Adventure, baby!

New York

Brunch Special: Hit the Town in Green Style with these Hip & Healthy Kids Picks

Today’s Brunch Special is courtesy of Marissa Zitka Abruzzo, President of Hip & Healthy Kids. She’s also a Board Certified Health Counselor, member of the American Association of Drugless Practitioners and a local New Jersey Mom to a 3-year-old cutie.

Remember the days of running out the door with your tiny purse full of only your wallet, phone, lip gloss and mints?  Neither do I. With kids, those days have been long replaced by feeling like a pack mule. However, with a little bit of organization and picking some super cool products, you will feel hipper and lighter than your four-legged equine friend.

The Bag
Let’s start with the bag. When selecting a diaper bag, I look for something waterproof and/or washable. A ton of pockets are not as important to me as long as there’s an easy way to organize.  I also look for a bag that makes a statement. Personally, I am not into bags with butterflies and flowers galore.  Instead, I want something that is fashionable, unique and socially responsible. This bag by Malia designs fits that bill. This fair trade messenger bag is not only socially conscious, but also environmentally-friendly. It’s made from recycled Vietnamese feed bags!   


Next, I stock it up with my diapering selection. Perhaps you are a cloth diaperer?  If so check out this article to figure out how to make it work in a big way.  If you go the disposable route, select diapers that are free of chlorine processing, fragrances, and petroleum-based lotions like Seventh Generation Diapers. Also select wipes free of chlorine processing, fragrances, dyes, and alcohol like Seventh Generation Free & Clear Wipes.

Nursing Cover
I toss in my nursing cover next. I have one of these beauties from Udder Covers. 100% cotton, breathable and washable, these covers are a nursing mother-on-the-go must have. If you want one of your own, Hip & Healthy Kids has a deal for you. Check out their site and at enter in promo code “hhk” to get a free nursing cover (you only have to pay shipping and handling).

Udder Cover - green picks for moms via

Food Containers
While we’re on the topic of eating…  If your little one is on to solids, pack up a ThinkBaby bento box. This eco-friendly, air tight, on-the-go travel container will keep your food fresh for hours. It’s a perfect size to throw into lunch boxes, baby bags, purses, and backpacks. It is BPA, PVC, Lead, Phthalates and Melamine free with a sleek stainless steel interior.  You will also be helping the environment with your reusable container instead of using harmful plastic baggies.

Hip & Healthy Kids readers can get their own bento box right from the online storefront (look under Kid’s Gear for the ThinkBaby products).

For sunny days, I toss in one of my non-toxic sunscreens. Read more here to figure out what chemicals to avoid and how to select a non-toxic sunscreen. (Cheat sheet oxybenzone = bad.)


Hand Sanitizer
Lastly, I place my CleanWell thyme-based, biodegradable, and alcohol-free hand sanitizer in an easily accessible pouch.

Baby Carrier
For a child 45 lbs. and under, be sure to also bring along your Ergo Carrier. These carriers are made from natural fabrics, and the ergonomic design is key for parent and baby comfort. Ergo allows baby to be positioned in a natural cradle, so excessive pressure on the hips (which may result in hip dysplasia) is avoided. A bunch of fun colors/designs allow you to express yourself, since your cute shirt is likely concealed from public viewing.

Now gaze down into those beautiful little eyes, throw on your diaper bag and smile knowing that you are more than ready to take on the day in style.

Marissa Abruzzo, Hip and Healthy Kids, via brunchwithmybaby.comMarissa Zitka Abruzzo, MS, is a Board Certified Health Counselor, member of the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, and President of Hip & Healthy Kids. Hip & Healthy Kids is THE place for information on how to maximize your family’s health while keeping things fun and hip. Marissa has transformed her holistic, eco-friendly, and nutritionally-focused vision into a fresh resource for modern families. Follow Hip & Healthy Kids on Facebook and on Twitter @HipHealthyKids.


petiteParade and Stride Rite at NY Fashion Week

The kind folks at Stride Rite invited me to attend their show at the petiteParade, the junior branch of NY Fashion Week. From my first row seat (wooo!!) I watched two parades – the showcase featuring collections by Andy & Evan, Floatimimi, Oil & Water, Stella Cove, SUOAK and Sweet Lola, and then the Stride Rite Children’s Group runway showcase.

