Yesterday, I posted a reader review of Al’s Steakhouse and Salad Bar. Basically the woman complained about the service and food at the restaurant, but at the end of her rant I “wondered” if the fact that she had two small kids with her was part of the problem.
Full disclosure: I am one of those frequent travelers who breaks into a sweat when I spot a frazzled single mother with two young kids making her journey down the aisle on an crowded airplane. However, I am a great believer of taking small kids to fine dining restaurants.
Over the years, I’ve used my young nieces to test fine dining servers many times. At the same time, I’ve used the upscale restaurants and servers to teach my young nieces how to behave in an upscale restaurant. I feel it’s important for them to learn about sitting still and talking instead of coloring on the tablecloth. Their lives are so busy and most of the time they eat on the run. Rarely do they spend time around a table sharing a meal that requires manners.
I remember dining at The Mercury several years ago. It was a busy Saturday night and the table next to me was having a multi-generational dinner. The two youngest kids (maybe 3 and 5) were wired to portable DVD players while their parents and grandparents were wired on high-priced wine. One of the people at my table remarked that it was a brilliant idea—the DVD was a great way for the kids to be with the family, etc. I disagreed. I say, take the headphones off and engage them in the ritual of dining. If they misbehave, take them outside.
If you are a parent and have a magic formula, I’d love to hear it. Meanwhile, I’m taking two 11-year old girls to The French Room. Whoops, that’s a dead giveaway. Shirley Temples anyone?