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Wanted: delicious, unique birthday meal for 3 including a toddler

My wife and two-year-old will be in NYC (from Toronto) in July for a wedding. Our stay will overlap with my wife's birthday. I'm looking for suggestions for meals (breakfast, lunch and/or dinner) that would be memorable, unparalleled in Toronto, and still reasonable to take a two-year-old. Anything jump to mind?

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  1. Your post title is a little misleading, I think. As it implies you're looking for a single big blowout birthday meal. But the body of the post says you want breakfast, lunch, and dinner recs.

    Kid friendly AND "unparalleled" in Toronto is setting your sights really high... I'm not sure if these are "unparalleled" but you could have a nice early dinner at Maialino, the Tavern Room at Gramercy Tavern, or Balthazar.

    What's your budget, per person, before tax and tip (and wine/drinks for you two)?

    See also:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/771149
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/821833
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/821532

    2 Replies
    1. re: kathryn

      Thanks Kathryn. My apologies for the inconsistencies. It's still early days and I'm not sure yet how the day should go. I would love a big blow-out dinner (on the early side due to toddler restrictions) for under $250 for the two (and a half) of us. My wife doesn't drink, so drink costs shouldn't be a major consideration, and she does not eat seafood.

      But we'll also need breakfast/brunch that day, methinks. Her birthday is on a weekday. I'm considering a picnic brunch in central park - if one could suggest somewhere to take away from - or a fun breakfast restaurant. Restaurants don't need to have a kids' menu, but a high chair would be great!

      1. re: Moonsammy

        Is it possible to try to get a sitter? For a big fancy dinner at that price range there are not a lot of toddler-appropriate restaurants. Especially since all the toddlers I know often get restless & want to run around partway through dinner.

        When the weather is nice, I've definitely seen a stroller or two around 5:30pm at Scarpetta's outside tables. But that is a risky plan given how quickly the weather can change here in the summer.

        If the weather is nice enough for a picnic, I'd start on the UWS and then go onto the park.

        You could stop at:
        Epicurie Boulud - 64th and Broadway
        Magnolia Bakery - 69th and Columbus
        Grandaisy Bakery - 72nd and Amsterdam
        Jacques Torres - 73rd and Amsterdam
        Luke's Lobster - 80th and Amsterdam

        There's also Citarella and Fairway, both on Broadway, near 74th-75th, as well as Zabar's on 80th and Broadway.

    2. What is the actual night of the birthday meal? Would make it somewhat easier if we could look at opentable to see who's got toddler-friendly (i.e. 5:00 / 5:30) openings that night. While those slots tend to be among the last to fill up, at some of the more popular places they could already be booked solid.

      I wouldn't do the Tavern Room at Gramercy Tavern, personally. With a child you -really- want a reservation, and that part of the resto is no-rez.

      Balthazar isn't a bad call on paper, since it's very boisterous and a potentially crying child would easily get lost in the din - that said the food. while delicious, isn't terribly creative or anything. If I only had limited time in NYC I'd probably go somewhere a bit "cheffier" so to speak, or for some type of cuisine that wasn't well-represented elsewhere.

      2 Replies
      1. re: sgordon

        Thanks for the reply, sgordon. I'm not so concerned about a crying baby, because our little guy is usually pretty happy to be at a restaurant... for the first 30 minutes. But I do want to make sure we're not disturbing others who fancy a silent-ish meal. We also have plenty of time to think about this. The date in question is July 30 (a Tuesday).

        1. re: sgordon

          My friends with young kids love to do early dinners at Balthazar. Since the tablecloth is paper, they give kids crayons to draw with.

        2. I asked a friend who is both discerning about food and has a young child. Although it's not "unparalleled in Toronto" it's a lovely place and they're very nice to children, he suggested Tobukei 86, which is on East 86th Street.

          Here's a Chowhound report on the place (not from me, but I've been there twice and really liked it):

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/548349

          1. For a two year old, I want reservations and freakishly fast service. At that age, I found that Asian restaurants generally did the trick. You could try to get a 5:30 reservation at Mission Chinese. Maybe sushi as long as it's not one of the top tier places (we used to do Blue Ribbon Sushi at that age although we haven't tried the Blue Ribbon on the LES yet). Almost anywhere in Chinatown will be amenable to children.

            I would also recommend that you bring a booster. Many of the downtown restaurants barely have room for patrons, let alone boosters or high chairs.

            1 Reply
            1. re: pernodoj

              Blue Ribbon Izakaya on the LES is very loud, though. Both from music and people dining. It's better on weekdays but on weekends you need to really raise your voice to be heard. This could work for you, as any noise won't be heard. And it's in a hotel with a lobby area next to the restaurant if the child wants to get up and take a walk partway through.

            2. Popover cafe on the upper west side is a very kid friendly casual breakfast/brunch/lunch option- and their popovers are excellent, they have open face popover sandwiches that arent fancy but are unique