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Tiny Chef Challenge

Hi Chowhounds,

My three-year-old son is obsessed with cooking (I wonder where he gets it). He plays chef all day long, and two of his earliest words were spatula and tongs. We love to go to diners where we can hang out at the counter and watch a short-order cook work their magic. Does anybody have an idea of a nicer restaurant where we could do something similar (eat at a counter or table with a view of the chefs cooking)? Obviously, with a little kid like this, it would need to be somewhere not TOO fancy, or too fussy, since he is a well-behaved three-year-old, but that's not saying much... One thought I had was Sportello, but i think they only have backless stools at that counter, and he might get too excited and fall off backwards.

Any ideas?


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  1. Delfino's in Roslindale Square has an open kitchen with bar seating that abuts it, you are literally staring right into the kitchen. The garde manger station is right there.

    1. I love the question. Myers + Chang would be great. They are super friendly and have four counter seats overlooking a crazy busy kitchen. I believe they are high top seats with backs, if memory serves. Not too fancy, but also a real chef-driven spot. A three year old would love to see all the action - lots of pans/woks working, a big smoker tray for the ribs, and many, many small plates finished with sauces, herbs, etc.

      1. The tiny kitchen counter looking into the kitchen at Redbones is fun and casual but maybe not nice enough for your purposes?

        1. These are great suggestions, thank you! Myers + Chang is a favorite of ours (the adult part of our family), and I had never noticed those counter seats. I've never been to Delfinos, and it sounds delicious. Redbones could work too. Thanks, Chowhounds! I will report back...

          Have a nice night.

          2 Replies
          1. re: foodforbrains

            I love Chris VR's Tempanyaki rec. And foodiebbq's for M+C. At M+C he might be able to see the chef action better during the day. Also, if you went at a slower time, like between L and Dinn, the chefs would probly love to interact more w/ him.

            You prob know all this but just in case:
            --food52 has 1 or more kids' columns. I know the one about what Amanda is putting in her kids' lunchboxes that week, plus this Dinner v.s. Child column:

            --the NYTimes Sunday mag., a few yrs ago, had a fantastic series of "Cooking with Dexter". I just loved reading them.

            1. re: opinionatedchef

              gah. those cooking with dexter columns made me want to stab myself in the eye. almost as bad as hesser and her mr. latte columns.

              the legal's at the aquarium has an open kitchen and many of them, including the one in the seaport, have open oyster bar seating. not cooking, exactly, but certainly restaurants that are kid-friendly.

          2. Have you thought about bringing him to a Teppanyaki place? They put on a fun show (although my kids were freaked out by the flames and sizzling, it sounds like yours would love it!) Tokyo in Square One Mall has teppanyaki, there's also Bisuteki in Revere and Cambridge.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Chris VR

              Yeah, and any sushi bar. Little kids love knives!

              1. re: Chris VR

                Teppanyaki is a great idea. Man, hounds are coming THROUGH on this one. Thanks, guys. I think we're going to try M + C this weekend, for a very very early dinner.

                1. re: foodforbrains

                  Call ahead - My wife reserved those seats for us for my birthday one year. You could do the same.

                  1. re: Foodie_BBQ

                    Just wanted to follow up for the group and note that I emailed M + C, made a full disclosure about my plans to bring a grilling-obsessed three-year-old to their restaurant, and they emailed back with a very gracious and welcoming reply, reserving some of these kitchen-view seats for us. They seemed to like the idea of the tiny chef. I'm psyched! Thanks again, all.

                    1. re: foodforbrains

                      The tiny chef is so lovable...glad you got that response from M + Chang. Let us know how it goes!

                      1. re: foodforbrains

                        That is very cool. Used to go to M+C regularly but haven't had the opportunity to go since my son was born. Will have to hit it up once he's ready to sit on a stool.

                2. Blue Dragon in Fort Point has a chef's table right across from the line. He wouldn't be able to see all the preparation but would see all the food that comes out. It's a great environment for an early weekday meal!

                  1. The Abbey? There are 3 or 4 seats that overlook the small kitchen, but they might be backless bar stools. Not sure.

                    1. Mei Mei has a counter with (backless, unfortunately) stools that overlook the kitchen

                      1. Ribelle could be a good fit. I had a successful early dinner there with my then-19-month-old; he sat in a high chair at the communal table and got a kick out of watching the bartenders in action, though he couldn't quite see the open kitchen. They do have stools with backs at the bar, which would give a good view of the kitchen.

                        Photos to give you an idea of the layout: http://boston.eater.com/archives/2013...

                        The bar doesn't quite extend all the way to the kitchen, but if you sat in the stools on the left-hand side you'd have a pretty good view.

                        And if your son, like mine, also has an interest in trains, Ribelle has a great view of the Green Line trains going by on Beacon St. Those generated enough excitement to extend the usual meal attention span by at least 20-30 minutes.

                        1. Is the kitchen window still open between Lord and Taylor and Pru Place?

                          1. Scollay Square just around the corner from the Boston Garden has a great set of seats right in front of the kitchen. Their kitchen sort of wraps around the side of the space and you are literately face to face with some of the chefs. I think the desert station is towards the left and the appetizer station is towards the right. I'd call and ask for a spot at the bar ... go on the early side and I'm sure they would be happy to accommodate.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: smcbride3

                              Is it the bar "bar?" Because most places won't seat children there... Toddlers at least.

                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                It's not the "bar". I think they have a cocktail/traditional bar on the leftmost side when you enter. But there happen to be a handful of seats at what I should probably call the counter instead if the bar. My husband and I sat there our first time there (on New Year's Eve ages ago) and the chef treated us to all sorts of extras. We got a lobster mashed potato and he kept sticking all sorts of tastey bites on plates for us to try. He was very busy so I didn't engage him in too much conversation but the food was excellent and we kept raving at how good everything was and he was glad to keep feeding us.

                            2. Hi Helpful Hounds,

                              I just wanted to report back to the group that we went to Myers + Chang this weekend, and had an absolute blast. The staff were welcoming and the bar seats near the kitchen were perfect. Lots of grilling, frying, plating, saucing and especially stir-frying going on (including some crazy wok-flames). Turns out they have a nice kids menu (plain noodles, non-spicy chicken wings, etc), and are generally pretty kid-friendly. My little chef was mesmerized by all the kitchen action, and said "my brain is exploding" after his first bite of the stellar M+C smoked pork ribs. Thanks for the recommendations, all!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: foodforbrains

                                so glad tiny chef enjoyed it! keep us posted on his further adventures.

                                1. re: foodforbrains

                                  so great to hear. i bet you got some great photos )