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Couple brings crying baby to three star Michelin restaurant.....;

From Eater and the twitterverse, a table brings an 8 month old baby to Alinea who proceeds to cry and other diners are disturbed.
This is an interesting article with food writers weighing in as well as when is it appropriate to take a baby to a fine dining restaurant, if ever.

http://eater.com/archives/2014/01/13/...

There is now even an @alineababy twitter account where hilarity continues.

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  1. I hate that even in the no-star restaurants where I eat.

    1. "Three, in case something comes up (like, say, a babysitter canceling on you), the restaurant allows you to either sell or give away your ticket."

      So the couple chose to ignore this option, I guess.

      And a Yelp review from the baby. ;-)

      http://www.yelp.com/user_details?user...

      11 Replies
      1. re: LindaWhit

        HIlarious! That and the babyalinea twitter account made my morning!

        1. re: LindaWhit

          According to their Facebook page tickets run about $220-$250 each. I'm bringing the baby.

          1. re: ennuisans

            Yeah, but you wouldn't have to pay for the baby. And you can sell the ticket.

            I'm sorry - allowing a child to scream throughout a 13-course meal is just plain rude to everyone else in the restaurant.

              1. re: ennuisans

                I am asking for straws for every guest at my table and peppering you with non stop spit balls.

              2. re: LindaWhit

                I couldn't find a review through the link, but I do see that he 'has no friends'.

                1. re: mwhitmore

                  Ahhh, SHOOT. Yelp, in all of it's stupid wisdom, pulled the funny "review" down. Dambit. Let me see if Google Cache got it.

                  Yup, they did! For your reading pleasure, mwhitmore. :-)

                  http://webcache.googleusercontent.com...

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    That was brilliant! Thanks for the link.

                    1. It is so rare and such a treat for me to go to a fine dining restaurant that if I was seated near a crying baby I would probably start crying myself. It's clear that the chef was flummoxed on what to do as well

                      1. Alinea needs more fine print in their rules. The burden to avoid this predictable disaster resides with the parents, and diners should not have been subjected to the annoyance.
                        Chuy's in Austin has a nice, simple sign on their door.
                        "No crybabies"
                        For that investment, get a reliable babysitter. Get two. I have never heard of a babysitter cancelling.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Veggo

                          "No crybabies" is perfect, since it can take care of the adult cry babies as well.

                          Btw, some I knew in NYC had a problem with babysitters cancelling frequently. Every time the babysitters would get an audition, they'd cancel. Probably not as much of a problem in Chicago as NYC.

                          I don't have a problem with sleeping or quiet babies (or babies who cry for a bit, then settle down) at Michelin starred restaurants (or any nice restaurant). It's uncontrolled , poorly behaved children running around that get on my nerves.

                          1. re: prima

                            An audition that conflicts with an evening dinner reservation? Really?

                            1. re: chicgail

                              Who said what profession they are auditioning in?

                            2. re: prima

                              I guess those parents (generally) just need to suck it up and miss their dinners if they are employing this class of babysitters!! Have to be realistic and put the interests of the the other diners ahead of the res - then too, its really not fun to be at dinner - for what is likely to be a multi-hour meal - wondering when a child is going to start fussing or hanging around in the ladies room, foyer or street outside a restaurant waiting for an unhappy child to calm down.

                          2. I brought my 4 month old to Osteria Francescana a few months ago, however, she didn't cry once, it was at lunch, and we checked with the restaurant when booking it.

                            The chef came out to meet her/us and said not to worry at all about bringing her.

                            We also brought her to dinner at Il Falconiere where she cried for a few minutes but was fine otherwise. No one cared.

                            She's recently been to a bunch of places in Hawaii without issue like Mama's Fish House and Alan Wong's.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: rob1234

                              Be thankful you have a really quiet baby.

                              EDIT: And I say this because it makes your dining out life easier for you and for others. I'm saying with no snark intended. I know quite a few people who had kids in the last year and I honestly feel bad for them because they have colicky or constantly upset children.

                              1. re: cornedhash

                                "Be thankful you have a really quiet baby."

                                I'll second that one. For me, kid #1 attended dinner at a few somewhat upscale restaurants. The dinners were timed early and against her nap schedule and she slept through them. She only ever cried in one restaurant, and on that occasion I pulled her out and into the parking lot within 30 seconds -- which I think is part of the implicit contract that parents have when they bring their kids to a restaurant...

                                Kid #2, noisy and not a good sleeper, will probably not experience a fine dining restaurant until he's 16 or so ;-) ... Again, it's all part of the implicit contract.

                                What ever happened to common sense?

                                1. re: cornedhash

                                  Whenever I eat out and see a table with calm baby just sucking milk from her bottle, I look at her parents and the baby..and then I look at parents again and the baby...and the repeat. It's unthinkable with my 2 little ones.

                                  When my first one was little, we had to go out of town and stayed at a hotel. we booked the hotel restaurant early but my little one just couldn't do it...crying and all so we had to pack everything up and bring the food to the room. Never had dinner at a restaurant with her since then.

                                  1. re: Monica

                                    I was one of those "just quiet" babies. My parents joke that they could sit me on the floor with a toy, anything even a piece of string, and I'd sit there and not make a sound. I'm still like that to this day which I guess is why I find myself as a pathologist - can sit for long hours without making noise :)

                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                      Your parents must have done some holy things in their previous life to have such a calm baby. lol
                                      My first one was the colickiest baby...i am so glad it's over though she still is a bit fussy with clothes and all.

                                      1. re: Monica

                                        Yea, when they complain about me I remind them how lucky they are :)

                                        1. re: Bellachefa

                                          In a chair playing with slides, kind of the same thing

                                2. We brought our 3 month old at the time to Marea. We did go early, and knowing that the baby usually sleeps at that time. On the same trip, we went to Esca but the baby was up and crying. The staff acted like it was no big deal but after not being able to calm her down on the sidewalk, my wife took the baby back to the hotel. I asked our remaining food be wrapped up to go and then went back to the hotel. If these people have any common sense or courtesy, this would never become an issue.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                    Wordlwide Diner, you have restored my faith in civility.

