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No kids at Garde Manger? What to do?

  • a

Some folks are going to say I'm a bad mother. I like to think that I'm creative and doing my best to nurture a budding Chowhound.

My 11yo son watches Chuck Hughes (and a few other Food Network shows) religiously. He's a big fan of Martin Picard too and we've been there several times. Now he wants to eat at Garde Manger. We've seen the episode where Chuck cooks for his niece and nephew, mentioning that the restaurant is usually not available to children. I've googled the restaurant and found that there are several parking lots nearby. My question: what about getting to the restaurant early with a reservation, parking at the lot right next door and getting the food to eat in the car? I could bring my own plates and "pay-as-we-eat". Or does Garde Manger do take out?

Would appreciate any advice.

  1. Have you tried calling and explaining the situation and seeing if they can suggest something? Perhaps they would be willing to accommodate your family at the earliest reservation time possible, on a "quiet" night?

    1. Maybe the "no kids" statement was referring to younger kids? A well-behaved 11 year-old avid Chuck fan may actually be welcomed with open arms. :-) But I agree with unlaced - best thing to do is call. Let us know how it goes!

      1. That was a good episode. My experience with the no kids allowed policy (somewhere else, not at Garde Manger, based on some liquor law) is that it applies after 8pm. Might be alright before that time.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Plateaumaman

          Thanks for your encouraging comments. My son is VERY well-behaved, especially when food is involved. I will call tomorrow.

        2. Call, get an early reservation; you don't have to tell them you have a kid with you.

          go if they refuse you, stop supporting them and send a nice mail (paper) telling them how they disappointed you and your kid.

          Eating out in a car just to eat the food is really pushing the weirdness a little bit; either you go and they make it happen or they don't.


          10 Replies
          1. re: Maximilien

            Why would you lie when making the reservation then send a letter condemning them for following restaurant policy which you knew about beforehand?

            A quick call explaining the situation should be enough if you ask me.

            1. re: Maximilien

              Maximilien, thank you for taking the time to formulate your answer but I don't agree with you at all. And I am guessing that you don't have children either. The objective is to have a good experience and, at the very least, a good meal. Withholding information or being only partially honest about one's situation (ie dining with a kid in a no-kids restaurant or booking the last 2 person table and forcing the restaurant to accomodate more people) is a recipe for disaster. I doubt that any restaurant staff - no matter how professional or well trained - is going to serve you with pleasure after you've forced them into such a situation.

              And what kind of message does it send to the child? That people are mean? That Chuck and his crew are jerks? That it was THEIR fault that we were disappointed? How are we going to feel when we get "declined" at the door? No letter of complaint is going to make up for that.

              We are not "weird". We like to eat and we've done a lot of it all over the world. We've treated hoteliers and restauranteurs with respect and guess what ? Chefs have come out of their kitchens to meet us.

              1. re: Aleta

                Do the chefs come to the nearby parking lot where you are eating to thank you?

                I think Max is right on this one.

                They will let you in.

                And yes, Chuck and his crew are jerks if they dont let you in.

                1. re: kpaxonite

                  Forgive me for being dense, but why would Chuck and his crew be jerks for respecting a rule they purposely mention on their website??

                  The snarky comment about the chefs coming to the car is totally uncalled for.

                  I totally support Aleta for playing by the rules - and applaud her for her raising such a foodie. I as a chef, have a child who loathes food and anything that has to do with it. Go figure! If my son were a foodie and the only place he could eat a great meal was in the car, so be it. Does food taste better because it's served at a table, in a room called "restaurant" - never knew that affected the flavours. Hmmmm.

                  Good luck Aleta. Please let us know how it turned out.

                  1. re: maisonbistro

                    Or you can call and say he's 13, technically not a child, a teen..as long as he is as well behaved as you say, what harm will it do?

                    1. re: humbert

                      If it's because of liquor laws, being 13 is no different than being 11 - it's still underage for being in a bar. There are a few other places in the city with bizarre policies like this, but it's strictly a licensing issue, AFAIK, not because they don't like kids.

