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Mark Sommelier

Babies/Children in Restaurants (merged topic)

597 posts in this topic

Seth, as a musician, I disagree with the idea that kids shouldn't be brought to concerts. Kids are the audience of tomorrow and should be introduced to live music.

As a bad amatuer musician, I completely agree that children must be introduced to music as early and as often as possible, and I never meant to suggest otherwise. There are many concert settings designed with children in mind or held in places (i.e., outdoors) appropriate for children of any age. When I made reference to the "concert hall," I meant to evoke more formal concert settings. The concert I was remembering was a piano recital at Carnegie Hall. There was a young child who behaved remarkably, even astonishingly well. But he still fidgeted throughout the first half of the show, and often whispered this or that to his mother. These were distractions from Maurizio Pollini's wonderful performance, and I'll never get that performance back.

Sorry for the off-topic chat.

I was at a Pollini recital at Carnegie Hall 2 or 3 years ago, and the problem I had was not with a kid but with some adults who wouldn't shut up, no matter how much I stared at them. I still loved the recital, however. Nothing like live music.

OK, now back to our show... :biggrin:

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greenfield, I haven't come across you before, so welcome to eGullet.

You make a good point about Windows on the World. That restaurant was a tourist destination and quite probably experienced in handling a mixed crowd as to age. This is unlike the other high end dining establishments. But, I am sure that some of the techniques that they used would be instructive. Thank you for sharing the experience.

May Windows on the World and its loyal employees rest in peace.

Windows on the World is scheduled to re-open in several years when the new building is built. It was in the NYT this week.


Mark

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Seth, as a musician, I disagree with the idea that kids shouldn't be brought to concerts. Kids are the audience of tomorrow and should be introduced to live music.

As a bad amatuer musician, I completely agree that children must be introduced to music as early and as often as possible, and I never meant to suggest otherwise. There are many concert settings designed with children in mind or held in places (i.e., outdoors) appropriate for children of any age. When I made reference to the "concert hall," I meant to evoke more formal concert settings. The concert I was remembering was a piano recital at Carnegie Hall. There was a young child who behaved remarkably, even astonishingly well. But he still fidgeted throughout the first half of the show, and often whispered this or that to his mother. These were distractions from Maurizio Pollini's wonderful performance, and I'll never get that performance back.

Sorry for the off-topic chat.

I was at a Pollini recital at Carnegie Hall 2 or 3 years ago, and the problem I had was not with a kid but with some adults who wouldn't shut up, no matter how much I stared at them. I still loved the recital, however. Nothing like live music.

OK, now back to our show... :biggrin:

I love opera. I have yet to see someone bring an infant to an opera performance. I was 16 when my mom took me to see Leontyne Price sing Aida at the Met. I remember the camels.


Mark

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I think I was 8th grade when I saw the first opera I loved, The Magic Flute. I had been to La Boheme earlier, was bored by the act that was a long love scene, and left after that act so that my mother and her friend could enjoy the rest of the opera in peace. It's all about having an adequate attention span and being considerate.

I don't think that Carnegie Hall is the same as the Metropolitan Opera, but we should probably drop this tangent. :smile:

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I have seen a fair number of kids in two and three star restaurants outside of Paris and youngsters (not babies, and my one NY sighting in Daniel was admittedly an exception) in top Parisian restaurants. It's not common to see children in two and three star restaurants in Paris, but when you do, they are exceptionally well behaved, especially if they are French. In the provinces, I've seen kids more mobile in top restaurants, but there's generally more room in the dining room and I've also seen kids come and go out into the garden to play. I've also seen large dogs in restaurants in France. At Veyrat's place outside of Annecy, there was a young girl who ran all over the dining room. In fact, more than once, a waiter almost tripped over her. My recollection was that she pestered at least one other table, but they may have encouraged her. I was rather surprised to say the least, although it didn't disrupt my meal. Veyrat himself was there in the dining room and appeared to know the people at the table. Either they were relatives, good customers or his banker.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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In NY in the mid seventies, I watched a young, maybe three year old, girl tear across a SoHo gallery running headfirst toward a very large painting. She caught the attention of the dealer who practically leaped from her office, although it was obvious she could never beat the kid to the painting. The kid came to a dead stop about eighteen inches from the painting, proceeded to put her hands in the back pockets of her overalls and leaned forward looking at the painting rather discriminatingly over her nose. It was hard to tell if the kid really liked that painting, but she clearly knew how to look as if she belonged in a gallery. On the other hand, I've seen any number of adults lean back against work on the walls in a gallery and in some cases actually put their hand out to brace themselves on a work of art.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Bux, my parents told me about a time when they went with my brother (then 5 years old) to a restaurant in France that was no high-end place or obviously fancy. They say that my brother behaved perfectly well from their American perspective and spoke in a normal conversational voice - and everyone stared at him, because in those days (this would be 1963 or '64), children were "seen and not heard," and none of the French children in the place said a word the entire time in that silent room. Needless to say, my brother really disliked the experience and my parents were uncomfortable but learned something about cultural differences.

Clearly, things have changed since then, as I found during my trip to France in June of 2002 that talking in a normal voice and laughing in Michelin-starred restaurants was evidently quite acceptable.

The French love affair with dogs is something that most anyone who's been to France has experienced - the way they feed excellent humans' food to their dog, who is sitting next to them, perhaps without a leash on. I have my doubts that dogs can appreciate haute cuisine better than a nice, juicy piece of raw meat, but who am I to tell people to stop anthropomorphising their pets?

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I have read the whole thread, Mark, and sought to give you some advice about your problem. But I keep coming up with the fact that no matter what you wish to do, the ones who need the talkin' to are precisely also the ones obtuse enough to be a real problem in the first place. The father taking his child around the room was a sweetheart-but someone should have said something like it could not be allowed because of the hazard to staff, diners, and dad/child. I would seriously consider a children welcomed night,have reservations inform callers from the get-go like previously mentioned, and segregate a child area.

By the way: read sweetheart as a synonym for @**hole. I think there is hopefully a special ring of hell for anyone who puts others off their feed.

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Babies in restaturants? I don't think I could manage a whole one.

St John serves an excellent suckling pig, one per table...

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They might not be happy about seeing a black man being seated next to them. Or a group of American tourists. So what? I am not interested in people's prejudices -- the important thing is how individuals behave.  I don't see why well-behaved children should not be allowed into fancy restaurants just because some children are badly behaved, any more than we should ban all Americans from Arpege just because someone ordered a Coke there  once.

I think there is a tremendous difference between racial prejudices and "age" discrimination -- in this case unruly children in high-end, fine dining.

The key, at least for me, is the propensity of a child to misbehave. As I noted above, children become crabby and tired, which may very well be a child that 99.999999% of the time is an absolute angel with their track record of public behaviour. Well rested, excited and enthusiastic children can become overbearing as well, just to the brink of another diner being made uncomfortable.

I for one, do not appreciate the exaggeration being applied here.

Americans have a propensity to talk loudly and order coca-cola in fine restaurants. This is not racial prejudice but national prejudice which perhaps isn't so taboo.

And this is not about unruly children but about children in general -- I think everybody agrees that unruly children should not be allowed -- the question is whether all children should be banned from high end restaurants. In particular I object to the idea that well-behaved children should not be allowed because of the prejudices of other diners, based on what I admit are real propensities of children.

And I did say

Ok, I'm exaggerating a bit, but you get the drift wink.gif
And I don't appreciate that qualification being snipped off. But let's not get too pompous. Merry Xmas all!

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Babies in restaturants? I don't think I could manage a whole one.

St John serves an excellent suckling pig, one per table...

:laugh: That reminds of a Roseanne episode where one kid was being a kid-type pain and she says something like, "Now I know why some animals eat their young."

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Mark, sorry but I think you have your answer here - you can't do a no babies policy in the States. It's such a hot topic that you'd generate a lot of bad publicity - especially because your boss is French.