                                  2. We once ate at a very expensive French restaurant with our friends - with their two-week old infant asleep under the table in her carrier... she didn't make a peep all meal, but if she had, dinner would have been aborted fast! Non-mobile infants can be completely non-obtrusive in a restaurant, as long as they're asleep, and babies that age sleep for hours. But as soon as they wake up, you need to get them out of there for the sake of everyone else in the place!

                                    12 Replies
                                    1. re: Kajikit

                                      You're friends with a couple who brought a TWO WEEK OLD INFANT to a restaurant? Any restaurant? And stowed the newborn UNDER THE TABLE?

                                      Are these friends 16-year olds?

                                      1. re: RedTop

                                        Back in the day aka the 80s (in Germany) I would often be scooted off by the chef and waitstaff to the back to hang out while my parents enjoyed dinner. I'm not sure that flies these days but back then all seemed to benefit.

                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                          When my son was about 8, we used to patronize an Italian restaurant where the proprietor would invite him into the back to help make pizza. (See my comments down-thread about the advantages of patronizing mom & pop restos where the owners dote on children.)

                                          1. re: masha

                                            So true, they would love when my parents came in for dinner.

                                            1. re: masha

                                              I hope the kitchen made sure your son washed his hands. Still, it's a good solution in that situation. I'm sure your son loved it.

                                              1. re: chicgail

                                                I think that the pizza he made was for his own consumption, but still you are correct. And note that no "solution" was needed. My son at age 8 had impeccable table manners, derived from years of eating out at a wide range of restaurants, including fine-dining venues, especially when we were traveling -- but no fine-dining venues until he was about 3 or 4. We were dining with my inlaws, who were regulars at the resto and I think the staff just thought it would be a fun thing to do. Indeed, I suspect if he had been acting badly they would not have taken him into the kitchen.

                                          2. re: RedTop

                                            Much safer bet to have a quiet two-week old baby than an eight-month old baby. Most newborns sleep a lot...almost round the clock...and even have to be wakened to eat. And their cries aren't so loud yet.

                                            1. re: jlhinwa

                                              Yet. But at eight months in a Michelin restaurant, they are like Air Raid sirens.

                                            2. re: RedTop

                                              for pete sake, why not? a newborn can be really easy that way as long as he/she is at the right point in its feeding cycle and wrapped up warmly., much easier than older babies who have fully woken up. These parents made a good choice in going out then rather than later.

                                              1. re: jen kalb

                                                I took my robustly healthy baby out in public at two weeks. Not frequently, but on a few occasions. Probably the germiest and busiest place I took her was the pediatrician's office in those first months.

                                                1. re: mcf

                                                  I agree with you. Newborns are not *that* fragile.

                                          3. I agree a noisy child shouldn't be allowed in a nice restaurant.

                                            HOWEVER, Alinea created this problem themselves. By strictly enforcing its no-refund policy, they are encouraging this occur when child care snafus occur.

                                            If they would have allowed this couple to rebook, the entire situation would be avoided.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: DukeFan

                                              Alinea did not create the problem. You can say as a result of Alinea's no refund policy, these people felt compelled to bring their kid to the restaurant or else risk forfeiting their money. The actual cause of the problem is these people not having a baby sitter for whatever reason.

                                              1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                I'm not even sure they had a last minute baby sitter cancellation. I've heard it alluded to some, but no real confirmation on why they felt compelled to bring a baby to an expensive adult venue.

                                                1. re: Firegoat

                                                  You raise a broader question, not just the convenience of bringing the child but of how appropriate it is to assume that very young children need to be socialized to adult environments. Last night at a restaurant that is hardly "fine dining" but clearly an adult kind of place, lots of barbecue and beer and late in the evening and crowded and VERY noisy, we were seated next to a couple that not only had brought their two year-old but the occasion was the celebration of HIS birthday (a cake with candle was brought). The little boy cried through part of dinner. Surely he was confused by the scene, the menu was absolutely wrong for a kid that age, and the hour was late.

                                                2. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                  The couple had another option, which is for one of them to stay home and the other one to go with a friend in place of the spouse. The couple had a lot of options, and they chose to exercise the one that benefited them most, regardless of the impact on others. And I'm a parent, so I know the disappointed feeling of plans being thrown up in the air because the baby gets sick or child care doesn't work out.

                                              2. This story rec'd an incredible amount of press.

                                                1. Just think if a waiter or hostess had tweeted this instead of the chef they would have likely been fired and this would be a completely different story.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Firegoat

                                                    "We do not allow any form of disruptive behavior by any guest which may cause our other guests to be inconvenienced in any way. Clearly stated that means the staff will immediately require the offending guest, whatever their age to leave our restaurant immediately. We not have a refund policy."
                                                    At one time I was aware of a 'hot list' of customer' names who had been kicked out of local restaurants. Once on that list good luck reserving a table.

                                                    1. re: Puffin3

                                                      I've no problem with a restaurant setting out its terms of doing business (within the law) and if that includes a "no children" rule then I'm fine with that.

                                                      In terms of Puffin3's "hot list", bars in my area have an agreement, encouraged by the police, of "banned in one, banned in all". There's evidence that it does reduce disruptive behaviour and I hope that the scheme gets extended to include local restaurants.

                                                  2. There is a reason when my children were young, under two let's say, we ate at every Chinese Buffet - Old Country Buffet or Apple Bee's within a 30 mile radius of where we lived.

                                                    The responsibility completely falls on the parents who had NO business bringing a child that age to a restaurant of that caliber. I LOVE pampering myself.....however at no point do I feel my pleasure should come at someone else's expense. That is just wrong in my opinion.

