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Mark Sommelier

Babies/Children in Restaurants (merged topic)

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From my recollection, law like this doesn't necessarily apply to minors in the same way. A lot of conditions are applied against minors which might be considered discrimination for adults. Disclaimer: also not a lawyer, but one will no doubt be around real soon.

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For waht it's worth, Daniel Boulud doesn't serve a burger, not even with foie gras, at this four star restaurant. It is only served at his least formal restaurant and it's not at all designed to please or attract kids.

As far as the idea of having a $150 prix fix kid's menu with hot dogs, I think that would be precisely the wrong strategy. I'm sorry I've misplaced the URL for a small restaurant in the French provinces. On its site, there was a kid's menu featuring smaller portions of such things as foie gras and steack frites.

Thanks for the clarification -- I was of course joking. A good way to deal with this is how they do it at le manoir aux Quat' Saisons, a 2 michelin star restaurant outside Oxford that I have eaten at many times.

They encourage children and have a special menu le Manoir menus for children: unfortunately they don't have an example -- and when we went my chidren thought it was boring and ordered from the carte. :sad:

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For waht it's worth, Daniel Boulud doesn't serve a burger, not even with foie gras, at this four star restaurant. It is only served at his least formal restaurant and it's not at all designed to please or attract kids.

As far as the idea of having a $150 prix fix kid's menu with hot dogs, I think that would be precisely the wrong strategy. I'm sorry I've misplaced the URL for a small restaurant in the French provinces. On its site, there was a kid's menu featuring smaller portions of such things as foie gras and steack frites.

Thanks for the clarification -- I was of course joking. A good way to deal with this is how they do it at le manoir aux Quat' Saisons, a 2 michelin star restaurant outside Oxford that I have eaten at many times.

They encourage children and have a special menu le Manoir menus for children: unfortunately they don't have an example -- and when we went my chidren thought it was boring and ordered from the carte. :sad:

Yes I understood the Boulud Burger comment was made in jest, but I worried that not all of the participants in this thread might not understand it wasn't served at Daniel. It's a fault of the medium at times. My apologies if I've made the situation worse in any way, as well as for the spelling errors (typos) above.

It's rather a pity le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons doesn't display a typical children's menu on its web site. I'd be curious about what it offers. This brings new dimensions to the thread, although maybe I brought the cultural aspect into play by mentioning a restaurant in France. Le Manoir is not only a restaurant in the UK, but also an inn in the countryside, although I have no idea how many of the dinner guests are also staying at the inn on a given night. My point would be that a hotel or inn might have more reason to accommodate kids or special needs than an urban city center restaurant where a family staying in a nearby hotel would have many choices for dinner. In fact, even in mid Manhattan, I'd expect a hotel restaurant, even if one of gastronomic fame, to have a children's menu before I'd expect the same from a restaurant not connected to a hotel.

If I might be allowed to make the distinction, there are two kinds of luxury restaurants, in NY at least. There are those that are the product of the chef's art and those that cater to the diner's whims. Of course any luxury restaurant should have a talented chef and staff and should also cater to the diner, but less so to his whims. There are obviously cross overs here and many gastronomes will recommend restaurants that I believe are from different camps. All that said, and leaving aside my early and most atypical example of a newborn asleep in a basket, a child has not business in Daniel, the French Laundry, le Bernadin, AD/NY. etc. until that child is ready to enjoy the food at some level.

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My apologies if I've made the situation worse in any way, as well as for the spelling errors (typos) above.

I rather enjoyed seeing that you have typos too. :wink:

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All that said, and leaving aside my early and most atypical example of a newborn asleep in a basket, a child has not business in Daniel, the French Laundry, le Bernadin, AD/NY. etc. until that child is ready to enjoy the food at some level.

So do you feel that these restaurants are ever appropriate for family gatherings on special occasions? For that matter, can anyone recommend high-end restuaurants for special occasions that accomodate children?

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For that matter, can anyone recommend high-end restuaurants for special occasions that accomodate children?

Sounds like Citronelle might be just the place :laugh::laugh::biggrin:

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So do you feel that these restaurants are ever appropriate for family gatherings on special occasions?

I am not sure if I would call them inappropriate, but I am not sure that they would be appropriate either.

Family gatherings are just that-FAMILY gatherings. And high end places like the ones that you mentioned above are (in my mind) more about the food and the experience than they are about being places to meet and enjoy friends and family. Certainly both can be done in these kinds of places at the same time, but it generally requires a group of like minded people who know about fine dining and who will be able to enjoy the company AND the food at the same time. I think with most families (Mom and Dad, grandparents, children and teenagers, etc. all in one group) it would be a pretty hard deal to visit in a familiar family way while commenting on the fois gras and flavored foam (sorry, I just love writing the words "flavored foam"). Obviously some people in the group would enjoy it, but just as many would not (service is slow and staggered- portions are, or at least often are, very small-small children with little or no experience in this situation will be bored stiff and begin to act out-and then that will annoy the first group of family who think that this is the greatest idea ever-it would likely be a never ending circle of dissapointment).

