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No kids at Garde Manger? What to do?

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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.

          M.

          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.