The hosts of the showcases were twins Tristin and Tyler – two very sassy kids with their own website about their adventures in the big city.

It was impressive seeing little kids confident strutting their way up and down the runway, showing (for the most part) no hesitation at the wall of cameras at the end.

The Stride Rite Children’s Group runway showcase was a sneak peek at their Spring 2014 collection – full of floral accents and pops of bright color.

Flowers in the hair, spring sandals on the feet.

Denim, flowers and pretty sandals.

Superheros! Love this nod to Kill Bill.

I really enjoyed the show, seeing these gorgeous children modelling trends for next spring. I’m a big fan of Stride Rite shoes (Cheese has basically worn them since she started walking), so it was really fun seeing the spring line before it hits stores (and also before winter hits – I’m totally in denial).

Oscar de la Renta for Kids Trunk Show

I was excited to receive an invite to a trunk show for Oscar de la Renta for kids, hosted by Rosie Pope.

The clothes were just gorgeous – super pretty dresses and outfits, with delicate lace and beautiful floral prints.

Snacks! Love some sweets to eat while perusing lolly-coloured clothing.

Lots of floaty, fluffy dresses in pretty pastel and vibrant hues.

This dress was a favourite – the hand stitched lace was just exquisite.

I splurged and ordered this dress for Cheese. I thought it would suit her personality – easy to wear, super soft fabric, bright print that will compliment her bright blue eyes. Um, spoiled much??

I really loved Rosie’s diaper bag range, particularly this bag – I’d totally use it as a regular bag!

Brunch Special: Authors Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus: From Nanny Diaries To Motherhood + GIVEAWAY

Today’s Brunch Special is courtesy of Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, local authors (and moms!). The friends wrote the bestseller, The Nanny Diaries, and have just released their latest book, The First Affair. Emma lives with her husband, Joel, and three-year-old son on the Upper West Side. Nicola, a New York native, lives with her husband, David, and her three-year-old, Sophie, in Brooklyn.

Did having kids change your NYC lives?
Absolutely! A block has never been so long. And we both marvel at the lack of storage space in strollers, the weight of diaper bags, the ordeal of getting your kid ten blocks in a rainstorm. When our kids were little we had raw envy of our friends in the suburbs, throwing the kid and the groceries in the car.
Nicola: I remember pushing the stroller and a carton of diapers uphill in a headwind that was biblical.

An interview with authors Emma Mclaughlin & Nicola Kraus via

Where are your favourite places in the city to go with your kids?
Nicola: We love the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and the Prospect Park Zoo for toddlers — it’s small and very manageable. The fabulous thing about Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens is that every restaurant, no matter how fancy, is kid-friendly before 7pm so I take Sophie out every weekend.
Emma: I’ve taken up permanent weekend residence at the Met Museum. It’s always amazing to see people lined up on the steps when the family entrance is opened to all. It’s the best-kept secret. And even if you’ve been up since 5am there’s something magical about having an entire exhibit hall to yourselves in the opening hours.

An interview with authors Emma Mclaughlin & Nicola Kraus via

Where do you like to take your families for special occasions?
Nicola: I love Red Gravy on Atlantic because it’s quiet enough for old and young to hear small voices.
Emma: I like Elizabeth’s on Columbus because they have a reasonably priced kids menu and it’s organic.

What’s your number one tip for dining out with young kids?
Nicola: Start young and do it frequently. We made sure Sophie went out to eat at least once a week and now she can sit quietly and entertain herself through a three-hour meal. Have a go-bag filled with all those little doo-hickeys you get from birthday parties, plus crayons and playdoh. When she was a baby I would raid the kitchen and hand her a whisk or a wine stopper. She’d be fascinated for long enough for us to enjoy our food. It doesn’t always go smoothly — bring the iPhone in case of meltdowns. Emma agrees that it’s all about coming with a deep bag of tricks.

