Adventure, baby!

Manhattan Munchies

Sugar and Plumm: Kid-friendly Restaurants, UWS, New York

Entering Sugar and Plumm is like stepping into a a modern day Willy Wonka Land. Bright, cheerful and colourful, with delicious-looking sweets. Even as an adult, the candy land that is Sugar And Plumm has a strong allure for me, evoking memories of childhood candy stores, long summer days and running wild with friends.

Sugar and Plumm, kid-friendly New York
Bright, roomy interior.

Sugar And Plumm is divided into two sections – the restaurant and store. On weekends expect to wait for a table, so get there early or leave your name and hope you get seated before the kids lose the plot (or talk you into buying a pile of candy from the store).

Sugar and Plumm, kid-friendly New York
I want it all!

The good news is that they serve treats like ice-cream, macarons and cake in the store section, so if they’re crazy busy on the day you visit, you can always grab something sweet to eat in the park, and come back another day to sit down in the restaurant.

Sugar and Plumm, kid-friendly New York
Macarons!
Sugar and Plumm, kid-friendly New York
Adorable shop.

Once seated, everything runs smoothly. Cheese is brought a sippy cup with water, crayons, and a kids’ menu she could colour in.

Sugar and Plumm, kid-friendly New York
Using the big-girl fork.

One tip – if your kid is eating with cutlery and not yet ready for an adult fork, bring a toddler fork with you. Cheese stole my fork and tried to stab herself in the throat with it, trying to feed herself scrambled eggs.

Sugar and Plumm, kid-friendly New York
Burger with added side of fries.
Sugar and Plumm, kid-friendly New York
Crunch toast.
Sugar and Plumm, kid-friendly New York
Scrambled eggs in brioche birds nest.
Sugar and Plumm, kid-friendly New York
Plain jane vanilla shake.

We ordered a range of dishes, including burgers, the crunch toast, wholegrain salad (vegan and gluten-free) and a vanilla Plain Jane shake. Everything came out quickly and was well-cooked, as you’d expect from a quality restaurant. Cheese was given the eggs-in-a-basket, scrambled eggs in brioche toast, which came with another sippy cup (filled with milk this time). She loved the eggs but found the brioche toast too hard and crispy to eat.

Last bite: A crowd-pleaser for kids of all ages, get in early to secure a table, and enjoy a family-friendly meal that will leave everyone with a sweet taste in their mouth.

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes – on a weekday, plenty of room for giant strollers. On weekends, stick to one that folds.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: Yes.
Kids’ menu: Yes.

Sugar and Plumm
377 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY
Phone: (212) 787 8778
Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-10pm, Sat-Sun 8:15am-11pm

Sugar and Plumm on Urbanspoon

Sarabeth's West: Kid-friendly Restaurants, UWS, New York

A visit to Sarabeth’s usually requires a reservation and careful planning. We were super lucky on this occasion to walk in on a Sunday afternoon and be seated straight away, with no reservation.

Sarabeth's UWS
Elegant upstairs area.

Sarabeth’s West has a bit of a different look and feel than the TriBeCa restaurant. It feels slightly more formal, particularly in the upper seating area. While it’s still super kid-friendly (when we walked in, there was a table of no less than eight parents each with a baby), the feel of the restaurant is geared more towards adults than families.

Sarabeth's UWS
Roomy downstairs area.

We were all starving, so we promptly ordered Cheese her own meal of grilled cheese and fries. I can neither confirm nor deny whether I ate most of her meal as well as my own. Perk / con of having a toddler – double meals!

Sarabeth's UWS
Enjoying her grilled cheese and fries.

The grilled cheese was tasty (ahem), on a sweet brioche bread. The tomato ketchup is not the best idea for a toddler, but Cheese insists on dipping her fries in it and sometimes eating them.

Sarabeth's UWS
Kids grilled cheese and fries.

My lemon ricotta pancakes were absolutely delish. Not quite filling enough for lunch, so lucky I had the kid’s leftovers as a fall back.

