I asked for suggestions re restaurants with low noise levels for a dinner with NYC friends last Saturday night. Helmand was suggested by my husband and Robert Lauriston gave me some specific info about recent visits. Although Helmand Palace was about 2/3 full (at around 8:30), it was never noisy and we could easily hear all our conversation.
I had never been to the Van Ness location, and Helmand Palace's website has a photo of a very brightly lit dining room with white tablecloths on a verrrrrry long, banquet-type table with purple chairs. Somehow, this didn't seem charming the way the old Helmand on B'way was. I posted about it and Robert L. sent me a photo of the true inside of Helmand Palace. Don't know where they got that photo, but they should change it immediately!
Our friends had been in SF for several days with friends of theirs who had planned what I consider to be a horribly overblown dining extravaganza. On 5 nights they dined at Michael Mina, Gary Danko, Ritz Carlton, Slanted Door and Chez Panisse!
By the time we got together with them, they were whimpering "Pleeeeease! Something unfussy! Puleeeeeeeeeeez no more foie gras popsicles!
So we went to Helmand Palace and had a great dinner: Warm bread, ashok, that pumpkin dish I always get and can never remember the name of which as appetizers. I can't remember what everybody had (I had the lamb chops served with a rice in a wonderful sauce), but we had a bowl of their fabulous ice cream to share and a piece of baklava.
They were extremely happy.
They couldn't even talk about their other dinners except to say that lots of it was very tasty, but they didn't really like that kind of dining and that, in any case, it was waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much in waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay to short a time.
Again, thanks to Robert L. for providing the true photo of the interior. I was seriously thinking of giving it a miss when I saw the glaring lights and purple chairs.