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TOPIC: Fine dining, children and parenting revisited

Fine dining, children and parenting revisited 4 years 5 months ago #13314

  • heartandmind
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This was quite a hot topic last year some time. This article cropped up on CNN today & caused me to recall that thread.
What do y'all think?

www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/wayoflife/05/13/...ts/index.html?hpt=C2

Tots at upper-echelon restaurants?
By Sarah LeTrent, Special to CNN
May 13, 2010 10:45 a.m. EDT


(CNN) -- First, it was babies in bars. Now, children in fine-dining restaurants are feeding a raging debate.
The argument is fueled by new efforts of some Michelin-starred New York restaurants like L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon and Café Boulud to cater to the under-3-year-old crowd.
Not every patron of expensive restaurants desires to share a formal dining experience with young children who may be more interested in playing with their food than savoring it
Some are upset at the parents of the young diners, but others believe that even adults don't always behave in ways that allow customers to enjoy peaceful dining.
More than 100 people -- mostly against the idea of tots at upper-echelon restaurants -- posted their heated comments in response to Shivani Vora's recent New York Times piece, "Fine Dining Where Strollers Don't Invite Sneers."
"People who force their toddlers on others in enclosed public spaces like fine restaurants (and airplanes) are even more selfish than those who insist on talking on cell phones in such places," one Times reader said.
"If you object to 'howls' (based on your ridiculous presumption that all children inevitably howl), let's start by excluding all the adults who are yelling into their cell phones, are drunk and/or obnoxious, etc." another commenter said.
"I'm with the majority -- thanks for this list, because now we know which high-end restaurants we will never set foot in," another said.
That's certainly the customers' standpoint, but what about those manning the stoves and host stands?
Many chefs and restaurateurs with families are teaching their own children to be good restaurant citizens and are making accommodations for kids in their establishments.
Marc Murphy, chef and judge on the Food Network's "Chopped" series, created children's menus at all three of his New York City restaurants so his two children, ages 3 and 5, have dining options on their nights out.
At Landmarc, adult diners can enjoy Murphy's foie gras terrine or roasted marrow bones while their booster-seated offspring have the option of ordering orecchiette (a type of pasta), grilled lamb chops, peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches or petit filet mignon.
Michael Anthony, executive chef of Michelin-starred Gramercy Tavern and a father of three (including a newborn), is even more accommodating.
Chef Colicchio: Don't fear fine dining
"When my own children are in the restaurant, I've sent them soufflé crackers with what looks like little frogs' tongues. I've sent out a beet dressed as a mouse," Anthony told CNN.
Anthony also works with a New York public school, P.S. 41, offering lessons in table manners to first-graders. There are also hands-on cooking activities, a tour and lunch at his restaurant, as well as visits to the Greenmarket, an open-air farmers market -- all experiences geared toward establishing a fundamental understanding of where food comes from.
"They're very impressionable and starting to form their opinions about food. We want to impress upon the kids that food is fun," Anthony said of the program.
Teachers in the program particularly focus on younger diners developing a "restaurant voice," teaching children that restaurants are a busy place and that certain manners differ from when one is out playing tag in the park.
This notion is especially poignant at Gramercy Tavern -- which Anthony will admit is a fine dining establishment -- as there won't be stroller valet any time soon.
"It's not a restaurant adapted to children; it's a group of people who are warm and welcoming," Anthony said.
The haute tots are, after all, children -- with an average attention span of three to five minutes per calendar year of their age. Anthony says he has invited particularly antsy adolescents back into the kitchen to focus their attention after they have created a disturbance.
"As with any performance, practicing before a big event, such as going out to a restaurant, is a good idea," advises Sue Fox in "Etiquette for Dummies" in a chapter on Tips for Children and Teens. "I know of people who dress their kids up, sit them down at the family dining room table and hand out homemade menus to practice eating out."
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Re:Fine dining, children and parenting revisited 4 years 5 months ago #13321

  • inkeper
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"As with any performance, practicing before a big event, such as going out to a restaurant, is a good idea," advises Sue Fox in "Etiquette for Dummies" in a chapter on Tips for Children and Teens. "I know of people who dress their kids up, sit them down at the family dining room table and hand out homemade menus to practice eating out."