Sarabeth's UWS
Lemon and ricotta pancakes.
Sarabeth's UWS
A quick hug.

I don’t usually order juice, but this time I went with the “four flower juice” on a friend’s recommendation. Good call – it was one of the best juices I’ve ever had. I can’t even say why – it was just a taste explosion in my mouth. Order it! You won’t be sorry!

Sarabeth's UWS
Four flower juice.

Last bite: Sarabeth’s is the perfect pleaser for both kids and parents who want to eat well in a relaxed, but still elegant, restaurant.

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes, but you’ll need to fold it if possible.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: Yes.

Sarabeth’s West
423 Amsterdam Avenue (80th Street)
New York
Phone: (212) 496 6280
Hours: Mon-Sat 8am-10:30pm, Sun 8am–10pm

Isabella's, Upper West Side: Kid-friendly Restaurants, New York

It doesn’t get more kid-friendly than Isabella’s. They’ve got the whole shebang – high chairs, take reservations, friendly wait staff who entertain the kids, crayons, kids’ menu … they’re doing it right, and, as a result, Isabella’s is known as one of the most kid-friendly, elegant, dining spots in Manhattan.

Isabella's, Upper West Side
Ready for brunch!

On our way to the Natural History Museum, we went to Isabella’s for brunch. We were seated as soon as we arrived, thanks to our reservation, and the staff immediately gave Cheese crayons (which she immediately put in her mouth and ate).

20120621-IMG_5927

 

Isabella’s looks like such an elegant dining establishment, it’s hard to believe that it’s kid-friendly. The staff are the friendliest we’ve encountered anywhere, talking with Cheese and entertaining her for us (thank you!!!), as well as being efficient and courteous to us.

 

Isabella's, Upper West Side. Kid-friendly restaurants, New York.
Me and my Cheese.

Last Bite: Isabella’s deserves it’s reputation as a premiere kid-friendly restaurant – we can’t recommend it highly enough for a relaxing meal with your family.

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes. Bring a folding stroller though as in rush hour, you’ll struggle to find a place for anything bigger.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: Yes.

Isabella’s
359 Columbus Ave
New York
Phone: (212) 724 2100
Hours: Mon-Fri 11:30am-10pm Sat-Sun 10am-11pm
Reservations

Eat & Play In Madison Square Park: Kid-friendly Restaurants And Playgrounds, New York

Tourists love the Flatiron building. Actually, I do too. We end up in this area of town a lot, sometimes passing through with visiting friends, sometimes on our way to or from something fun like a gallery or shopping.

image
Popular bird sculpture – a new addition to the Flatiron area.

I’m always happy to stop at Madison Square Park, right next to the Flatiron building, because it has the key ingredients (ha!) for a successful outing with little kids. Good food, plenty of options, and a fantastic playground, all in the one block.

image
Bread – who doesn’t love carbs?

Best Place For Overwhelming Food Options: Eataly
Eataly is where to go when you don’t know what you want to eat. It has so many options, from eat-in restaurants to takeaway counters, that there is literally something that everyone will like, even the fussiest of kids. My personal favourite is Le Vedure, the restaurant that focuses on vegetables – it was a huge hit with miss Cheese too, who really enjoyed the cannelloni.

image
Baby wants cannelloni.

Eataly
200 5th Ave
New York, 10010
Phone: (212) 229 2560
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11am-9:30pm

image
Shake Shack – for burgers on the go.

Best Food To Grab And Go: Shake Shack
From its humble origin as a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park, Shake Shack sure has grown. It’s now the go-to fast-burger of choice for a lot of New Yorkers. Personally, I love their crinkle cut fries and thick, custard shakes. The Shake Shack we know, love and line up for today, officially opened in MSP in 2004. It’s in the perfect location to grab fast, decent food when you’re in the area, and sit in the park to eat it. Be warned though, keep your babies and toddlers away from the shakes – they’re totally addictive, even for the under 2s set.