                                                    11 Replies
                                                    1. re: jrvedivici

                                                      So, you start with the assumption that diners at Applebees and the like are feeling no pleasure, with or without screaming meemies nearby?...:)

                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                        Sorry, let me clarify; when my children were younger (under 2-ish) I made the decision to only dine in what is considered more family orientated, non-fine dining establishments. :-)

                                                        Places with puzzle place mats, crayons and balloons!

                                                        1. re: jrvedivici

                                                          Not to mention that the pace of service is much faster at such family-oriented restaurants than a tasting menu at a place like Alinea.

                                                          Aside from family-oriented chains, we found that Mom & Pop ethnic eateries (Thai, Indian, Chinese, Italian) were good venues for a child of that age, as the proprietors tended to dote on the baby and again were used to turning their tables pretty quickly.

                                                          Indeed, our 1st foray to a restaurant with our infant son was to a neighborhood Thai restaurant where we had been regulars for years. We figured if he acted up, we'd just ask them to wrap the dinner and we'd take it home. In fact, they were so happy to see us, as it had been months since we'd been there, that the college-age son who ran the FOH actually carried our son in his arms as he did his job, so we could eat. (Entirely his idea.)

                                                          1. re: masha

                                                            I can remember getting kicked out of Chinese restaurants in Queens, on the surface at least, because of my kid brother.

                                                            We avoided MANY a night out for YEARS after one time in Napa when my son was an infant. Modified THAT behavior, yesireee..and got a babysitter that travelled with us far and wide for 13 years. We make up for it now, son included! We are blessed/lucky/fortunate.

                                                            1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                              There are exceptions to every rule, of course. Our regular Chinese restaurant when our son was young (and now) knew him by name and asked about him whenever we ate there without him. Of course, by the time we were bringing him there as a toddler, my husband had been eating lunch there about 1/week for 10 years, so it's not that surprising that our child was welcome. That, and the fact that we were responsible parents who insisted from day 1 that our son have age-appropriate table manners both at home and at restaurants -- which for a toddler means, no playing with the utensils, using one's "inside" voice, and staying seated the entire meal.

                                                        2. re: jrvedivici

                                                          I agree with the buffets, but I don't think of any restaurant that has a center prominent bar like applebee's as being a family bring your infants kind of place.

                                                          1. re: Firegoat

                                                            I'd say any restaurant that has a children's menu and high chairs is fair game in my book. And Applebee's does.

                                                          2. re: jrvedivici

                                                            I don't see that "caliber" has anything to do with it. Children who have not yet learned to behave do not belong in any restaurant or other place of public accomodation where civilized behavior should be expected.

                                                            1. re: GH1618

                                                              "Children who have not yet learned to behave do not belong in any restaurant or other place of public accomodation where civilized behavior should be expected."

                                                              That's a pretty broad statement......everyday I see "children" of every age range who lack the manners and common civility to be considered civilized behavior. The 30 year old who can't handle his booze, the loud talker at the table next to you, the person who doesn't cover their nose/mouth when they sneeze, by your barometer I don't think I could ever eat out again!!

                                                              While I'm poking a little fun at your comment I do over all tend to agree with you. Thankfully my children were always fairly well behaved. Regardless if they got cranky -or- even if their happy screams /screeches which might be music to my ears, but an annoyance to others, I would remove them and take a walk etc. It all comes down to common respect for all parties, an overly joyful baby could be just as annoying as a crying one.

                                                          3. Ah, yes, the me generation. Rare is the squalling baby who doesn't respond to a calmative such as brandy or 6 oz. of merlot.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: beevod

                                                              My dear old Mennonite mother never had a single problem with us kids 'acting out' or whatever it's called these days wherever we went.
                                                              "If you want to cry I will give you something to cry about this very minute right here and now. (The fantasy that because we were 'in public' and therefore we could get away with misbehaving was always that: a myth.) And when I get you home you are not going to be able to sit down for a week!"
                                                              She meant every word.
                                                              Another favorite was "children are to be seen not heard".
                                                              AB wrote about when he was a kid in France he and his brother would 'act out' in restaurants until one day his parents went to a 'fancy' restaurant and left him and his brother sitting in the car. That cured him he wrote.

                                                              1. re: Puffin3

                                                                Dude, I told that "children are meant to be seen and not heard" to some friends and they were absolutely shocked that my mother would ever say that to me. WHAT?? How else are you supposed to behave in public, what the hell?

                                                                1. re: Puffin3

                                                                  The "I'll give you something to cry about" line was verbal child abuse. It scared the s#it out of me and made me hyperventilate and choke on my snotty tears in a complete panic even though I was rarely physically disciplined, and always with a restrained hand. They learned that that particular threat didn't difuse me.

                                                                2. re: beevod

                                                                  "Rare is the squalling baby who doesn't respond to a calmative such as brandy or 6 oz. of merlot."

                                                                  For whom?

                                                                  1. Unless a baby was predictably extremely well-behaved (and I will allow, there are some such babies out there....just not any I personally know), I cannot imagine the thought process the parents had in deciding to bring an infant with them that evening. I will allow for the cancelled babysitter scenario as a possibility, but you would hope that when planning a nice night out such as dining at a 3* restaurant, backup plans would have been considered.

                                                                    Ignoring all the other guests for a moment, I cannot imagine how the parents could have enjoyed that meal. If I had a screaming child and no relief in sight, my stomach would have seized up and there is no way I would have been able to choke anything down, much less keep it down.

                                                                    I know the subject of this discussion is a screaming infant but I will add my two cents and say that I don't think unacceptable disruption is limited to children or babies. As a guest in the restaurant, I would be equally appalled by loud and obnoxious drunks, a fighting couple, or any other public spectacle caused by adults. I am much less in favor of a blanket policy (i.e., no children under the age of xxx) and more in favor of a policy that excludes major disruption of any kind. Of course, that requires common sense to administer.....

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: jlhinwa

                                                                      Completely agree. When my son was 8 months old the idea of going to anything remotely like Alinea was out of the cards. That kind of experience was meant for the pre-baby life. Or for a night we had a babysitter. My son at that age was well behaved but crap, he was still an infant. You never know when a perfectly happy moment is going to turn into a perfectly chaotic one.

