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Dining with a baby


Lizzy NYC
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We now have a 9 month old baby and find it hard to grapple with the idea that in the future our precious little one will be relegated to the dining rooms of White Spot and Red Robin (no offence to them, but I prefer more adventurous cooking)

Moderne Burger is our safe bet for burgs and fries, but where do we go when we want seared skate and foie gras?

He eats just about everything - mommy's a chef so he doesn't have a choice! We have done dim-sum with him at Imperial Palace and he lasted a quiet 1.5 hours in his booster seat perched on top of a table, but as he gets a bit older, it will likely become more difficult.

Are there any restaurants in town which quietly accept children diners and cater (a bit) to their needs? I know EARLS is saying no, but is there somewhere welcoming a young, hip foodie couple with a child in tow?

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Ironically, I was thinking about this exact subject while dining last night at Parkside. At the table beside ours, two couples and a very young child (I would guess he/she was ~ 12-14 months old) were seated. I was AMAZED how well behaved the child was...no crying, no squirming, no tantrums, nothing. Mom would feed her/him from her own plate and this child would eagerly accept all the food (and, by the way, seemed absolutely mesmerized by mommy's mojito!). If you are looking for fine dining opportunities with your little bambino, it appears that Parkside welcomes them with open arms. At least outside on the patio, where we were seated.

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Thanks for the info. I love Parkside actually, and it looks like it's time to return.

As for the first reply from Daniel Rogov, I did not mean that I would torture fellow diners with my screaming, food flinging child. I do understand the etiquette that surrounds dining out, it's my living.

It's interesting that Europeans will bring thier children out with them, at all hours of the evening, to any type of resataurant, we witnessed that when we lived in Rome. North Americans seem not to enjoy the company of children quite as much (trust me, I am not joined at my child's hip, I simply find it daunting to find a babysitter in order to have a quick, nice bite in a nice restaurant).

And certainly I would not bring my child to Lumiere, but why not a place like Feenie's? There is usually such a din of conversation in a large restaurant, that if my child squeals in delight when he sees his plate of mushroom risotto, it would be lost anyway!

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Hi Lizzy,

We have grappled with the same issue as you around kids and dining. Our kids are now four and six, and they love to eat out with us. Although they are generally well behaved, if we are going for a more sophisticated restaurant we usually look for something larger and noisier, so that they will not bother people looking for a quiet, romantic meal. They've done just fine at Feenie's, La Regalade, Kettle of Fish and any of the CFD chains. What really works for us is going for lunch. I think that almost any restaurant is fine at lunch time and the kids are usually at their best then. I wish more fine dining restaurants would open for lunch on Sundays. A long leisurely lunch in a restaurant on Sunday is a tradition we immediately embraced when visiting Europe. We had a great 2 1/2 hour lunch at Bacchus at Domaine de Chaberton in Langley last week, and the kids were a delight. There is that tricky stage when the kids begin walking and are hard to contain (18 months to 3 years) but after that it's doable and enjoyable.

Andrea

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Hey

I have an 8-month old. I would absolutely agree with the lunch comment. It is wholly dependent on us as parents to time the restaurant visit so that it is in line with a time where your child is well rested. Without question lunch is the way to go. I don't know about you but our baby needs to be in bed between 6 & 7 pm depending on when his last nap was so dinner is absolutely out of the question unless you want to eat with the senior citizens at 5.

We are now trying to have meals at the same time as the baby when we can. We give him his own spoon and he is generally well behaved. At the moment we are only going to fairly family friendly establishments like the Cactus Club which is 100% cool with babies.

Fine dining estblishmennts go hand in hand with longer service times. We can be in and out of a family restaurant in 30-45 minutes. If your baby can sit in a chair and not fuss for 1-2 hours, great. I don't think my little guy is quite there yet....

Would love to here any updates on places that have/have not baby-friendly dining policies, however.

Daniel's comments - kind of bordering on patronising? But I would agree that we have to take responsbility for the infant behaving well. I could not see myself in a quiet, reserved, elegant restaurant with a child until they are much older - probably 12+.

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I was at Aurora Bistro on Friday night with a 9 month old. It worked out because we went late so it was not as crowded. Although the plan was for him to sleep peacefully through the night, he popped up as soon as we got there. He caused no problems. The staff were very cool about it. I think we may have been seated by one of EG's own, who was very gracious.

We had a great appetizer of scallop tartare with some beautiful heirloom tomatoes. The boy liked the bread.

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My Boss raved bout his experience at the Wickaninnish in Tofino. He and his wife took their 15 month old there and when she was getting a little antsy, the waitress offered to take her and babysit for the duration of the dinner. Amazing service.

"There are two things every chef needs in the kitchen: fish sauce and duck fat" - Tony Minichiello

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My wife and I are avid foodies and restaurant eaters and my son Kai has been coming with us to restaurants on a very regular basis. When he was really young we timed it with sleeping and he would be snoring in his stroller while we ate well, I still remember him parked at a table next to us at West and getting nothing but positive interest. Now he is almost three and I regularly take him to places like Earls (they said no to you? Strange), Memphis Blues, Sushi restaurants, Indian restaurants, Thai, etc. Anything that isn't overly formal will work and at lunchtime anything goes.

