Dining with Your Mother-in-Law: Mother’s Day Etiquette Tips for Diners from Expert Lizzie Post

Depending on geography — and whether or not you hit the awesome mother-in-law jackpot, Mother’s Day can fill some people with a bit of anxiety. The vast majority of special requests associated with OpenTable restaurant reservations are filled with warm notes asking for a flower or some other gesture or accommodation for “my lovely mother-in-law.” However, there are more than a few of you who seem to be anticipating the day with the same zeal one might reserve for a root canal. A few of the standouts:

“It’s my first Mother’s Day with my new mother-in-law, so I’m trying to impress her.”

“Wife, mother, and mother-in-law will be there. Please help me keep them happy.”

“Have a stiff drink waiting for me because I am going to be with my mother and mother-in-law.”

“Bringing my mother and mother-in-law in for Mother’s Day – yes, I’m a saint!”

We checked in with expert Lizzie Post, cohost of the “Awesome Etiquette” podcast on American Public Media, for Mother’s Day etiquette tips for diners, so you’ll be ready to navigate even the thorniest of situations that could arise on May 10th.

Seat yourself strategically. As a first line of defense against any drama, Post says, “We always suggest strategic seating. Remember, this is your mother-in-law; this is your husband or your wife’s parent, so having them sit next to each other is a perfectly fine way not just to buffer it, but to allow them to have some time close to each other that, depending on where you live, they might not get very often.”

Shrug off any criticism toward your parenting skills, but… If your kids need distractions to make it through the dining experience and that doesn’t sit well with your mother-in-law, don’t take it personally — but do take it in. Post notes, “When I am out to dinner with a friend and their child comes along, it is nice to have those moments when their kid is focused on something else and we can chat. But, I am also an etiquette expert, and I’m going to come down hard on the side of you need to raise your kids in a way that you spend time at home preparing them for what going out to dinner is like. I do not expect a two-year-old to sit through an entire meal for an hour and a half, but I would expect an eight year old to get through that. So, you have to think developmentally.” Also, consider going old school when designing distractions. “Oftentimes what you’re dealing with when you get judgment from a grandparent is the child’s use of a cell phone. Your parents did the exact same thing — except that it was coloring books and small toys. So, I would suggest bringing something along that isn’t quite so criticism friendly from people of that generation. Try a small coloring book, instead,” she says.

Come prepared with polite conversation. In a perfect world, all of our dining experiences would be focused on the delicious food and warm hospitality, but sometimes conversations can veer to sensitive or unsavory topics. Post reveals, “We had people start talking at a lunch the other day about horrible deaths, and I lost my appetite over it. I thought, ‘This is ridiculous.'” When there was a break in conversation, Post seized the opportunity to steer things in a more lighthearted (and appetizing) direction. She says, “I just said, ‘Well, this is a totally different subject, but I’d love to hear about…,’ and I picked something that was a more upbeat conversation topic and redirected things that way – and I had back-up questions ready to go.” If it really becomes problematic and the subject matter isn’t appropriate for the kids at the table, she says, “It’s okay to say, ‘Hey, I’m just getting a little uncomfortable and I’d love to talk about something else.’ and then have something else to go to. You can say, ‘I know you and James just saw a new movie. Why don’t you tell us about it?'”

Be proactive, but not too prodding. If you observe that your mother-in-law has an issue with an order or seating during the meal, try to gently resolve the situation – emphasis on the gently. “You have to poke and prod a little bit. Ask if she’d like a different plate or table. And always say, ‘Hey, restaurants are really keen on getting you what you, want so it’s going to be no trouble to them to get you something better and it’s totally fine. What we care about is that you have something you enjoy.’” If she resists and says no, it’s best to just drop the issue. “If you force it upon her, that might get even more uncomfortable.”Continue Reading

Easter Restaurant Reservations: Special Offers on Sunday

There’s more to Easter than eggs and candy — there are also Bloody Marys and mimosas! We jest (sort of), but, really, Easter Sunday is the ultimate dining day, with delicious options for lively brunches and dinners, specials, and super-fun extras for the under-12 set. We’ve rounded up some of our favorites in cities around the U.S. to give you an idea of how special the day can be when you spend it at a restaurant near you.

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* Local Three, Atlanta, Georgia: Kids five and under eat free at Local Three, children 5-12 dine for half price, and there are not one but TWO Easter egg hunts. See all Easter specials in the Atlanta area.

* Odyssey Cruises, Boston, Massachusetts: While adults will like raising a complimentary glass of Champagne at brunch, the kids will love a visit from the Easter Bunny, a balloon artist, goodie bags, and an ice-cream sundae bar. See all Easter specials in the Boston area.

* 676 Restaurant and Bar, Chicago, Illinois: Keep your eye on the prize at the grand buffet at 676, which includes a mimosa on the house along with the chance to win a chef’s table for two with wine pairings. See all Easter specials in the Chicago area.

* Resto Gastro Bistro at Trinity Groves, Dallas, Texas: Dine with your dog and dive into the ‘make your own Bloody Mary’ bar at Easter brunch on RGB’s canine-friendly patio. See all Easter specials in the Dallas area.

