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Granddaughter wants "elegant," I want kid-friendly and reasonable prices!

The 11 year old granddaughter and her 8 year old sister are coming to visit, and they want me to take them to an "elegant" restaurant. Right, please define elegant. Maybe they think BIG, FANCY, with attention from servers? I live in the W. Village and my idea of elegant is Anissa, Alfama, and other nabe places I dine in. I wonder where to take these tykes? Ideas in Village, Meatpacking, and surround, please. Maybe a meatpacking "scene" would strike them as elegant?

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  1. Are they planning to dress up? That might give you a clue. Probably any place where the waiters wear ties and white aprons would be appropriate. If you can't find an old-school French or Italian restaurant, you MIGHT try Markt in the Meatpacking district. More trendy than fancy, but at least looks like a bustling Belgian bistro.

    3 Replies
    1. re: The Jeff Next Door

      Yes, the idea is to dress up and to feel like elegant young women, I guess.

      Perry St. at lunch, maybe? It should be quiet and sophisticated, though they might not be thrilled with young uns in there....

        1. re: The Jeff Next Door

          Markt lost their liquor license and closed, alas alack.

        2. One more thought -- Cafe D'Alsace on 2nd Ave between 87th & 88th Streets is delicous, moderately priced, and fancy. I've always had excellent service there, and with the bistro-style busy-ness, noone will notice a couple of younger ones sitting in the back of a booth.

          1 Reply
          1. re: The Jeff Next Door

            While I (kind of) like Cafe D'Alsace, I don't think of it as elegant for this purpose.

          2. Aw, how cute! they seem old enough to appreciate a great restaurant. I would take them to 11 Madison Park or Gramercy Tavern. they should especially like the cookie plate at GT. I bet they will be treated wonderfully.

            1. I agree with Gramercy Tavern. The rooms are so pretty and feel "fancy" they can dress up and wont be out of place. Lunch there would be nice and I think the servers would not mind. 11 Madison is good too, but the dercor is too modern I think to be fancy. They might be overwhelmed with some of the more sceney places in the Meatpacking district, and they might not understand the minimalist modern look of a place like Perry Street.

              Other ideas (though not in the area):
              Cafe Des Artist
              Tavern on the Green (not talking food here) and
              Is the Plaza open for tea these days?
              A restaurant in another of the old hotels might do: the Plaza Athen, the waldorf, etc. They are also probably used to kids.

              1 Reply
              1. re: maxine

                I would not recommend Cafe des Artistes. Not only is the food mediocre but, in my view, the overall atmospherics are not at all right for 11- and 8-year olds. I think they would not feel comfortable there.

              2. I was just going to suggest doing a Tea Maxine! It fits the bill as elegant and certainly memorable.

                1. I took my then 10 yo, her best friend, and my littlest one (3) to a tea at the American Girl store up on 5th and 49th.

                  They were so thrilled with themselves they couldn't stand it. : )

                  And it's nothing if not kid-friendly.

                  The food was elegant but all stuff my non-foodie girls were happy to eat.

                  If you want to go ALL out, they do a little American Girl review, a little mini stage play, that my kids loved. Remember yor first real stage show? The velvet seats, the gold roping, the chandelier, the lights going down?

                  It's cute, it's kid safe in terms of content, it's friendly, it's nostalgic in a nice way. It's overpriced a little but hey, a day in NYC with the grandkids that they will probably remember forever? Like AmEx says...priceless.

                  If you really want to go overboard you can take them shopping there, too....and buy the fancy princess dresses to wear to the tea. : )

                  The second floor is set up like a museum, so it's interesting just to wonder and look, and not have to buy anything.

                  Edited to add linky... http://www.americangirlplace.com/agp_...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: paxamicus

                    The cynical foodie in me thinks that sounds terrible, comercial, and expensive. The little girl in me wishes I were 10 again and someone would take me there!

                  2. how about taking them to one of the places in Rockefeller Center near the skating rink for lunch? The food can be great, setting very special. I bet they'll be happy pretty much anywhere. I think Markt closed.

                    1. Another thought would be the Oyster Bay in Grand Central, which provides a special occasion atmosphere and there's also a shopping mall down there

                      1. I suggest Del Posto at Meatpacking area. You really can't get much more "BIG", "ELEGANT" than that. Order the Enoteca menu for 4 courses at $41 to enjoy the great food, big scene, fancy plating and service, at a moderate price =D

                        1. pastis or balthazar? might see a celeb which could be exciting for them.

                          1. What about Lady Mendel's Tea Salon on Irving Place? It's not exactly West Village, but it would be EXACTLY the kind of thing that little girls would love. A grown up tea party.

                            1. What about La Bonne Soupe? It's not over the top fancy, but I'd argue it has an elegant touch, and it definitely meets your kid-friendly and reasonably priced criteria.

                              Here's more: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/355057

                              Oh, shoot! I just read your post and you want village/meatpacking. oh well. i'll keep thinking...

                              1. Yup, it's commercial, and it's totally non-foodie, and all of that. : ) No doubt, it's basically handing corporate America your ATM card when you walk in.

