Bon Vivant - Palo Alto
Bon Vivant - Palo Alto

Bon Vivant - Palo Alto

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://bonvivantcafe.net/
  • Phone: 6504853228
  • Hours of Operation:
    Dinner:
    Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday
    5:30 PM - 9:30 PM
    Thursday, Friday, Saturday
    5:30 PM - 10:30 PM

    Lunch:
    Tuesday - Friday
    11:30 AM - 3 PM

    Brunch:
    Saturday, Sunday
    10 AM - 3 PM

    Bon Vivant is closed on Mondays.
  • Payment Options: AMEX,Diners Club,Discover,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: Wine Bar, French, Contemporary European
  • Dress Code: Business Casual
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Beer, Cafe, Chef's Table, Counter Seating, Entertainment, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Happy Hour, High Tea, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Personal wines welcome, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine, Wine Bar
  • Entertainment: Live music most Fridays. Check FB for upcoming events: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cafe-Bon-Vivant-Palo-Alto-CA/156252334390713

Getting there

  • Cross Street: University Ave
  • Parking: Street Parking
A word from Bon Vivant - Palo Alto
Bon Vivant recalls the charm and pleasure of Parisian brasserie, located in the heart of Downtown in Palo Alto. Bon Vivant food is inspired by bistro classics which showcase French tradition and technique. We composed a menu that celebrates traditional French cuisine alongside seasonal ingredients. The wine list has a great selection of French and Californian wines by the glass, as well as assortment of cocktails and mixed drinks.

Bon Vivant is about great food, interesting people, music and art. Enjoy and thank you for dining with us at Bon Vivant!
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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerNotable Wine List
  • Diners' Choice WinnerRomantic
Bon Vivant - Palo Alto reviews from OpenTable diners
29 reviews since May 4, 2014
Overall Rating3.8
  • Food3.8
    Service3.9
  • Ambiance3.9
    Noise LevelQuiet
71% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
special occasion (18)romantic (17)fit for foodies (15)neighborhood gem (12)notable wine list (12)great for brunch (10)great for lunch (9)good for groups (4)late-night find (1)hot spot (1)Show More
  • Excellent service, great atmosphere
    Chekkaboo
    Dined on 8/27/2014
    Beautiful little gem in the middle of downtown. Irene (from Paris, France) provides amazing service and the food is delicious.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for brunch, great for lunch, hot spot, neighborhood gem, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Just what we wanted...
    SimonE
    Dined on 8/7/2014
    Another great meal at Bon Vivant. After a late meeting, I went with a co-worker to Bon Vivant for dinner. Everything was perfect. I had the rabbit and my friend had salmon. We each had scrumptious desserts with our coffee afterwards. I'm fast becoming a regular here. The food is just superior.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • French in Palo Alto
    OpenTable Diner Since 2005VIP
    Dined on 8/2/2014
    Bon Vivant is a restaurant in Palo Alto serving French cuisine. The space is attractive and is not fancy or stuffy but does feel a bit special. + Nice selection of wine and champagne + Nice variety of French dishes featured on the menu + Food good but not great, only let down by poor cuts/ingredients
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Like France
    happyfoodie
    Dined on 7/11/2014
    Broad veriety of French "tapas": tongue, duck pate, crab salad. Excellent duck confit. Unexpectedly good beet root tart tatan. I'd say I got hooked on it. New classy desserts. Our choice was Napoleon cake and Souffle Grand Marnier. Everything is beautifully plated, delicate and fresh taste. I look forward trying the rest of the menu.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, special occasion, late-night find, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • I'm a regular now...