* The Corner Office Restaurant and Martini Bar, Denver, Colorado: The kids can keep busy at a free Easter egg coloring station while the adults can take advantage of bottomless mimosas and a Bloody Mary bar at brunch. See all Easter specials in the Denver area.

* MAX’s Wine Dive-Washington Avenue, Houston, Texas: The Easter Bunny is in the house, or rather, on the menu at MAX’s: A rabbit mole with mashed potatoes and green beans awaits at dinner. See all Easter specials in the Houston area.

* Foundation Room House of Blues, Las Vegas, Nevada: Put your hands in the air at the House of Blues gospel brunch. And keep your eye out for a visit from the Easter Bunny who’ll be bearing sweet treats and prizes for children. See all Easter specials in the Las Vegas area.

* bambu Restaurant, Newport Beach, California: The lavish buffet at bambu features a ham carving station and a chocolate waffle station. Again, a chocolate waffle station, folks! See all Easter specials in the Los Angeles area.

* Tanzy, Boca Raton, Florida: Celebrate the day  with a trip to Italy by way of chef Brian Nelson’s three-course artisan meal and “the hipster bunny.” We don’t know exactly what a hipster bunny is, but my guess is that he’s sporting skinny jeans. See all Easter specials in the Miami area.

* Faces Mears Park, St. Paul, Minnesota: There’s nowhere like Paris in the springtime, but the Easter Parisian brunch at Faces, which includes French desserts, may be the next best thing. See all Easter specials in the Minneapolis area.Continue Reading

Thanksgiving Restaurant Reservations: Last Minute Deals + Offers

tday deals blogIt’s Tuesday and Thanksgiving is Thursday (!), but it’s not too late to find the perfect table for your celebration. Honestly! Just visit our local Thanksgiving pages to find details on special menus, pricing, and additional offers — and book your reservation. To pique your interest, we’ve rounded up a sampling of offers, from value-driven to extravagant, as well those that are a bit different. 

Atlanta:
A bit less: Flat Creek Lodge — Kids eat for just $12 (and adults for $28) at this extensive and affordable Thanksgiving Day buffet.
A bit more: Southern Art — For $67 per person, diners can tuck into a full brunch buffet featuring Southern Art specialties, Thanksgiving carving stations, and a briny seafood display.
A bit different: Rosa Mexicano — Serving Thanksgiving with a festive Mexican twist, Rosa Mexicano has slow-roasted Yucatan turkey and turkey enchiladas topped with cranberry-orange salsa on the menu.

Boston:
A bit less: Seasons 52 — A tasty Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings is yours for just $26.95 for adults and $12.95 for kids.
A bit more: Rialto — Treat yourself to a sumptuous dinner at this Boston favorite. $120 for dinner with wine pairings. Children under 12 dine for $35.
A bit different: Grill 23 & Bar — In addition to the regular menu, this restaurant has an awesome offbeat take on a four-course Thanksgiving dinner for $72, which includes sweet potato chowder, Little Gem Caesar salad, coffee-brined turkey, and pumpkin brûlée.

Los Angeles:
A bit less: The Stinking Rose — Get four-courses of garlicky goodness at this traditional Thanksgiving dinner for $34.95. Plus, enjoy no corkage.
A bit more: Mr. C Beverly Hills — Sup on all of your Thanksgiving favorites with elegant accompaniments, including lobster bisque, butternut squash ravioli, chestnut stuffing, and more for $85 per person.
A bit different: AKASHA — You’ll be thankful for their annual pie buffet for dessert alone. Plus, fish and vegan options are available and it’s just$65 for adults and $35 for kids under 12.

Miami:
A bit less: Prime-Del Ray Beach — Have your turkey and eat it, too, for just $24.95 at this traditional, three-course Thanksgiving feast.
A bit more: Bistro One LR-Ritz Carlton — There’s something for everyone with a raw bar, tapas, grill, desserts, and more, plus unlimited Champagne and mimosas from 2-8PM. $125 for adults and $45 for kids.
A bit different: The Bazaar by José Andrés at SLS Hotel South Beach — Celebrate Thanksgiving this year through the culinary vision of José Andrés with distinct dishes such as sous vide breast, confit leg with traditional gravy, or a deconstructed pumpkin pie.

Minneapolis:
A bit less: Mallard’s on the St. Croix — For $23.95, diners get a traditional Thanksgiving dinner served family style, with turkey, ham, and all the side dishes, plus a dessert bar. And, every seat has a lovely view of the St. Croix River.
A bit more: Woolley’s Steakhouse — Don’t miss their famous Champagne Brunch, with chef stations, carved New York strip steak, turkey, and ham, plus a tuna bar, oysters, and seafood and the best of breakfast, lunch, and dinner — all for $39.95 for adults and $14.95 for children.
A bit different: Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse — Change things up this year with 16 cuts of delectable fire-roasted meats, Brazilian side dishes, and more for $49.50.

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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. ”

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