Restaurants Banning Kids…Your Thoughts?


So we’ve all heard about it by now…as of this weekend a restaurant in Pennsylvannia, McDain’s, is banning kids under age 6.  Here’s the article.  So should this spark controversy?  Does it bother you?  Would you patronize the restaurant?


I understand those that want to dine without whining, screaming or diners who are not behaving.  I am one of those too.  However it’s hard to draw a line.  Can we also ban loud talkers?  How about large parties who are laughing and too loud (acting like they are the only diners in the place)?  How about an older adult with a hearing problem?  What about a foul mouthed couple?  Or what about a 7, 8, and 9 year olds?  How can you prove your child’s age?


I don’t have a problem with banning children at some fine dining restaurants (though from the picture of McDain’s, I don’t think that qualifies).  There I said it.  I too like to go out on a date with my husband and not be listening to loud or crying babies and children (my own or otherwise).  But perhaps it’s less about an all out ban of all children with the arbitrary age and more about times and expectations of dining out.  I don’t expect small children to be out at prime date time (say 8 pm), but coming to the same restaurant at 6pm with kids seems reasonable.  And I think it is acceptable for a manager to ask a patron to step outside if there is a crying baby in the restaurant (or a movie theatre or anywhere else a parent isn’t being considerate of other patrons).


As always it is more about the parents than the children.  I would like children to be able to eat in good restaurants, whether they be casual or more upscale.  My children enjoy experiencing all types of restaurants both locally and when we travel.  I have met friends for diner at casual restaurants who allow their children to stand up in a booth or crawl under a table.  My kids can’t believe it either.  These are not families I want to dine with at a restaurant or at their (or my) home.  Parents should take the time to teach good table manners at any type of restaurant and at home.  However if never setting the expectation or exposing children to a restaurant better than one with a toy surprise or kiddie menu, then they’ll never know how to be good diners at any age.


I don’t blame the restaurant for taking control,  I blame the parents for not taking it.   What do you think?


10 Worst Food Trends According to Sunset Critic

Pulitzer-prize winning restaurant critic Jonathan Gold dishes out the latest food trends he can’t handle.  Read the entire, sarcastic and funny article.  Here’s his top 10 and my thoughts on a few.

1. “Changes and Modifications Politely Declined”

I agree this works both ways.  Some diners want to create their own meals and menus with their suggestions, ommissions and substitutions.  Just cook at home yourself.  However some chefs can be too dismissive for a simple request.

2. Sous vide

Watch Top Chef like me?  I’m not even eating the sous vide dishes made, but am tired of watching them be prepared.

3. Untranslated menus

This can certainly make one feel intimidated if you don’t recognize a dish or ingredient.

4. $5 tap water

While I haven’t experienced paying for tap water, I don’t like the way some waiters ask if you’d like sparkling, stilled or (lower your voice) tap water.  As if if sounds so bad to accept tap (say loudly for effect).

5. Bartender overreach

6. Chef overreach

7. Tuna surprise

I agree that chefs should know what’s sustainable and what’s in danger and buy and create menus accordingly.

8. Truffle oil

This one I don’t agree with.  Yes, truffle oil is not the same at truffles, but it’s very tasty and I’ll blog more about that next.

9. Third-wave coffee

10. Better living through chemistry O.K. I’ll admit, I would like to go to WD50 and taste Wylie Dufresne’s food.


Picky vs. Choosey Eaters – The Adult Set

My husband forwarded a great article to me today about picky eaters.  I thought it was going to be another writing about kids and how they won’t eat anything but peanut butter and jelly and cereal.  However this was different.  It was pickyness in adults, specifically when dining out.  I love this article.  This is so true.  When I’m discussing food with parents who tell me their kids are picky, we always get into a larger discussion about what the parents eat, or don’t eat. 

Somehow it’s o.k. for mom or dad not to eat vegetables, but not for kids.  I’ve had parents tell me “I’m not an adventurous eater.  But I’d like my kids to be more open”.  We all know kids model parents’ behavior (as well as peers, friends, family etc).  So you need to start there.  If I was a child listening to some of the orders adults give in restaurants (no wheat or cheese at a pizza restaurant?), I too would be puzzled.  Or diners who want vegan or raw at a restaurant that doesn’t advertise or have menu items as such.    A steakhouse simply can not (and should not) accommodate someone who is eating “raw”, other than a salad.  And there are some great places that make vegan desserts, but not the usual pastry chef at every restaurant.   

