There is a trend (or major faux pas) that I have been noticing more and more as I eat our in various steakhouses and upscale dining locales that is starting to take its toll on me. I have also noticed an increasing in people mentioning the issues in posts on Chowhound.
Specifically, the problem is the noise level in restaurants.
I will not contend that it is only relegated to the big steakhouses or any specific genre of food, but it seems to me that there is either a concerted effort or a complete lack of project management when restaurants are so noisy, you can't even hold a conversation with your dinner guests without straining to hear them or shouting so they can hear you.
The apex of my concern happened on a visit to a Morton's Steakhouse in Orange County, CA. My fiance and I were looking forward to a fantastic evening only to find ourselved wanting out of the place so we could hear each other. My ears were literally ringing as we got to the parking lot.
I would like to think that maybe we have just entered a period in American life where we are being more loud, but I have been to other upscale steakhouses or other fine dining venues and not had that problem at all. (The grand dame Durant's here in Phoenix is a great example of place with lots of buzz, a packed house every night and yet the noise level is very manageable.)
What I guess I am wondering is why there is not more concern about using ceiling tiles or flooring or wallcoverings that are specifically designed to absorb the noise and keep the sound level from hitting rock concert proportions.
Then again, perhaps I am missing the boat here, and there are lots of people who enjoy loud restaurants and don't mind having to repeat themselves or asking their dining companions to repeat everything.
Is it the people? Is it the restaurants? Or is a high noise level attractive?
Any insight would be greatly appreciated.