With some frequency, I take kids out when reviewing because I want
to see how the restaurant reacts. In my experience, at Asian
restaurants, especially Chinese and Japanese, the staff often willingly
indulge the children. Though obviously it’s not just Asian restaurants.
Loving families will choose restaurants where families and children are
There is a class of restaurants that are
inappropriate for kids: ones where you can’t eat in under an hour. Even
adults get antsy.
Pick a place that has food the kid
likes, but encourage and let them explore. Fuck the kids meal, with its
stupid chicken nuggets, if the restaurant doesn’t normally sell that
food. You know, go by the old rule with your kids: “You don’t have to
eat it if you don’t want, but you have to taste it.” That’s how they
learn. All the time, I’m with parents pre-scanning the menu, “Oh, he
won’t like this, he won’t like that.” I take them aside and say, “Oh,
why don’t we experiment? The kid’s hungry. Let’s order all this food.
He’s not going to know what any of this shit is! Let’s just see what
happens.” Nine times out of 10, the kid will look around, make his own
decisions for the first time in his life, and find stuff he likes, even
if it’s just to spite his parents!
A couple of
years ago, we were at a Lebanese restaurant, and the parents were like,
“Oh, he won’t like…” again. And then out came a big old plate of lamb
testicles. They were really cute, they looked like little almonds,
grilled, and they smelled terrific. And the kid just went to town on
There are a couple of places in my kid-friendly ‘hood that are decidedly overrun by playdates, and every time I walk by the windows somebody’s darling is smearing nasty graham cracker mush on the tables or licking the glass and then sticking napkins on the spittle. The bakery has clearly become THE meeting spot for the area’s mothers and when I squeeze in there between the strollers to buy bread I feel naked with my lack of a Vera Bradley diaper bag. Which is, you know, fine. Not everything has to be my scene.
There are a couple of other places that manage to be kid-friendly without giving off a “feel free to trash the place, junior, and fuck anybody who doesn’t like it” vibe, like the Italian restaurant near us that is nice without being pretentious and a coffee shop that became suddenly super-child-friendly when the owner had kids. In both of them you can find kids being kids, but if you don’t have a couple of spawn of your own you don’t feel strangely under-dressed, either.
I would actually think shopping with kids would be a more interesting topic, because I’ve seen far more varied parent and kid behaviors in stores than I have in restaurants. Restaurants, unless they’re really snooty, tend to be noisy places anyway, as opposed to, say, book stores.
Maybe I just don’t eat out anyplace so fancy a reasonably energetic child would be an imposition.