The above quote from the article is the key. Children have to be taught from the start what is expected of them whenever they eat. This applies to eating at home, teaching basic table manners, to eating out anywhere. If they learn to behave at McDonalds (before being set free on the play area) or any "kid friendly" eatery, before being exposed to the fine dining experience, it should be a stress free experience for all. The bigger problem is the parents who don't seem to see that their kids are creating a problem in any dining experience.
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Re:Fine dining, children and parenting revisited 4 years 5 months ago #13323

Not with a ten foot pole. :laugh: My karma is just now recovering after the last 'kids in restaurants' and 'moms breastfeeding in public' threads.
Last Edit: 4 years 5 months ago by SouthernBaptist.
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Re:Fine dining, children and parenting revisited 4 years 5 months ago #13327

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Make that a fifteen foot pole.
"Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else." - Frederic Bastiat (19th century French economist)
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Re:Fine dining, children and parenting revisited 4 years 5 months ago #13329

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I'm brave and will jump in. I do not mind well behaved children in fine restaurants. This being about 5 years old on up. There is no way no how you are going to control a 3 year old and younger. If a person has a 10 year old and does not know how to conduct themselves, let them stay home. My Grandfather was a Chef in an upscale restaurant and taught me at about 4 to maintain myself. Even had a suit tailored for me.
And I was made to behave. I have been in some nice restaurants with kids running up and down the isles mom and pop in cutoffs and flip flops. Pops was in a tank top to really give the fine dining experience. That is a case where the parents did not have enough class to to behave themselves much less properly instruct their children.
The problem lies in that too many have the attitude of "I will do as I damn well please regardless of how it affects others". We as a society have lost all respect for others and ourselves. This is not EVERYONE but too many. Shoe fits wear it.
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Re:Fine dining, children and parenting revisited 4 years 5 months ago #13331

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trukdoc55 wrote:
The problem lies in that too many have the attitude of "I will do as I damn well please regardless of how it affects others". We as a society have lost all respect for others and ourselves. This is not EVERYONE but too many. Shoe fits wear it.
]

I TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY AGREE TRUK!!!

And this has a MUCH far-reaching hand than just in restaurants. There are times I think "it would be so much easier to just do "this", but then my upbringing kicks in and I thing "but this will affect so-and-so this way" and do the RIGHT thing.
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Re:Fine dining, children and parenting revisited 4 years 5 months ago #13332

The problem lies in that too many have the attitude of "I will do as I damn well please regardless of how it affects others". We as a society have lost all respect for others and ourselves. This is not EVERYONE but too many. Shoe fits wear it.

cough...PAGE..cough... miss "So does that mean your money spends better than mine? I don't think so.Just becase someone bothers you that means their not welcome. As for character I think mine is just fine because my kids come before your feelings. I don't pond my kids off on anyone just to make your evening better. I take my kids to make my evening better and theirs also. So if it bothers you or anyone else I don't know what to tell you." cough...
Last Edit: 4 years 5 months ago by SouthernBaptist.
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Re:Fine dining, children and parenting revisited 4 years 5 months ago #13333

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truk wrote:
"The problem lies in that too many have the attitude of "I will do as I damn well please regardless of how it affects others". We as a society have lost all respect for others and ourselves. This is not EVERYONE but too many. Shoe fits wear it."

I hope you are not one that this shoe fits. If so, I hope the only place I ever run I ever happen to dine when you and your kids are there is McDonald's where your kids can be as rude and obnoxious as they please.

:(
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Re:Fine dining, children and parenting revisited 4 years 5 months ago #13335

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First of all - why would anyone want to take very young children to a fine dining restaurant experience. Most kids don't enjoy that kind of night out anyway. On the other hand, I think its also boorish to spend big bucks on a meal, and have "grown ups" dressed in tee-shirts and spend their meal talking on cell phones. As far as dress codes and so-called "Sunday finest" go, however - I think that's a thing of the past (except in some school districts). Many people don't even bother to dress up for church.
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Re:Fine dining, children and parenting revisited 4 years 5 months ago #13336

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I know when I was growing up - woe to me if I acted up in a restaurant (fast food, chain place or "fine dining") or any other public place for that matter. My butt got swatted in the ladies room or the men's room - whichever parent got to me first. And that only happened once or twice. I was taught as a small child proper table manners and how to act around adults. The old phrase "children should be seen & not heard" was very much in force in my childhood. That doesn't mean that I couldn't be a kid - but at appropriate times & places. And there's nothing wrong with a kid learning proper table manners. It just takes some time and patience on the part of the parents. It's for their peace and enjoyment as much as anyone else's around them. Don't tell me you guys would rather listen to your kids squeal loudly (anyone notice a 3 yr old girl's scream actually hurting your ears from across the restaurant?) than your own conversations. And please don't tell me that you think it's OK for a kiddo to go running around a restaurant while you chomp on your food - only to get upset if someone else gets bothered by your child dancing around their table and screaming or crying because they suddenly realize they're lost & away from Mommy/Daddy & get scared. Please don't tell me it's ok for the people at the next table to have to tolerate your kid's food winding up on their napkins or laps because your precious little one likes to toss their green beans or french fries around.
And yes, I've seen this happen frequently - every instance described above.
It's not that I'm a grumpy person - I Love kids! I love to play and be silly with them....but I also would prefer to be able to hear the conversation at my table and to be able to eat my food without being interrupted by junior or juniorette screaming in my ear or having to pick their food off my lap or off my table.
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Re:Fine dining, children and parenting revisited 4 years 5 months ago #13339

  • Gabrovic
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heartandmind: Right on.

