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In Defense of Dining With Children

As kids are banned in restaurants, the childless cheer and parents groan. But the whole debate is framed as a false choice between a civilized evening and kids running amok.

By Phoebe Damrosch

Children: Can’t Live With ‘Em, Can’t Not Take ‘Em to Dinner

Restaurant critics suffer all kinds of afflictions as a result of their curious jobs, but solitude isn’t one of them. The Gobbler’s 3-year-old daughter, Penelope, is just beginning to terrorize waiters around town, and we recently included an abbreviated list of our 7-year-old daughter Jane’s favorite dessert joints in the magazine’s roundup of the best places to eat in 2007. Since then we have been barraged with requests for tips — okay, one person wanted to know — on how to dine out in restaurants with young children. The short answer is that it’s easy, sort of. In the Gobbler’s experience, most restaurants in the city, including many of the very expensive ones like Le Bernardin and Le Cirque, will go out of their way to accommodate young children. All you need as a parent is experience, endurance, and a high capacity for shame. And the Gobbler’s rules for dining with kids.