How did having kids affect your friendship and work partnership?
We just say thank god our kids magically arrived four months apart because it’s invaluable that we’re both trying to schedule flu shots. We both can’t take work calls between 5:30pm and 8:30pm (when LA ALWAYS wants to talk). We both have weird stains on our clothes. It would be so hard because, even having been nannies, you do not understand the life-force suck that is parenting until you’re in the trenches.

How do you fit in writing and parenting? How do you balance both of these important roles?
No procrastinating allowed! We make the most of every hour, every minute. While we’re figuring out our next scene, we fold laundry. While we’re on a conference call with our editor we throw the chicken in the slow cooker. Then we get the kids to bed and lie on the floor.

Your breakthrough novel, The Nanny Diaries, was loosely based on your experiences with nannying. What were some of the things you thought you knew as a caregiver that were challenged when you had your own children?
Honestly, it was really hard and rewarding work then, and it’s really hard and rewarding work now. We will say that when we were nannies we were also in college so sleep deprivation was a result of studying hard or going out. We were usually able to catch up on weekends if we needed to. When you’re the mom there’s no laying on the couch for an entire Sunday watching rom-coms to get back on track. We now reminisce about those Sundays the way people talk about honeymooning in Paris.

What were some of the biggest obstacles you faced when feeding your charges and how have you applied some of those lessons in the feeding of your own kids? 
Nicola: Sophie has gone through long stretches where I swear she was solar-powered. But the girls I nannied for who went through long plain pasta phases one day loved sushi so I breathed through it. The biggest thing I try to do (which is hard because we’re all pressed for time and who wants to make something that won’t be a slam-dunk) is re-introduce things she’s passed on previous nights.  It always pays off but it takes patience. Serious patience.

Tell us about your latest book, The First Affair.
It’s the story of Jamie McAlister, a White House intern sucked into a torrid affair with the President of the United States that threatens to destroy them both. It’s our sexiest book yet, but as Moms we wrote the kind of book we want to read, something thrilling that keeps us turning the pages!

Pick up your copy of The First Affair from

McLaughlinKraus_First Affair final cover
We’re delighted to offer Brunch With My Baby readers the chance to win an autographed copy of The First Affair, the new novel by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.

Competition open Wednesday October 9, 2013 to 11:59pm EST Wednesday October 16.

Open to US mailing addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus are the authors of The Nanny Diaries, which was declared by Newsweek a ‘phenomenon’, the longest-running hardcover bestseller of 2002 and was made into a major motion picture in 2007. They are also the authors of the New York Times bestsellers Citizen GirlDedication, The Nanny Returns, and Between You and Me; The Real Real and Over You are their first two young adult novels. Their most recent novel, The First Affair, hit stands in August 2013.

How Do You Measure a Year (With Apologies to Fans of “Rent”)?

In numbers
Our very first post — a review of our favorite kid-friendly restaurant, Balthazar — went live on this day last year, making us the ripe old age of one. Since that first review, we have written nearly 300 posts, have eaten at A LOT of restaurants and written over 200 Restaurant Reviews from Manhattan to Brooklyn, and Sydney to Singapore. Don’t judge us. It was for the kids! They were we were really hungry.

Raegan and her four girls: Anais, Lourdes, Amelie Rose and Arin. Photo credit: Raegan and her four girls: Anais, Lourdes, Amelie Rose and Arin. Photo credit:

In people
Our first interview for the Guest Brunchers section of the site was with the lovely and super business savvy aden + anais CEO Reagan Moya-Jones, about her favorite places to eat with her kids in the city. Since then, we have had the opportunity to meet and get to know 21 entrepreneurs in the world of food, kids, and fashion. Some highlights have included Chef Dominique Ansel and Rosie Pope.

#STOKKEBABY #Scoot #stroller review and #giveaway!

In cool stuff
We are always looking for products that are perfect for urban parents and that make towing a child around the city a little easier. Since the site’s launch, we have reviewed and offered our readers high value Giveaways, from a HUGE case of Chobani Champions yogurt, a whole line of new products from aden + anais, to a Britax carrier and even a Stokke stroller!

