Fine Dining With Kids – Is There A Worse Idea?

Grammy and Grampy love their grandkids so much, it clouds their judgement. Take, for example, going out to eat with our kids.

Few restaurants can handle Mooch.
Few restaurants can handle Mooch.

Grammy thinks Farley and Mooch are not only geniuses (they are), but also great dinner companions. So, she invites us out to dinner. She picks places she knows I’d like – yummy! – but these places aren’t, shall we say, on par with Chuck E. Cheese in the kid entertainment department.

I present you a list of restaurants in Omaha that are worth checking out – without your kids. I speak from experience. No one sneered at us when we walked in,

We never got looks like this. We also never tried to pass Farley off as the Sausage King of Omaha.
We never got looks like this. We also never tried to pass Farley off as the Sausage King of Omaha.

but it was not a comfortable experience for me. I knew going in each and every time that it was not a good idea bringing two balls of energy to a restaurant right around bed time, but Grammy insisted.

  1. España – This one’s the freshest in my memory. It was a last-minute invite, and it had been years since I’d had the yummy tapas and sangria here. No babysitter could be secured so I went against my gut instinct and brought the kids. If you haven’t been here, España is a small restaurant in Benson offering Spanish cuisine (ie., food my kids won’t eat). It’s a date place, somewhere you linger and swirl your wine and talk about grown up things. It’s not a place to nurse your screaming child. It’s not a place you’d expect a 2 ½ year old to sit still for two hours, either.

  2. Sage Bistro – We walked in and I saw two couple with kids acting nicely so I felt maybe this wasn’t too bad of an idea (OK, they were infants and they were asleep). It was. It was a bad idea. Sage Bistro is upscale dining at ridiculously low prices, and it’s an awesome place to bring friends to impress them. Located on the Fort Omaha Metro Community College campus, students train to be chefs here. The front of the house is also a training ground, so everyone is very proper and precise and know they’re being graded (diners fill out comment cards). The food’s incredible, and in season (be sure to check the menus in advance to find the best time to make a reservation). However, fine dining experience means the pace is slow and I could not throw enough crusty bread and toys at the kids to keep them occupied. We had to let Mooch run the hall outside the restaurant or she’d start knocking over tables.

  3. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar – The name scream’s “Leave the kids home!” Maybe it just does to me. We had dinner here once because Grammy and Grampy had been out of town, and they really wanted to see the grandkids – and as a bonus there was a good deal on prime steak, so Fleming’s was picked. To be fair, the waiter was very patient with us. And it was this place where we learned Farley eats salads. But, overall, it’s definitely not a kid restaurant. Once again, I found myself nursing a screaming baby and Mr. Wonderful found himself chasing a toddler around a wine bar. And how unfair is it to go to a wine bar and not be able to indulge? Am I right?

  4. Charlie’s On The Lake – This was an ill-fated excursion I had forgotten about, but Mr. Wonderful reminded me. Farley was just a little scamp back then. He has grown to like fish and he sits still on command (well, not “still,” he vibrates with energy), but back in the day, a trip to this nice fish house in West Omaha was a mess. This place is more kid-friendly than the others (it even has a kids menu), but bring a toddler at your discretion.

I’ll likely forget about these past experiences and let my stomach make the decisions … when’s the dinner reservation, Mom?

So, have you brought your kids to a nice restaurant and had a good experience? Keep that to yourself – I want you to share stories about the bad experiences!


6 thoughts on “Fine Dining With Kids – Is There A Worse Idea?”

  1. It’s always a tough call for us on going out to dinner with our babe. Sometimes she can be so ridiculously well-behaved, and other times we have to quickly ask for our food to go and hit the road. Once we have two all restaurant food will have to be take-out. 🙁

  2. Our toddler is pretty well behaved on most occasions, but her two big brothers (5 and 7) can test the limits of our patience. We went to Olive Garden one time (not too fancy and a reasonably kid-friendly place) and my five year old tried a new food, decided he didn’t like it and proceeded to gag until he puked all over the table. My husband tried to clean up the mess as discretely as possible and took the kids to the bathroom to clean up. We had barely eaten any of our food at this point. I asked for the check and to-go boxes, explaining that our son was not feeling well. In the rush to get out of the place, we realized when we got home that we had left our credit card at Olive Garden. I called them up and asked about it and when we drove back the next day, my husband asked me if I would get the credit card because he was too embarrassed to go back in the pace.

  3. I’ve had my share of embarrassing restaurant experiences. My friend talked me into taking my daughter (6) to upscale Chinese, despite my better judgement. Her children (3 and 5) love the food their, my daughter, not so much. The “kids” menu was strictly traditional Chinese fair. After the food came, I drug a sobbing child to the bathroom to have “the talk”. After “the talk”, I convinced her to eat some chicken (sans ranch to dip in) and found out she likes plain white rice. I WILL NOT take her there ever again!!!

  4. Colleen, I bet the food was delicious. It’s so frustrating when you are trying to convince your child that the food really is good, but they just refuse to even try it.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.