    ready2enjoy
    Dined on 7/1/2014
    I've come back to Bon Vivant a few times now - both for lunch and dinner. My experiences have been uniformly wonderful. From the Coquille St-Jacques, Pate de Canard and French Onion Soup appetizers to the Salmon Fillet, Coq au Vin and Rabbit main courses, I've enjoyed everything (as have my companions). The service has been attentive and professional without being obtrusive. I've already written about the desserts in an earlier review. ;) So what else can I say: I'm a fan and am spreading the word.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • good service, but ok food
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 6/28/2014
    The service was good despite the presence of a large party and they were accommodating for substitutions, but the food was not great... Both the rabbit and duck breast were so-so... I'm glad we didn't get the duck confit, as the table next to us seemed to strongly dislike it. The music selection was awesome though! I forgot to ask them for the playlist
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • nice french restaurant, BUT
    snuffyVIP
    Dined on 6/28/2014
    Perhaps there were not enough servers. Perhaps there was not enough training. Perhaps the kitchen was overwhelmed. It started out when our server greeted us...and then simply walked away. We had to call him back to order our cocktails. (One was sent back two times beore it was acceptable.) We requested our food to be brought AFTER we finished our cocktails. That did not happen either. And then we waited over twenty minutes for our desserts...the only reason we finally got them is because we asked the busperson to see what happened.. our waiter never returned. And FINALLY, when the bill came, we had to ask the hostess to taker the credit card because, again, our waiter had disappeared.
    Special Features:
    romantic, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Date night destination...
    SimonE
    Dined on 6/25/2014
    Fantastic! I came with my wife for dinner on a Thursday night. Mother-in-law agreed to watch the kiddies and give us a date night. Before catching a late movie, we had a lovely and romantic dinner at Bon Vivant. Everything was fresh, delicious and beautiful. We both liked the decor - elegant without being stuffy. But for me, the food for the real draw: delicious duck, and an amazing souffle for dessert. My wife had salmon and seemed very well pleased as well. It was just what we needed - well fed, with the nice tastes of food, wine and dessert leaving us cozy and satisfied. We will definitely be back!
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Not As Good
    CalWVIP
    Dined on 6/24/2014
    The service was uneven and the oysters , which had been impeccable the last time I was there, left a film on my teeth. Lobster with pasta-- tiny tails (perhaps that's not unusual) but one was hot and one was cold. Neither the waiter nor the chef detached them from the shell so they were a struggle to remove. Pappardelle was heavily sauced-- not a good companion for the minuscule lobster. The mussels were the best dish we ordered.
    Special Features:
    romantic, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Need to step up service!
    NicknamesrlameVIP
    Dined on 6/14/2014
    We have been making this place a regular spot, but am reconsidering after this last dinner. Our waitress was also the bartender and she was nice but very inexperienced. for the prices here one shouldn't have to continually ask for everything and basically tell the sever what to do when. Also, while all the other dishes were very good, two of us were served an inedible sort of lemon merengue dessert that must have been refrigerated all day. We like this place and want it to succeed as downtown Palo Alto is really lacking fine dining experiences - and has regressed to catering to the the tastes (and manners) of teenagers..
