One reason I hardly ever eat out in London – apart from the cost – is that I can’t remember the last time I sat in a restaurant that wasn’t unbearably noisy. (Actually, yes I can – The Gay Hussar about six years ago. Seemed pricey to me, but I wasn’t paying.) Future generations will look back and wonder if we’d all gone mad. Why would you be happy to pay a ridiculous amount of money to sit in a room where you can barely hear the person across the table? At last, at long last, a food critic has lost patience too. Kudos to Jay Rayner in the Observer:
In the closing years of her life my late mother, who once loved restaurants, came to despair of them. Her hearing was failing and the spaces that were once ideal for banter and gossip became the enemies of such. Restaurants, it transpired, are mostly designed by young people with no understanding of acoustics; who think hard surfaces and polished concrete are easy on the eye, regardless of how cruel they are to the ear. The crash and clatter of self-regarding modern restaurant design managed what almost no one and nothing else could: they rendered my mother silent…What’s wrong with a bit of carpet? And maybe the odd curtain? A low ceiling and a bit of enclosed booth seating wouldn’t go amiss either. I hate the fact that some people are missing my wittiest lines over dinner simply because of crap design.