In recent weeks (months, years), we've had the pleasure of hosting friends and family who hail from our hometowns of San Francisco and New York. We've always been fond of eating out, and I find that there is no shortage of deliciousness to be had here in Portland. Even when we can't always manage to eat out, we still stay on top of the Portland gastronomy via our favorite Portland food blogs.
Of course, when we're entertaining out-of-towners, part of the purpose is to have them spend time with our girls. And, we are often inclined to eat out, even though we rarely now eat out with the girls since it's just that much more fun to make a big home-cooked meal and entertain at home. (Plus, the cost!)
So, where to go? There's "kid-friendly" with ample high chair stock and kid menus, but there's also "kid-welcoming" with staff who go out of their way to make the kids comfortable, quickly fed, and happy. For us, the key to enjoying dining out with the girls is to pick a spot where there is: 1) room to wiggle and spread out tons of paper for drawing, 2) attentive staff who understand that the kids' patience runs a bit shorter than the adults', 3) food and drink choices to make both the kids and adults happy, 4) an ambiance that allows for kids to make the noises that they make at the volume that they do, and 5) as little wait as possible.
Some of our great successes have been:
Gino's. Seeing as we live in Overlook and Gino's is in Sellwood, we find Gino's to be a bit further of an excursion. Still, it's great Italian food, and what kid doesn't love Italian? My girls could certainly eat the stuff day in, day out. The best thing about Gino's is that they immediately bring the kids individual platters of apples, cheese, and crackers. That is quick attention.
Nostrana. They don't take reservations unless your party is 6 or more, so try to score a reservation with a larger group. Waiting with hungry kids is not often a good idea. It appears that Nostrana knows that hungry kids are not happy kids because, like Gino's, they whisk out individual plates for the kids with cheese, apples, raisins, and this lovely, lovely nutella-esque dallop for dipping. The atmosphere is bustling and busy, so I don't mind if our kids are equally bustly or busy. They blend. A table near the front door on a nice days allows bigger kids to go play out on the patio once they're done nibbling.
Pause. This one is a new neighborhood joint, and the only link I could find to it was in BarFly. It should be noted, however, that it's not just a bar, it's really a full restaurant, something like a kid-friendly tavern or pub. What I loved about Pause and why I include it here, is that they immediately asked "what can I bring the kids?", like seriously at the moment we sat down. They offered butter noodles on-the-house. Sometimes, free butter noodles are the antidote for the hungry kids at 6pm.
We know lots of families who love Laurelwood (who wouldn't?), but the wait is often unbearable. Plus, we sometimes want something different than pub grub.
Mamabee just emailed:
Okay, so my foodie family is coming to town and usually that means big dinners at Portland's finest dining establishments. Now I have a beautiful little two month old, I am rather clueless as to where to go. What nice restaurants in town are cool with a quiet 2 month old? What about breastfeeding? Is it totally uncouth to nurse my little one under a shawl? Any suggestions?
Where have you had success with a nice dinner that pleased the adults AND the kids? Any establishments that you would avoid?