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Wonderful!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 6/14/2014
    Tried this for the first time to celebrate my graduation from college! Perfect for a special event! All of the food was superb (I had the mushroom tart and scallops - delicious) and the wine was perfect!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Dazzling Desserts
    ready2enjoy
    Dined on 6/8/2014
    We had a great time at Bon Vivant. The food & service were excellent. But I wanted to call attention to the dessert menu. I've been going to Bon Vivant for a while, but never wrote a review until now. We tried the Napolean and the Panna cotta. I order Napolean's whenever I come across them, but few were as light and creamy as this one. Perfect. Because I wasn't eager to share my treat (!) with my girlfriend, I only had one bite of her Panna Cotta. But it was wonderful as well and she seemed just as jealous about guarding her portion. Anyway, the desserts were a wonderful conclusion to a delicious meal. There were a couple of other desserts that looked yummy (Choc decadence, some custard dish,...), but I guess those are for next time.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Bummer
    OpenTable Diner Since 2003
    Dined on 5/31/2014
    Disappointing...again. Duck Confit had little taste. Ragout was very vinegary. Vegetables were less than warm. Coq Co Van: basically the same problems as the duck. With one mushroom soup (way too salty), tax and tip...over $84! Too many better choices in Palo Alto.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Okay, Not Great
    Grant
    Dined on 5/30/2014
    The service was very attentive, tops marks. However, the food came so slowly, it took nearly two hours for an appetizer, main course and dessert, in a less than half filled restaurant. While the food was competent, it had nothing to make it noteworthy or worth going back for. The fish serving was tiny, it should have been a couple ounces larger. The chocolate souffle was disappointing and overpriced. We tried the wine flight, three 2 ounce glasses of wine for $25, really not a good value. The also served us one souffle when we very clearly stated we want two souffles (turned out alright since neither of us liked it). The single standout dish was the beetroot tart tatin appetizer.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Tasty, Stylish, Exceptional Service
    FoodieFetish
    Dined on 5/25/2014
    So much to recommend at Bon Vivant; I'm surprised more people haven't discovered it. The food is tasty -- light French Country with a dash of California locally grown, and we loved the art gallery vibe to the decor. Best of all was the very willing staff. We went seeking a leisurely brunch spot where we could share fine food, a bit of bubbly, and tales tall and true with friends we hadn't seen for 25 years. Bon Vivant was perfect. When my husband asked for his eggs a special style the staff called an expert to make sure they got it right. When I left my favorite sun hat, our waiter ran three blocks to catch us and return it. That's classy service with a smile. More than a delicious meal; We had a lovely day.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, special occasion, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Standing Brunch
    allegedsage
    Dined on 5/18/2014
    This has become our "GoTo" place for Sunday brunch. The place evokes a Paris Cafe vibe, with unobtrusive service, quality food, and a great environment. A Mimosa and a Bloody Mary for each of us to start the morning, a carafe of coffee in a French Press (what else), and perfectly prepared Eggs Benedict in a rich hollandaise sauce, or a wonderful crepe.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Salmon crepe
    Pinky
    Dined on 5/10/2014
    I had the salmon crepe. It was not bad but a special sauce could be added to make it superb.maybe a lemon champagne sauce will do the trick... To up lift the tasting experience. Maybe the waitress could greet the customers in French to make it more of an experience?
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, special occasion, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • We loved our brunch
    OpenTable Diner Since 2009VIP
    Dined on 5/4/2014
    The food was great. Service wonderful. We felt very comfortable and really enjoyed ourselves. The only odd part was that it was not very busy. We could only figure that it may be a bit on the more fancy side for such a casual town. Regardless, we loved it and look forward to going back.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, special occasion, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • traditional French a good effort
    kht2002
    Dined on 5/3/2014
    had a 6 45 reservation on a Saturday only two or three tables occupied not a busy night apparently. Our server was Frank was very helpful. Started with oysters on the half shell which were excellent followed by beet salad also very good, then entrees: duck breast was excellent rabbit was overcooked and returned. overall it felt pricey for the quality and experience.
    Special Features:
    Fit For Foodies, Romantic, special occasion, Neighborhood Gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Ratings-Only Reviews
    Based on 10 ratings-only reviews submitted since May 4, 2014
    • Overall Rating3.6
    • Food3.7
    • Ambiance3.6
    • Service3.9
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • The following 179 reviews are from the Bon Vivant - Palo Alto reviews archive.
  • Tres bon!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011VIP
    Dined on 5/2/2014
    Lovely unassuming spot in Palo Alto. Get the mussels!
    Special Features:
    romantic, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Yum
    Chad
    Dined on 4/25/2014
    Excellent food, nicely presented in a romantic atmosphere.
    Special Features:
    Fit For Foodies, Romantic, Neighborhood Gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • What a find!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2006VIP
    Dined on 4/25/2014
    Bon Vivant is newly open, but has that traditional Parisienne Brasserie feel and food quality that teleports you straight to the Champs Élysées. Palo Alto's foodies and Francophile wannabes will discover this gem soon enough and you'll have to wait a week or two for a reservation. Go now - while you can!
