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Jun 5, 2007 06:51 AM

Seattle - dining w/ a pre-schooler at Harvest Vine?

My question – would it be reasonable to bring a well-behaved 5-year-old to Harvest Vine at 5PM on a Saturday?

Explanation – my sister and BIL are in Seattle for the summer, as BIL is finishing his PhD and got an internship at Microsoft. We are going out for a long weekend, partly for business, and I have never seen the city. We’d like to take them out one night. Since they are new to the area, babysitting is not a possibility, so upscale fine dining is out, but we thought the combination of presumably more casual tapas/wine bar and the early hour might make Harvest Vine a possibility for a “nicer” dinner. My niece is very bright and well-behaved compared to many others (my sister proves that you don’t have to hit your kids to instill discipline) but she is still 5, so we don’t want to make her or other patrons unhappy. The food is not an issue – we are all pretty adventurous and she is a chip off the old block.

And of course, if the answer is no, is there someplace you could recommend for amazing food and a casual atmosphere?

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  1. any child whose behavior makes them indistinguishable from an adult (though that's not always a reference...) is welcome in any restaurant - BUT harvest vine can be a 4-hour dining adventure and keeping a 5-year old occupied in a chair for that long may be difficult. why is babysitting "not a possibility" when the concierge at a fine hotel or minister at a mainstream church can surely recommend a trustworthy demoiselle to guard your niece for the evening. however, i applaud your effort to include her and recommend steelhead diner or le pichet (both in the market) or imperial garden (in kent) which not only serves wonderful chinese food (primarily seafood drawn from tanks, dim sum early in the day and better-than-average cantonese) but is attached to an interesting asian shopping mall. watching the sun set (though that may be as late as 9 these days) from palisade is stunning but the food, though quite adequate, does not quite hold up to the view.

    4 Replies
    1. re: howard 1st

      Four hours would definitely be too long for her, good as she is – we had hoped we could manage it in 2 hours or so, before the rush started. Luckily we are from the East Coast, so with time change, early dinners work well both for us and for her.

      We aren’t staying in a hotel since Microsoft has given them a furnished two bedroom apartment, and since they have only been there a week at this point, they don’t know/trust anyone to recommend a sitter. My sister would not be willing to leave her daughter with someone completely unknown, nor would I ask her to do so. Ultimately, while it would have been nice (since it is unlikely we’ll all be out there again) it sounds like we’ll just have to try one of your other recommendations for our big dinner out.

      1. re: howard 1st

        I wouldn't try to do HV in 45 minutes, but, particularly at the beginning of the evening, it should not be necessary to stay 4 hours in order to try everything you want to. If you're willing to do all of your ordering up front, 2 hours should suffice, and you could well get out in 1.5, even with dessert.

        1. re: howard 1st

          Most of my meals at Harvest Vine are more like two or 2.5 hours, with apps, mains, and dessert. We do most of our ordering at once though.

          1. re: howard 1st

            I wouldn't recommend taking a kid to Le Pichet or Harvest Vine. I've never spent 4 hours at Harvest Vine, but it certainly isn't a quick place to go to...neither is Le Pichet.

          2. if the niece is well-behaved, i wouldn't anticipate any problems with upscale fine dining as long as you avoid the more "formal" places (Rovers, Mistral, Lampreia) or places that take several hours (which unfortunately rules out Herb Farm). If you're looking for interesting food/drinks in a more lively atmosphere, Crush is a good bet (ask the bartender to make your niece a non-alcoholic version of their pink grapefruit/campari cocktail topped with green tarragon foam, that will keep her quiet until the food arrives ;). For N Italian, Cafe Juanita in Kirkland would be another option (the tagliatelle w/ porcini and the beef cheek are very good)

            2 Replies
            1. re: barleywino

              Thanks so much for the suggestion! Since they are saving my husband’s employer hotel $, we can use more for dinner, so we would really like to give them at least one nice dinner out. Howard 1st said Harvest Vine is about a 4-hour dinner, which would be cruel to subject her to, but we’ll definitely consider some of the others mentioned.

            2. as someone who has worked in several of the restaurants mentioned, my suggestion to you is to call the restaurant and ask them. they are the ones that know best if a child should eat there or not, and are happy to tell you their policies.

              6 Replies
              1. re: ccqueen

                My fear, as far as calling the restaurant, is that the staff would feel compelled to say, “Of course you can bring your little angel.” It’s not as though there’s any worry of my niece getting up and running around. It’s more a matter of us feeling uncomfortable if the atmosphere is staid, for fear our coloring books will garner the evil eye from other tables. Also, as I mentioned, I think it would be unfair to expect Emma to sit through a dinner that lasts more than 2 hours without being able to move from her seat.