                      1. re: cherylmtl

                        Garde Manger is bar ? or a restaurant ?

                    2. re: maisonbistro

                      As far as I know there is no website for garde manger..

                      Regardless I think every restaurant should accommodate well behaved children who order a full meal. I think it rude for the restaurant to ban children just because they make enough money that they can do so; especially if those children wont be a hindrance to other diners.

                      Also I think that ambiance and where you are certainly does affect how your brain interprets the food you are eating.

                      1. re: maisonbistro

                        Kpaxonite, to answer your question: No, chefs have not come out to the nearby parking lot to thank me because so far, I've never had to eat in a parked car. We have always been welcomed wherever we've gone. But in the restaurants where we've eaten, especially the 3 star Michelin restaurants in Spain and France, yes, the chefs have come out to see us. They are curious about the little boy who is obviously enjoying the tasting menus.

                        The objective is not to determine whether Chuck and his crew are jerks. The objective is to have fun and get a good meal at Garde Manger. And to abide by the laws of your town.

                        Merci, Maisonbistro, for your words of support. (My son just exclaimed, "Sturgeon!" He switched channels from basketball to the Food Network.) Let's make a deal. You can have my son for a month and I'll have your son. Then I don't have to find ways to satisfy his foodie desires ;-)

                        Goodnight everyone. I'll let you know what the verdict is when I get in touch with Chuck and crew tomorrow.

                  2. re: Maximilien

                    Excerpt from MandalayVA's contribution of Sept. 29 from a Tripadvisor review:

                    <<Service- Maitre d' kept giving us the stinkeye because we brought kids. She claimed that she was doing us a favour by seating us, and that she could be fined if anyone found out. Strange - She then showed us a table right by the window so my child is in plain view? Inconsistent service and unwelcoming atmosphere will keep us away.>>

                    This is why I would not make a reservation without telling them there is a minor included. It's just asking for trouble.

                  3. An 11 year old who's a fan of the show? In my opinion, he will be a much better customer than most of their usual ones. Just call them and explain that he has his heart set on a meal. Going early is not a bad idea since the place gets noisier and noisier by the minute. And if you end up having to eat in the car, you might consider taking some nice plates and napkins to make it extra special for your boy.

                    Good Luck.

                    1. Like my grandfather said: All you can do is ask, all they can do is say no. Call them, ask for the maître d', and explain your situation like you did here, possibly mentioning other restaurants of a similar caliber that your son has enjoyed tasting menus. And, of course, asking for a table instead of food to go. I'd say your odds are good that you'll get quite the favorable treatment at the restaurant.

                      1. If I understand correctly, Garde Manger is a restaurant and not a bar. Do they have the legal right to refuse to serve children? If so, I would love an explanation of the law that governs such a refusal. Of course I also think that any restaurant that refuses service based on someone's age should be boycotted forever.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Bwitch

                          I would imagine that no matter what the law is, a private business can at least recommend that families dine elsewhere through lack of childrens' amenities such as kids' menus, high chairs, and booster seats. While parents with small ones may find this exceptionally irksome, I find it nice to now and then go to a restaurant where I know that the chances of being seated next to a pack of unruly urchins is minimal. Parents are advised to file such restaurants under "Hire a sitter date night".

                          1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                            As far as I know 11 year olds are well beyond the "need a high chair" stage, and most of them are also well beyond the "need a children's menu" stage. There are "kids" and then there are "young adults". In my experience many 11 year olds are in the later category.

                            1. re: DGresh

                              You read a bit too far into subtext there. I was responding more to Bwitch, less to the OP. Tweens are definitely a judgment call; some of them can appreciate a nice restaurant, while some cannot. I have certainly seen plenty of both categories at the restaurant where I work.

                        2. I'll tone down my original answer a little down.

                          Yes, call, and say you're on vacation and that you kid, a pre-teen who really enjoy his show and it's his dream to eat there. ask for the earliest seating available and if possible not on thursday, friday or saturday.

