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May 19, 2011 01:21 PM

Looking for good, family friendly dinner spot with great desserts

I'll be in Manhattan this upcoming Sunday with my wife and four year old, and recently read an article touting Serendipity 3 (and their desserts) as a great end to a busy day.

However after doing some more digging, it seems this place is somewhat of a tourist trap with huge lines and so-so food.

Is there anything like this in the midtown area with excellent desserts and dinner that's better than average? We're willing to travel a bit and not constrained by budget.

Serendipity 3
225 E 60th St, New York, NY 10022

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  1. Are you looking for American comfort food?

    If not, The Modern Bar Room has some of the best desserts in the city and is family friendly. The menu consists of Alsatian-inspired small plates.

    For great steak, try Keens, which also serves ice cream sundaes similar in spirit to Serendipity.

    72 West 36th St., New York, NY 10018

    The Modern
    9 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

    17 Replies
    1. re: peter j

      agree with these suggestions. You could also try Balthazaar, Craft or Maialino. The desserts at Babbo and Locanda Verde are also very good but they tend to be crowded and more noisy so they may not be family friendly enough. There's also Otto for a cheaper option.

      110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY 10011

      80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

      43 E. 19th St., New York, NY 10003

      Locanda Verde
      377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

      2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

      1. re: daffyduck

        These suggestions look great, but what concerns me is that according to another restaurant review site which shall not be named here, Modern Bar Room, Keens, Craft, Balthazar and Maialino are all listed as "not good for kids".

        Would you two feel comfortable bringing a well behaved four year old girl to any of these places? I'm pretty sensitive about these kinds of things and wouldn't dream of bringing my daughter to some of Seattle's finer restaurants.

        2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

        1. re: EggyWeg

          I was at Craft a few months ago and I was quite surprised to see as many kids as I did. I think if you go early, it is okay. Not saying I would bring my 4 year old son, as he does not sit still, but my daughter at age 4 would have been fine. Again, key is to go early.

          1. re: EggyWeg

            I've never seen kids at the Bar Room at the Modern. I've seen kids at Balthazar and Maialino but only during brunch.

            Of the five you listed, Keens and Balthazar are the most casual, BTW, if that helps. Maybe call the restaurants and ask?

            2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10010

            1. re: kathryn

              I see kids in the Bar Room all the time, usually accompanied by their parents on museum visits. I think the OP will be fine as long as he (or she) goes for an early dinner.

              I thought the OP was looking for a midtown venue?

              1. re: peter j

                I guess all the kids must be gone by the time I get there (7:30ish)...

                They did say they were willing to travel a bit.

                1. re: kathryn

                  That's right. I spaced out on the travel part.

              2. re: kathryn

                I've seen kids at Balthazar and Craft for dinner.

              3. re: EggyWeg

                I have seen families with young children at Keens during dinner. It's a perfect choice as it has exactly what you are looking for, i.e., delicious food, including wonderful desserts.

                Keens photos:


                1. re: RGR

                  Also good service and unusual decor. Perhaps the OP's four year old might enjoy the clippings, photos, pipes?

                  1. re: kathryn

                    Agree about the service. The charm of the Old NY ambiance is a plus. Though a 4-year-old is a bit too young to really appreciate the authentic Americana filling the walls, there is lots of eye appeal, including those pipes strung across the ceilings.


                  2. re: RGR

                    Hmm. As of last night I'd settled on Kefi as they get good reviews and have a kid's menu, followed by a milkshake from Shake Shack. However I do love a good steak and Keen's looks amazing.

                    Now I"m thinking an early (6pm-ish) Keen's dinner may be just what the doctor ordered.

                    505 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024

                    Shake Shack
                    366 Columbus Ave, New York, NY 10024

                    1. re: EggyWeg

                      I love Keens for their mutton chop and porterhouse for 2 but that's about it for me. I wouldn't call their desserts great. I have heard good things about their red bible but it looks like it is no longer on the menu.
                      here are some more kid friendly restaurants.

                      1. re: daffyduck

                        That's an interesting list, but I'm not sure that any of those restaurants are known for good desserts.

                        1. re: H Manning

                          i haven't had dessert at any of those restaurants. I was just trying to provide more options.

                        2. re: daffyduck

                          I think it depends on what kind of dessert one is looking for. It certainly is not a place for creative, stylish (upscale) desserts. However, since EggyWeg was originally thinking of taking his 4-year-old to Serendipity, in the realm of ice cream sundaes and that ilk (we love the Coffee Cantata), Keens does a great job.


                          1. re: RGR

                            I agree that Keen's would be perfect. The food, service, and surroundings would be a thrill. If you do go be sure to ask at the desk if someone can give you a tour - they are so nice like that!

              4. Cafe Sabarsky in the Neue Galley makes and serves pretty good Austrian dessert ... easily the best i've had in the city. Plenty of desserts and chocolate/coffee beverages to choose from. The savory dishes are not bad, either.
                Until 9 pm on Thursday to Sunday only; otherwise until 6 pm.


                Cafe Sabarsky
                1048 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028

                2 Replies
                1. re: RCC

                  This looks wonderful. I want to come to New York just to eat here (my grandfather was from Austria). Thanks, RCC.

                  In general, I think a *well-behaved* four-year-old will be welcome anywhere.

                  1. re: RCC

                    very good rec! slipped my mind

                  2. If you are willing to head down to the Village, Otto does work really well with kids while still tasty for adults and their gelato (esp olive oil) is great!!

                    1 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Bloombee

                      Otto does look great and has a good reputation, but I think I may have the only four year old in America who doesn't like pizza. (I mean, really?)

                      1. re: EggyWeg

                        If she likes pasta, then she'll have a good selection at Otto, which is also famous for gelato as mentioned above.

                    2. It sounds like you want Good Enough to Eat (Amsterdam Ave. and 84th) or Bubby's (on Hudson St. and N. Moore): Very casual, comfort food, great desserts. Neither will break the bank.

                      Good Enough to Eat
                      483 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

                      Bubby's Pie Co.
                      120 Hudson St, New York, NY 10013

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mahler5

                        I have not been to either place in years so I can't comment on the food, but depending on how far the OP is willing to travel, neither place is close to midtown.

                      2. So for what it's worth, we wound up going to Keens last night and had a great time. Not a single staff member made our daughter feel anything but welcome, and we actually were one of many families.

                        The food was great, though we wound up splitting a T-Bone to save room for dessert. The hot fudge sundae was solid, and they even gave us extra cherries on top for our cherry-obsessed girl.

                        Thanks so much for making it a memorable meal, chowhounds!

                        2 Replies
                          1. re: EggyWeg

                            Thanks for reporting back, EggyWeg. So happy to hear that your family enjoyed your experience at Keens.