Why I Didn't Take My Kids to Restaurants in NYC

April Peveteaux
5

kid friendly menu
Flickr photo by Wyscan
When a restaurateur refuses to have a children's menu, doesn't that sound kid-unfriendly to you? Nicola Marzovilla, the owner of I Trulli in Manhattan, says the opposite is true and he's encouraging food exploration by not offering a less expensive, less exotic menu for the little ones. But I'm suspicious.

In fact, I would say turning your nose up at a practice (Marzovilla calls the children's menu the "death of civilization") that makes dining easier for parents with small children is not educational, it's simply anti-kid.

If I'm going to introduce new foods to my children, it's not going to be in a public place where I'm trying to enjoy my own, very expensive meal. I'd like to skip the embarrassment of passionately negative declarations about Brussels sprouts with bacon in a public setting, thank you very much. Bring on the mac and cheese so I can enjoy my steak de maison in peace.

Not that you have to be a kid-friendly restaurant; private businesses have the right to cater to an adult-only clientele. And I would still dine without the kids on a regular basis even if the red carpet was rolled out for toddlers. Just don't pretend to be kid-friendly when you're not.

As a recent transplant from New York to Los Angeles, I have to add to Sheri's discussion about "Looking Past the Children's Menu" today, and say New York City is the least kid-friendly city I've ever been to, restaurant-wise. The menus and smiling staff were few and far between.

Of course I haven't traveled extensively since I've had kids so I'm comparing New York to Los Angeles; Santa Barbara; Austin, Texas; various towns and cities in Oklahoma; Martha's Vineyard; Philadelphia and the surrounding areas.

Instead of watching for the waitstaff's grimace as they take note of my small children, in these cities I've been offered cups with lids and high chairs upon arrival. Not one waiter gave me the stink eye as I strapped my baby in and handed him some bunny crackers to tide him over. In fact, when my husband and I dined at a buzzy farm-to-table restaurant in Silverlake, the other couple was actually surprised we didn't bring our kids along.

I can't help but think Marzovilla isn't doing anything so revolutionary in NYC, as most high-end restaurants don't offer a kids' menu. And if the facial expressions of the hostesses are anything to go by, most passively discourage young children's hands on their white tablecloths.

Are the restaurants in your city kid-friendly?


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