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Chez Henri at the Bar -- Well Behaved 7 year old ok?

My family (we'll be a party of 4) is coming to visit tomorrow. We all want to try the Cubano sandwich at Chez Henri. If we have a 7 year old with us at 6:30/7:00 and are dressed casually, will that be ok?

Thanks everyone for taking the time to reply! (It's either this or we go to Bartley's, which is good, but a totally different experience).

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Chez Henri
1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

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  1. Call before going. Technically, children below the age of 21 are forbidden from being in a bar, even with their parents. When my kid was this age, we found that this law was bent at some places if we were coming to eat. As she got older, we found that bars were less and less willing to bend.

    1. I would say no -- it will already be pretty crowded at that time. (As to smtucker's point about kids at bars, I think that only applies to places that don't serve food -- but having eaten at the bar at Chez Henri, I don't think it's an appropriate place for kids.)

      If the weather's nice and you're itching for a Cubano, I've heard good things about the ones at Montrose Spa just a block or two away. But you'd have to get takeout and sit somewhere and eat.

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      Chez Henri
      1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

      1. if you're able to get one of the small tables they have in the bar area, it might work. but the bar gets loud & crowded but quick, and there are only 2 or maybe 3 of those tables. so even if they let you, it would take one heck of a 7 year old not to get frazzled by it. if it were me, i'd just go to bartleys and save the cubano (and a periodista!) for another trip.

        1. I'm afraid I have to disagree with the previous posters. If your seven year old is well behaved, then why ever not? Chez Henri has a very nice atmosphere and it sounds like a fun trip. I do not believe that there is any such law in the state of Massachusetts about children being forbidden from entering a bar. At least, there was certainly no such law when I was a child! I can clearly remember being shocked when I was about seven or eight years old and a bartender at an airport bar in St. Louis Missouri wouldn't let my father and I sit at the bar together. (I drank tonic water!) The laws were different in Missouri.

          I can't imagine why anyone would be upset at a well-behaved child at a fine restaurant or upscale bar. I do understand why a not-well-behaved child might make people upset, but that's a different ballgame.

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          Chez Henri
          1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

          5 Replies
          1. re: lipoff

            it's not about other people being upset at the kid. it's about the place being (often) really loud and really crowded and kinda cramped, and so probably not the best place for the kid. if the kid can take it, then by all means.

            1. re: lipoff

              My understanding is that it is ok fo a minor to enter the bar but illegal for an underage person to sit AT the bar but it is ok for the minor to sit at a table IN the bar. How strictly it's enfoced is another matter.

              I had a soda with my then 7 yr od niece at the bar at Regina's while waiting for takeout, but been told I can't sit at the bar with her at another place, Sail Loft..but a tall bar table was fine.

              Maybe someone who is more familiar with the law can chime in.

              1. re: 9lives

                It is illegally for a minor to sit at a bar in Massachusetts. Enforcement though is incredibly lax. If an establishment has been cited for serving minors then usually enforcement on those establishments will be extrememly strict.

                1. re: jjbourgeois

                  This is simply not true. I was pretty sure, but I just called the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission and they confirmed that there is no law in Massachusetts that prohibits minors from entering a bar at any time or sitting at the bar, with or without their parents. Of course, no one under 21 may consume alcoholic beverages at a bar. Individual bar owners may have their own policies, of course, but typically the only thing I've seen is that some bars will start carding everyone who walks in the door after a certain time at night. An upscale place, such as Chez Henri, would never do so.

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                  Chez Henri
                  1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

              2. re: lipoff

                I don't know about the atmosphere at the Chez Henri bar or your kid's temperment, but my kids have sat at bars in Mass. plenty of times. We were shocked when we went to Seattle and it wasn't allowed.

                Why does it have to be either Chez Henri or Bartley's. There are other options in the square that might satisfy kids and adults. Bartley's burgers are fine, but you can't get a drink there, there are no bathrooms, and it is a rushed experience.

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                Chez Henri
                1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

              3. Not sure about the legality of children sitting AT the bar in Mass, though in a place like Chez Henri with about 8 barstools, I could see how they might not want to have a child taking up one of those few. It is a cramped space, and I agree with others that a well-behaved child would be ok with me, but may be a bit much for the child. Calling ahead would certainly be better, if only to avoid a potentially sticky/embarrassing situation should Chez Henri have an issue with a child at the bar or in the bar area.

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                Chez Henri
                1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

                1. Can you make the trip to El Oriental in Jamaica Plain? Great cubanos and very kid friendly.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                    Another option - go to Highland Kitchen in Somerville - they have a Cuban Reuben sandwich, which is also excellent, and is kid friendly, esp. earlier in the evening.