Shake Shack
Southeast corner of Madison Square Park
Near Madison Ave. and E.23rd St.
Phone: (212) 889 6600
Hours: Open daily, 11am-11pm

image
Madison Square Park playground.

Best Place To Let Kids Burn Off Steam: Madison Square Park Playground
Madison Square Park is a huge, beautiful area with a kids’ playground, dog run, and big grassy area. The MSP playground is large and super clean, with a dedicated toddler area as well as the bigger kids’ gym. Good luck keeping your little toddler in their designated area though! The big kid area is just too enticing for little toddlers like our Cheese.

image
Madison Square Park – peek-a-Cheese!
image
Madison Square Park playground.

Sarabeth's TriBeCa: Kid-friendly Restaurants, TriBeCa, New York

Sarabeth’s is a New York brunch institution. We finally visited our closest branch in TriBeCa and were not disappointed. A visit to Sarabeth’s requires some planning – make sure to reserve your table via OpenTable well in advance. We arrived right on time and were shown straight to our table – complete with kid’s menu and crayons already waiting for the toddler. A highchair was whisked over, and a sippycup with water in it was handed to Miss Cheese. Way to create a happy atmosphere for the party from the get-go.

image
Room front of house.
image
Crayons, kids menu/coloring in, sippy cup. Score!

I ordered an omelette for me, pancakes for the Cheese – of course the little girl wanted to eat my omelette, so I ended up with the pancakes. Both were delish though, so not a bad exchange.

imge
Spinach and goat cheese omelette, side of croissant.
image
Eggs Benedict.
image
Kid’s pancakes.
image
Happy Cheese and pancakes.

Sarabeth’s TriBeCa is such a clean, elegant place to stop by for lunch. Service is fast and friendly, the food is always cooked to perfection. Most importantly for us, everything ran smoothly and quickly, so our toddler didn’t get a chance to get bored and start fussing. This particular branch is large, with lots of tables and space in between, so you never feel cramped. There were also lots of kids happily dining with their families, so we were in good company. And when they’re so kid-friendly, why wouldn’t there be lots of kids? Baby-haters need not worry though – even with several kids of various ages in the restaurant, it’s still a place that adults minus kids will enjoy for the ambiance and really great food.

image
Keep on digging …

Two blocks from Sarabeth’s is the Washington Market Park playground. We actually went before lunch as we were early – it was great to have the kid run out off her energy before wanting her to sit still in a highchair for a while. Cheese particularly loved the sandpit in the toddler area. It’s a huge playground though, with two big play gyms for big kids as well as the toddler area.

image
Washington Market Park, Tribeca – little kids’ area.

After lunch we went to another nearby park – Battery Park, right on the Hudson River. We used to visit this park a lot when I was pregnant, so it was fun to come back again with the baby now 19 months old. I love this park because it has a lot of Tom Otterness sculptures – if you’re a local, you’ll have seen his adorable figures all throughout the 14th St-Union Square station. In this park however, the sculptures are huge and encourage kids to interact with them. Cheese was even more enthralled with the sculptures than she is by most regular playgrounds. She climbed all over them and was so upset when we had to leave to go home for bed.

image
The Real World sculpture series by Tom Otterness, Battery Park.

 

Last bite: Sarabeth’s is the perfect pleaser for both kids and parents who want to eat well in a relaxed, but still elegant, restaurant.

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes. They have an area in the front entrance where you can leave your stroller.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: Yes.
Kids’ menu: Yes.

Sarabeth’s
339 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013
Phone: (212) 966-0421
Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-10:30pm, Sat 8am–11pm, Sun 8am–10pm

Ellen's Stardust Diner; Kid-friendly Restaurants, Midtown Manhattan, New York

Somehow I’ve managed to live in New York for two years and not hear about Ellen’s Stardust Diner until now. It’s totally a tourist trap – in the middle of Times Square with exorbitant prices, but it boasts something even I was willing to wade through the Times Square mosh pit for – singing waitstaff! And not just any singing waitstaff – Broadway singers between Broadway jobs, literally singing for their supper.

