Jamila Johnson, editor
Everyone knows the sounds. It starts with the clink of a fork hitting the floor or a rubber train, drenched in saliva, bouncing off the ground with a clump. Next are the sobs and wails that shake the empathy cords of anyone who has ever dined with a small child, and the annoyance factor of anyone who has not.
Dining out with kids is not easy. It can be even harder when you are a busy attorney and you have a life that often involves meeting many new people. Those new people, on an uncomfortable number of occasions, are the people on the other side of the restaurant when little Benji throws a fit. As a Blackberry buzzes in the background, the wait staff look at you and the child, annoyed. All that you can think is that this wouldn’t have happened if this place had crayons.
Let’s face it – some restaurants are better for children with professional parents. The following are recommendations by attorney parents for places where dining out with children is still fun. The attorneys weighing in on this list include parents with twins and have triplets, and single mothers. They have children who are now grown and children born last year. They include two-attorney homes and have kids of all ages. Here is what they have to say:
Tutta Bella (4411 Stone Way N): This Neapolitan pizzeria scores high with the parents, but the Stone Way location gets extra points. Tutta Bella Stone Way is the largest of the three Tutta Bella restaurants, and even has events for children and families. “Tutta Bella is so kid-friendly that Molly and I took all four kids (one in a high chair and three in car seats) to the restaurant and had no problems,” says David Ebel, a partner at Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt. If any attorney with triplets can do it, so can any other attorney parent.
Atlas Foods and Endolyne Joe’s: If your abode is anywhere near West Seattle or the University of Washington, Atlas Foods and Endolyne Joe’s are excellent for your littlest picky eater. Both restaurants are part of the Chow restaurants, a locally owned group of restaurants offering “foods to soothe the soul no matter the latitude.” Their menus are interesting and diverse for adults, but contain menus that kids really get excited about. The wait staff are known for being child friendly and experience seems to suggest that no child bores easily at their tables.
Red Robin: This is a classic child-friendly chain (born in Seattle, but no longer locally owned). The menu tends to have something for everyone, from the youngest patron through the bar for adults. The atmosphere is noisy enough that you generally do not fear your own child’s contributions to the ambient noise. The adequately attentive staff provide entertainment (and occasional singing, such as for birthdays) for the children. The food is not gourmet, but it is a safe bet for anything from a first birthday party through a child’s first legal alcoholic drink.
Montlake Ale House: Some days you just need a beer or the ability to cause opposing counsel to spontaneously combust. Montlake Ale House can help with the former. This place is not only family friendly, but encourages patrons to bring their children. The reviews on the speed of service can vary. Some families think this alehouse is a dream come true, others think the service could use a new alkaline battery. But, all agree it’s worth trying at least once.
Originally published in the April 2009 issue of the King County Bar Bulletin. Reprinted with permission of the King County Bar Association.