                                                                      I think for some it's hard to get used to the fact that you actually do have to change your life when the baby arrives. It's just how it works. It means certain things are off the table. I'm not of the camp that as a parent you have to suddenly lose everything you want and need but at the same time you have to think about the situations you're in a little more carefully. I am of the mind that while I adore my little son, the world is not supposed to accommodate him for every little thing.

                                                                      And jlhinwa, I'm also with you on having a general policy against disruptive patrons in general. It's easy to point fingers at only babies and kids and parents (and I realize the original topic is all focused on a baby); I've had some meals ruined by annoying adults at a nearby table.

                                                                    2. Lots of opinions here, so I'll just raise a point that I haven't seen addressed yet...

                                                                      Alinea has the right to refuse service to whoever it chooses, right? So, if Achatz had such an issue with the crying baby because it was disturbing his other patrons, why couldn't he have stopped dinner service for the couple, asked them to leave and refunded them their $500? The cynic in me says its because he didn't want to lose the $500. Which is fine and dandy, but then based if I'm a parent and booked a non-refundable ticket and my babysitter flaked, you can bet I'm going and hoping for the best (I know this last sentence is conjecture and do not know the real thought process behind why the kid was brought.)

                                                                      I'm assuming it has nothing to do with not wanting to offend the parents, as by spewing to the media, the parents are likely humiliated already.

                                                                      To be clear, I'm not defending the parents, as what they did certainly wasn't socially acceptable. However, I'm not convinced that Achatz doesn't deserve some criticism here.

                                                                      17 Replies
                                                                      1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                        For $500, you can criticize me until midnight. Tomorrow is another day. Parents should tar and feather the supposed baby sitter who flaked out. I smell a rat in the woodpile here.

                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                          Totally agreed. Its really tough to make a judgment one way or the other without hearing all sides of the story. The reality could range from a) clueless, obnoxious, self-entitled trust fund baby couple who didn't really give a rat's ass because they wanted to eat at Alinea with their infant to b) middle class couple who've saved up for a long time for a special occasion and the baby sitter flaked on them. My opinion of the entire thing would change heavily based on what the truth is.

                                                                          1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                            And in either case, Alinea should not have to take it in the shorts. If the distraction to other diners was protracted and noticeable, management had every right to ask the threesome to leave, maybe with a doggie bag, and they are out the balance of $500. Live and learn. They will learn.

                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                              Yeah, we'd probably differ on that, but it's all cool. I mean, I get if Alinea wants to kick them out, but unless its explicitly stated somewhere that no crying kids are allowed, I for one would quickly call Amex to cancel the charge for services not rendered.

                                                                              I just see it as a cost of doing business. Sometimes, you have to eat some profit to keep your clientele happy, even when you've done nothing wrong. Happens all the time in every type of business. Happens to me as a finance guy daily, and I hate it, but sometimes it just is the way the cookie crumbles.

                                                                              Less seriously, could you imagine if they doggie bagged up whatever courses had not been served :) Hopefully, they would at least put them in sous vide bags or something!

                                                                              1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                Too many people want to slough off their problems to innocent others. It's difficult to distinguish between the pros and the temporarily misbegotten.

                                                                                1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                  Probably should kick them out. The question is what happens then, which illustrates a few problems with the 3-star Michelin model.

                                                                                  Because of the restricted supply and razor-thin margins you get draconian cancellation policies. Add that to a good amount of aspirational dining, which means you have a lot less social pressure (vs. being a repeat diner) and probably less fear-of-god etiquette drilled into you and people do crazy things. Ideally the onus would then be on the (expensive) restaurant to help you out in a bad situation. But again, because of the massive value they have to offer to be competitive and the less repeat nature of the custom the restaurant won't do it. And you get a horrific experience for one party and the general stress of having something appalling like this happen discourages others.

                                                                                  1. re: eastofthemississippi

                                                                                    Alinea passed the risk of cancellations onto diners by selling tickets. Grant Achatz said it just got too complicated and expensive to staff phones and have to accommodate late cancellations so now you prepay and can swap out the tickets (via private transactions) on their website if you have to cancel. For many this is once-in-a-lifetime dining so that means the people at the other tables have a certain level of expectation for their dollar that doesn't necessarily include another couple's baby fussing.

                                                                                    1. re: ferret

                                                                                      At the same time, by passing that risk onto the diners, it forces diners who might otherwise act rationally (ie not bring a baby) to instead bring the baby and not have $500 flow straight down the drain. It cuts both ways...

                                                                                      1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                        It's a low-volume/high-demand restaurant that provides a forum for people to privately sell unusable tickets. It doesn't invite people to bring babies any more than the opera or ballet invites people to bring babies because they paid in advance.

                                                                                        1. re: ferret

                                                                                          definitely didn't know about the ability to sell tickets... would clearly skew my stance on this one...

                                                                                    2. re: eastofthemississippi

                                                                                      I am appalled by the number of self-absorbed people who reserve at 2 or 3 restos, same time, and blow off the ones they don't use without a second thought or tinge of guilt.

                                                                                  2. re: Veggo

                                                                                    Alinea operates on a ticketing scheme. The diner pays in advance. If it was me anticipating a potential $500 hit I'd make sure I had iron-clad babysitting coverage. What if thy had tickets to the Stanley Cup final or a family wedding or the ballet? I don't mind being judgmental here, I think it was a selfish act.

                                                                                    1. re: ferret

                                                                                      Right, but think about what you're proposing... Iron-clad babysitting coverage... which means what? Booking 2 babysitters? So now, you're going to likely screw over the alternate babysitter by holding her commitment until the primary one arrives?

                                                                                      Humorous note: I guess you could do what Alinea does and promise to pay the alternate babysitter, regardless of whether he / she is used or not?