                          If they say they cannot accommodate your son, and ask why. If they say because of their liquor license, then yeah I was wrong and they cannot have under aged kids, if not then tell them your son will be disappointed. hang up and make a reservation some other great montreal restaurants.

                          and both cases (you get in or not), let them know afterward with an email; it's just good manners IMO (especially if that was supposed to be an event for you).


                          1. Folks, if you've got specific information on what Garde Manger's policy is, please share it. Debates about what it should be, whether just showing up with a kid is appropriate or not, etc, are all off-topic for the Quebec board, and since we've moved it back there, we'd ask that people let those general discussions go.

                            1. I thought on that episode Chuck stated that they are a bar that serves food and that's why kids are not allowed.

                              26 Replies
                              1. re: RhondaB

                                His website www.chuckhughes.ca specifically refers to: ''my tv show'', ''my facebook page'' and ''my restaurant Garde Manger''.

                                1. re: Bwitch

                                  Thanks to everyone for your interest in our little adventure. This afternoon, Garde Manger returned my call and basically said "no". Pre-paying, bringing my own dishes, eating in the car, take-out, nothing would change the woman's mind. She said it would interrupt their table service. I don't agree with that; after all, I am doing all the work here! All they have to do is put the food on a plate and maybe hold the front door open for me as I step out onto the street ;-) Oh well... it was worth a try and I'm sure Au Pied de Cochon will be pleased to see us back.

                                  BWITCH, a big thank you for the website. I will be writing directly to Chuck Hughes about this in my spare time. I can't think of a single bar/restaurant/pub/food stand that isn't willing to do take-out (especially if they don't need to provide their own take-out containers). Okay, the 3 star Michelins might have trouble, given their tendency to view food as "art".

                                  I like to hope that Chuck has a sense of humour and more creativity than the young woman who answered the phone at Garde Manger. If I have any news directly related to our success/failure with this project, I will add it to this post.

                                  1. re: Aleta

                                    Did you ask if you could eat there with your son or only if they'd do take-out?

                                    1. re: kpzoo

                                      Bump. Kpzoo, I did both.

                                      1. re: Aleta

                                        That's really too bad. If you wanted to try something more direct and you're on Twitter, you could always try appealing to him publicly that way: http://twitter.com/chucksdayoff - or post a message on his Facebook wall: http://www.facebook.com/chucksdayoff

                                        Good luck.

                                        1. re: kpzoo

                                          I know no one wants to hear the "if we do it for you, we have to do it for everyone" adage if they want someone to make an exception for them, but it's very true. I've been in customer service for many, many years and I can tell you for a fact, that the one time you do make an exception, the one customer that sees it is ALWAYS the unreasonable customer who will throw a hissy fit if they can't do the same thing. Absolutely always.

                                          It would have been nice if the restaurant could have made an exception for this young boy. Had they done so, however, I'm sure they would have received a million and one requests for the exact same thing from their other customers and a good many of those requests would have started with, "But you did it for them..." and ending with shouts, anger, and threats of lawsuits. I wish I could say I was exaggerating about this, but trust me, I know what I'm talking about.

                                          The restaurant made the rules and I'd be willing to bet most of the patrons know those rules. So why should the restaurant have to defend themselves for that? I'm sure they reasoned that one upset potential customer was probably better than 20+ upset customers, especially knowing that those upset customers would be heaping abuse on their manager and wait staff. And why should any employee have to take that kind of abuse and even field further requests for the same thing? It's not fair to them, it's not fair to the restaurant and it's not fair to the other customers. Besides, if you were the one exception sitting down for a meal, besides being totally embarrassed, how enjoyable is your meal going to be if you hear other patrons loudly and rudely demanding they get to do what you are doing?

                                          1. re: rodentraiser

                                            But Chuck DID get this ball rolling by making an exception - for his nephew and niece. The word is "nepotism".