What most people call “picky”, I call “choosey”.  If you look up the word picky it says “fussy”.  Fussy then means “easily upset” and “close attention to details”.  Choosey however means “particular” and “selective”.  I think this is more appropriate and positive when thinking of food, no matter what age the diner.  We want to be selective and pay attention to detail when making choices.  Parents are able to choose what to give their children.  And parents are able to choose what to buy to cook and eat.  I think children have less of a choice, as they’re usually made for them, so maybe that’s why they’re labeled “picky”, as they get upset about the parent’s choices.  It’s interesting that the adults in this article are labeled picky.  I think they are unreasonable.  Yes, the customer is right, but not if in the wrong type of restaurant.  It’s kind of like asking a fast food joint to cook your burger medium rare – it’s not on the menu and not an option.

Here’s my summation on this article and the expectations of eating away from home… 

Diners are able to choose their restaurants – so if you’re picky, choose a different one or choose to cook it yourself at home.


The Lure of the Top Chefs

From Lisa Barnes

When did chefs become so popular and get notoriety like rock stars? Don’t get me wrong, I get caught up in the hype too. And I am usually more nourished and fulfilled by an amazing meal than a great song. But cooking, eating and food overall as entertainment seems to be a phenomena of the last 10 years. I don’t remember knowing names of chefs or watching them on T.V. when I was a kid. Now I have many friends whose children love to watch cooking shows and can tell you the names of the Iron Chefs, like a baseball line-up.

A few months ago I saw the advertisements for the Pebble Beach Food and Wine event and saw the list of chefs, food discussions and meals – and I began salivating. I bought tickets for my husband and me. I was not in a position to splurge for a weekend package or even more than one event, but that didn’t matter. We opted for the grand tasting. How could “grand” not be anything but wonderful?

We got there on a cool gray day and went into the tents, which were enormous. At first all we saw was Lexus advertisements and we wondered what we got ourselves into. Then we got the lay of the land (tent) and saw that all the chefs were around the perimeter. There were lines of foodies (although not too long) waiting to compliment the chef and taste their offering. However for each chef there were probably 20 wineries offering wine. Many more organic wines than I had ever heard of, which was nice to see and learn about.

In the center of the tent there were presentations and book signings. We immediately saw Chef Jacques Pepin was up first. Thinking there would be a big line waiting we headed towards the center. There was no one there but us and Jacques. He was a delight, and we took a picture (above). But it was kind of sad that he didn’t have a bigger following. Everyone was more interested in Trey from the last season of Top Chef. Don’t get me wrong… it’s one of the few shows I watch on T.V. (See below) But let’s show some respect to a pioneer and forefather.

Later in the day a crowd of people was trying to get a look at Top Chef Judge Tom Colicchio and a man was pushed into my husband. My husband helped the stumbling man and it was poor Jacques!

O.K. yes I like Top Chef. The biggest surprise was how nice Judge Gale Simmons was. I think she gets edited as the picky and hardest to please. In person she is very likable and seemed genuinely happy to hear about what I was writing for this blog and my philosophy about feeding children. We even swapped a Food and Wine Cookbook for a Petit Appetit Cookbook.

So as far as the food, some was great and some was unimpressive. My husband and I thought we were Top Chef Judges the way we picked apart and praised the food. Surprisingly some local S.F. favorites like Elizabeth Faulkner of Citizen Cake (a strange pudding shot with tasteless cookie) and Charles Phan of Slanted Door (a ho-hum wonton) were a disappointment. Our favorite savory offering was a duck and seared fois gras dish from Cal Stamenov at Marinus Restaurant at the Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley. At the other end of the tent was an amazing dessert table with carrot cake cookie sandwiches and “ocean” chocolate truffles (unlike anything I’d tasted) and that too turned out to be from Marinus. So guess where I want to go?

One thing I found missing at the event was signage. There are so many people with food allergies and intolerances and very few of the tables had a sign even saying the name of the dish/food item let alone the ingredients and where they came from. I thought this was remiss. Having a food allergy I didn’t like having to ask if something was hidden in food that may cause me to go to the hospital. A few chefs told exactly what was in the dish and where the ingredients were grown. Call me crazy but I expect to know (and don’t think we should assume) that the peas are organic and were grown locally when at an event such as this.

So what about children? Yes, there were a few in attendance. We even talked about how much our foodie son would’ve enjoyed some of the chocolate and seafood dishes. But then remembering the ticket price and the fact that this was a real weekend get-a-way date with my husband I was very happy he was home with grandma and grandpa.
See also Lisa’s I Met Alice Waters
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: Lone Pine at Pebble Beach, WikiPedia Commons |
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