Sunday, May 13, 2012

Is This the Most Kid-Friendly Restaurant in New York?

Our family has suffered through some legendarily bad Mother's Days in recent years. There was 2010, when a 20-month-old Elliot turned our flight back from Portland into five hours of hell (culminating with us getting stranded in San Leandro because the little guy killed our car battery). In 2011, Elliot stepped up his game by vomiting on nearly every surface in the house. Alice got into the fun by turning that Mother's Day into a nonstop screamfest.

So this year, the pressure was on to break the streak. I figured I would start by celebrating Mother's Day on Saturday, thereby thwarting the gods' plan to ruin the holiday for us. But I wasn't sure what to do now that we're in New York. It's hard to find a place to eat here that accommodates tiny monsters.

So I was excited to discover what may well be the most child-friendly restaurant in Manhattan  if not the world. It's called Alice's Tea Cup, a charming little brunch/tea place in the Upper East Side.

Before being seated, the host asked the kids if they wanted to be sprinkled with fairy dust — glitter — and be adorned with wings. We figured Alice was a bit young for this, but Elliot got the full treatment. (Yes, I know. Wings are for girls.)

The menu had kid-friendly options, and the staff wisely served the children their drinks in little plastic cups.

The place is inspired by "Alice in Wonderland" — with the decor, artwork, menu items and even the teapot fitting the theme. This made it a little confusing for our little Alice, who would jerk her head around every time she heard someone order "Alice's Mad Morning Tea."

(I don't want to be a pedant, but the children's fairy costumes wouldn't seem to be consistent with the theme; there are no fairies in the Lewis Carroll work.)

In any case, this may be the nicest changing table I've seen in a restaurant bathroom.

Everything was great, but by the end of the meal, we were getting a little too close to naptime. When Alice gets this expression, bad things always follow.

Alice soon started screaming, and even after I took her outside a few times, she was in no mood to sit at the table. At one point she pulled off her shoe and started hitting me in the head with it. When I put her down, she scrambled behind the front counter of the restaurant. (The staff was very nice and even offered her a hosting job.) Elliot got antsy as well, and in the end, I think Alice's Tea Cup was probably happy to see us go. Still, this was a fairly good showing for our family.

As for the fairy dust, well, it's proving to be hard to shake off. Even after Elliot's bath tonight, he still seems to be covered with glitter. I hope he doesn't eventually want a career in investment banking because I think this might be a permanent look for him.