                                            1. re: Shattered

                                              But is the restaurant open to the public when he serves his niece and nephew? If it isn't, that would make all the difference, wouldn't it? If it's a private function, instead of a regular operating evening?

                                    2. re: Plateaumaman

                                      Is adults-only legal in Quebec restos? Bars I can understand. But restos?

                                      Sounds like a call to the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux and the Human Rights Commission may be in order. And, while we're at it, why not the local media?

                                      1. re: carswell

                                        I know Monkland Taverne has (or at least used to have) the same thing - I'm not sure if it was their entire restaurant or just their terrasse, but I do remember being turned away years back because we had a child with us, and they weren't licensed to serve anyone under 18. So perhaps they are indeed licensed as a bar that serves food?

                                        EDITED TO ADD - this is taken directly from the Food Network site for Chuck's Day Off:

                                        "I love my restaurant with all my heart, obviously. But if there was one thing I could change, it would be the fact that we’re not allowed to have kids eat here cause of our liquor license. My little cousins have been after me to cook for them for years and I've decided that after an intense week in the restaurant, spending my day off cooking for them is just what the doctor ordered."

                                        Monkland Taverne
                                        5555 Av Monkland, Montreal, QC H4A1E1, CA

                                        1. re: cherylmtl

                                          Or maybe Monkland Taverne was breaking the law too.

                                          1. re: carswell

                                            Someone really ought to reserve at garde manger and only order one gin and tonic and stay there for an hour or so and if questioned tell the waiter they read chuck saying it was a bar and they werent even aware it served food.

                                            1. re: kpaxonite

                                              I can understand that a bar cannot serve to minors. What I CAN'T understand is why a bar wouldn't do take-out. I guess it's because their business is so good that they just don't need to.

                                              Hmmm... I've just figured out a way for us to taste the food at Garde Manger. I could make a reservation (early, of course), order a whole mess of food, pull out my own containers, pile it all in, ask for the bill and leave. As for my son? He could be waiting for me in a nice, cozy hotel room. The restaurant can stop me from bringing my son in but I don't think they can stop me from taking their food out. Especially if I've paid for it. ;-)

                                              Thanks everyone! Food brainstorming at its best...

                                              1. re: Aleta

                                                aleta, I wouldn't give them one red cent after this.

                                        2. re: carswell

                                          Carswell, I absolutely agree. I don't think it is legal, but it sure makes you question whether or not you want to support such a policy. Perhaps The Food Network would also be interested in this thread.

                                          1. re: Bwitch

                                            I used to work at a similar type of "resto-bar" in the 90s, where it was basically food by day and early evening and then later on the place would basically turn into a bar/lounge, call it what you want. People still had to order minimal food to be able to drink, it sounds like GM has the same type of liquor license and hence this "no kids" thing sounds like hot air. We were never told by management to refuse children, it sounds like they are hiding behind a fictional law.

                                          2. re: carswell

                                            It's not the first restaurant i hear that says this. Boris Bistro is another. It depends on the type of permit they got. Garde Manger does turn into a bar/club later on so they might not have a restaurant permit but a bar/club permit.

                                            If you have a bar, tavern, club permit, then you can only let minors in your establishment on a outdoors terasse accompanied by an adult AND before 20h.

                                            If they have a simple restaurant permit then i don't see a reason. Then again, i am no lawyer or an expert on the subject.

                                            Here is the full document. Sorry i found it in french :

                                            Boris Bistro
                                            465 Rue McGill, Montreal, QC H2Y2H1, CA

                                          3. re: Aleta

                                            Do they make doggy bags if the meal is too large. It's likely they do, so if takeout is not possible, you could always go with somebody else and order way too much food and have it put in a doggy bag.

                                            It's not the best situation but your son might have a taste?