Inside this kitschy exterior …

The outside isn’t much to look at. It looked so dodgy in fact, that Alec waited outside with Cheese while I poked my head in to make sure it wasn’t a total dump. What I saw, however, was this …

A Broadway song and dinner, perhaps?

As you can see from the photo, the diner was packed. It’s two floors so there’s lots of room, and when we arrived at 2pm we didn’t have to wait at all for a prime table.

A word of warning, this place is loud. So loud I had to point at the menu to my waitress after she dropped by once her number was over (she was excellent, by the way. I would totally pay to see her in a show).

Sharing an Oreo shake with my Cheese.

The menu is huge – and really overpriced. Be prepared to get totally fleeced in this diner. You will however, in return, get a solid, decent meal, and an amazing show of constant, extremely high quality, singing. Also, take note that you’ll have to tip the staff twice – once to your individual server for their wait service, and once for the entire team for their singing, as they only get paid minimal wage ($5 an hour – WTF?!) and don’t get paid to sing. Whoever is running this joint is making a FORTUNE.

Standard diner fare.

Our visit however was well worth the expense. All three of us enjoyed the singing immensely, as well as being happy with the food. Cheese spent the majority of our time there standing up in the highchair and dancing. She just couldn’t believe all of the live music – when various singers walked straight up to her and sang to her, I thought her little head was going to explode with joy.

Can’t. Believe. Her. Eyes!
Sitting back and enjoying the show.

This was not a relaxing lunch experience by a long shot – but it was so enjoyable that we will definitely be back. Note to dairy lovers who order shakes – they will bring out the shake in a glass plus the leftovers in the metal cup it was spun in, so unless you can stomach two shakes in a sitting, be safe and share with a friend.

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes – bring a folding stroller if possible though.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: Yes.
Baby-friendly rating: ♥♥♥♥-

Ellen’s Stardust Diner
1650 Broadway (at 51st st),
New York
Phone: (212) 956 5151
Hours: Mon-Thur 7am-12am, Fri-Sat 7am-1am, Sun 7am-11pm

[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps?ie=UTF8&q=ellen’s+stardust+diner&fb=1&gl=us&hq=ellen’s+stardust+diner&hnear=0x89c24fa5d33f083b:0xc80b8f06e177fe62,New+York,+NY&cid=0,0,2198151489620267995&ll=40.761859,-73.98355&spn=0.006295,0.006295&t=m&iwloc=A&output=embed&w=425&h=350%5D

Dominique Ansel Bakery; Kid-friendly Places To Eat, SoHo, New York

After a gluttonous afternoon we decided to end it with … even more food, of course. Our target – the Dominique Ansel Bakery in SoHo, for pastries that would blow our calorie counts for the next month.

Late afternoon sugar hit.
Macaron heaven.
White Rose Religieuse.
Banana Passionfruit Pavlova.

What was totally surprising was how easy it was to stop by here with a toddler. I’d previously only ordered to go from the front counter, not realising they have a large back garden area, enclosed like a conservatorium. Lots of tables free, lots of space – no one caring if our manic toddler ran around like a nut case. Miss Cheese was in heaven with all the treats coming her way – hot chocolate, croissant, cream puffs. No wonder she was manic … My favourite thing to order here is the DKA (“Dominique’s Kouign Amann”). It doesn’t look like much (it looks kinda like a rock cake), but it’s devine. The best description comes from their website: “Tender, flaky, croissant-like dough with a caramelized crunchy crust”. Yes please.

Get away from me, Dad.