Balthazar - kid-friendly restaurants, SoHo, New York.
In experiences
In the past year, our kids have grown from easy-to-tote-around infants to rough and tumble toddlers; which means that we have experienced the best and worst of dining out. We’ve taken all of our experiences and turned them into nearly 10 Survival Guides, to help you navigate a meal out — or even an entire day out — with a baby or toddler with as much grace as possible.

Dominique Ansel Bakery - kid-friiendly bakeries , SoHo. NY, via
In love
To our readers who have been with us from those very early days (thanks mum and dad!) and all those sleepless nights, we thank you for continuing to read about our adventures and supporting our brunching journey through New York, Sydney and Singapore. To our new readers, we hope this site gives you the courage to pack up Baby, put on some cute but walkable shoes, and take the train to one of your favorite restaurants from before you became a parent. It won’t be the same as it was before, and it probably will be a lot messier, but we promise, it will be worth it. And don’t forget to order wine 🙂


Christine, Alexis, Cheese & Little J, and the BWMB team

 Opening photo by stevendepolo.

Friday Link Love


A few fun links to kick off your weekend.

Crumbs has just opened a gluten-free store in Greenwich Village — everything they make and sell is gluten-free. Go Glutards!

Our friend Heather over at the US Japan Fam blog writes about cronuts, ramen burgers and other food fads.

This post from Mommy Shorts about toddlers and poop totally made our day.

Our friend Karolina over at Nourish Your Life wrote a great post about her (mostly) vegan diet during her second pregnancy (congratulations)!

Excited to try out new site Kid & Coe, which is a vacation rental site, kinda like Air B’n’B for families. Genius.

We’re getting into the Halloween spirit already! Check out these not-too-scary Halloween installations picks for families.

Enjoy the beautiful weather!

Love and Cupcakes,

Christine + Alexis

STOKKE Scoot Review and GIVEAWAY

#STOKKEBABY #Scoot #stroller review and #giveaway!

I’ve been known to own a few strollers (four — not all at once — to be exact). But the hunt for the perfect stroller is eternal, especially as one’s needs change with the different ages and stages of a child’s (and your) life. When I bought my main stroller, before Cheese was born, I really didn’t consider my living situation well. Third-floor walk-up, with nowhere at the bottom of the stairs to store a stroller. I bought a stroller that was super heavy  (too heave for me to carry down stairs) and that needed the bassinet or seat removed before the bottom part was folded. Really, this stroller was suited to someone living in an elevator building, and so I didn’t actually use the stroller much after a few aborted attempts where I kicked my shin on the bottom bar, until we finally did move into an elevator building a year later.

We are huge fans of STOKKE in our home, with Cheese’s nursery filled with the Sleepi bed and Care: Change Table, and the Tripp Trapp highchair in the living room. STOKKE is known for their innovative designs and well-made pieces, so I was excited to check out the STOKKE Scoot. It has all the features that make is suitable for urban parents like myself. Check out my husband’s and my road test of the STOKKE Scoot around our home ‘hood in Brooklyn.

#STOKKEBABY #Scoot #stroller review and #giveaway!

#Stokke #scoot review and #giveaway burunchwithmybaby.comThe Fold
The STOKKE Scoot comes all in one piece, so you don’t need to remove anything to fold it (except anything you may have stored in the basket underneath). It’s a bit tricky to master at first, as you have to follow a few steps before you can fold it: first, retract the handlebar. Then, fold it by doing the following: lift the bottom portion of the seat, push the seat backwards, then push the button on the wheel axle and pull it up to collapse the stroller into one slim piece. I know it sounds complicated (then again, try to express in words how to fold any stroller on the market these days and you’ll have a similar list), but once you get the hang of it, it’s fast and easy. Remove the cup holder from the handlebar and it balances on its side for easy storage in a small NYC apartment like mine.

#STOKKEBABY #Scoot #stroller review and #giveaway!

Collapses In One Piece
One of the biggest things that I love about this stroller is that it collapses into a sleek and thin silhouette — in just one piece. Living in NYC, this is an essential for making life easier for parents. It means being able to call a car to get home if you find yourself in torrential rain (been there!!) and easily throw the whole stroller in the back without having to first remove the seat of the stroller and then having to fold the body of the stroller. It also means you can go out to any restaurant without needing to check if you need to bring an umbrella stroller or carrier instead of the SUV-stroller, because when folded up, the Stokke takes up little real estate. Since we love to eat out, this feature alone was like hitting the holy stroller grail.

