During our corporate friends recent visit we took them to Etta’s.? This is one of Tom Douglas’s many restaurants in Seattle.? (For those unfamiliar, Tom Douglas is a well known Seattle chef with a slew of fantastic restaurants and he is best known for his Crab Cakes.? I now know why.)? Etta’s is a casual fish house 1/2 a block north of Pike Place Market.? The food is fantastic, the views outstanding and the atmosphere warm.? We had no reservations about taking a 3 year old to such a restaurant.? We browsed their online menu and found they served simple fish dishes and that either the trusty husband or I could share our meal with the boy if need be.? In the end there was no need because when seated they handed us a delightful children’s menu with tons of choices.? The boy picked chicken and fries (shocking*) and only ate the fries (also shocking*).? We had a wonderful dinner.? The child played with the fork and butter knife, per his usual dining out routine and colored for quite a bit.? We only had to tell him to sit up once and only moderately prodded to actually eat his dinner.
The next night we were at the Harmon Hub (sans child) when Jen (one of the corporate people) asked me if the previous night’s experience with a well behaved child in a nice restaurant was unusual for us.? Our reply was an emphatic “no.”? You see, we’ve only had three major outbursts in restaurants with the boy.? One he flung a plate of mac n’ cheese across the room during the great I won’t eat for three days episode of 2006.? The other two were at our favorite Thai restaurant and one of those was because he hadn’t napped that day.? The other I had to physically remove him from the restaurant and do holding time on a bench outside to get him to calm down.? Besides those episodes the child is extremely well behaved in restaurants.
Now I don’t mean to go on and brag about how good my kid is.? You hate me enough as it is for having a child that isn’t a picky eater.? But I have to say there is a reason my child is well behaved in restaurants.? He was taught sternly that we practice good table manners and well behaved in restaurants.? Not only am I the food Nazi, I’m the public outing Nazi.
I take offense at people who say that children don’t belong in fine dining establishments.? Or that families with children should only be seen in restaurants earlier than 5:30 p.m.? Why sequester those of us with kids away?
I have taken my child to some of the best restaurants in town and get repeated compliments from wait staff about his behavior.? We’ve eaten at Pomodoro, Il Fiasco, The Cliffhouse, Benihana (actually the one in Anchorage) and Stanley & Seaforts.? There are other nice places we’ve taken the boy or places that other local parents suggest are for the 12+ set.? We aren’t afraid.? Sure, there are a few places that are truly adult dining establishments that we love such as Marco’s Supperclub, Oceanaire and El Gaucho (although we’ve only been there for drinks) that we wouldn’t even dream of taking our 3 year old to.
I encourage parents to get out with your child.? Use dining out as an opportunity to practice good manners with your child.? Dining out can be a great experience and trust me you don’t have to pack a whole arsenal of things to entertain your child.? The boy is perfectly happy to play with a fork and butter knife.? I may throw one hot wheel in my hand bag.? Better yet, you never know what restaurants will have children’s menu and provide you with paper and colors.? There is no reason to sit around home and eat frozen fish sticks when you could be dining on world famous crab cakes.
*said in only the most sarcastic tone I can muster.