Highchairs: No.
Stroller storage: No. The front of the store is a bit tight, but they have a large (enclosed) garden out the back where your giant stroller will fit.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: No.
Baby-friendly rating: ♥♥—

Dominique Ansel Bakery
189 Spring St,
New York
Phone: (212) 219 2773
Hours: Mon-Sat 8am-7pm Sun 9am-7pm

[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps?ie=UTF8&q=dominique+ansel+bakery&fb=1&gl=us&hq=dominique+ansel+bakery&cid=0,0,5773361844293137306&ll=40.725154,-74.002969&spn=0.006295,0.006295&t=m&iwloc=A&output=embed&w=425&h=350%5D

Dominique Ansel Bakery on Urbanspoon

The Grey Dog Chelsea; Kid-friendly Restaurants, Chelsea, Manhattan, New York

After a failed attempt to visit the new Meatball Shop in Chelsea (it wasn’t open despite the website saying it was, so I’m still not sure what happened there), we were left with a group of four adults and one kidlet for lunch at prime time in Chelsea. Not a positive start to the afternoon. Lucky, our friend suggested a local fave of his, The Grey Dog, and, best of all, they had a table free so we could sit down straight away.

On its website, The Grey Dog calls itself the “best cafe in New York”. This is a HUGE call to make, people. Huge. I have to admit though, that it’s right up there – we had a really great experience at this cafe.

When you enter, the waitstaff will show you your table – but you order and pay at the bar. This is a little disorganised when the cafe’s full – or when, like us, you’re juggling a whingy toddler. On the plus side, it allows for a very fast getaway after your meal.

Grey Dog on a grey old day.
Cute interior.
Delicious lunch. Mozzarella, tomato and basil pesto sandwich, potato, leek and broccoli soup, sweet potato fries.

We just missed the breakfast menu (it ends at 3pm), but were just as happy with the lunch menu offerings. As was the Cheese. She absolutely loved trying everything, from the soup to my sandwich and the table favourite, sweet potato fries.

Free range baby, stealing our food.

The cafe does have high chairs, but with the way the tables are arrange, close to the walls and tightly together, I can see it would be hard to actually fit a highchair at your table unless you had an uneven number of people with you.

What we loved – the food was delicious and fast. Everything was super tasty and freshly made. They didn’t mind that we wedged the toddler between us on a window ledge so she could pilfer parts of our meals and bang on the window alternatively (sorry again for that, people sitting next to us …).

We will absolutely be back. I can see The Grey Dog becoming one of our neighbourhood go-tos.

Highchairs:Yes – it’s a tight fit though to squeeze them in next to you at a table.
Stroller storage: Minimal. We folded our umbrella stroller and wedged it in a space next to our table.
Easy access: Yes. There is a ramp near the exit, next to the main entrance.
Change tables: No. There is however a large wooden bench in the restrooms that could be used as a change table.
Kids’ menu: No.
Baby-friendly rating: ♥♥—

The Grey Dog
242 W 16th St,
New York, NY
Phone: (212) 229 2345

Hours:
Mon-Fri 6:30am-11:30pm
Sat-Sun 7am-11:30pm

[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps?ie=UTF8&q=grey+dog+chelsea&fb=1&gl=us&hq=grey+dog&hnear=0x89c259b082b8c8a7:0x2e54eb9ab02636f0,Chelsea,+New+York,+NY&cid=0,0,10214235811599076831&ll=40.740639,-74.00077&spn=0.006295,0.006295&t=m&iwloc=A&output=embed&w=425&h=350%5D

Smorgas Chef @ Scandinavia House; Kid-friendly Restaurants, Midtown Manhattan, New York

With the weather so cold and foul, I planned a lunch with friends at Smorgas Chef @ Scandinavia House purely because they also have a playroom in the building, and because they take reservations for brunch. Smorgas is known for its Scandinavian food, which makes most people think of meatballs. Being vegetarian, obviously meatballs are out for us – thankfully their brunch menu is full of traditional brunchy fare that everyone will like, including picky toddlers.

Are you sure I like waffles?
Tree in the middle of the dining room.
Multitasking.