                                But it looks like something out of a 40's glamour film, the food is fun for kids...little chocolate tea pots, gorgeous cookies, amazingly decorated little petit fors, ....and it's catering to kids.

                                It's a fun, once in a life time day. : ) And that kid, who is now 14, she and her friend still talk about it sometimes, so as far as I am concerned, it was worth every penny.

                                Even though I did feel like I should have been doing penance for a while for buying into it. : D

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: paxamicus

                                  paxamicus, what place are you referring to?

                                  1. re: simetrias

                                    Upthread I referred you to the American Girl store on 5th and 49th. There's a link and a mini discussion about it in my original post...just scroll up. : D

                                    Sorry, that was my first post ever here and I didn't understand how the replies "nested"...so I repsonded in the wrong place.

                                2. It's a pity that the Palm Court is closed at the Plaza. You could take them to Cafe Pierre, it's very pretty and elegant. La Grenouille is beautiful too. The Boathouse would be fun - they'd like the view!

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: bronwen

                                    Isn't it every little girls dream to go to Tavern on the Green?

                                    1. re: MinhLikesFood

                                      Do you honestly think *all* little girls are begging their parents, or grandparents, to take them to Tavern on the Green? I suppose these young ladies might be dazzled by the decor. But even if they wouldn't care about how good the food is, their poor grandmother -- who mentions she likes Annisa -- would be forced to suffer through a blech meal. Why put her through that? After all, it's not like there aren't other options in the city that combine elegance with excellent cuisine.

                                    2. re: bronwen

                                      I know! The Eloise tea at the Plaza was my fail safe with little girls to entertain! I agree that the Boathouse would be a good idea for the location alone. Make sure you approach via the Bethesda fountain and the grand staircases on either side, or it's just not the same.

                                    3. i would say lespinasse but obviously it closed years ago. that was the most elegant dining room in the city imo. you can still do tea at the st. regis though.

                                      but i think buddhakan fits the bill perfectly. i think the beautiful dining room and chandeliers would definitely strike and 11 and 8 y.o. as elegant. although i love gramercy tavern, i think the look is more rustic elegant- probably not what your granddaughters picture.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: giftergirl

                                        Unless the granddaughter's are the Hilton sisters I do not suggest Buddhakan.

                                      2. How about The Blue Fin, with a matinee at a Broadway show? The Blue Fin looks really "decorated" inside....who knows- you might spot a celeb, and if you take them to one of the disney shows, or whatever, I'm sure they'd just be in Heaven.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: ACknowsStyle

                                          Blue fin isn't elegant, imo. they are looking for someplace where they can dress up. you'd also have to make sure the girls are ok with sushi and cooked fish. I like the afternoon tea idea (at one of the hotels, or lady mendl's)- when i was a young girl i used to think it must be very elegant to sit down for a fancy tea and have dainty sandwiches and cookies.

                                        2. When I was younger (early - mid teens) my grandmother used to take me to elegant lunches in the city fairly often...one of our favorite places was Aureole. Beautiful room, excellent service, and what seemed like an unintimidating menu (I always got the grilled chicken and it came with amazing sides). Most of the places we went were in midtown and I always felt very grownup surrounded by businesspeople and ladies who lunch.

                                          I don't think an 8 and 11 year old would care about the type of celebs who frequent Balthazar, Pastis, etc and those places don't scream elegant to me. I think you're looking for more classic than trendy. While I'm sure the American Girl place is wonderful, it's not quite a grown-up experience. Del Posto is a beautiful space and quite elegant...Blue Water Grill in Union Square can be impressive too. Lady Mendl's Tea Salon is another great suggestion and very ladylike.

                                          Let us know what you decide!

                                          1. Maybe lunch at the River Cafe? Definitely elegant. And if the visit is at the end of March then you can also do inexpensive since it is Brooklyn Restaurant Week -$21.12 for 3 courses. See http://www.rivercafe.com/menu_restaur... for details.

                                            I brought teens to Tavern on The Green a few years ago. It definitely fit their idea of elegant. The food was fine. Service was very attentive- in fact the waiters were very charming. More importantly, the young people truly enjoyed the experience - and it was fun to watch their amazement at the over the top surroundings and the warm sevice. If you do lunch there is a kid's menu posted online at

                                            1. Almost cried when The Palm Court closed. My mom took me when I was six, to see Eloise and have tea. I knew all the lines, "I am a city child, I live at the Plaza".

                                              Peacock Alley at the Waldorf has a nice tea. I agree with Lady Mendl's...also Alice's Tea Cup.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: haleyjen

                                                This might be unrelated, but you all seem like you'd appreciate this sentiment. New York parents spend an inordinate amount of money on children's birthday parties and coming up with ways to out-do the Joneses, but I thought this was so very charming. A friend of mine booked a suite at the Plaza for one night for her daughter to have a birthday sleepover with some friends for her 10th birthday. She ended up spending far less than the 1,000s other mothers were spending, and the girls had the absolute best time.