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Family Friendly Dining

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We are a family with 2 children aged 6 and 10 visiting NYC for a week in April from London, and would like to splash out on one meal at a fine restaurant. I would be grateful for any recommendations of restaurants which are accommodating of young children (eg a willingness to serve a piece of salmon plainly grilled without a sauce!) This is something we manage to do at home and would be grateful for any suggestions. Would Babbos for example be a reasonble bet?

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  1. Actually, we're in your same boat--only two teenagers. We're hoping to get to Gramercy Tavern (probably for lunch to defray some expense.) Understand it's very accommodating and gracious to diners of any and all ages. Tea at the Plaza is also a very elegant experience--especially if you have daughters.

    12 Replies
    1. re: berkleybabe

      I wouldn't try Babbo.

      Of the high-end places, I agree that Grammercy Tavern would be a good bet. Union Square would also be good.

      1. re: Peter

        We may be going for Union Square, whose menu looks just delish, electic enough for adults, with some really great classics for teens. Also Lupa--checked a lot of reviews and that seems perfect --we really enjoyed Po a couple years ago when the kids were even younger. I agree Italian is always a good bet. Now how about Corner Bistro for a great burger? I've read it's great/not so great/smokey/"tawdry"...can't get a read on it. Any comments on Ruby Foo's for a family? We're also going to try to get to DiFara's as well, but read Angelo's is good for pizza on 57th in midtown--still true. Thanks Peter and Howard for the very specific recs--very helpful

        1. re: berkleybabe

          Re: your e mail asking for more and specifics-I can only comment on places I've been. I would recommend Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern for anybody for lunch or dinner. I think Corner Bistro is overated. As someone else posted, the Gotham Bar and Grill has a bargain $20 lunch.It's a large interesting space,very good food,fancier than USC.For inexpensive Italian try Max or Tanti Baci East.For medium priced Italian try Gennaro.One of my favorite restaurants is a charming tiny French place Chez Michallet in the West Village.They have a early dinner menu,fixed price for around $27 with good choices for all age groups.Blue Hill is another place I like. Where are you coming from? Westchester? Boston? Iowa? Don't forget to post your thoughts after your visit.Enough winter,I want spring!

          1. re: howard

            Thanks Howard--all good suggestions. I also just ordered Jim's book as a take along companion. Coming from the Detroit area to see the city, check out NYU film school and visit relatives (w'e're the "western branch") who live in NYC. Let's hope we'll be out of the winter doldrums by then...

            1. re: berkleybabe
              c
              Caitlin McGrath

              BB, you'll do great at USC; it is indeed a great place for a party that includes both chowhounds and picky eaters. In fact, I'm going to be trying to have a celebration dinner there in May for a group that includes some annoyingly un-chowhoundy types. The guest of honor and the rest of us want a good meal, but I figure the others can't argue with steak or roast chicken (and USC's is good). Good for either lunch or dinner, dinner reservations are of the month-in-advance variety. My burger-eating s.o. was pretty amazed by the burger (and especially the fries) at lunch there a couple of years ago.

              Gotham Bar and Grill's $20 prix fixe lunch is a steal, considering the regular prices and its repute, but the menu is quite limited. You can preview it at www.gothambarandgrill.com.

              You had mentioned an interest in La Palapa for your visit, and I definitely think it's doable for both the more and less adventurous; in addition to the meats and fish with interesting moles, there are old standbys like chicken enchiladas, rice and beans, soft tacos and quesadillas with a bunch of filling choices. It's a small place that has become pretty busy, so reserve if you go for dinner.

          2. re: berkleybabe

            I think the hype surrounding the burgers at Corner Bistro is justified. They're outstanding, IMO. The place gets very crowded, and it's a bar so there are people smoking. Not the spiffiest place by a long shot, but I wouldn't call it a dive.
            As far as Lupa goes, I had one outstanding meal there and one really mediocore meal that was made all the worse by memories of the first visit. It's a lot different atmosphere-wise than Po, as well - very noisy, and still sort of "scene-y" or something. I would recommend I Coppi on E.9th between 1st and A, or I Trulli on E.27th between Park and Lexington for excellent Italian. You'll find very favorable postings about both of these places if you search. A couple of cheaper options might be Pangea, on 2nd Avenue around 12th, which does a very good Italian/Mediterranean menu, or East Post (homestyle Italian and much better than Max or Frank IMO) on 2nd Avenue and 5th. I did a long post on the latter when it opened a few months ago.
            Finally, AVOID RUBY FOO'S!!! And feel free to email me if you have any more questions.

            1. re: LaurenP

              I love the burgers there and I think they're the best in the city but the place is an absolute DIVE. The back room is dark, dingy, loud and smoky. The bar up front usually has an older crowd during the day and college kids at night.

              1. re: BUCKEYE
                y
                yvonne johnson

                i agree, burgers great and i like the place. But i don't think Corner Bistro is a place for kids ages 6 and 10. (not a parent myself, but that's my take, fwiw)

                1. re: yvonne johnson

                  Bistro is a dive bar that happens to serve great burgers.
                  The crowd at night (especially on weekends) is young and loud.
                  The Bistro isn't for everyone.

                  1. re: BUCKEYE

                    Well, we've got different opinions on what constitutes a dive bar! I wouldn't take a six-year old there, but I think Berkleybabe's offspring are preteens or teenagers, no? If that's the case, the only problem I see with taking them there for dinner might be a long wait. I've been there more than a few times around 6/7pm and have yet to encounter packs of drunken marauders. It's a different story at 2:30am when the place is jammed with sloshed NYU students (that is a big yikes), but I doubt that's when BB was considering taking the family.

                    1. re: Lauren

                      If you want a table, get there before 6pm. I've been going there since high school (about 20 years now -they never "carded" my teenage butt) and I've seen children there early on the weekend for lunch.

                      But I, personally, would NOT bring children to a smoke-filled (and it always is when crowded) bar for burgers when there are other choices in this huge city. Of course, if they inhale their parents cigarette smoke all the time, no problem, I suppose...

                      Also - The bathroom is a tiny pit, always was, and I wouldn't want to deal with it with children. I only use it myself if I'm positive I can't make it home without using it...

        2. re: berkleybabe

          I've found through experience that Italian restaurants are safer bets for children and teenagers. Most chefs will make something for the kids if there is nothing on the menu they like or are willing to try.

        3. Just got a fax from Gramercy Tavern for Tavern room menu (more informal) and regular lunch and dinner. I'm not certain my 13 year old would find more than 1 or 2 choices on either. It's a wonderfully delicious looking menu--but short on dishes with a few ingredients--best bets for my kids, Filet mignon ($19.50) baby chicken with asaparagus, salsify & chervil (big ??on the veggies) $17.00. Only sandwich is marinated veg with taleggio/baby spinach/caper ailo $17.00. We'll still be looking--please share any finds you have.

          1. Babbo is known for having dishes that other places don't but there are items on the menu that children would eat. I've seen families with young children there.Babbo is my favorite Italian in the city. If you want seafood I would go to Aquagrill or Oceana.Aquagrill is in Soho and is less expensive. Oceana is fancier and more formal.Service is friendly in both. For many opinions of all three use the search box on the home page.