At ADPA - Ducasse in Paris - we have a no babies policy. And no dogs. Considered kind of strict even for Parisian standards, because usually it's just an unspoken rule - to have an actual policy in place is kind of a big deal. But it is enforced. Children are allowed though.

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Is it true that you can't do a "no babies" policy in the US?


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I started the thread to discern if there was a way to tell people discreetly, other than a NO BABIES sign posted at the door

Why can't you ask when they make the reservations something like how many adult will be in their party. If they reply that they have children/toddlers/babies you can respond that you prefer not to seat children under a certain age or that you only seat tables with children for lunch/before 6:00, etc.

Wouldn't there be some way to do this when the reservation is being made.

When making reservations in Japan we often say or are asked the number of adults and the number of children.


<p><strong>Kristin Wagner</strong>, aka "torakris"

Manager, Membership

<a class="bbc_email" href="mailto:kwagner@egstaff.org" title="E-mail Link">kwagner@egstaff.org</a></p>

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I love opera. I have yet to see someone bring an infant to an opera performance. I was 16 when my mom took me to see Leontyne Price sing Aida at the Met. I remember the camels.

I worked at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for several years. There was one instance where a woman brought an infant to the ballet, and subscriptions were purchased to the ballet and symphony for kids as young as three. The ushers were trained to deal swiftly with anyone disrupting a performance.

There was no rule banning infants and no signs to that effect, but since everyone must have a ticket regardless of age, most reasonable folks left the kids at home. A babysitter is usually cheaper than a theater ticket. However, if signs did go up you can be sure that a stink would be raised based on the policy of "age discrimination." Never underestimate the buying public.


Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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The French love affair with dogs is something that most anyone who's been to France has experienced - the way they feed excellent humans' food to their dog, who is sitting next to them, perhaps without a leash on. I have my doubts that dogs can appreciate haute cuisine better than a nice, juicy piece of raw meat, but who am I to tell people to stop anthropomorphising their pets?

On the whole, I think it is less harmful to treat one's pets as human than to treat one's infant offspring as adults.


Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"

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The French love affair with dogs is something that most anyone who's been to France has experienced - the way they feed excellent humans' food to their dog, who is sitting next to them, perhaps without a leash on. I have my doubts that dogs can appreciate haute cuisine better than a nice, juicy piece of raw meat, but who am I to tell people to stop anthropomorphising their pets?

On the whole, I think it is less harmful to treat one's pets as human than to treat one's infant offspring as adults.

I was at a concert here in London about a month ago and a blind person had brought her dog with her. Which started barkiing during the performance. My children on the other hand behaved perfectly.

:raz:


Edited by balex (log)

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Yes, those damn blind people. They're a nuisance and should be dealt with.


Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"

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or to sum it up nicely, i think: they realize it's generally not appropriate.

Nice summation, counselor :laugh:


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Yes, those damn blind people. They're a nuisance and should be dealt with.

I don't think that's the point, fresco. :laugh:

You're right, of course. The point was that dogs have keen hearing and was panning the concert. How obtuse of me. :wink:


Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"

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The French love affair with dogs is something that most anyone who's been to France has experienced - the way they feed excellent humans' food to their dog, who is sitting next to them, perhaps without a leash on. I have my doubts that dogs can appreciate haute cuisine better than a nice, juicy piece of raw meat, but who am I to tell people to stop anthropomorphising their pets?

On the whole, I think it is less harmful to treat one's pets as human than to treat one's infant offspring as adults.

In general, I would trust the behavior of one of my dogs in a social situation before I would have one of my infant to toddler children. :biggrin:


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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but who am I to tell people to stop anthropomorphising their pets?

On the whole, I think it is less harmful to treat one's pets as human than to treat one's infant offspring as adults.

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trust that I will only inflict mine upon those who are visiting a SYSCO-truck outpost during the hours of 4-5:30pm

This should be national policy. :laugh:


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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