#STOKKEBABY #Scoot #stroller review and #giveaway!

Storage Space
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that you can never have enough storage space in your stroller basket (or anywhere, for that matter). There is a huge basket underneath the STOKKE Scoot, with plenty of room for groceries, or a huge diaper bag and sand pit toys. The stroller sits quite high, so there is a lot of vertical space as well, and it’s all easily accessible from every side. The only improvement I’d like is for the back of the basket to sit a bit higher so it keeps items in even better. When you tilt the stroller to go over things like steps or curbs, items can fall out if not well-secured.

#STOKKEBABY #Scoot #stroller review and #giveaway!

It’s a hefty stroller, weighing in at 26 pounds. It can accommodate kids from birth (with the STOKKE Scoot Softbag) to 50 pounds — making it a great long-term investment. It’s also a very sturdy, well-made stroller, but doesn’t feel heavy to push. It’s also tall rather than wide, giving it less of a footprint (which is valuable when you need to take it on the subway or park it in a small corridor or apartment).

#STOKKEBABY #Scoot #stroller review and #giveaway!

The Ride 
The Scoot features four-wheel suspension, so it’s a smooth ride for Baby, even over Brooklyn cobblestones. The handlebar is adjustable, which is great for changing the height when my husband (who is 6′) takes over the driving from me (I’m 5’7). It’s comfortable to push around for a long period of time, and is easy to steer, even with one hand (not that I’m texting while driving, or anything).

#STOKKEBABY #Scoot #stroller review and #giveaway!

The Scoot features a full recline, that you engage by unclipping a clip on each side of the back of the canopy. It features four recline-to-upright positions: facing you, upright or reclined, and facing away from you, upright or reclined. There is only reclining position — all the way back. It would also be great if there was one button or clip you could use to recline the stroller so it could be done smoothly with one hand, but I didn’t find it as awkward as I expected it to be when I used it, and Cheese had a really good nap in her little cocoon.

#STOKKEBABY #Scoot #stroller review and #giveaway!

It has a decent canopy, with a cute little visor that flips out (and zips off if needed), which, when tilted downwards, provides that extra bit of sun protection for your kid’s legs. There is a zippered section in the canopy that, when open, lets air circulate better on a hot day, and lets you take a peek at what your kid is doing in there (or, in my case, making sure important apps aren’t being deleted off my iPhone).

#STOKKEBABY #Scoot #stroller review and #giveaway!

Adjustable Footrest
I love that I can adjust the footrest to my toddler’s feet so they’re not dangling down. And SHE loves that she can climb up and into it all by herself. What a fun, new game!

#STOKKEBABY #Scoot #stroller review and #giveaway!

The Scoot comes with a rain cover, mosquito net and cup holder. You can order car seat adaptors ($79.95) for Maxi Cosi and Peg Perego car seats. There is no bassinet with this stroller – but, to be honest, since I never used the bassinet for my toddler when she was a baby, I wouldn’t let this deter me from buying. You could absolutely use it from newborn age by clipping in the car seat for the first few months.

The STOKKE Scoot retails for $599.99 and comes in a range of colors (brown, red, dark navy, purple, beige and black melange).

#STOKKEBABY #Scoot #stroller review and #giveaway!


The very kind people at STOKKE are giving Brunch With My Baby readers the chance to win one STOKKE Scoot in the color of her choice. Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

The competition opens Wed, Oct 2 to 11:59pm Tue Oct 8, 2013.

Entry open US mailing addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We were sent a product sample to aid us with this review. All opinions are our own.

Introducing Brunch With My Baby Singapore!

Brunchers, we have some super-exciting news today. Brunch With My Baby is on the move! We’re now bringing parents the most delicious places to eat in New York, Sydney AND, our newest destination, Singapore!

