Child-Friendly Dining: 15 Ways Restaurants Are Welcoming Young Kids to the Table

sassafraz
Sassafraz may be kid friendly, but they’re certainly not kidding around when it comes to their cuisine.

The topic of babies and children in restaurants is a highly divisive one. Whenever we raise the issue on social media, the debate is heated, scorchingly so — and split down the middle. Many folks don’t think infants, toddlers, or young kids, well-behaved or not, belong in restaurants at all, while other diners are raising enthusiastic eaters by introducing them to the joys of fine dining at a very young age. Cry babies aside, a meal out at a restaurant can provide a few hours of respite to harried parents and help instill good table manners in little ones. Countless restaurants have taken note and are upping the ante on hospitality for parties that include young (and presumably well-behaved) children. From happily stashing strollers and providing slings to serving up creative cuisine for the Crayola set, here’s how 15 establishments have helped provide stellar dining experiences for hungry families, according to recent OpenTable restaurant reviews.

Cap City Fine Diner & Bar, Columbus, Ohio: “We have a 4-month old baby, and brunch at Cap City was a breeze. They had a sling available, and the background noise kept the little one content.”

Cedar Restaurant, Washington, D.C.: “I reserved a table for six, hoping they’d be okay that one guest was a baby. We were skeptical at first because they don’t have an elevator, but as soon as we got the baby and his necessary gear down to the restaurant, they were nothing but helpful. They stowed his stroller, brought a high chair (even though we said we could just put his car seat on a regular chair), and were even interested to know about the baby himself. [When leaving], they even let us use the service elevator they have.”

Clay Pit, Austin, Texas: “The best authentic Indian food in Austin, for sure. We went for an early dinner with our 10-month old and our server was so pleasant to him. Love a place that makes us feel welcome with a rambunctious kiddo!”

Dish on Market, Louisville, Kentucky: “I went to Dish with my 3-week old, son and the staff was amazingly kind. They sat us where there was room for my stroller. No one treated me like a pariah for dining with a baby. Both restrooms have large changing areas, too.”

Firestone Restaurant and Bar, Lethbridge, Alberta: “I had written in my reservation notes that we were two adults with two small children plus a baby who needed a high chair, and it was all ready when we arrived. The meals were all delivered in a very timely manner.”

Great Maple, San Diego, California: “My husband and I have been here many times and invited our friends and two kids (6 months and 3 years old) to join us for brunch last Saturday. Great Maple was very accommodating, and we had a great corner table outside with plenty of room for the stroller. Crayons and a paper menu for the little ones to stay entertained. Delicious food. Our waiter was very friendly and accommodating of our somewhat slow-to-get-it-all-together party (Hard to do with two kids and parents eating in shifts while trying to keep a baby from meltdown status!).”

Hank’s Seafood Restaurant, Charleston, South Carolina: “Service was outstanding! We reserved a table early (5:45pm) since we had my 11-month old with us. I was happy to see other babies there, too. The service staff were so accommodating and professional. I didn’t feel judged at all, and the server even offered to get my daughter some water, juice, or crackers…whatever she needed. ”

* Hapa Izakaya, Vancouver, British Columbia: “As soon as I got in the door, the service was top notch! The manager wanted to make sure our baby was safe, and I wanted to make sure she was out of everybody’s way, too! Majority of the female staff loved playing with our baby, as she giggled, laughed, and waved to whoever wanted to say hi.”

Landmarc at the Time Warner Center, New York, New York: “When we got off the elevator and approached the entrance to Landmarc, my daughter commented, ‘See, Dad? They do encourage kids at this restaurant.’ Lined up against the wall were all sorts and sizes of baby strollers. We parked our double wide in the row and went in. The food was outstanding, and the staff was over the top, especially when our 1-year-old granddaughter reached out and pulled a couple of wine glasses off the shelf behind her.”

One Midtown Kitchen, Atlanta, Georgia: “The service was OUTSTANDING! Our server could not have been nicer. Made sure the kids (8, 6, and 6 months) were handled, asked if we wanted their cheese pizza first, and essentially went out of his way to make our entire party feel welcome and respected. He even smiled and talked with the baby. Simply great.”

Park Tavern, San Francisco, California: “Our family (four generations, from 4 months to 93 years old) gathered for a special dinner and we had a wonderful evening! Our server was incredibly attentive, providing a spoon for the baby to teethe on, checking to be sure our food was as ordered and expected and made us feel that our enjoyment was important to her. ”

Pascal and Sabine, Asbury Park, New Jersey: “My wife, 8-month old and I enjoyed a Sunday dinner after a weekend at the shore. Despite the trending bar scene and hip locals, the restaurant staff and patrons were accepting of a couple dining with a baby. The staff from being seated through service were all very friendly and helpful, we never felt rushed nor like we were waiting.”

Roxy Restaurant & Bar, Sacramento, California: “There were three of us for brunch and a baby. The wait staff could not have been more helpful, to meet the baby’s needs . . . high chair, baby spoon, and creamy cheesy grits (which were yummy, by the way).”

Sassafraz, Toronto, Ontario: “Having a 4-month old baby, it is difficult to find places to eat. But the staff here were wonderful and accommodating to our need of stroller space, etc. They even had a little dessert treat to make our dinner memorable.”

* Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse, Dallas, Texas: “We took our 20-month old for an early dinner to celebrate my husband’s birthday. The food was great, but what impressed me more was the preparation for a toddler. The menu was much more extensive than grilled cheese. His shrimp dinner was brought out with the appetizers, preventing him from getting bored or hungry. His food was just as high of quality as ours (We might have even stolen a shrimp!). They even brought him Oreo cookies at the end, while we enjoyed our custard. My husband and I were able to enjoy a nice dinner out along with the toddler.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 Culinary Questions with San Francisco Food Writer Amy Sherman of ‘Cooking with Amy’

amyshermanAmy Sherman is a cook, eater, and culinary enthusiast based in San Francisco. She runs the popular cooking and dining blog Cooking with Amy. An avid gourmand and traveler, Sherman says, “Cooking and eating are one of the best ways to learn about yourself and world around you.” She adores sushi and would eat it every day if she could afford it, but reveals of a common breakfast staple, “For a long time I had an aversion to maple syrup. Just the smell of it freaked me out. Now I love the stuff! I’m particularly partial to maple syrup from Canada.” An OpenTable diner since 2003, she shares her our answers to our 20 dining Qs.

1. What are some of the best qualities of the San Francisco dining scene? San Francisco has so much variety; there are new hip and trendy places but also classics that are just as popular as ever. It’s not hard to find fantastic pizza, Chinese dumplings, Viennoiserie, fusion street food, and high-end contemporary cuisine on any night of the week. In general, though, the quality is high, in part because our produce is so fresh and beautiful. We really are spoiled here.

2.  Any restaurants at which you’re something of a regular? I feel very fortunate to live in such a great food neighborhood. Recently several new places have opened up and Stones Throw has quickly become a favorite. The creativity on the menu and great hospitality make me want to return again and again .

3. If I come to your hometown/city, where must I dine? It’s impossible to not find something to make you happy at Fog City. The restaurant has been reimagined and it’s better than ever. The menu now features everything from burgers to grilled local calamari and oven roasted baby carrots with black garlic mole, almonds and cotija. The smoked salmon and smoked egg salad sandwich at lunch is to die for, and please do order enough of the frozen custard or French crullers for the whole table.

4. Last best restaurant(s) you dined at? I had a great dinner at Verbena, the service is slow, but the dishes are worth waiting for and the vegetarian dishes are as good if not better than the non-vegetarian ones.

5. Restaurant(s) you’d most like to try but have yet to — anywhere? So many places! Even writing about restaurants professionally, it’s hard to keep up, but high on my list to try right now are Aveline, Plin, Urchin Bistrot, and Souvla.

6. Favorite city (cities) for dining outside your own? I’m pretty crazy about Honolulu. It’s a world class dining destination but many of the gems are under the radar. I made a Google map with over 50 of my favorite places. http://bit.ly/honoluludining

7. Destination dining cities you’d love to visit? I would love to go to Copenhagen. Truly, I plan most trips around the food, and, as a result, I’ve been to a lot of great cities! Tokyo, Bologna, Mexico City, and Chicago are a few of my favorites.

8. What’s your overall favorite type of cuisine? Italian is comfort food for me. I lived in Italy for a while and always crave pasta. Even my Italian hosts were impressed by my love for it.

9. Small shared plates, tasting menu or app/entrée dessert? Small plates for sure. Sharing is caring! I want to try as many dishes as I can, but I sometimes suffer from tasting menu fatigue. Grazing on pintxos in San Sebastian was a blast!

10.Dish you can’t resist ordering? Because of the foie gras ban in California, when I do see it on a menu out of state, I’m likely to order it.

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Top Chef Season 12 Cheftestants Revealed

Mark your calendars and program your DVRs, food TV fans! On October 15, 2014, season 12 of Top Chef premieres. Set in Boston, Massachusetts, look for episodes taking place at The Bull and Finch Pub (aka Cheers), Fenway Park, and Plimoth Plantation, plus challenges centered around the first Thanksgiving, the inaugural Top Chef food festival, a fan appreciation meal in the Top Chef kitchen, and cooking for Boston’s police and fire departments. Last Chance Kitchen will also return, so even if your favorites packs their knives, they may live to compete another day. This season’s cheftestants are:

TC Season 12Doug Adams, chef de cuisine, Imperial, Portland, Oregon

Stacy Cogswell, executive chef, The Regal Beagle, Boston Massachusetts

Joy Crump, formerly of Woodfire Grill, Atlanta, Georgia

Ron Eyester, executive chef/owner, Rosebud, Atlanta, Georgia

Gregory Gourdet, executive chef, Departure Restaurant and Lounge, Portland, Oregon

Aaron Grissom, chef, Bow & Truss, Los Angeles, California

Adam Harvey, chef, Hometown Bar-B-Que, Brooklyn, New York

Melissa King, former sous chef, The Ritz-Carlton Dining Room, San Francisco, California

Rebecca LaMalfa, executive sous chef, Trenchermen, Chicago, Illinois

Mei Lin, sous chef, ink., Los Angeles, California

George Pagonis, executive chef/partner, Kapnos, Washington, D.C.

Michael Patlazhan, private chef, Brooklyn, New York

James Rigato, executive chef, The Root Restaurant & Bar, White Lake, Michigan

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Ride There with Uber in the OpenTable App

Need a ride to your reservation? No problem! We’re pleased to announce our new Ride there with Uber feature. Starting today, you will be able to view availability and estimated pricing of Uber vehicles near your home or a restaurant, and tap to request a ride to your destination via Uber — all within the OpenTable app.

The Ride there with Uber feature displays on your upcoming reservation and confirmation screens for bookings made within three hours of a reservation time, as well as at the end of your meal when paying your check using the OpenTable iPhone app. And, to make your life even easier, the OpenTable app will automatically tell your driver where to go, so you can focus on more important things like what to eat when you get there!

Ride there with Uber is currently available in the OpenTable app for both iOS and Android devices in cities that Uber serves across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K., Germany, and Japan.

At OpenTable, powering great dining experiences is our mission; getting you to them is Uber’s. We hope you’ll appreciate the convenience of our latest — and quite literally — mobile feature.

Josh Garnier is the Senior Product Manager for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.