You may have an exceptional family and all ages may totally get off on flavored foam (sorry, couldn't help myself) but I don't have much experience with families like that. I do come from a large extended family of well to do and well educated people that can cook, discuss food, and between us pretty much cover a large hunk of the great places often mentioned on these boards in terms of dining experience, but I wouldn't try it with them or any other large group (and I am talking about 10 or more, less is a whole nuther matter). Too many things can go wrong and spoil it for everyone. There are always better choices for family groups. They can still be very upscale, but leave room for visting and family-i.e. it won't be just about the food and wine.

In New Orleans there are a number of pretty good choices where the food is good to great, but the atmosphere for enjoying your family (laughing, loud talk, etc.) is great.

Galitoire's

Mr. B's

Wine Room ar Emeril's

Antoine's (several different smallish dining rooms)

Commander's accomodates this pretty well and they don't mind a little noise

If I step it down a notch or two I can come up with maybe twenty places that would be great for the kind of gathering that I think you are talking about.

I'm sure the situation is the same in any decent dining town.

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:laugh::laugh:

Yeah, they encourage young kids throwin stuff around, and playing on the floor.

:laugh::laugh:

Ask for Mark, on your way in!!!!

woodburner

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Ask for Mark, on your way in!!!!

Yeah. Just tell the kids to look for the guy on the train with the funny looking chain around his neck. :laugh:

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All that said, and leaving aside my early and most atypical example of a newborn asleep in a basket, a child has no business in Daniel, the French Laundry, le Bernadin, AD/NY. etc. until that child is ready to enjoy the food at some level.

So do you feel that these restaurants are ever appropriate for family gatherings on special occasions? For that matter, can anyone recommend high-end restuaurants for special occasions that accomodate children?

They are always appropriate for those are ready to eat in them. I've always been able to enjoy a special occasion gathering in a very inexpensive restaurant and more than willing to dine in a fine restaurant at the drop of the hat when I've been able to afford it. One distinct prejudice I have is that fine food is an end in itself and not something that I tie to special occasions. These restaurants are appropriate for any gathering of food lovers, but poorly used as a place to celebrate by those who do not fully appreciate the opportunity. It really all depends on the family and what they feel is appropriate, I suppose.

Recommendations for specific high-end restaurants for special occasions, that also accommodate children, are probably going to depend on your definition of "high-end" as well as the locale in which you are going to celebrate.

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Commander's accomodates this pretty well and they don't mind a little noise

I think Brooks summed up the large gathering situation pretty well. I also have some prejudiced notions* about what's acceptable to other diners in and out of New York City. Commander's Palace figures strongly in this. It was quite a few years ago, but we were rather surprised to see so many celebrants in one room. I don't know if it was our bad luck, but most of the tables apart from our two top held more than eight people and everyone in the room seemed more intent on toasting with champagne or drinking cocktails than on the food. It was not conducive to our enjoyment of dinner, although I don't remember kids. Then again, I wouldn't put Commander's in the same category of cuisine as Daniel or the French Laundry.

*Prejudiced notions are those that come from personal, but limited experience.

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All that said, and leaving aside my early and most atypical example of a newborn asleep in a basket, a child has not business in Daniel, the French Laundry, le Bernadin, AD/NY. etc. until that child is ready to enjoy the food at some level.

So do you feel that these restaurants are ever appropriate for family gatherings on special occasions? For that matter, can anyone recommend high-end restuaurants for special occasions that accomodate children?

Keeping in mind that even fancy Cantonese banquet places in Flushing and Manhattan's Chinatown aren't really expensive, I think they're a good pick. Ditto for a classy but moderately-priced Korean place like Kang Suh, where they'll put your party in a private room. We're basically talking around $30/person, give or take, which is not remotely comparable to the prices at any of the places Bux listed.

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All that said, and leaving aside my early and most atypical example of a newborn asleep in a basket, a child has not business in Daniel, the French Laundry, le Bernadin, AD/NY. etc. until that child is ready to enjoy the food at some level.

i've seen *adults* dining at places like these where they didn't seem ready to enjoy the food at some level. :unsure:

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For that matter, can anyone recommend high-end restuaurants for special occasions that accomodate children?

Sounds like Citronelle might be just the place :laugh::laugh::biggrin:

:angry:

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Then again, I wouldn't put Commander's in the same category of cuisine as Daniel or the French Laundry.

It's not. The food can be spectacular at Commander's Palace but it"s definitely as much about "The New Orleans Thing" as it is anything else. If you really want to see this in action, get a reservation for lunch on the Friday before Mardi Gras. It is a zoo, but highly entertaining.