                                                                                      Side note: to take your examples, where I see your intent... Stanley Cup final? Sure, its a raucous event, more hassle for me, but I'd bring the infant. Family wedding? Sure, it's family and I can always walk outside with the kid. Ballet? Hahahaha. I'd never pay $500 for ballet tickets.

                                                                                  3. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                    I don't know if "what the truth is" is relevant. I'm not sure under what circumstances its o.k to disrupt other diners in such a fashion. I do agree with you that I'd like to know both sides but I just have a hard time with a screaming infant in that atmosphere.

                                                                                    1. re: HoosierFoodie

                                                                                      Agree completely HF. Even if it was a couple who scrimped & saved for a special night out and the babysitter let them down, I cannot envision how that justifies their actions. Maybe with a 2 mo. old infant, who could reasonably be expected to sleep through dinner in a car carrier under the table, but not an 8 mo. old, who could not be expected to "behave" for multiple hours in his/her parents' arms during what to him/her would be a very boring experience. If the parents could afford to eat at Alinea, they could afford to absorb the cost of forfeiting the meal, or giving their tickets to a friend. Sure it would have been disappointing for them, but it does not justify the abject rudeness of foisting a wailing baby on other patrons.

                                                                                      1. re: masha

                                                                                        Every couple around them could have been scrimping and saving for THEIR special night.

                                                                                      2. re: HoosierFoodie

                                                                                        Yeah, I think the parents are wrong no matter what. I guess how hard I come down in the judgment would be driven by the circumstance.

                                                                                2. I'd be interested in hear what oner diners who were there actually thought.

                                                                                  1. Perhaps the parents didn't want to leave baby with strange hotel sitter (understandable and may be the case if they were out of towners); in that case, don't go!!

                                                                                    I'm reminded of a line from a short lived Bob Newhart series from the 90's. Newhart to his son Jason Bateman, a new father casually thinking of leaving baby with grandpa for an evening: "With you, we went straight from Dr. No to Moonraker." :-)

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: ceekskat

                                                                                      "Perhaps the parents didn't want to leave baby with strange hotel sitter (understandable and may be the case if they were out of towners); in that case, don't go!!"

                                                                                      Totally agree.
                                                                                      There is some pretty darn good takeout these days too!

                                                                                      Get a pie---order room-service, rent a flick via the hotel web and gift your fine-dining reservation to a relative or co-worker or heck, a random stranger on the street.

                                                                                      You can laugh and tell the story when your adult, Ivy-educated kiddo takes YOU out--in your 70s or 80s.

                                                                                      1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                        I have the Ivy part and the take the 80's parent out part, a wonderful visit with my mom in CT after 6 years! Thanks for refreshing last summer's visit!

                                                                                    2. Crain's Chicago has weighed in with this opinion piece: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/articl...

                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: masha

                                                                                        Fun article. More restos should embrace Chuy's sign on their door in Austin: NO CRYBABIES. We suffer enough on aircraft.

                                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                                          Airline disaster, weather delays in Houston, we're circling around Austin for 2 1/2 hours. Lady by window, "Oh my God!" Baby in middle, "WAHH", me on aisle, "Drinks please!" Gilhooley's Restaurant in San Leon near Galveston Bay does not allow children. Great charbroiled oysters + no children = dare I say nirvana? I didn't say it, I'm leaving this up to you Veggo.

                                                                                          http://www.seriouseats.com/2008/05/gi...

                                                                                          1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                            We pray for a pause in the weather. And Texas pilots are pretty good at threading the camel through the eye of the needle, with great instruments and graphics.
                                                                                            Amen.

                                                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                                                              The delay was actually pretty short. Those pilots are good. I can't remember if this was the landing on the 6000 ft runway while the intersection of the main two at Hobby were out. The take off on the 6000 footer was a real white knuckler. Runway clear zones at that distance are minimal at best, nothing could ever go wrong, could it?

                                                                                      2. Had an adult been in the restaurant, drunk out of his or her mind, and started making lots of noise and being disruptive/or offensively loud, they would have been asked to leave the premises. No ageism here. If an infant is crying and disturbing other diners..the parents should be asked to leave. I'm amazed at how inconsiderate people can be......

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: jarona

                                                                                          I've yet to see it happen in the numerous times I've been subjected to disruptive adults.

                                                                                        2. my son who was breastfed was brought to many fine dining establishments

                                                                                          1. I've been disturbed by overly loud adults a hell of a lot more often than crying babies. I bet they don't tell them to leave though.

                                                                                            1. Of course, all of this just confirms what I've been saying for a long time:

                                                                                              Americans reproduce too much. The gene pool has become diluted.

                                                                                              1. That's why I eat at bars whenever possible. Hopefully that allow smoking.

                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: BubblyOne

                                                                                                  Yeah, damn those kids! You were never one I suppose.

                                                                                                    1. re: BubblyOne

                                                                                                      I will take one that can be born at 8.

                                                                                                2. I have no problem with babies in fine dining establishments. The parents take a gamble that it may go well and have a lovely evening. Babies will act up. I have no problem listening to a crying baby for a few minutes as mom and dad frantically try to calm their child. It happens. I have no problem with my two hour meal being interrupted a few times while the parents swap out the baby and return outside to continue trying to calm the baby.

                                                                                                  What I have a problem with is when the baby can't be consoled within a few minutes. The restaurant, the staff should not have to do anything. Quite simply mom takes baby outside or too the car. Dad eats a course and then takes baby outside while mom eats her course. They eat in shifts in the least disruptive way possible to other patrons. That's a simple part of parenting. Sometimes you have to eat in shifts.

                                                                                                  15 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                                    The suggestion of taking turns eating courses and minding the baby may work at a more traditional restaurant that serves a la carte menus, such that there are only 3 courses served over an extended span of time. It would not work with Alinea's 13-course tasting menu, given that each course is only a few bites and the timing between courses is not as extended as with a more traditional 3 course meal. My point being that the parents should have realized that bringing the baby was inappropriate and unworkable, unless they were prepared to simply bail on dinner if the child became restless and noisy (which, as I stated upthread, was entirely predictable for a baby of this age, who is too old to be expected to sleep through the meal).

