Monday, September 13, 2010

Kids At Upscale Restaurants?

Friday night Michael and I went out for a post-birthday celebratory dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.

Let me just say that we make a point of going out on fairly regular "dates" sans kids - at least on a monthly basis. When Michael and I are able to corral a sitter and go out, just the two of us, we generally like to do it up nice, meaning we like to get a bit dressed up and go eat at a nice place - someplace we wouldn't ordinarily go to (i.e., with the kids). Someplace with a view of some sort, a full bar, and servers who wear bow ties. We do go out to dinner with the kids, too, fairly often, but in those instances, we go to "kid-friendly" places - places that serve chicken strips and give out crayons and paper activity menus.

So we went to one of our favorite restaurants Friday night - a place on top of a hill with a gorgeous view of the city lights below, a place with a full bar and servers wearing bow ties. And I was, not for the first time, very surprised to see quite a few families there. With kids. Little kids. There was one couple who came in with an infant in a stroller (this is most definitely not a stroller-friendly restaurant).

It's not that it bothers me to be in the company of kids (when I've gone to such effort and expense to get away from my own for an evening!); all of the kids who were there seemed very well-behaved. It's really that it just baffles me. Why would anyone want to bring their kids to a place like that? A place where they don't even have a kid's menu, and where there's nothing on the menu under $25. And so late! Our dinner reservations were at 8:30, and by the time we were served our food (after a delicious appetizer of calamari and a round of cocktails), it was around 9:30. Who has their kids up that late eating dinner? It baffles me.

I'm curious, though, where do you stand on this? Feel free to comment or respond to the poll in the sidebar.


Keri said...

Depends on their behavior. I have no problem with it as long as the kids are behaving. That said, I wouldn't do it and I'm mystified (for the same reasons you posted) by those who do.

Lisa B said...

I'm with you - get a sitter for crying out loud people! Or if you can't then certainly for the children's sake if nothing else go early - I have never understood how people have their kids out past 8 pm for a dinner/movie/whatever - bet those are the kids falling asleep at school too :)

diane rene said...

we are guilty (if you wanna call it that) of taking our kids to upscale restaurants. we always have, even when they were babies. rarely do we eat much later than 6, but it has happened a time or two (mom usually becomes cranky and irritable past 6).

why do we do it? we seldom go out without our kids, at least a couple of them anyway ;0) it is something that steve and I have always agreed on ... we take the kids with us as often as possible and we expose them to whatever we can. for us it works. our kids are very well behaved in restaurants and they enjoy foods like steak and lobster, calamari, scallops ... so not having a kids' menu isn't an issue. when they were younger, there was always a coloring book and a box of crayons in my bag/purse, or some small toy that would keep them occupied.

I think it's just a matter of preference, and sometimes a matter of money. it's not something we do often, but it's not something we shy away from due to having children either. at least a couple of times a year we will hit one of our favorite "dress code" restaurants :)

Anonymous said...

I am right there with you. I think that if you are going to go out as a family a restaurant that is better suited for children would be a better option. If you are going to spend that much money on a nice dinner out, kids should stay home!

Anonymous said...

I don't do it myself, but I could see why some parents do. My parent's never took us anywhere like that (too many of us), but my aunt and uncle would take each of us kids out for a special day every so often. We'd go to "fancy" restaurants and it was a way for them to teach us how to behave somewhere nicer and have an idea of what was expected of us.

The Marquez Family said...

We take our kids to a lot of places that some people might not (like the Met, to name one). We do it knowing full well that we might have to leave if our kids cannot behave in a way that does not detract from the atmosphere. In fact, we are hyper-conscious about making sure they do not.

However, we do not take them to upscale restaurants, and I especially would not do so late in the evening. My reasoning is that while a sleeping child in a stroller or a walking child who is keeping hands to herself and whispering in a museum is not taking anything away from the atmosphere, that doesn't hold true in a restaurant.

In a small space, tiny, shrill voices carry. There is a lot of flurry and commotion that comes with feeding kids (and I have 4, so I've experienced all of the ages and stages, and I've yet to find one that did not require at least some rearranging of a restaurant tabletop or a rush to cut up things when the food arrives). There are treks to the restroom that take you past, often quite close, to other diners. Kids, unavoidably, impact the atmosphere of an upscale restaurant.

I think in a bigger sense it boils down to respecting the setting of the establishment and the other diners. If someone is splurging on a once-a-year experience or a special event, they are not going to be expecting my little darlings, even if they cause minimal interruptions (and I don't know any kids, including the hundreds I taught when I was working, that are going to sit through a long dinner at a nice restaurant without at least one interruption). I'm sorry for the book!!

Kara said...

I have a simple rule of thumb on this one "If they don't have crayons, the kids don't eat there." End of story. I might add that I'm married to a chef. Who has worked in and run many upscale places. Places that my children have NEVER seen the inside of, because THEY DON'T BELONG THERE. There is nothing worse then going out to dinner, and finding out that you are the lucky ones who get to sit next to a 5 year old, especially when you've gone to great lengths to leave your own 5 year old at home.