Dining with Kids: The Best Special Requests for a Fuss-Free Meal #everydaydining

Let’s not kid ourselves; dining with kids, even the best of them, isn’t always a seamless experience. However, there are ways you can set the stage for success before you go. We talked to Victoria Levin, the general manager at Marc Murphy’s Landmarc at the Time Warner Center restaurant in New York, to get her tips.

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Landmarc at the Time Warner Center isn’t a kids’ restaurant, but it is a kid-friendly restaurant. Despite its proximity to the posh Per Se in the tony Time Warner Center, Landmarc is the kind of restaurant that can create a cool evening for couples — or a fabulous lunch for the kindergarten set and their folks. Levin says, “In New York, there are a lot restaurants at which children are treated differently. We recognize that even after you become a parent, you’re the same person. You enjoy dining out; you just happen to be expanding your family. So, at Landmarc, we’re bone marrow AND chicken fingers. We’re foie gras AND macaroni and cheese.”

Are you dining with kids? Levin shared five of the best special requests for a fuss-free meal.

Divulge your double wide. If you’re coming to the restaurant with a stroller and need to store it in the restaurant or use it tableside, alert restaurant staffers ahead of time. Sharing specifics about size will allow them to select a table that is stroller-friendly or to be prepared to store it, if necessary. Levin notes, “As you walk into the third floor of the Time Warner Center, there is informal stroller parking that fits about 20 strollers, but some clients want to take their stroller inside, so we do our best to accommodate that.”

Inform the restaurant about your infant carrier. If you’re going to have your newborn snoozing comfortably in a car seat or infant carrier and you want to let sleeping babies lie (which we recommend!), indicate this in your special request. The restaurant can have a chair waiting or a table with ample space around it to make sure your child is safe secure. “We have a lot of families who have come here throughout their pregnancy, and we’re often their first meal. We can turn over a high chair and a carrier easily fits there or if they request a booth, their baby will also fit there comfortably.”

Request a table to help ward off restless toddler syndrome. Got a climber and need a booth? Want a window seat for your pint-sized people watcher? Slug these into your requests so that you can be seated at a table designed to keep your active child engaged. “The most common request is usually a booth or a round open table so parents can step around to help their child. We can’t always guarantee these requests, but having them in advance is helpful,” says Levin. The back of the children’s menu also functions as a coloring book of sorts and the restaurant provides crayons to help occupy young diners. The restaurant also has a feature called “Kids food first,” which is exactly what it sounds like: Your child’s food comes out before yours.

Prepare the restaurant for picky eaters. Not every restaurant is able to accommodate picky eaters, but many are – including Landmarc. Peruse a restaurant’s menu beforehand, and if one of your children requires something off menu, indicate that in the special requests section. Levin says, “Because of the variety of our menu and the flexibility of our kitchen, we can do most simple things. We do get a lot of kids who come in who want the fancy stuff, though!”

Alert the kitchen to allergies. Restaurants love to know about food allergies before you go. The chain of communication begins immediately, and the sooner the front- and back-of-house professionals have this vital information, the more prepared they are to keep your child safe. “We have everything from healthy snacks to our ‘My Plate’ specials, which are great full meals for an advanced child eater. However, pretty much across the board, we can make something happen to suit your child’s dietary needs.”

What are your favorite restaurants to dine at with your kids? And what are your tips for a successful experience? Let us know here or on Facebook, G+, orTwitter.

June Restaurant Weeks: Pre-Summer Savings in Your City

Otto-spaghettiAs you’re planning your delicious summer trips, take a moment to appreciate sublime savings on dining in your city. June restaurant weeks near you include:

* Milwaukee Downtown Dining Week offers up thoughtfully prepared $12.50 lunches + $25-$35 dinners at the city’s best restaurants through June 11. Book a table.

* Triangle Restaurant Week brings you the finest North Carolina dining at a discount with $15 lunches and $20, $25 + $30 dinners through June 14. Book a table.

* Coral Gables Restaurant Week beckons with $19-$35 lunches + $22-$39 dinners through June 28. Book a table.

* Las Vegas Restaurant Week is a sure thing with luxe $20.14 + $30.14 lunches + $30.14, $40.14 + $50.14 dinners at restaurants including OTTO (pictured) among others, June 15-26. Book a table.Continue Reading

Lunch Break: Meet OpenTable Employee Steven Weinbaum

Steven WIt’s almost lunch time, and Lunch Break returns with some mid-day meal inspiration from OpenTable employee Steven Weinbaum in La Jolla, California. Steven is a restaurant operations specialist, helping restaurants with OpenTable installations and training. He’s a fish taco aficionado who takes his Belvedere vodka with a blood orange. He recently had a meal to remember at Nopalito, and he’d like to break bread with chef Thomas Keller. Read on for more of Steven’s dining + food (including burrito!) recommendations.

Name: Steven Weinbaum

Hometown: La Jolla, California

Job Title: Restaurant Operations Specialist

What that means that I do at OpenTable: Installations and training

Years at OpenTable: 10 months  Alma mater: University of San Francisco

I have worked in a restaurant as a: Busser, server, and manager

The food I can’t live without: Juanita’s California burrito (with extra salsa!)

The one food I’ll never try: N/A

My go-to drink or cocktail: Belvedere vodka with a blood orange

The delicious dessert I refuse to share: Susie Cakes red velvet cupcake

My favorite thing about dining out is: Discussing food with friends.

If fish tacos are on a restaurant’s menu, I almost always order them.

My last best restaurant meal was at: Nopalito!!!

The restaurant I am a regular at: El Rancho GrandeContinue Reading

2015 RAMMY Award Winners: Congratulations to DC’s Honorees

The 2015 RAMMY awards were held in Washington, D.C. last night, and OpenTable was in the house to help celebrate some of the nation’s most talented culinary professionals. Congratulations to all the 2015 RAMMY award winners, including:

Pawtomack Farm 4

Formal Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year:
The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm (pictured)

Chef of the Year:
Victor Albisu – Del Campo

Restaurateur of the Year:
José Andrés and Rob Wilder – ThinkFoodGroup

New Restaurant of the Year:
Fiola Mare

Favorite Gathering Place of the Year:
Bar Pilar

Upscale Casual Brunch:
Le Diplomate

Favorite Gathering Place of the Year:
Bar Pilar

Upscale Casual Brunch:
Le Diplomate

Everyday Casual Brunch:
The Daily Dish

Cocktail Program of the Year:
Bourbon Steak

Wine Program of the Year:
Iron Gate

Employee of the Year:
Evan Labb – Evening Star Café
Continue Reading