                                                                                                    1. re: masha

                                                                                                      no reason why the could not continue the normal sequence of bringing courses - of course its awkward and maybe makes a less perfect experience for the diners and the choreaography is less elegant from the server's side,, but the diners are already having a less than perfect experience - I guess they would prefer that to bailing altogether in the situation?

                                                                                                      1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                                        I suspect that I would bail and sue the restaurant for a refund.

                                                                                                        The real problem here is the collapse of public behaviour on all fronts. At one time the rule was consideration for others. That would obviate taking the child in the first place. it would also prevent the restaurant from allowing the howling to continue. One problem is that people are so accustomed to Junior's noises that they think others are too..like yelling at a deaf spouse, a person gets used to yelling. Mommy and daddy get cabin fever and want to go out so they take the heir with them. So what if it is screaming--that's normal
                                                                                                        Not in my world and I don't want to hear it.. Or your drunk boyfriend either. The two cases are of a piece.

                                                                                                        These people should not have taken the infant in the frst place and Alinea should not have let it in. Sue 'em go ahead. If I am on the jury the restaurant get off and gets legal fees.

                                                                                                        There was a BEst Of food writing piece that I found appalling a few years back =where in a critic talked about going out to restaurants and taking his infant/young son with him. It was seen as cute bonding. it was, in fact, self-centered and selfish.

                                                                                                        Consideration , which includes dress, involves anticipating problems and keeping them to a minimum.

                                                                                                        1. re: hazelhurst

                                                                                                          I liked one of the initial responses to the brouhaha which was basically, should they have a sign on the door or the web that says no babies? Should they have a sign that says ' Yes, pants required?'
                                                                                                          A lot of common courtesy and common sense are no longer so common.

                                                                                                          1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                            "A lot of common courtesy and common sense are no longer so common"

                                                                                                            Sad, but true. And I would bet that 99% of the issues that show up on this and the NAF boards wouldn't be issues if common sense and common courtesy *were* common.

                                                                                                        2. re: jen kalb

                                                                                                          As I understand it (have not been there) a meal at a restaurant like Alinea is more like a performance than just a meal. Courses are presented, there are special effects like smoke and foam that are not going to wait, and are certainly not intended to be packed up to go.

                                                                                                          So it's for the same reason that theatrical performances request people to turn off their phones and do not let latecomers be seated until intermission. They are working hard to create a fantastic performance and do not want the experience spoiled for the entire audience by interruptions.

                                                                                                          1. re: pamf

                                                                                                            There aren't "special effects." It's not theater in that sense. It's that there are presentations that set a mood. For example, there was a dessert course that was presented in a section of birch bark with a sprig of pine and with frozen rocks covered in edible peppermint snow with a cup of distilled clear hot cocoa sitting on a tiny log and some other treats. It smelled of winter, had the cold sensation of snow followed by the warmth of the cocoa.

                                                                                                            Cutesy? Sure. Too cutesy? Probably. Memorable (and delicious)? Absolutely.

                                                                                                            1. re: ferret

                                                                                                              I was there some years ago when it was still considered a "new" restaurant, and for one of the courses the server put down a plate that contained, among other things, a small inverted glass container. He lifted the container and out wafted some amazing earth-scented smoke, which if I remember correctly you were supposed to inhale while eating a carrot-based dish...really amazing. And not a screaming baby in sight.

                                                                                                              1. re: medrite

                                                                                                                And it's *those* types of presentations that one pays to experience at Alinea.

                                                                                                                Not a screaming baby.

                                                                                                                1. re: medrite

                                                                                                                  Thanks to medrite and ferret for the first hand explanations.

                                                                                                                  "Special effects" was meant to be a short-hand way of saying that it is an experience that needs to be enjoyed in the moment.

                                                                                                                  1. re: medrite

                                                                                                                    Is that molecular gastronomy again?

                                                                                                          2. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                                            There is so little known about the details of this story. How much the baby cried. How the parents acted. How the waitstaff acted. The duration of the crying.

                                                                                                            Yes, eating in shifts would not be ideal, but under the circumstance, the kitchen could certainly offer each parent a couple of tastings back to back rather then the long wait between courses. Like chef said, they have had many occasions of infants with no problem.

                                                                                                            What I find curious is that with a story that has gone so viral, there has been complete silence from a full restaurant of staff and patrons as far as I can tell. If I was there that night and the baby remained in the dining room for an extended period of time, I would be talking about it. Where is the posts to the media that a baby ruined 8 of our 15 courses and we deserve a refund story?

                                                                                                            1. re: Bellachefa

                                                                                                              yeah so many of these stories just invite people to reflect back upon all the times they've been annoyed at babies in their lives. I too would like to hear the full story. These threads (just wait for it to be shut down) *always* devolve into "Parents These Days". And I'm sure people were talking about "Parents These Days" 50 and 100 years ago. I'm certainly *not* saying I'd take a baby to the restaurant (heck my kids are 17 and 20 and we basically didn't go out for about 10 years) but I hate the idea that parents should shut themselves in their homes until their kids go to college.

                                                                                                              1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                This is not a binary decision-making process. It's not "shut yourself in" or "go enjoy life." There are places and times where children should be included, but not every place and every time. If you're invited out to a bar at 10PM you aren't going to take an infant. Ditto if you're invited to a formal dinner. People need to exercise judgment in a realistic manner. Not every situation is baby-appropriate.

                                                                                                                1. re: ferret

                                                                                                                  I was more talking about where this thread is inevitably going to go. That no matter where the place or time, *someone* *somewhere* was annoyed by a baby, and was going to tell us all about it.

                                                                                                          3. Would it be a bad idea for Alinea to charge per person, regardless of age?

                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                LOVE IT!

                                                                                                                Even better, they could serve haute cuisine in pureed form on little silver spoons!

                                                                                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                  That would solve the problem, in my opinion. One fee for all, regardless of age, appetite, or seating arrangements.