I guess it really depends on the parent/child, since he has been going for most of his life and knows what to expect and how to behave, 95% of the time it goes without incident. In fact he is usually better behaved and a lot more quiet than the big tables for the stag/birthday/etc parties. We will be well prepared with strategic deployment of noiseless toys like crayons and books to keep him occupied between courses.

One thing, I usually leave a bigger tip since even when he is on his best behaviour he still makes a big mess and I know the staff will need to spend extra effort cleaning the table for the next seating.

Daniel, I understand your post but I think it only narrowly applies. If I go for a special occasion dinner with my wife to a place like C or West on an evening where we got a sitter and a toddler at the table next to us is throwing tantrums I would not be pleased and give them the number of our very nice babysitter on the way out. But kids have to eat too and Kai very much enjoys his restaurant outings and I will risk the very occasional bad behaviour and inconvenience of my fellow diners for that.

PS both my wife and I have European families and anyone who has spent time there, especially in the Mediterranean countries will understand this. My sister lives in Spain and it is not unusual to have little ones running around patios at 10pm.

Stefan Posthuma

Beer - Chocolate - Cheese

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Earls (they said no to you?

In the news a few weeks ago, the feature was that Earls removed the high chairs and booster seats from their downtown location(s) IIRC, (not necessarily the suburban ones). It was reminiscent of the brouhaha when some Joey's locations (IIRC) did the same thing. So, they might not have actually said no, but......

"If cookin' with tabasco makes me white trash, I don't wanna be recycled."

courtesy of jsolomon

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Are there any restaurants in town which quietly accept children diners and cater (a bit) to their needs?

I suggest that Joe Fortes would be able to accomodate as I have been there with a young one (not mine but anothers - 18 months old) at lunch and they have done very well, even with the little one fussing around the oyster bar et al.

officially left egullet....

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Although it primarily deals with kids and comfort-food dining, this thread will probably have a few useful suggestions in it for you. I'd also add Ocean 6 Seventeen to the mix; our now-five-year-old son (holy crap, he's already five!) has always liked it there. Hamilton Street Grill is another one of my son's picks, as is Senhor Rooster.

Edited to add a couple of my son's dining choices.

Edited by Mooshmouse (log)

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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Cactus Club (do they have high chairs?)

Yes, and booster seats.

As do many of the places on Commercial Drive and I imagine comparable type places elsewhere. Pretty sure most places in Vancouver proper do, except perhaps at "fine" dining establishments, and I'm not referring only to family style or chain restaurants. Guess it wouldn't hurt to phone a place you might be interested in, and ask them.

Edited by ~cayenne~ (log)

"If cookin' with tabasco makes me white trash, I don't wanna be recycled."

courtesy of jsolomon

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When our kid were little we didn't dine out a lot, but we did take them to dim sum. The ladies pushing the carts were always accomodating, the rooms were often big enough that the toddlers could run around for a while (followed by a parent), and the noise level was such that if one kid acted up it was no big deal.

Just this Saturday we met hade dim sum at the Floata with my sister-in-law, husband, and their two-year old. No problems, even when he started to fuss. Dad just took him into a corner of the huge room and let him bumble around for a while.

Not always the most elegant dining, but very kid friendly.

Paul B

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And, as I said, I have nothing against White Spot, I grew up on pirate packs. I will start to compile a list of places we go to eat when we manage to go out for dinner before bed time....early bird specials anyone? Thanks for all the feedback.

And, I think nwyles reply was hilarious....at least we can all have a good laugh.

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I just remembered we had some great times on the patio of the Beach House in North Vancouver with a couple of small children. They gave us some simple pieces of salmon and rice for the kids upon request as well. Plus the enclosed patio is a good toddler roaming arena. Nice spot for a late lunch after some North Shore activities.

The Sequoia Grill in Stanley Park was also the location of a successful lunch with the kids not too long ago.

Stefan Posthuma

Beer - Chocolate - Cheese

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  • 2 weeks later...

We're hitting the baby-making age at Gotham. As well as many of the servers who(m?) are parents, one of our servers just had a beautiful little girl. Our bar manager and his wife are expecting their first. Most of us have got baby fever and we're all more than happy when little ones bring their parents to the restaurant.

When I was at Cioppino's, they were more than accomodating to children. Pino was kind enough to let the kids into the kitchen and make their own sundaes with the pastry chef.

The last time we were at Phnom Penh there were many children. Mmmm. Papaya salad....

In Whistler one of the best places to relax while the kids run around in the square is Val d'Isere. They have a great kids menu.

I'm sure that the hotel restaurants would be fantastic with kids as well.

It would be kind to let the restaurant know the age of the child so that if there are any 'anniversary' tables, then the hosts can try to seat you away from the special occasion tables. We can also try to group younger family tables together.

If anyone ever complains or makes any sort of remark about a crying child while I'm working I kindly remind them that we were all small once too. How could you begrudge a family an oppotunity to enjoy being out together, even if it doesn't turn out as planned?

Bob McLeod

VOX BACCULUS HIC VADIS IN VITRIO JUBILIAM

The road goes on forever and the party never ends

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