Kids are a touchy issue when it comes to dining. Parents looking for a little time off from kitchen duty can often be seen at restaurants trying to get a moment’s peace and quiet, while the kids play. Sometimes it’s in the aisles, though a few places offer some diversion. Willie’s Ice House, for example, offers a sandbox for the tots. Others offer crayons and pictures to color or arcades filled with video games and occasionally and old-fashioned pinball machine.
But what happens when the restaurant is not equipped for kids? I recently sat behind a small child who was about 2 years old and who delighted in shrieking at the top of his lungs. His slightly older brother noisily tried to get him to hush, which caused the youngster to scream all the louder. Dad was seemingly oblivious to all this because he let both kids raise a ruckus without saying a word.
I was ready to either to clobber one of the kids or ask for my money back — I face enough stress elsewhere, whether it’s in the traffic coming home from work each evening or listening my parrot’s deafening squawking — but the little dears thankfully left before I could inaugurate a re-enactment of “Sweeney Todd” with me as the barber.
It seems that a growing number of diners have had enough of the noise from unruly youngsters. A national website, Happily Childfree, lists restaurants around the country that “don’t cater to the Chuck-E-Cheese crowd.” It starts off with a list of places to avoid, which is strange, because five places in Manhattan, including Gramery Tavern and Cafe Boulud, are displayed followed by one place in San Antonio: Gourmet Burger Grill.
I haven’t had any enfant terrible problems at GBG. But I was pleased to find at least one place in town singled out for praise: Alamo Draft House, which does not allow children under age 6.
In days gone by, higher end restaurants were not places where children ran amok or made too much noise, with the exception of whatever restaurant was twirling atop the Tower of the Americas. But children are popping up with greater frequency at linen table-topped places. At Chama Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse recently, a family with three children sat across the aisle from us. They were made to feel as welcome as we were, and the younger set were model diners.
It reminded me of an evening at the fondly remembered Le Rêve. Dinners there could last more than three hours on occasion, depending on how much food you ordered and how much fellowship you wished to share. So, imagine my surprise when I saw a table with a mother and her two children. Both of them ate everything set before them and appeared to love every last bite. In fact, they behaved far better than most of my party did. So, who’s to say what should be the grounds for allowing children into a restaurant? And should it be by age?
I know you all have opinions on the subject. Please post them below.