                    Personally, I would not bring my kid there, not because it's a bar, but because you are right on top of other people. It's uncomfortable enough with adults.

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                    Highland Kitchen
                    150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                  2. Bars are where I go to escape children. Bars are generally in an adult setting where adults drink adult beverages and talk about adult subjects while using adult language and adult humor. The customers around you should be allowed to do so with out thinking "ear muffs!". You may think it's cute for your child to sip a $3 shirley temple with extra cherries while hangin' with the big kids. But I'm sure a bartender, no matter how gracious, would rather have a repeat customer sitting in that spot drinking a $10+ martini(s). Sure when I was a Kid I sat in a few barstools next to my dad but it was mid afternoon at the local golf course or pool side during a family vacation. Not Thursday night at 7:00 pm. in a busy restaurant.
                    Sitting at a table is not an option?

                    11 Replies
                      1. re: T.Clark

                        The reason they want the bar area is they want to try the Cubano, which is not served in the dining room. If it was Friday instead of Thursday they could try the Pernil sandwich at Izzy's (and get them to make it like a cubano), Highland's sandwich is pretty different.

                        1. re: itaunas

                          >they want to try the Cubano, which is not served in the dining room.

                          WTF???

                          1. re: scratchie

                            It's not unusual at all for a bar section of a restaurant to have a distinct menu which is not available in the regular restaurant part. At Craigie on Main, for example, their wonderful burger is only available on the bar side menu. Chez Henri only offers the Cubano at the bar, or at the bar tables in the bar section.

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                            Chez Henri
                            1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

                            Craigie on Main
                            853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                          2. re: itaunas

                            Itaunas gives a reasonable explanation as to why the OP wants to sit in the bar, but the explanation does not change my support for T.Clark's remarks above.

                            The desire to try an item featured only on a limited bar menu is not reason enough to bring a child into the bar area. A better tactic would be to explain to the hostess or dining room server the desire for the item, and ask them to make an exception and serve it in the dining room rather than than the bar.

                            Having said that, I totally respect that the OP is *asking* if a child would be ok in the bar, and not *assuming* so, lest that be lost in the thread.

                            1. re: allgimbel

                              Chez Henri will NOT serve the cubano in the dining room. Not even for the Queen of England. Or the Price of Wales. Or Justin Beiber.

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                              Chez Henri
                              1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                You should have seen the look of disappointment on Justin's face.

                                1. re: C. Hamster

                                  Poor Bieby.

                                  I edited out of my post an aside that the request, however nicely put, would not necessarily be honored.

                                  I'm thinking I need to get myself to Chez Henri and try one of these famous cubano s'wiches myself. Is it a must-have?

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                                  Chez Henri
                                  1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                  1. re: allgimbel

                                    Yes. It really is. And I generally try not to subscribe to the hype as much as I can.

                                    Is it an authentic Cubano that you'd find in Habana? No. But it's sublime.

                                    1. re: Prav

                                      It's settled then! Perhaps even this rainy weekend!

                                2. re: allgimbel

                                  You'll be lucky to get barstool seats for 4 in Chez Henri, and frankly, as a patron, I wouldn't want a seven year old next to me, even a well-behaved one, while I am enjoying an after-work drink and possibly discussing who knows what with friends.

                                  But I'd have no issue with a kid at the tables in the bar area....

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                                  Chez Henri
                                  1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

                            2. We have taken our 3 year old to the 'bar' at Chez Henri multiple times and have never had a problem when sitting at a bar table. The bar area of Chez Henri is a (small) relaxed bistro type atmosphere, not your typical 'bar'. If you would take your child to any restaurant that has a bar in it, this would be no different. We do always go right at 5:30pm (when they open) so that we are sure to get a table and the staff has always been extremely friendly and accommodating.

                              I agree with the other posters that children probably aren't allowed to sit AT the bar, so if you get there around 6-7pm when it is sure to be crowded, you are taking a chance. Though you could do worse than go around the corner to Temple Bar if Chez Henri is full.

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                              Chez Henri
                              1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

                              1. as a restaurant lifer, i am always amazed at where parents think it's ok to take small children, regardless of how well-behaved is said child. that the op is concerned enough to ask, cheers me, however, i suggest calling the restaurant.

                                why are there only 2 options in your mind? i can think of plenty of other places more suitable to bring a kid.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                  I think most reasonable people on chowhound will agree that there is a wealth of parents (including famous people) who think their children are so adorable that everyone should love their presence and others who forget they are no longer a couple w/o kids in tow. There should be a 12-step group for some of those parents.

