7 Ways to Enjoy a Restaurant Meal with Your Kids
Top chefs tell you how to have a good evening out with
It happens to us all, even you serious restaurant mavens. Kids enter the picture, and the next thing you know, your definition of “eating out” goes from late-night hot spots to pizza at Chuck E Cheese. So if you’re the parent of a young child, are you doomed to years of Chinese take-out?
For my new book My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus: Raising Children Who Love to Eat Everything, I interviewed lots of chefs who are also parents. The number one thing they told me: Don’t be afraid to bring your kids when you eat at nice places! Yes, it’s true. Most restaurants really do welcome groups with young children. “I want families to be at peace bringing children to our restaurants, so we’ll build a future generation of diners,” says top New Orleans chef John Besh.
Here are seven chef hints to make restaurant dining with a preschooler fun for everyone – maybe even the people at the next table:
You know your kids and you know their schedule; best to stick to it. If your children typically eat at 5:30 or 6:00, waiting for a 7:30 reservation is asking for trouble. “Blue hair special” time may not be hip, but your odds of success are higher. And if you do have problems, you’ll have less of an audience.
Practice, practice, practice. Frequent dining out helps both kids and parents feel relaxed and comfortable.
Set the Scene
Don’t be afraid to ask for a good table, especially if it includes an interesting view for your child. Ceiling fans, windows with street scenes, open kitchens all provide visual diversions. Position the high chairs so the kids have something to watch. Remove from the table things like extra place settings, candles or sugar packets that can be thrown across the room in a two-year-old moment.