French Laundry, Daniel, etc. are all about the whole experience. Diners need show up only with an open mind and decent working range on a credit card and they can sit back and have all of thier senses entertained by flavored foam (sorry, there I go again :angry: ). It is not so much about the company you brought with you (although clearly good, like minded company can add a great deal to the enjoyment of serious dining <especially if their credit card is involved :raz: >)

I love to do this and so do many here, but I don't know that I would enjoy it with my SIL and a couple of her ill mannered kids along :wacko::laugh: .

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All that said, and leaving aside my early and most atypical example of a newborn asleep in a basket, a child has no business in Daniel, the French Laundry, le Bernadin, AD/NY. etc. until that child is ready to enjoy the food at some level.

i've seen *adults* dining at places like these where they didn't seem ready to enjoy the food at some level. :unsure:

The thread is about babies, but I think it extends to children. Otherwise, I'd have no problem substituting "being" or "person" for "child." The only difference, I'd suppose, is that an adult gets to decide for himself where he goes. Many people seem to choose to be where they have no business. I guess it's a free country.

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It's a free country for management, too, in that they're free to eject people who make a scene.

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There is no circumstance where you could justify poor behaviour from kids in upscale restaurants but I have to think that the patrons and management of a high-end restaurant would expect a different kind of experience on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day than almost any other day of the year (save for mother's day, father's day and thanksgiving) These days are typically family get togethers.

Again, not the behavior is acceptable, but I believe the expectations of management and customers should be lowered on those days.

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in answer to the OP.

just be more accomodating, if possible. if you have a "high-end restaurant", service standards, and expectations, should already be high right? just set the bar higher.

and in order to stay on top, one has to accomdate the changing face of society, or risk being an anachonism (like those restaurants that stick to tradition, alienating everybody else, and end up closing because their only customers are regularswho grow older every year, then die---shrinking the customer base.)

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And if anyone does object, the parents feign shock that anyone would want to stifle such a sweet, fun-loving child.

This reminds me of something that happened a few days ago.

My BF and I were having a beer in a restaurant--not high-end, mind you, but not a chain either, just a rather nice place in the lobby of a rather nice hotel. It was just after 5 PM and the place was filling up with businesspeople ready to enjoy happy hour--drinking, smoking cigarettes, etc.

We were seated next to a table of four--2 couples, one of which had an infant in tow. The baby was adorable (it had grown out of the stage where babies look like aliens) and neither my BF or myself had any problem sitting next to it. I love babies, and my BF has one himself--but he didn't have it on him :raz:

When the couple prepared to leave, the mother started putting the baby into its little pink bunny-rabbit snowsuit. The baby didn't like it (neither would I, why babies should have to wear ridiculous clothing meant to emphasize their helplessness is beyond me), and it began screaming in protest.

The following dialogue ensued:

Sheepish father, to infant: "You're ruining your image, you know. Now everyone is going to think you're a bad baby."

Indignant mother, to father: "Oh, she is not. No one is even noticing."

Father, to mother: "Of course they are! People don't like it."

Mother, to everyone within earshot: "You're being silly! No one minds when a baby cries! Everyone knows babies cry sometimes! Everyone loves babies! Everyone wants one around!"

It is this attitude that gets under my skin. I love babies. I know that they cry sometimes. And I don't mind sitting next to one in any kind of restaurant. But not everyone loves babies, not everyone is willing to make allowances for them, and the righteousness of this mother in assuming that everyone is is what pisses me off.

Many people do not want children around, are childfree by choice, and purposely avoid situations where they may encounter children. For this mother to assume that everyone wants a baby around is just ignorant. I don't care what kind of restaurant you're in--it's this attitude of entitlement that infuriates me.

The larger issue of parents vs. non-parents is not one that can be discussed here on eGullet, but it is of greatest importance to me as a childfree woman--especially in the workplace, where my employee benefits and workload are concerned.

The question of should a baby be in a high-end restaurant is just one of many questions that must be asked as more and more Americans remain childfree by choice.

But needless to say, I was happy when the baby was safely bunny-suited, and they left us to our beers--not so much because the screaming baby was gone, but because her mother was.

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Nero, I don't think the issue really is whether one does or doesn't have children, and whether that's by choice or happenstance. The real issue to me is that people have to have consideration for others and take responsibility for their behavior and the behavior of the children in their care.

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The real issue to me is that people have to have consideration for others and take responsibility for their behavior and the behavior of the children in their care.

I agree.

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I don't know whether this is a new thing (probably not) or whether I'm just encountering it a lot more because of a baby boom (explosion) going on in our neighborhood.

Many young mothers are very considerate about other people and their children, but there seems to be a sizable minority who travel in packs and consider it to be their right to crowd other people (often older women) off sidewalks with their outsize baby carriages and to sprawl all over local coffee houses in large groups with all of their possessions stacked on and around tables.

Nero observes that they seem to feel entitled in some way, and it's hard to escape the conclusion that some people feel having a child elevates them above the rules of civility.

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Fresco, some people feel that being young men entitles them to take up 3 seats on the subway, and some people feel that being drivers entitles them to take up 2 lanes on the highway. Again, I really think this is an issue of people just plain being assholes.

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