                                  That said there are a number of neighborhood bar and grill restaurants, plus ethnic restaurants which have a bar in Boston, which are much more suitable for parents with kids than fine dining restaurants. Those are places where you get the townie or Italian grandmother who takes the kids off to show the owner, where the chef likes to make things for kids, ethnic places (dominican, brazilian, columbian) where lots of other families go, where there is drinking tables and church groups together. Chez Henri doesn't fit that category (the dining room isn't the perfect kid place either), but it is a bar/restaurant.

                                  I think its reasonable for the poster to ask and while I think they could easily find a more appropriate alternative, there seem to be a few knee-jerk reactions from folks who have never been to Chez Henri (BTW, they are not flexible about not serving the cubano in the dining room). My recommendation was going to be call the restaurant too, but there was already enough responses discouraging them that I think they already got the picture. Unfortunately there are just as many FOH people who aren't willing to level with diners (particularly the pretty ones) and I have been misguided by hostesses "of course, we welcome..." when they should have simply said go somewhere else or something tactful like "we will try to make accomodations, but do not offer a kids menu."

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                                  Chez Henri
                                  1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                    1. re: itaunas

                                      legally they cannot NOT serve children, so that can't be the answer on the phone. i've worked in places that do not own highchairs as a deterrent to baby-bringing though.

                                  1. Thanks, everyone, for your comments. Not only will I pass on Chez Henri (we can't get there early and I'd rather not be worried about whether we'll get a table, etc), but I'm also going to pass on Bartley's since we definitely want a drink and definitely don't want a rushed experience.

                                    Highland Kitchen sounds nice, but would prefer to stay in Harvard Square. I welcome any other suggestions (food lovers who have a kid with them, spent the day traveling and want to relax and catch up over yummy food and drinks, informal attire. I was thinking ethnic food might be a nice change which was why I thought of the cubano).

                                    Thank you so much!

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                                    Chez Henri
                                    1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                    Highland Kitchen
                                    150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                                    24 Replies
                                    1. re: swbrown

                                      Temple Bar looks pretty good...

                                      1. re: swbrown

                                        Temple bar is nice foodwise, but its a bit of a date place (Green Street in Central also). Someone might have an opinion about Russell House Tavern and kids (or call them). Henrietta's might be a nice option, but its pricey. Dolphin Seafood is good for the fish part of it, but might be a bit rushed and although they have a bar I would be wary of ordering a drink there. Bluefin in Porter not for the drinks, but pretty easy going. After that you start getting futher afar (Somerville has a lot of options, Gran Gusto towards the rotary, Plough and Stars, some ethnic in Watertown but no bar) and there is always Full Moon.

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                                        Full Moon
                                        344 Huron Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                        Gran Gusto
                                        90 Sherman St, Cambridge, MA 02140

                                        Dolphin Seafood Restaurant
                                        12 Washington St, Natick, MA 01760

                                        1. re: itaunas

                                          Henrietta's Table was where I really wanted to go, but they're closed for a private event tonight (which is why I'm now scrambling).

                                          I'm going to look up these other ones you mention right now...thanks.

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                                          Henrietta's Table
                                          One Bennett St., Cambridge, MA 02138

                                          1. re: itaunas

                                            Russell House is pretty big with three seating areas, two of which have bars as part of them. I don't know about the food, but the couple of cocktails I've had there have been excellent and the staff is really friendly - and it's right in the heart of the Square. I would probably opt for downstairs with a kid or an outside table if available.

                                          2. re: swbrown

                                            Will I start a flame war if I mention that there's always Legal Sea Foods, if all else fails?

                                            Yeah, probably.

                                            1. re: brandywiner

                                              And I thought of East Coast Grill -- but we always, always go to ECG with these people because they love it so much, so I'm trying to take them someplace new.

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                                              East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
                                              1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                              1. re: swbrown

                                                How about Tupelo? Or Hungry Mother? Both in Cambridge, though not in the square.

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                                                Hungry Mother
                                                Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

                                                1. re: allgimbel

                                                  I actually tried to make reservations at Hungry Mother for Fri or Sat night when the rest of the family will be joining us, but they told me they're too small to accommodate a table for 6 :(

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                                                  Hungry Mother
                                                  Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

                                                  1. re: swbrown

                                                    I'm surprised they can't accomodate a table of 6, as we were at least 6 last year at a table in the upper room against the back wall nearest to the WC's - maybe they broke that up into 2 tables.

                                                    1. re: swbrown

                                                      Really? Maybe they just didn't have room, but I ate there twice in January - once in a group of six, and once next to a group of eight...

                                                      1. re: sallyt

                                                        Could be that they were already filling up and she couldn't fit us...I could have misinterpreted what she said.

                                                  2. re: swbrown

                                                    But if you are willing to go to ECG, Highland Kitchen is really no further. And places like Muqueca, Portugalia, Atwoods, Tupelo --seems pretty kid friendly, but no reservations and small -- are all in the neighborhood. Highland is definitely the best bet for kid friendly and mixed drinks.

