Dining Out With Kids: What’s Your Opinion?

Mom helping daughter cut food.At OpenTable, we’re fans of all kinds restaurants. We love romantic restaurants as well as those that are good for groups. We love to find places where you can dine with your four-legged friends. And because we were all little foodies once upon a time, we’re glad there are terrific kid-friendly restaurants. But, not everyone thinks kids and restaurants go together.

While there are plenty of ways to make dining out with children a positive experience for all parties (including the people at the next table), some parents choose not to bring their kids to certain restaurants. Also, not every restaurant goes out of its way to accommodate children. Still, there are upscale restaurants in New York (though Eater NY would disagree) and London that embrace tiny diners, as well as many more all around the U.S..

Do you take your children to fine-dining restaurants? Do they enjoy it? Have someone else’s children ever marred your fine-dining experience? Weigh in here or tell us what you think on Facebook.

Restaurant News Roundup: Rules for the Perfect Restaurant; Morton’s Draws in Diners; Barbara Lynch’s Menton Nears Opening, and More

What people are talking about when they talk about restaurants this week…

* Critic AA Gill reveals his version of the golden rules for a perfect restaurant — sort of. [London Times]

* Morton’s thrives, proving that people are still eating plenty of red meat. [Wall Street Journal]

* Having a power lunch in London? Find out where you should dine. [Business Insider]

* Maggiano’s has great discounts on dinner for two. [Nation’s Restaurant News]

* Wimbledon is getting an ace of a chef for this year’s The Gatsby Club, who promises to be worthy of Roger Federer. [Event]

* One-time Rat Pack hangout Da Vinci in Los Angeles is back in business, with a facelift and a new face in the kitchen. [Eater LA]

* Everything old is new again at AltaMare in Miami. [Eater Miami]

* Check out Marcony in Manhattan’s Murray Hill. [Grub Street New York]

* Rialto in Boston adds a patio and a new sous chef, Brian Rae. [Grub Street Boston]

* La Grenouille‘s Charles Masson speaks about his restaurant’s famous floral arrangements, his favorite kind of diners, and more. [WWD]

* Congratulations to Tom Colicchio and the staff at Colicchio & Sons for their three-starred review from Sam Sifton. [The New York Times]

* Find out the secret ingredient in Blue Hill‘s fried chicken. [Saveur]

* Turner Fisheries in Boston is adding lunch. [Grub Street Boston]

* Eagerly anticipated and soon-to-open Menton, the latest in Barbara Lynch’s Boston restaurant empire, is accepting reservations. [Grub Street Boston]

* New York restaurants must display their cleanliness grades, and not everyone is happy about it. [The New York Times]

What Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do: Waiter Rant Strikes Back!

Waiter-rantThe New York Times recently gave Bruce Buschel, a contributor who is opening his very first restaurant, carte blanche to create an exhaustive list of things restaurant staffers should never do (and by “restaurant staffers” he really means “waiters”). As someone who’s been on both sides of the dining equation, waiting tables for more than a few years and eating out in and around Manhattan very frequently, I was taken aback at Buschel’s unrealistic (and irrational) expectations. I suspected other industry professionals shared my reaction so I reached out to one of the most famous of all — Steve Dublanica, the man behind the popular Waiter Rant blog and author of the book Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip — Confessions of a Cynical Waiter (HarperCollins).

“First, I would be terrified to work for this guy! Mr. Buschel has never run a restaurant,” Dublanica says. “This list puts a muzzle on waiters, personality wise and salesmanship wise. It’s dehumanizing.” The list is also clearly born of ignorance as wait staff usually do not dictate policy. Says Dublanica, “They hand these things down from on high that you, as a waiter, have to do.” To wit, many of Buschel’s ideas are verboten at restaurants I’ve worked at as they would have violated rules set by the owners or management, including seating a table when all members of the party are not present; offering a complimentary drink or amuse bouche if there is a delay in seating; not asking if a table wants tap or bottled water; failing to announce one’s name; refusing to hustle lobsters (or any other special of the day); and not acknowledging regulars and repeat customers.

Some of the items that truly ticked off Dublanica include Buschel’s suggestion that a waiter steam the label off a bottle of wine if the patron likes it and present it to her with the bill. “Steaming the label off the bottle and handing it to somebody? That’s never going to happen – unless you’re the person who ran up a $47,221.09 check at Nello in New York.  For THAT guy, we’ll steam the label off.” For everyone else, he suggests snapping a photo of the wine label. “Take a picture. You’ve got it and you’re not going to lose it!”

He also takes issue with Buschel’s assertion that a waiter should not interject personal favorites when listing the specials. “When I dine out, I ask the waiter, ‘What do you like?’ Part of the whole dining experience is having a conversation with the staff. They know what sells, what’s going out the door, what people are enjoying.” He reminds Buschel, too, “Some folks want to be told what’s good and put their experience in a waiter’s  hands.”

Regarding not saying, “Good choice,” he counters, “Sometimes a diner really HAS made a good choice. If you’re asked for a recommendation and you say, ‘The osso bucco is spectactular,’ and she orders that, you should say ‘Good choice!'” He also has no problem with servers saying, “No problem.” “It’s an accepted colloquialism in our culture,” he points out.

Dublanica reveals that as a diner, he’s fine when waiters do some of these don’ts. “Don’t bang into chairs or tables when passing by? I was at Les Halles and they literally had to pull the entire table out for my date to sit down. I think the waiters bumped me three times, but there was no way around it. It’s just a by-product of how close together the tables are,” he notes.

“All his suggestions – in a sterile, perfect world, they may make some sense. But the reality of a restaurant is far different,” says Dublanica, who promises to pay a visit to Buschel’s restaurant when it opens. “I think I’ll sneak in.”

Last Supper: What’s Your Ideal Final Meal?

When world-renowned chef Thomas Keller (Ad Hoc, Bouchon, The French Laundry, Per Se) lost his beloved father in 2008, he was able to find a bit of comfort in the fact that he’d prepared, carefully and lovingly, his father’s final meal. Keller didn’t know it at the time, but the simple dish of barbecued chicken, mashed potatoes, and collard greens — followed by a seasonal strawberry shortcake — would be his dad’s last.

While Chef Keller doesn’t reveal what his last meal might be in this article, he did so in the entertaining and appetite-inspiring My Last Meal, along with other famous chefs, including Dan Barber, Mario Batali, Rick Bayless, Wylie Dufresne, and Daniel Boulud (who wants his last meal prepared by Alain Ducasse).

Last-supperMy last meal would probably be cobbled together from a number of different restaurants. I might start with an ice-cold vodka Martini with Michael Mina‘s truffled popcorn. Next, the oyster foie gras from Morimoto. Also, crispy poached eggs with caviar from Perry Street. It would take me a bit more time to narrow down my entree selection as it’s so hard to pick just one protein, but I would certainly want whatever it is with a side of craftsteak‘s highly addictive Parker House rolls (I crave them fortnightly). Dessert is easy: anything from pastry chef Dominique Ansel at Daniel.

Which chef or restaurant would you want to prepare your last meal (many, many years from now, naturally!) and why? Share your thoughts on Facebook or right here!