                I got quite a few suggestion s here and from searching for “child-friendly Seattle” and have passed them on to my sister. Not only will it be helpful for our visit but I imagine they will get some use out of the list this summer in general.

                1. re: meg944

                  That said, when making reservations, I do always mention if there is a child in the party, and ask for a spot where we are unlikely to disturb other guests, if possible.

                  1. re: meg944

                    I can't believe I'm the first to mention this... but major kudos to you for being so aware and concerned of what is appropriate in higher end dining situations and for adjusting your plans in consideration of other diners (and Emma). I hope you have a wonderful time wherever you end up!

                    1. re: qalaur

                      That’s very kind. When we were growing up, although they really didn’t have the money, our parents made a point of taking us out now and then for grown-up dining experiences. I remember very well how proud I would feel when I would place my order myself, from the adult menu. There is a family story about my 6-year-old sister quietly but firmly insisting to a patronizing waitress, “I really do need to see your full menu, please.” My dad always told us we could order anything we wanted, and there is another story of me, in first grade, deciding on the lobster! Apparently I quite liked it even then, so the story has a happy ending, but I cringe a bit now to think of all the hours he worked to give me that experience. Of course we did the standard pizza/burger/Chinese places at times but there was also the little bistro, the seafood place and the Japanese restaurant for special occasions. We ate out much less than people seem to do today, but I think my parents really made it count.

                      The wait staff would make up “cocktails” for us and we understood and appreciated that special occasions meant special clothing and behavior. I think it’s sad that so many of my friends are uncomfortable anywhere that requires them to behave differently than they do in their own living room, as I feel they are missing out on the pleasure of that special occasion thrill, so while we have no kids yet, I am happy to see my sisters carrying on the family tradition with their children.

                      Incidentally, my sisters require appropriate behavior from their kids at all times (no jumping on chairs, crawling around on the floor and screaming even at a coffeehouse.) I think that sometimes with other kids around it can be an issue, but generally, the restrictions seem to bring out the best in them. Both my niece and my now 9-year-old nephew are smart, poised, confident and a joy to be around (and not only for doting aunts!)

                  2. re: meg944

                    i don't think you will get much evil eye from anybody at 5pm, at least not at any of the places mentioned so far. Remember, you're talking about a city where some people recently tried to pass a bill allowing dogs in restaurants. It would be a shame for you and your guests to unnecessarily pass up on good food / "upscale fine dining" for this special occasion.

                    1. re: meg944

                      I've seen small children, even babies at Harvest Vine. I believe they even have a high chair by the front door that they keep on-hand to accommodate the little ones. If you go early, even if you order throughout the meal, you should be able to get out in 2 hours. However, keep in mind that the tables are tiny. The table will be more than overflowing with food and drinks at any given time, so don't count on room for a coloring book!

                      I saw that someone suggested Crush. That might be a good idea, too, although it's a rather stark and more formal atmosphere as compared with homey Harvest Vine.

                  3. Shouldn't be any problem with a well-behaved 5yo, especially at such an early hour. (Needless to say, the parents will bring the usual restaurant/airplane survival gear -- art supplies, books, toys, etc.) If you order everything reasonably promptly, you should be able to leave by 6:30. One can hang out at HV for hours, but it's not necessary.

                      1. re: mrnelso

                        Thanks! I did a serach on "child-friendly Seattle" here and sent my sister a few threads. I know this was mentioned, but that review is even better. I'll pass it on.

                        1. re: meg944

                          Since as you say you will be here for more than one day, why don't you and your husband (without the relatives) go out to your first-choice upscale fine dining restaurant the first night at 5pm and scope out whether you think it would be a problem having a 5yr old there? I seriously doubt it would be.

                          1. re: barleywino

                            It’s funny that you suggest that – we are just now actually considering this. Of course, this is entirely sensible and what we normally do in these situations. The reason we didn’t initially consider it is that our visit is short (Jack Thursday afternoon-Sunday afternoon, me a couple of days longer.) We didn’t want to take time away from family unless we had to do so. But it looks like he may have to meet w/ co-workers fairly late on Thursday night, so we may get a hotel for one night and try Harvest Vine early that night ourselves. If it looks good, I’m sure there will be enough interesting choices we’ll want to try on a second round, and if not, well, at least we’ll have had a nice night out, and we can still take everyone to one of the other suggested spots.

                            1. re: meg944

                              also, when are you planning to visit? Harvest Vine is closing from June 24th to July 7th for renovations. If you're visiting later in the summer, they're opening their new place in late August.