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.
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.”