Dining Out with Littles.

21 Mar

If only meals out could be this civilized.

Admission: I used to be one of those snobby diners who’d glare at parents waltzing into a restaurant with their “Littles” in tow, armed with coloring books and toys and handheld DVD players. I mean really, how uncivilized can you get, you barbarian parents, to take your kids out in public. You gave up the right to dine out when you brought those sugar-boogers into the world.

And then, I too became a parent. And all that B.S. superiority went right out the door with the recycling. As we celebrated Jack’s arrival, Jamie and I talked about how we were going to be “cool” parents — you know, the same ones we once mocked for still enjoying things like dinners out. We were certain we could pull off this “new parent cool” like Angelina and Brad, their tabloid photos showing them completely unfazed by their 14-child brood,  captured in their natural habitat doing totally hip things like drinking coffee al fresco at at a cute corner bistro, or sharing pancakes and laughs at a Zagat-rated brunch spot. If their kids can be photographed looking civilized and totally cute for these types of activities, well certainly ours will be able to, we thought. “We’ll train ’em young – take ’em out from the get-go,” we said.

My, how naive we were. And still are, mind you. Because we just don’t learn. We still attempt, at least once every 2 weeks or so, to dine out with our Little – he’s now almost 20 months old. And each time, he throws a total fit (right when our food arrives), screaming, lurching around, doing the “my body has no bones” thing when you try to pick him up and hold him. It’s a sight. We’ve tried “activity kits” that include stickers (which for every other parent seems to be the miracle drug), iphones, fake phones, coloring books, regular books… All the things that have Jack’s attention at home. Hmph. And so now we are the parents getting leered at by snobby non-parents (or smarter parents who simply left their kids at home). Hey Angie and Brad: how cool are we?

In our endless quest for sane meals out with Jack, we have found a couple of local spots that are generally “safe” for cheerio droppage, the occasional whine, and tabletops piled with activities that won’t freak out other diners.

Wobble Cafe – This little Ossining spot is so cute, and I just wish we had something like it here in Kisco. They pride themselves on being kid-friendly, and even have a play area set up toward the back. They make a pretty kick-ass breakfast too, which makes it one of our favorite weekend spots for near-hassle-free dining.

Mount Kisco Diner – They may or may not agree about being a contender here, because I think they fancy themselves to be a “finer” dining establishment than your average greasy spoon, but the reality is, it’s just an expensive diner – and I’m ok if my kid colors while I eat here, or even throws the occasional cheerio or ten.

Bellizzi – This is really the #1 contender in the “Dining with Littles” category. They wrote the book on how to have a meal someone else cooks and serves, all while your kid (safely) goes bonkers in a padded playroom and you stay sane with a glass of wine. This is our go-to spot when I can’t bring myself to cook, and leftovers just sound so… well, leftover-y.

So hey all you smarter-than-me parents, it’s time to dish: What are your favorite kid-friendly eateries, and what do you keep in your kiddo bag of tricks?? Help a (new) mama out!!

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