                                                                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                    That darling baby wouldn't be nearly so cute and need to be shared with others with a $250 entrance fee.

                                                                                                                  2. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                    You may have just found the answer!

                                                                                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                      The problem with that is that there are people who could easily afford it w/o question, and once they paid several hundred dollars for their 8 month old would feel (rightly so) totally justified in having a crying baby there.

                                                                                                                    2. Some church naves have soundproofed siderooms with glass walls allowing full view of the altar and congregation, with audio speakers in the siderooms, where parents sit with their restive children.

                                                                                                                      I wonder if there are any restaurants, anywhere, that have analogous accommodations. Not a bad idea, IMO. Could also be used as exile for unruly adults in the company of friends/family.

                                                                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                        Years ago we were staying at a swank resort in the Lakes region of Italy. A young couple came into the dining room for dinner with their infant (toddler?). Shortly after they were seated, the baby began to get fussy. The maître d' very discreetly ushered them from the dining room into the "breakfast room" on the other side of the lobby, which ordinarily was not open for dinner, and proceeded to set them up for a private dinner in that space.

                                                                                                                        1. re: masha

                                                                                                                          when our son was under 2 (many years ago) we took a trip to the Eastern Shore of Md and stayed at a posh historic Inn. We went up for dinner and the atmosphere got icy. We did get through the meal (he was well behaved), but that was the first time that I really internalized that things were going to be different with kids especially when we were on vacation. Similarly a few years later when our daughter was little, she fell apart in the middle of a busy sunday lunch service in a country town in Italy. We fortunately were able to leave quickly. For most of that trip we were able to rely on babysitters and dinners at our villa. At home in NYC it was rarely an issue - with the lunch meals at the chinatown and similar places we preferred and with a babysitter available for evenings out, but vacations present particular problems.

                                                                                                                          However much we try and rationalize it, kids natures are fairly non-adjustable - its up to parents to make sure they dont create an unpleasant experience for others. Its great that this resort offered a solution that worked for all.

                                                                                                                          1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                                                            When my son was about two he once broke free and ran up on the alter during service, laughing as I chased him. I caught him, and dragged him kicking and screaming through the church, down the aisle. One of my patients was there and called out "Dr. Shrinkrap....is that you?" (I am a Child Psychiatrist)

                                                                                                                          2. re: masha

                                                                                                                            that Italian restaurant should be indicted for "crimes against humanity" by the ICJ. We all know that infants should be allowed to disrupt the entire dining experience for EVERYONE.

                                                                                                                            1. re: smoledman

                                                                                                                              Perhaps I did not explain the situation properly. This was a hotel restaurant. The family were guests in the hotel and they were treated very graciously. The hotel opened a closed dining room, normally used for breakfast, and waited on them there. As I recall, it was actually a family of 4, with both an infant and a toddler. In no way was the family snubbed. They were accommodated in a private dining room where the children could be a bit boisterous while the parents were served in style.

                                                                                                                          3. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                            When I was a kid one or two of the movie theaters had a "crying room" at the back. It was a soundproof room with a window looking into the theater so the parent could still see the film.

                                                                                                                            It's really not a bad idea at all, and even a "family area" where groups with kids would be ushered wouldn't hurt. Then again, four tables of kids grouped together might end up louder than if they were separated.

                                                                                                                            1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                              There's a place near me where the kids get their own room and server. There is a large window between one room of the regular restaurant so parents and keep an eye out for their kids. And, this room is off of the regular large dining room so the rest of the restaurant is quiet. I think it's brilliant. Too bad the food isn't good!

                                                                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                Where is this? That sounds like the greatest idea ever.

                                                                                                                                1. re: emmyru

                                                                                                                                  Northern Virginia. You can see a picture of the childrens room in the gallery:

                                                                                                                                  http://www.paradisoristorante.com/gal...

                                                                                                                                  I haven't been since my kids were really young (years now). It was a great place to eat out w/ friends, as adults, and not worry about the kids.

                                                                                                                            2. Just learned that this was actually the third time this child has been to Alinea. The first two times he was delighted by the food and enchanted by Chef Achatz' legendary warmth and table side manner.

                                                                                                                              This time he began to get fidgety when "hot potato/cold potato" was brought out. Diners overheard him say "Not again! I get this every time!"

                                                                                                                              When the "black truffle explosion" dish appeared he began to wail "Noooo ... this is always on the menu too! We need some new dishes Grant!"

                                                                                                                              When the "duck five ways with sixty(!!) garnishes" dish appeared there was no shutting the little guy up ("I had this last summer and last fall. One more repeat dish and I'm dropping a load in this diaper!").

                                                                                                                              Then the "helium filled green apple balloon" dish was brought out and the kid could not hold it in any longer.

                                                                                                                              "Silpat on Table 23! Yes, before the dessert!"

                                                                                                                              << full disclosure -- I did dine at Alinea twice last year, April and November, and the mentioned dishes were repeated both visits, but I didn't see any babies ... a couple of babes in short skirts, but no babies. And the other 9-10 courses were uniquely different each visit. And the five way duck was so mind blowing that I'm glad I got it twice ... but hopefully I've had my last helium filled apple balloon :) >>

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: willyum

                                                                                                                                I had these same dishes almost 2 years ago. Loved your post!

                                                                                                                                1. Time to shut this down. My kid versus their kid. Its over.

                                                                                                                                  1. If the parents scrimped and saved to eat at Alinea, maybe, just maybe, they should be spending their limited funds on the 8 month old child.

                                                                                                                                    I don't have kids, but is it normal to just have one babysitter?

                                                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: delk

                                                                                                                                        When I babysat, I was the only sitter for several families. My sister has none and her kid is a year old. Don't think it's normal, though...

                                                                                                                                        1. re: delk

                                                                                                                                          Yes it's pretty normal where I live. I was lucky that for brief time I had 3 teens I could call but for a Sat night they were booked 6-8 weeks in advance. Once they aged out and left for college I went thru a period when I had none. Now I have one person I can call but again, for a Sat night I need plan at least a month in advance and she charges $17/hr!

