Best of the Bay 2013: BEST SURROUND SOUND DINING

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When the sound system at your restaurant outstrips the food when it comes to rave reviews, you might have a problem. But the folks at Berkeleys's elegant, spare, and forward-thinking Comal are confident enough in their menu to take us to the next level of sensual experience. The haute-Mexican cuisine, emphasizing deep flavors and grilled textures, speaks for itself. But the sound of the place speaks volumes. In order to better control the sonic ambiance of the place — and perhaps to diffuse the persnicketiness of SF's most prominent food critic, whose aversion to dining room noise is legendary — Comal's owner John Paluska installed a new, state-of-the-art Libra acoustic image system and complementary Constellation active acoustic system from Meyer Sound. Through a series of unobstrusive iPad-controlled speakers and acoustic absorption tiles, managers can control the "buzz" levels of the place, "washing" and basically "whitening" the noise as needed to quiet things down. The can even turn up the buzz around the bar — although with several flights of tequila on the menu, there's probably enough buzz already.

2020 Shattuck, SF. (510) 926.6300, www.comalberkeley.com

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