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Help for Foodie Couple coming to NYC w/ an 8 mo old baby

My husband and I will be in NYC in late May for a wedding, and we'll be bringing our then-8-month-old son with us. Honestly, I wish we could leave him with family while we come to New York, but that can't happen. So while I have dreamed for years of an amazing trip to NYC, with dinners at Le Bernadin, Per Se, EMP, etc., a trip like that obviously won't be in the cards this time around.

I DO plan on eating either lunch or dinner at EMP while my Mom keeps our son at the hotel for us.

Aside from that, does anyone have some good suggestions for places that wouldn't look askance at us bringing our baby with us? He stays up really late (after midnight) so we aren't that interested in having to eat dinner at 5:00 someplace and then rush out because it'd be improper for our baby to be with us any later than that... but we'll do it if we have to.

Where do you go when you love fine dining and still want to experience great food, but you've got a baby with you? We'll be staying at the Kitano hotel in midtown (66 Park Ave), if that helps any. Restaurants close by would obviously be better than ones requiring us to schlep the baby up and down stairs, through several subway transfers, etc.

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    1. My suggestion would be to go out of Midtown to neighborhoods where the restaurants are louder and people are less apt to notice a fussing baby -- or where you're not the only ones with kids at the table.

      Certain neighborhoods like Tribeca and the Upper West Side especially are kid friendly because many families live there. As you mention, dining at off hours will certainly help.

      I'm not sure you'll be able to do any true, multiple starred restaurant fine dining, but you can certainly have some great meals with the baby boy. All is not lost if you must dine more casually -- many of the hot new openings are on the casual side in the last few years anyway!

      Just so you know -- many restaurants do not have high chairs (not sure if your little one likes them or not) so I'd call and ask if you need it. Stroller parking can be iffy as well, as space is at a minimum and some restaurants ask that you leave it outside (my friends who are parents prefer to have the kid in their lap or the Baby Bjorn anyway). The Shake Shack on the UWS has a stroller valet now, I believe.

      Don't forget that many restaurants in NYC deliver, so that should be an option if you're tired, the baby is fussing, and all you want to do is go back to the hotel room.

      Baby friendly in NYC:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/713594
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/689389
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/668516
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/668028
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/613369
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/692078

      2 Replies
      1. re: kathryn

        Thank you for the advice! We don't mind casual places; in fact that's pretty much what we're looking for - casual places that happen to serve really good food :) I've heard Otto is a good option for families - anyone have any input on that? We won't need a stroller at night - we'll use one during the day but then switch to a baby carrier at night, which is easy to drape over the back of a chair. And if we did by chance bring our stroller it is a tiny umbrella type model so it folds up really compactly. Hoping not to have to bring it to dinners though.

        The baby would rather be on our lap than in a high chair at this point, so if he stays happy like that in the next couple of months, I don't envision needing one of those either. He's usually happy if one of us is holding him, and whenever he gets fussy, a surefire way to break him out of it is to pick him up. If need be, one of us would be willing to walk around outside for a few minutes to calm him down.

        I'm kind of dreading this trip. Well, really dreading it honesly. I've travelled by car with the little guy, but this will be the first plane trip. I wouldn't choose to take an 8 month old on such a trip, but my only brother is getting married in Central Park, so we have to go.

        1. re: tara3056

          I've seen tons of strollers & babes in arms at Otto. It's typically pretty loud so the fussing kids don't really add additional noise. I'd ask for a table more towards the front -- another poster here thought the back room was way too loud. I'm partial to the bar, myself, but it'll be tough with a baby as it's all stool seating.

      2. I've seen babies at Ma Peche. The music is fairly loud so no one would probably notice a fussy baby (if your baby were to become fussy). The food is French-Vietnamese and delicious. Casual atmosphere. The restaurant is in the Chambers Hotel and has an elevator to the restaurant which is on the lower level (in case you have a stroller).

        EDIT: I think you'd be better at dinner since lunch can get very crowded. I prefer the dinner menu.

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        Ma Peche
        15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

        1. Just made it to torrisi italian specialties in soho/little italy and there were several small children about and it was totally fine - they do counter service style lunch with a large take out contingent so there are people coming and going and it wouldn't hardly be noticable at all. the food was fantastic, you have to get the turkey sandwich and eggplant parm, we really loved the antipasti (i woke up dreaming about the roasted cauliflower) and its a pretty good value too (not cheap but its hardly expensive and really excellent). for dinner i guess they do a 50/pp set menu that changes daily with a convaluded no-reservation policy that would involve waiting in line before they open for service and putting your name down, i think for this trip you'd wanna stick to lunch but its so so worth it.

          2 Replies
          1. re: tex.s.toast

            I went to Torrisi at 6:30 last night and did not have to wait for a table. I think that bringing a baby would be fine for an early dinner, but the small room gets very loud as it fills up.

            The food is very good Itatlian-American "home cooking" and the pastries are superb. Portions were much smaller than I expected, so I had an extra dessert somewhere else. (Payard)

            1. re: tex.s.toast

              Did you go for weekday lunch or weekend lunch? Were the lines really long?

              I found the dinner seating to be really cramped, though. The tables are basically on top of each other.

            2. There was an article in the NYT awhile back on fine dining with a baby and Gramercy Tavern was top of the list. I went to the front bar room for lunch with a friend and her baby and they were so nice and patient with the baby. I would highly recommend going for an early dinner (to avoid waiting). I definitely feel your pain as I have an 8 mo old myself and have been severely limited in my dining options. Our baby is in bed by 7 pm so we hire sitters for dinner, so it's difficult for me to recommend dinner options. Shake Shack on the UWS has stroller parking and high chairs. Landmarc at Columbus Circle is baby central at brunch time. I can't be certain, but I would think that restaurants that are attached to more touristy locales (maybe like Modern Bar Room for lunch or anything at Columbus Circle) would cater more to families than let's say, the trendy hipster places in lower east side. I also recommend bringing your moby wrap, ergo, or other carrier of choice to give yourself a larger radius and more mobility.

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              Gramercy Tavern
              42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003

              Landmarc
              10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

              1 Reply
              1. re: kim e

                Are you sure about Gramercy Tavern, tavern side, being infant friendly?
                I could see maybe a 2-3 p.m. lunch but outside of that? I would have to respectfully disagree with you (a first) and the New York Times (frequently).

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                Gramercy Tavern
                42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003