                                                                                                                                          Just liking mowing lawns, shoveling snow, paper delivery and dog walking babysitting isnt getting done by teens nearly as often anymore. Around here most high school kids have sports and clubs that take priority over jobs complete with parents to keep them in spending money.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                            Yeah, we went through years without a babysitter. The only time we went out for a nice dinner was when grandparents (who were not at all local) came and gave us a night out. Things are *really* different these days.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                              And worse are the bosses, co-workers and for that matter friends who don't get that not everyone has an immediate support system for childcare. "Can't you just call a sitter or your mom?" Umm, no!

                                                                                                                                              My parents are dead as are my husbands. Two of my siblings live hours away, one with a disabled husband who can't be left alone and one who works full time with a school aged child themselves. The local one has a high power job that means lots of travel who would be happy to help if he can but not at the last minute. Any of them would pull thru in an emergency but it's not like I can call them in the AM to cover for sick kid or call them at the last minute to cover if my only babysitter flakes.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: delk

                                                                                                                                            Yep, it's extremely normal. We have none, and haven't in years. Anyone we've found is overcommitted to their activities, not to mention that it's about $15-$20/hour where we are. We were thrilled recently to get a night out when my husband's mom was visiting.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: delk

                                                                                                                                              I don't know about "normal" but I live in Chicago and am about 12-15 years past my babysitting needs years. For the decade-plus when we had such needs we had a roster of babysitters because our needs and their schedules were not always predictable.

                                                                                                                                            2. So, there's this update to the story from Chicago Reader:
                                                                                                                                              http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/...

                                                                                                                                              The description of Alinea's past experiences with babies in the restaurant and the apparent entitlement of the people in this story does seem to put a pretty specific spin on things.

                                                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                                                I think the restaurant owes those other four tables a refund/discount. Heck, I went to a dinner at a restaurant in Maine where the wedding in the poorly sound-proofed adjacent room really put a damper on my evening. I wrote a nice letter and was refunded the entire amount. To some degree the restaurant shares responsibility, because after all, they are in charge of the "experience", once the folks with the baby did not act in the way they should have.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                  Really? Did the restaurant promise a quiet atmosphere in their marketing? If not, then they are not required to refund/discount. However the offended patrons are also free to take their business to a child-free restaurant. God bless 'em.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: smoledman

                                                                                                                                                    of course it's not a legal requirement. I'm saying that people do expect a certain thing when they book an expensive dinner out. And believe me, I am far to the "friendly to kids" end of the spectrum of this subject whenever it comes up here. Just as if there were no air-conditioning, or heat, or some other unpleasant experience. I don't think the restaurant has to give "guarantees" to make it in their interest to try and make up for an unpleasant experience.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DGresh

                                                                                                                                                      Just ask any lawyer about lack of written guarantees. Yeah, f***en lawyers.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: smoledman

                                                                                                                                                        I have no idea what you're talking about. I used the word "I think" and "owes". In the sense that one is "owed" an apology. Or is owed a pleasant experience. No lawyers. Simply in the interest of good customer service and repeat customers, and good will to all.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for that update, Jacquilynne. Sounds like the 4 people at the table just didn't care whatsoever. And as Achatz said:

                                                                                                                                                  If this party would have contacted us and said, 'Here's the situation. What can we do?'—and everybody is saying the babysitter canceled at the last moment and I have no idea how that got into the ether, but as far as I know it's untrue—but if they had, of course we'd have been accommodating. We do this all the time."

                                                                                                                                                  But they never contacted the restaurant. Interesting that the other 4 tables have contacted the restaurant and expressed their disappointment. But the fifth table (the offending one) has remained silent. No surprise.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                    Wow that's even more crazy after reading that!

                                                                                                                                                3. If you go to yelp there are 1417 photos posted. Where's the intrusive camera rage?

                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chicgail

                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the link. So there may never have been a baby sitter who cancelled at the last minute. Maybe the table of 4 were just obnoxious boors who never would have given a second's thought that the crying baby might spoil the other guests' special evening out. When I dined at Alinea, I planned my entire trip to Chicago around the dinner. I would have been more than a little annoyed to have had my dinner spoiled because parents didn't want to be bothered by their fussy baby.

                                                                                                                                                      What would really be wonderful is if Alinea would either give a partial refund to the other tables or gift certificate for a future dinner.

                                                                                                                                                    2. I know I'm very late to this party (but I don't reside in US, so missed the publicity).
                                                                                                                                                      I had a situation (another restaurant) where a couple sat at an adjacent table and the perfume/aftershave was so intrusive that I went to the lobby (quietly, no fuss) and asked if I could be moved to an empty table. This was accomplished discreetly and, in fact, I was comped a couple of bonus servings.
                                                                                                                                                      Thus I removed MYSELF from the situation.
                                                                                                                                                      If the restaurant hadn't had a replacement, I would have left and offered to pay a pro-rata portion of the meal.
                                                                                                                                                      Clearly that's not possible if the restaurant is full, but the restaurant now has a choice on which patron to let go - and if it had been me, I would have had no hesitation (theoretically!) in making a loud enough scene to allow the remaining tables to learn what was happening.

                                                                                                                                                      Of course, in practise, I can't guarantee that I would actually have walked out - but my guess is that the restaurant would have found some way to accommodate me.

                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: estufarian

                                                                                                                                                        Simple. Leave and wait until the idiots leave and go to their car. Take down the license plate number. Find out the address the car lives at. (Easy if you know how). Leave a note on the windshield: "You brought your screaming child into the restaurant I was having a meal in. Your inability to handle the situation in a mature thoughtful manner` ruined some customer's meals.
                                                                                                                                                        Your inconsideration has been noted. Your employer will know about it soon. Even if nothing happens the complaint to your employer will go on your file. Next time give your head a much needed shake.