Singapore boasts many food aficionados and people who hail from a culture of we-love-to-eat. It’s not uncommon there to plan where you’ll have your dinner, whilst you’re  still eating your lunch. The Singapore food scene encompasses everything from cheap and cheerful hawker food, all the way to Michelin star restaurants. And Singaporean foodies love that and everything in between.

Please give a warm welcome to our new Singapore Editor, Beverly Burgess, the blogger behind the popular website, Beverly’s Adventures. Her biggest loves include family, food and fashion (her Balenciaga collection makes us drool!).

Having lived in Australia, China and Singapore, Beverly entered an alternate universe at warp speed when she went from online marketing manager for Microsoft and then eBay to becoming a mother of two kids under the age of two.

Her career is now replaced with the privilege of being a full-time mum, but the urge to try out new restaurants, shop, and socialise still remains (albeit with two obliging children in tow). And she wouldn’t have it any other way.

It’s not easy handling the dreaded “two under two” kids, as many other mums in similar situations will agree. Sometimes, the only way to maintain your sanity is to simply get out of the house!

Luckily for Beverly, Singapore is all about one of her favorite things — food! And luckily for us, Beverly is now sharing her favorite places there to eat, play and explore, with our readers.

Please hop on over to check out the best of kid-friendly Singapore, and say “hi” to Beverly and her family.

Beverly Burgess, Singapore Editori,

Spuni Review and GIVEAWAY

I’ve gone through a lot of baby cutlery with Cheese, with both good results (i.e. spoon helps shovel food into her mouth) and bad (i.e. food spills off the sides before spoon lands in her mouth), so I was super excited to hear about the new spoons by Spuni.

Spuni are ergonomic spoons designed to be the perfect fit for infants’ mouths, resulting in easier feeding for Baby, and less mess for Mom to clean up. Spuni is the perfect tool to help your baby transition to solid food. The recommended age for using Spuni is when the parent believes the infant is ready to make this transition — usually around 6 months and up.

The spoon’s handle length is just right for feeding infants — an infant spoon needs to be long enough for a parent to maneuver  (the short and stubby ones are great for toddlers, but not infants) — plus it is easy for a parent to hold (and not too skinny like other spoons I have tried).

But what really makes this spoon special is the spoon tip. The unique tulip design makes it easier for babies to slurp food off of it.

Now, Missy Cheese is older than the target age, but boy do I wish I’d had this spoon when she was younger, as it’s a million times nicer to use than the ones I used while she was on her first solids. Here why:

  • It doesn’t fade or yellow with use.
  • It fits just the right amount of food (not too much or too little) for a toddler-sized bite.
  • It’s dishwasher-friendly.
  • It’s comfortable for an adult’s hand to hold.
  • It’s sold enough for a young toddler to use to feed themselves.
  • It’s really attractive (the colors are so pretty).

Cheese really loved the spoon. Like me, she was attracted like a bird to the beautiful colours (ours came in Giggle Green and Peekaboo Purple). She’s using toddler cutlery pretty confidently these days, and was excited to use her spoon to “chop chop” her eggs, and then placed the eggs on it to eat.

You can buy your own Spunis from or Amazon for $18 a pair of spoons. Follow Spuni on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google +.

#Spuni review and #GIVEAWAY via
#Spuni review and #GIVEAWAY via

#Spuni review and #GIVEAWAY via



Spuni - via

The kind folks over at Spuni have offered Brunch With My Baby readers the chance to win one of two sets of their awesome new spoons. Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.

Competition opens Sept 25th to Tues Oct 1, 11:59pm.

Entry open to US mailing addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We were given a set of Spunis to aid in our review. All opinions are our own.


Beauty & Essex: Kid-Friendly Restaurants, Lower East Side, NY

Beauty & Essex: #Kid-Friendly Restaurants, Lower East Side, #NY, via

Beauty & Essex is the type of restaurant you’d usually visit with a few friends for a champagne brunch — adult friends, I might add. I didn’t know this when friends suggested we go for brunch (a departure from my usual hyper-organized self).

We arrived to some confusion with our party of six adults and one energetic toddler for a Sunday brunch. We thought we’d reserved a table via Open Table, but it turned out the booking hadn’t gone through, and we were left table-less at peak brunch hour.