Just to add another dimension: We (society) now eat out so often, it isn't fun or an "experience" any longer. When I was a kid, my parents took me to a nice restaurant maybe once a year. (This was before credit cards, sub prime mortgages, cell phones and X boxes). It was enjoyable and memorable. Now it's just old news. :S
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Last Edit: 4 years 5 months ago by Gabrovic.
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Re:Fine dining, children and parenting revisited 4 years 5 months ago #13340

  • trukdoc55
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SouthernBaptist wrote:
The problem lies in that too many have the attitude of "I will do as I damn well please regardless of how it affects others". We as a society have lost all respect for others and ourselves. This is not EVERYONE but too many. Shoe fits wear it.

cough...PAGE..cough... miss "So does that mean your money spends better than mine? I don't think so.Just becase someone bothers you that means their not welcome. As for character I think mine is just fine because my kids come before your feelings. I don't pond my kids off on anyone just to make your evening better. I take my kids to make my evening better and theirs also. So if it bothers you or anyone else I don't know what to tell you." cough...
Our money spends just the same. But apparently my respect for others and not spoiling the hard earned money they have spent on a fine meal is different than yours. Some couples that do not have a lot of money see this as a big deal. To get to go out to something more than fast food or Denny's. I know I have been there. There is no mood killer better than being at a very nice restaurante on a date I really cannot afford but splurged anyway, holding your dates hand on a candlelit table to look over at a very little kid in a tank top, dirty shorts and no shoes staring at you at the end of our table. The parents thought it was funny, I did not think it to be so funny. We are not talking about Mc Donalds here, but rather a fine restaurant. And in case you had a hard time reading what I wrote here it is again. Pay ATTENTION! If a child can behave themselves, I enjoy their company. I am impressed with parents that take the time to teach their children to interact in a fine dining restaurant, oh by the way this goes for theaters as well.
If you are the one who the shoe fits, where do you get the right to ruin my and the other diners evening? If you are so classless go to Mc Donalds, hard to ruin that meal.
And it you cannot see or care how you are affecting someone else's evening then you are part of the problem.
If the shoe fits wear it.
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Re:Fine dining, children and parenting revisited 4 years 5 months ago #13344

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Proper manners fall into the category of life lessons. Any person that does not take the time to teach their kids these lessons has done that child an injustice. Kids are never going to just magically wake up one day and realize that the rude behavior they have been allowed to get away with is unacceptable to society, and suddenly become Miss/Mr. Manners.

Naturally, kids can let their hair down a bit more at McDonalds than they can at fancier restaurants, but there are some rules that apply regardless of where you are. I never mind having kids around as long as they conduct themselves properly, be it while dining out or shopping at WalMart. There have been many times I have witnessed parents conduct to be much worse than the kids. What could a child possibly learn when they are being jerked up by an arm, and yelled at in public? Quietly remove the child, take them for some fresh air, talk to them and you just might be able to return to the table with a happy child. If not, ask for a doggie bag.

There have been times when the kids at the table next to us have been well mannered and we have enjoyed watching them, we have complimented the parents as we were leaving. It only took a minute of our time, but I know it meant a lot to the parents because it meant a lot to us when someone took the time to compliment our kids good behaviors. If there are unruly kids around at the same time, think outside the box, make the compliment a little more obvious so the offending parents know that they didn't get the same compliment.
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Re:Fine dining, children and parenting revisited 4 years 5 months ago #13345

Truckdoc...That post was by a lady on another thread about kids at fine restaurants. We were disagreeing. The thing I took from her post, as quoted above, was that she didn't care about other diners feelings, it was all about her kids and her 'right' as a parent to take them anywhere she chose. Even if it meant inconviencing others.
I'm with you on your post. It's all about a kids ability to act appropriate in a grown up enviroment. If they can pull it off, hey.. I say bring 'em on. I have never met a kid under 5 who can do it. Nothing against the child, kids just don't reach that maturity level that early. Guess my cough thingy didn't make it clear that I was totally disagreeing with her. :lol:
Last Edit: 4 years 5 months ago by SouthernBaptist.
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Re:Fine dining, children and parenting revisited 4 years 5 months ago #13347

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Thanks for the clarification, SB. Sometimes it's hard to catch what you (or other posters) mean just by the words printed on our screens. And I think that's what happened in this case. Good of you to respond calmly and explain yourself.
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