Ask The Gal

Many look to Restaurant Gal for advice on all manner of restaurant subjects: table etiquette, menu concerns, service and gratuity issues, and the like. I am here to help.

Periodically, I will publish readers’ questions or comments, followed by my incredibly insightful responses. (I reserve the right to edit all questions, however, as well as ignore any question that is, um, questionable.)

Anna from NY ponders the sticky issue of dining with children:

My son is 2-yrs old. When out-of-town friends come to NY to visit, they like to see him, and for us to eat out with them. They pick very nice eating establishments (not child-friendly). I always feel bad because my son doesn’t always want to just sit. I never get to eat, really. I usually take him outside for a walk to distract him. But at some of the places we’ve been to, the people who work there give me that “look”… totally hating us for being there with a child.

Anna, first of all, I love kids. In my opinion, kids can go to a “grown-up” restaurant, if you, as a parent, accept the reality of a key phrase you wrote in your comment: “I never get to eat, really.” If you’re not able to eat, it means you’re tending to your child. Simple!

NOTE: To all would-be customers who think their children’s adorableness excuses them from annoying other patrons when they are cranky or crazed. It doesn’t.

Little Lulu is restless? Take her for a walk. Monster-boy Matthew is starting to hurl silverware? Time for a tour of the foyer. Hungry Hannah is done with her Cherrios and is now sprinkling them all over the floor? Clean up after her, and follow Little Lulu outside.

And maybe you can suggest an eatery that isn’t on the cutting edge of trendy adult dining. These are your friends, right? They’ll get it.

Got a question for The Gal? Email me at






4 responses to “Ask The Gal”

  1. Bass Player Avatar

    Tragically, RG, the parents who truly need to heed this advice will either never see it or think it doesn’t apply to them.

  2. Natalie Avatar

    I rarely eat at fancy restaurants, and when I do it’s rarely with the kids. My 3 year old can handle it. But my one year-old is too intent on exploring the world and loudly expressing her opinions. =) When I go out to eat, I want to eat.

  3. Restaurant Gal Avatar

    Natalie–A mom after my own heart!

    –The Gal

  4. sapiophile Avatar

    I have three little kids. They make a mess and a noise wherever we go. We do avoid fancy restaurants, but we do frequent “family oriented” places like Applebees and so forth. I wish I could clean up after the mess they make but I actually figure the faster we get out of the restaurant, the happier the waitstaff and other patrons will be, so instead we just leave a big honkin’ tip. “Here’s 15% for serving us, and 15% more for cleaning up after us…and another buck or two for not choking when my son emptied 16 packets of Sweet n Low onto his plate and dipped his chicken nuggets in it.”