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                                                    Muqueca
                                                    1010 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                    Highland Kitchen
                                                    150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                                                    1. re: itaunas

                                                      Ok, you're right.

                                                      So now I looked at Highland Kitchen but didn't get excited. Muqueca, though! Oh my that looks yummy! Looks like no alcohol, though. Portugalia may be my winner -- it looks really good.

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                                                      Muqueca
                                                      1010 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                      Highland Kitchen
                                                      150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                                                      1. re: swbrown

                                                        Muqueca recently expanded and added a beer/wine license (before the expansion it would have required a wait), so alcohol is a possibility, but no caipirinhas.

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                                                        Muqueca
                                                        1010 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                        1. re: itaunas

                                                          ooh, I've never had a caipirinha before!

                                                          1. re: swbrown

                                                            Midwest Grill has a couple of tables in the bar and its not too far from the current Muqueca location, so you might be able to have a caipirinha as nightcap there (or pre-dining at Muqueca) without stepping on anyone's toes. Dunno, though, if it will be busier than usual with the world cup opening. Portugalia probably has everything necessary to make one, but no idea if it would be any good.

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                                                            Muqueca
                                                            1010 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                            Midwest Grill
                                                            1124 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                            1. re: swbrown

                                                              They're yummy. They do have a kick though. So pace yourself!

                                                          2. re: swbrown

                                                            Last time we were at HK, there were several parties w/kids from infants on up all seeming to have a great time.

                                                            1. re: swbrown

                                                              BIG thumbs up on the Portugalia suggestion. Muqueca can be a challenge with kids due to the limited seating.

                                                              Portugalia has a full bar, AWESOME + authentic food and I have seen them be really sweet/attentive to kids.

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                                                              Muqueca
                                                              1010 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                              1. re: Pemmican

                                                                That's an outdated comment on Muqueca - they have moved to a much larger location across the street - no limited seating anymore.

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                                                                Muqueca
                                                                1010 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                                  BTW, I don't know how slammed the kitchen is with the additional seating, but if anyone is considering going there with a group (eg family or chowdown) its worth a shot calling a couple of days in advance to see if they would make a moqueca de siri mole (soft shell crab moqueca) as those are in season. Or even siri mole e siri catado (shredded crab) which I think they have on hand but that could get pricey.

                                                                  1. re: itaunas

                                                                    Too late for the original poster, but yes PLENTY of room at Muqueca now and they do serve a version of a caiprinha, actually. I can't remember what it's made with, though, obviously not cachaca, but some kind of fortified something. Consider it a tasty drink in the spirit of caipirinha.

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                                                                    Muqueca
                                                                    1010 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                      2. re: swbrown

                                                        Russell House Tavern would be a good option. I've only been for brunch, but there were young people there and I was quite happy with my meal.

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                                                        Russell House Tavern
                                                        14 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                                        1. re: swbrown

                                                          In Harvard Square, I think Russell House would be fine and definitely yummy food and drinks. I bet Cambridge 1 would work too, although possibly not what you are aiming for food or drink wise (pizza/salad/beer/wine). Tamarind Bay is great Indian, but a definitely lackluster in the drink department, and small so it can get crowded.

                                                        2. The final outcome:

                                                          I really wanted (and was pushing for) Portugalia, but they wanted to stay in Harvard Square. So we went to Russell House Tavern, as a few people suggested.

                                                          It was perfect. They seated us downstairs and even though the tables are close together it was loud enough and bustling enough that no one noticed or cared about the child. The food was really delicious, particularly the chopped salad (with grapes, house smoked almonds, fennel, benton’s ham) and the chicken liver crostini with prune and honey jam. Our favorite was the soft poached egg offered under the "small plates" menu. The entrees were also good, but nothing worth going into detail about. If I went back, I would consider it a treat to just order several things under "appetizers," "small plates," and/or the raw bar.

                                                          The cocktails, by the way, were super good. Very interesting, creative, different, delicious. I don't like sweet cocktails and usually can never find anything new I want to try, but I will be back to try several of their other drinks! (I had the Harvard Yard, and it'll be hard for me to not order it again).

                                                          A great experience. I will definitely go back.

                                                          A very sincere thank you to all of you who were kind enough to share ideas and suggestions. You're the best! (And now I can't wait to go to Portugalia after they leave!)

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                                                          Russell House Tavern
                                                          14 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: swbrown

                                                            The poached egg is my favorite thing at the Russell House Tavern, despite being impressed by a number of dishes on their menu. The Lamb Shank entree was also quite good.

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                                                            Russell House Tavern
                                                            14 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138