The thing I hear the most from people and read frequently on forums when I'm planning my trips is, "Don't take your baby!" Babies are often seen as pariahs, especially when it comes to fine dining.
What's a parent to do when they want to experience the wonders of the world but they've also decided to have a family? Must they relegate themselves and their offspring to hotel rooms and not share a unique dining experience with other humans?
When I was planning my latest trip through Europe with my youngster in tow, I had so many questions: Are babies allowed at Michelin-starred restaurants? Can I bring my infant to afternoon tea? Wine tasting with a little one--yay or nay? Though the rest of the internet may have you believe that you cannot under any circumstances enjoy such splendors with your tot, I'm here with facts based on experience (and not baby-ism).
General Tips for Dining Out with Baby
Can I Take My Baby to a Michelin-Starred Restaurant?
In London, Michelin-starred restaurants are plentiful and run the gamut from $300 per person tasting menus to informal affairs with a la carte options.
Dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant has been on my bucket list forever so I definitely wanted to make it to one during our recent trip to Europe. For our time in London, we decided to forego the three-star restaurants and opted for one-star establishments with a la carte menus. We really wanted to try Galvin at Windows for Saturday brunch (but we missed our reservation because our Uber took us through the highly trafficked tourist route).
We ended up going to Benares, an Indian restaurant with one star, for dinner on a weeknight. It may have been a little too trendy for a family but the restaurant was extremely accommodating. They seated us in the wine room with a view of the action and the entire waitstaff was so friendly and welcomed our baby. We never once felt like we were an inconvenience to them. And for the rest of his life, our son will be able to tell the story of his first taste of ice cream being at a Michelin-starred restaurant. I'm not sure if that's cool or nerdy, but I'm gonna go with cool.
Can I Take My Baby to Afternoon Tea?
Is there anything more quintessentially "London" than afternoon tea? Before leaving for our trip, I scoured the forums for answers and asked my friends if we can take our son with us to afternoon tea. The Internet said, "NAY!" but my friend said, "YAY!" Her reasoning was that the Royal Family takes their babies to afternoon tea so it must be family friendly.
I'm so glad I listened to my friend and not the Internet. We booked our afternoon tea at the Hotel Cafe Royal for 3 p.m. and it was a really pleasant experience. You'll also be surprised to learn that my son was not the only baby there. His favorite parts of afternoon tea were dancing to live music from the pianist and eating a smoked salmon tea sandwich.
Can I Take My Baby to the Grand Tasting in Paris?
Right after booking our days in Paris, I learned that the Grand Tasting at the Louvre was taking place at the same time we would be there. How can a wine lover resist 400 French and international wineries all in one place?
We had taken our baby wine tasting with us in Napa, despite the uptight American pleas to "never take your baby to anything involving alcohol", so I thought it would be totally fine to go to a wine event in France where the social customs are more lax.
I emailed the organizers of the event and even checked in at the ticket stand of the event and they all said it was totally fine to attend with a baby. So, if anyone out there is wondering if you can take your baby to the Grand Tasting in Paris (or even wine tasting in Napa), the answer is yes!
If you have any questions about whether or not you can take your baby somewhere, ask me in the comments section below.