                                            1. re: SourberryLily

                                              I will repeat what I wrote last night on this thread:

                                              <<I've just figured out a way for us to taste the food at Garde Manger. I could make a reservation (early, of course), order a whole mess of food, pull out my own containers, pile it all in, ask for the bill and leave. As for my son? He could be waiting for me in a nice, cozy hotel room. The restaurant can stop me from bringing my son in but I don't think they can stop me from taking their food out. Especially if I've paid for it. ;-) >>

                                              SourberryLily, thanks for the link. I see the part about minors on a terrace. Too bad GM doesn't have a terrace. I don't know anybody else in Montreal and frankly, I don't mind going alone and ordering a lot of dishes. It won't be the first time that I ordered too much so that I could share with others.

                                              1. re: Aleta

                                                I can come with you. I have a 6 year old who wants to be a chef so they could share our containers. Although I'd rather not give Garde Manger any business ... did my post mentioning the word boycott get deleted? aren't they boycotting children? Perhaps the advertisers on Chuck's show would be interested.

                                                He made chicken fingers and poutine on the children's show, didn't he? What dishes is your son interested in? It might be more pleasant to do a chowhound kid event that is more friendly. Crudessence has very nice cooking classes for children. My older sons' class went there several times and made a fabulous meal for all the parents.

                                                1. re: Plateaumaman

                                                  Plateaumaman, you are so kind!! I am smiling now ... actually laughing. I can just see us -- 2 mothers holding many food containers -- being stopped by the 2 nice bicycle cops who were the inspiration for another episode of Chuck's Day Off. We look suspicious. It's pretty funny. And a good story line for a potential Food Network reality show about 2 moms and their foodie children.

                                                  I didn't see anything about "boycott".

                                                  If my memory serves me well, Chuck made some fabulous chicken nuggets, pickled veggies and orange cream popsicles. My son wouldn't mind eating #1 and #3 but he'll pass on the pickled veggies (just like Chuck's niece and nephew did ;-) ) Actually he really wants to try the lobster poutine. He likes the foie gras poutine at Au Pied de Cochon (he gives me the foie gras -- he knows I like it more than he).

                                                  I'll have to look into Crudessence for another visit to Montreal when we have more time. The thing about my son is that he doesn't really want to cook, he just wants to eat. I sent him to cooking class at Ecole Le Notre in Paris 2 years ago. I think he spent more time eating the little cookies they put out on the side of the table than he did actually preparing anything.

                                                  This visit to Montreal (and hopefully to Garde Manger) will be in late October. I still have time to plan. Thanks again.

                                                  1. re: Aleta

                                                    Aha, gourmet poutine. My son had the poutine at APDC without the foie gras (only $7.50) and swears he will cook his fries in duck fat when he has his own restaurant. Here's a review of Chuck's lobster poutine compared to APDC foie gras poutine below.


                                                    Still, we're happy to join you in your quest in October if you'd like. There must be a clever way to share our email addresses rather than posting them here?

                                                    I should go eat at Crudessence, actually. The kids made an avocado/coconut dessert that was amazing.

                                                    1. re: Plateaumaman

                                                      Thanks again, Plateaumaman. The review doesn't sound good. We may have to reconsider our order (and maybe even the restaurant choice...).

                                                      The avocado/coconut has my name all over it!

                                                      I do have some methods for us to communicate. Will get back to you on that.

                                                        1. re: Plateaumaman

                                                          Plateaumaman, pls see my profile and real name.

                                                2. re: Aleta

                                                  To go with SourberrtLily post,

                                                  According to this document from the RACJ (carefull large)

                                                  Garde Manger does hold only a Bar permit.

                                        3. Hmm ... I went to Trip Advisor's review page for Garde Manger and several of them mention bringing teenagers into it:


                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: MandalayVA

                                            Thanks for checking, Mandalay. I just followed your link and read that the customers got the stinkeye from their waitress. That's why I would never make a reservation at a supposed "no-child" place without asking them first if kids would be okay. One would be asking for trouble.

                                          2. Since Aleta has answered her own question by phoning the restaurant and a debate about whether kids in restaurants are good, bad or neutral is off-topic for this board, we're going to lock this thread now.