    Special Features:
    Fit For Foodies, Romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • French food in open atmosphere
    MarkusF
    Dined on 4/25/2014
    Bon Vivant is a fun open-room restaurant. Service was very friendly and efficient, the food was delicious though not outstanding. The menu has many great items, however, and we'll be back to try them all.
    Special Features:
    Kid-Friendly, Fit For Foodies, Good for Groups, Romantic, special occasion, Late-Night Find
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Disappointed
    BethVIP
    Dined on 4/22/2014
    I was very disappointed in Bon Vivant. Although the atmosphere is quite lovely the food was dull. We started out with an amuse bouche which was a mini roll of some kind. It had no tasted and seemed to come right out of the freezer/refrigerator. My onion soup was ok but not really caramelized oniony as I would have expected. My husband's crab salad tasted canned and mayonnaisey. Yuck. Our main dishes were pretty good. My portion of salmon was small but tasty. The side veggies were overly salted. My husband's duck breast was good. Our dinning companion ordered ice cream. It was the tiniest portion I have ever seen. My fruit place was excellent.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Great Ingredients, Cooking, Plating
    frequentDinerVIP
    Dined on 4/22/2014
    All excellent: Coquille St. Jaques, French Onion Soup, House Salad, Duck Orange, Pepper Steak, Grand Marnlier Souffle, and Rum Baba. The server brought soup and salad at the same time, and it crowded the small table, but the good outweighed this oversight.
    Special Features:
    Fit For Foodies, Romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • lovely evening
    flash
    Dined on 4/19/2014
    my wife and i had a wonderful meal and champagne after a long day in a relaxed and cheerful atmoshpere. The waiter was cheerful and engaging and the food (appetizers, salads, entrees and dessert) was terrific. I'm amazed this place isnt packed every night. (We had an 8 o'clock reso on short notice.) Please ntoe: the French food label should not discourage anyone. This is not a snooty, rich sauce-all-over-everytihng French restauant. Just excellent fresh food prepared wonderfully.
    Special Features:
    Great for Brunch, Fit For Foodies, Great for Outdoor Dining, Romantic, Neighborhood Gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Wonderful find!
    CCCR
    Dined on 4/17/2014
    This was a special occasion evening. Selected Bon Vivant because original choice restaurent had to cancel our reservation as they were hosting a private event. So glad this happened and we had a most wonderful dinner. I enjoyed some delicious cauliflower soup and some very good Duck Confit. We also had salad Frisée and a pork dish with calvados....ending our meal with Grand Marnier soufflé...all this accompanied by an amazing bottle of Premier Cru Chablis...Our waiter -Jack was excellent - he and my co guest conversed in French - so if I closed my eyes I could almost believe I was somewhere in France. I highly recommend Bon Vivant.
    Special Features:
    Fit For Foodies, Romantic, special occasion, Neighborhood Gem, Notable Wine List
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • excellent food and service!
    Norm
    Dined on 3/28/2014
    We had a big lunch with a friend last Friday. We had an appetizer, soups and entrees, also added wine. The food was excellent, the waiter was perfect, ten out of ten!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for brunch, notable wine list, romantic, great for lunch, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Birthday Lunch
    KonnieKatt
    Dined on 3/27/2014
    We chose Bon Vivant for an informal birthday lunch because of the pleasant atmosphere, the interesting menu, and the very helpful staff. When we asked questions about individual items on the menu, the staff gave clear reasons for their recommendations. We had the Salade Nicoise, Salmon Crepes, and Baba Au Rhum. All were close enough to the classic recipes to be enjoyable but also used slightly different ingredients to create a memorable lunch. The low noise level and the leisurely pace of the service allowed us to enjoy a very pleasant visit over lunch.