On arriving, we were met by a friendly hostess who immediately offered us a high chair and kids menu with crayons, and directed us to the stroller parking area. Immediate score! Between the waffles we ordered for the Cheese off the kid’s menu and the crayons, our cheesy little friend was having a ball.

Our server was a bit slow to take our order – and we had some really annoying screw ups with my order in the kitchen. Take note – do not try and make changes to any items on the menu, or you’ll be sorry! Also, if you’re a vegetarian, check your dish carefully for meat as you eat it.

Waffles – glorious.

The food was pretty good – the Cheese loved her waffles (which came with a little milk box).

Stroller and high chair parking.

After lunch we made our way to the Heimbold Family Children’s Playing and Learning Center upstairs. It was a pretty cute little area – lots of engaging things for kids to play with, like a slide, train table, play kitchen and mushroom house. It was also completely packed with parents and kids, so it wasn’t the best experience – toddlers all wanting to play with the same toys … cue all kinds of excitement!

Upstairs in the play space.
Moomin!

Would we be back? Probably not to the restaurant, unless we wanted to go to the play space again. When the weather is nasty out, it’s definitely a really good option for a Saturday afternoon.

Highchairs: Yes. Stokke of course!
Stroller storage: Lots – bring your giant stroller if needs be.
Easy access: Yes. They have elevator access.
Change tables: Yes – although you have to get the elevator down to the floor below to use the restrooms, which is a bit odd.
Kids’ menu: Yes.
Baby-friendly rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Smorgas Chef @ Scandinavia House
58 Park Ave
(between 37th St & 38th St)
New York, NY 10016
Phone: (212) 847 9745

Hours:
DINNER: Mon-Sat 5pm-9:30pm
Brunch: Sat-Sun 11am-5pm
Lunch: Mon-Fri 11am-5pm

[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps?ie=UTF8&q=smorgas+chef+scandinavia+house&fb=1&gl=us&hq=smorgas+chef+scandinavia+house&cid=0,0,6926579723310192245&ll=40.749427,-73.979924&spn=0.006295,0.006295&t=m&iwloc=A&output=embed&w=425&h=350%5D

Vive La Crepe; Kid-friendly Restaurants, SoHo, Manhattan, New York

It seems like something as simple as a really good crepe can be hard to find. We’ve been obsessed with the Vive La Crepe chain for a while, and last weekend went to SoHo just for crepes.

Little hole-in-the-wall cafe.

The store is run very efficiently. Order and pay at the counter, and your crepe will be ready within about 10 minutes. They’re super friendly towards the babes, and will bring over your food if they see you have your hands full.

Order at the counter – huge selection of crepes.

What makes them so good? The perfect batter, crisp on the edges, soft and slightly sweet in the middle, and plenty of fresh toppings like mozzarella, tomato and basil (my favourite). Their dessert crepes also rock my world – we can never settle at just one savoury crepe, we always need to go back for more.

Crepes – babies love them.

It turns out that babies have good taste and love crepes too. Cheese went wild for the batter as well as the fillings – gooey cheese in particular. They’re fab for kids cos they can hold pieces in their hands and it doesn’t make too much of a mess.

The only downside is this SoHo location is a bit cramped when you bring a baby. The chain has various locations though, and we’ve also been to Vive La Crepe at Union Square, which had lots more space for strollers as well as lots more tables in general, so you don’t have to stalk other diners to get a seat. Note – none of the locations that we’ve been to have highchairs, so prepare to balance your kid on your lap and eat one-handed – which is actually fine because you can easily do this with the crepes (they come folded in a triangle shape in a little paper cone). Vive la crepe! See you again soon!

Highchairs: No.
Stroller storage: No. There is a small space next to the counter where you can fold a stroller, or if it’s pretty empty inside you can park the stroller next to your table.
Easy access: Yes. One step to get in.
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: No.

Vive La Crepes
51 Spring St,
New York, NY 10012
Phone: (646) 484 6897
Hours: Mon-Sat 8am-12am, Sun 9am-12am