Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Eating Out With Children


Being a massive foodie, I eat out at least once a week. Whether it’s wine and tapas in town with one of the girls or a quick pre-theatre on a Saturday, I can usually be found spending most of my money on food. So when I got pregnant I did wonder if this would stop. Not just because of the financial aspects but because I had seen children run amok in restaurants and it had driven me crazy. I had watched harassed parents try to desperately stop their kids crayoning the walls while their linguine got cold and the ice in their vodka tonic melted and I thought ‘to hell with that’.

I love food. I love drinking wine. I love trying new restaurants and I love catching up with friends. I didn’t want one of my biggest loves to be ruined by a snotty kid who insisted on throwing my oven roasted potatoes at the waitress and gulping down mouthfuls of my fellow diners Gavi when they weren’t looking. So after Ava was born I kind of figured I would have to give that side of my life up. I figured that eating out would become a bit of a treat on the rare occasion I actually managed to leave the house. Turns out I was wrong though.

Ava might possibly be the youngest foodie Glasgow has ever seen. She eats out constantly. That kid knows the inside of a gastro pub, restaurant and sit-in deli like the back of her hand. She peruses the menu with thought, care and diligence (she always goes for fish fingers) and she instantly knows when the waiter appears to get her drinks order in first. She has been eating out with me since she was a new born and has become my number one eating out companion. Who knew?

My little bundle of joy had her first taste of eating out at 2 days old when she accompanied her Dad and I to a well-established restaurant in Glasgow for a bit of lunch.  Two days later she could be found in our local pub quietly snoozing while I munched on a Caesar Salad and perused the latest edition of Red magazine. Cut to 2 days later and she’s in a well known Glasgow south side institution with my Mum and I, being made a fuss of by all the trendy staff while her Grandma and I shared a bottle of wine and a few starters.

Since then she must have eaten out with me a zillion times.  However, gone are the newborn days where she would just sleep for hours in the car seat that was strategically placed on the table next to a sharing platter and side of chips. Now she’s 2 I have to be a bit more clever about it.

When meeting my single friends then my iPhone or her tablet are imperative. There is no way on earth your best pal is going to be able to fill you in properly on her latest conquests if you have a two year old climbing all over you while squirting fruit shoot in her face. So stick on Peppa Pig or Mister Maker or whatever does it for you and relax in peace as you catch up with your buddy. Crayons, stickers and colouring books are all handy. If it’s just a casual lunch then places like TGI’s, Frankie & Benny’s or The Gourmet Burger Kitchen are all brilliant because they usually have little kids packs prepared. If you are lucky you might even get a balloon. Which they will absolutely burst right in the middle of your meal, making you spill your drink all over your open sandwich, the entire restaurant turning around to stare at you wide-eyed as your little one screams blue murder from the fright. Snacks are also good. I’m aware that if you are going out for something to eat then you shouldn’t really need anymore food but a few breadsticks can be perfect at keeping them quiet until their pizza arrives and a biscuit or two has the same effect if they are finished their meal but ‘don’t want ice-cream’. Ava never wants ice-cream - I don’t even know who that child is sometimes.

I’m not saying I take Ava everywhere. I need my long, prosecco-fuelled, gossipy lunches with the girls like I need oxygen. And on those occasions I am more than happy to leave my girl at her Dads or with a babysitter. Romantic meals are also a no-no with kids. Because the only thing that between course nappy changes and Mr Tumble stickers will get you in the mood for is more wine and an early night. Alone.

Same goes with dates. Don’t take the kids - at least not if you want to see said date again. On the other hand, if you have a stage five clinger that you are desperate to get rid of but can’t, then taking little Tommy along and getting him to start calling him ‘Daddy’ could be an excellent idea.

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