    Special Features:
    great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great food and ...
    ServeMe
    Dined on 3/22/2014
    Excellent French cuisine. We had the escargo was divine. The salad with smoked duck and truffle oil was very tasty. Duck was well prepared. The filet mignon was a tad over done - more medium than medium rare, so should order on the rarer side. Desserts were heavenly as was the coffee. Service was good. A better command of the menu items especially the specials or the substitutions. Need to listen more carefully.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, scenic view, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • local French place
    Peggy
    Dined on 3/22/2014
    I find that the bon Vivant is not there yet, food or service wise. My husband never got his ice tea. The potatoes were cold under by scallops and his was really cold along side his duck. The attending waiter had other things on his mind so couldn not totally concentrate eventhough we had a 5:30 reservation. It has a nice setting but it not there food wise.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • The food was delicious and
    OpenTable Diner Since 2005
    Dined on 3/22/2014
    The food was delicious and presentation was great. The service was excellant
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, neighborhood gem, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Struggling little restaurant . ..
    Keshav
    Dined on 3/15/2014
    Nice ambiance but food quality was pretty poor. Not what I would expect for Palo Alto. Nice presentation, but not an impressive showing for true foodies. Needs help. Not cheap.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • St Germaine
    MaximillianeVIP
    Dined on 3/8/2014
    Made you feel that outside is Saint Sulpice or St Germaine in Paris Staff and service is super appetizers were very good the salmon is tops seafood forté
    Special Features:
    good for groups, kid-friendly, romantic, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Perfect Balance
    Julian
    Dined on 2/22/2014
    Everything was a perfect balance of flavor and quality from the Astor, to the Mousse de Canard, to the salad, through my duck, and punctuated by the chocolate soufflé. No over seasoning, no over saucing. I recommend letting your server make recommendations for wine pairings and cooking style (my duck was perfectly pink). Service was fantastic.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, romantic, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Lovely, elegant place for lunch
    LovetolunchVIP
    Dined on 2/22/2014
    Outstanding pot de creme! Wasn't crazy about the smoked salmon crepes--will try something different next time. Atmosphere and service will tempt me back.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for brunch, romantic, neighborhood gem, great for lunch, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Fantastic Dinner!!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 1/24/2014
    After reading the other reviews we arrived with high hopes and this place did not disappoint - Everything about the meal was outstanding. We couldn't believe that we were able to get in on a Friday night, last minute in Palo Alto. Can't wait for our next visit - have already recommended the place to a few friends.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Hidden Gem!
    PAMom
    Dined on 1/17/2014
    I went to Bon Vivant for the first time on a Friday night with a few friends, and was shocked at how wonderful the experience was! The restaurant was very quiet for 7pm Friday by Palo Alto standards, and the decor was tasteful and contemporary. Our waiter was a very sweet person who served us with delicacy and humor. The food was GREAT. I had an acorn soup that blew my mind, delicious scallops in saffron cream, and a transcendent creme brulee. I had not expected Bon Vivant to be such a sleeper hit, and I will certainly go back again and again!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, notable wine list, romantic, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • The best seafood in PA so far
    JustDaniel
    Dined on 12/27/2013
    I live nearby; and I should have learned about this place a while ago. Yesterday I ordered Fruit de Mer. This is a huge plate of fresh seafood incl mussels, scallops, oysters, shrimp and a few more items. Coming with tasty sauce. I'd say it is the best Fruit de Mer I ate in America so far. Very, very impressive. Their Souffle Grand Marnier was also excellent. I highly recommend this place.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for brunch, notable wine list, romantic, neighborhood gem, great for lunch, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Nice though not thrilling
    TriciaPVIP
    Dined on 12/21/2013
    This restaurant was empty, which speaks volumes perhaps about its attractions. Everything is nice, but nothing special. We went for lunch; I expect it would be much nicer for dinner.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, romantic
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet