in
and you don't hear the end of it.
Or you don't want to - if there's a bit of a hubbub,
you can have your conversations.
It's getting it to the right level.
Thanks for joining us today.
If you'd like to read more about any of the topics we've discussed,
go to our online content hub,
FT.com/nextact.
All the articles are there, and they're free to read.
We'll be back in the new year.
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FT Next Act: when restaurants are too loud

114 Folder Collection
Amy.Lin published on November 20, 2018    yining translated    Evangeline reviewed
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