4-Star Dining With a Baby?

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Life before children you like to go out and have nice dinners, try new restaurants, explore new cuisine. Then you become Mom and Dad. You have a baby that requires almost all your time and attention in those first few months. You subsist on quick bites and gulp down dinners between feedings, diaper changes and snuggling.

About six months in your reach a new ground with the baby’s needs. Naps are longer, there’s a little more time to sit and enjoy a bite to eat. You remember those delicious meals you enjoyed out at high-end restaurants before you had your baby. You make a reservation, but do you take your baby with you?

That’s the question that’s caused a big flare up across the country after a couple took their 8-month old to eat at Chef Grant Achatz restaurant Alinea in Chicago.

The tweet by Achatz that said “Tbl brings 8mo.Old. It cries. Diners mad. Tell ppl no kids? Subject diners 2crying? Ppl take infants 2 plays? Concerts? Hate saying no,but..” received so much attention that a parody Twitter account @adeliababy was created.

Whether the parents made the best choice in taking their baby is questionable, but you can be sure when they bundled up that evening with anticipation of a delicious dinner out, they didn’t plan on becoming mainstream news and the cause of debate about a baby ban in award-winning restaurants.

The couple had a sitter, the sitter had to cancel last-minute. Reservations at Michelin-star restaurants aren’t that easy to get and Alinea’s unique ticketing-based reservation system requires diners pay between $210 and $265 up front for the tasting-menu-only dinner. Can’t blame these folks for giving it a try with the baby!

Here’s the thing, those parents didn’t expect dinner to go that way. And perhaps Alinea needs to review its reservation policy things happen that cause schedules to change. I’m pressed to say that I’d shell out that money pre-dinner even before I had a child because what if I got sick. Do you want to have dinner beside a sick, snotty, sneezing person? Do we ban sick people from restaurants?

When I look back on the first year of baby, taking him out was much easier than going out to eat with a toddler. Toddler’s can move, scream and don’t nap in their little car seat carriers. So no, I would not take a toddler to a Michelin-star restaurant, but a baby – maybe. Wouldn’t make plans to, but neither did these parents. It was a last-minute fluke.

These parents deserve a break. It was an unusual result of a last-minute cancellation of a sitter. They wanted a night out, they wanted to enjoy themselves and now they are getting pounded by the media and Chef Achatz. I think it’s poor customer service to target a couple who really wanted to eat at your restaurant Chef, so much so they brought their baby along. I’m sure they were on pins and needles the whole time. 

My husband and I love to dine at high-end restaurants around town. We love good food, but I would think twice about going to a restaurant where a chef has such a terrible attitude about a baby who cries. The parents probably should have left when the baby started crying. That’s just what you have to do as a parent. Flexibility is the name of the game, but a baby ban? I don’t think it’s necessary.