Restaurant survey: Noise is irritating, Brussels sprouts are endearing – The Boston Globe

Deborah Hansen of  Taberna de Haro.

Joanne Rathe /globe staff/file 2009

Deborah Hansen of Taberna de Haro.

Web reservations make up more than half of the bookings at Taberna de Haro in Brookline. At the more intimate Farmstead Table in Newton Centre, most of the 48 seats are booked online during winter months but less so in warmer weather. Chef/owners Deborah Hansen, of Taberna, and Chad Burns, of Farmstead, each say online booking makes their lives a little easier.

Apparently consumers are feeling that way, too. Zagat, the restaurant rating arbiter, released a 17-city dining trends survey on Jan. 20, noting that 61 percent of diners nationally book via the Internet, up 9 percent from last year. For the Boston region, that figure is even higher: 69 percent. Dialing a restaurant for reservations is rapidly becoming obsolete.

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Zagat’s findings are based on a survey of 10,727 participants, 55 percent female, 45 percent male. (Boston-area respondents numbered 689, says a Zagat spokeswoman.) The breakdown by age was about 19 percent for each group of persons in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. Persons 60 years and older accounted for 26 percent of the respondents.

Among the highlights of Zagat’s findings:

Boston has the second-highest average spending per person for a meal: $42.24. New York City diners spend $48.15 while the national average is $39.40.

Local diners eat out 4.1 times per week, versus 4.5 the national average.

Poor service is the prime irritant among all diners, including in Boston, followed by restaurant noise. Last year, noise was the top complaint.

Unruly babies and children are the number one noise complaint in nine of 17 cities, including Boston. The other cities cite bad acoustics as the primary noise issue.

Other findings in Boston: Italian food is the favorite restaurant fare, farm-to-table cuisine remains a highly popular trend while the appetite for “bacon anything” has waned. Boston managed to rank number one in two of the many categories. Diners here love Brussels sprouts and beets, significantly more than the national average.

Peggy Hernandez can be reached at [email protected]