Beauty & Essex: #Kid-Friendly Restaurants, Lower East Side, #NY, via

Even though they were fully booked, they quickly found a table for us and set up a high chair – not a squishy table out of the way, but a large, centrally placed table under a skylight, with plenty of room for our large party. Score. The stroller wasn’t an issue either – after we collapsed it, someone whisked it away and checked it with our other bags.

While the staff were setting up a table, I realized that we had a diaper “situation” that needed to be dealt with, and fast. Walking down stairs to the restroom, I was dreading what I might find there – picturing a tiny, dark bathroom (the kind you usually find at restaurants and bars on the Lower East Side) and wondering if I’d need to put my toddler, whose nickname is “Cheese”, on the dirty floor. Amazement doesn’t cover how I felt when I opened the door and saw a huge lounge room, with a giant chaise, perfect for our urgent needs.

Back at the table, our server introduced himself – and made a beeline for Cheese to say hello. While Cheese was a bit overwhelmed with the attention, our server was so welcoming to her that any doubts I had about bringing the only child under the age of 10 to this restaurant were immediately dissolved.

If you’ve never brunched at Beauty & Essex before, this is what you need to know: Brunch here is all about the shared experience. It’s really designed for groups to share a delicious meal together, and to enjoy the communal experience. The menu has lots of options to suit the fussiest of eaters, including the two vegetarians at the table, and a special gluten-free menu for another member of our party. Each plate is actually tiny, and arrives with enough small portions for everyone to have a taste. Some dishes you’ll need to order two of (the pancakes, for example, come in servings of three small pancakes. If you want a pancake each for a table of six, you’ll need to order two servings). Actually ordering the right amount of food requires a strategic approach, so designate one person to organise your group – and who can figure out the right amount of food for the table (two to three dishes per person) – more if you’re all big eaters.

The dishes come out in a special order — eggs first, followed by any other savoury dishes, and the sweet dishes last. They also have a dessert menu that looks amazing (but for which we had almost no more room in our bellies), so save room if you love the sweet stuff like I do.

Beauty & Essex: #Kid-Friendly Restaurants, Lower East Side, #NY, via

Beauty & Essex: #Kid-Friendly Restaurants, Lower East Side, #NY, via

Beauty & Essex: #Kid-Friendly Restaurants, Lower East Side, #NY, via

Beauty & Essex: #Kid-Friendly Restaurants, Lower East Side, #NY, via

Beauty & Essex: #Kid-Friendly Restaurants, Lower East Side, #NY, via

We ordered the following dishes:  Oven Baked Frittata (with grilled vegetables & goat cheese, $14), 3 Eggs & 1 Yolk (skillet baked, with grilled asparagus, roasted tomato, goat cheese, $14), Lemon Blackberry Pancakes (with sweet ricotta, $11), Vanilla Beignets (with raspberry jam, $8), Free Range Scrambled Eggs (with sweet roasted tomatoes & cheddar cheese, $11, with spicy merguez sausage +$3). The star dishes were the Free Range Scrambled Eggs, which were creamy, fluffy and flavorful, thanks to the roasted tomatoes; the Vanilla Beignets, which resembled tiny little donuts dusted in icing sugar, and the Lemon Blackberry Pancakes – light and fluffy, topped with a sweet ricotta, and with a surprise blackberry compote underneath the pancake.

Beauty & Essex: #Kid-Friendly Restaurants, Lower East Side, #NY, via

Beauty & Essex: #Kid-Friendly Restaurants, Lower East Side, #NY, via
We ordered a few sides as well: Skillet Roasted Potatoes (with roasted peppers, herb sea salt), Salt & Vinegar Fries, Roasted Sweet Corn (with avocado, lime, manchego), Lobster & Chorizo Hash (with peruvian potatoes, cilantro butter) and the Mac & Cheese (with pancetta, tomato, sicilian-style bread crumbs). The favorites among the sides included the Roasted Sweet Corn, with its perfect combination of sweet and tanginess, and the Skillet Roasted Potatoes, which has a great punch via the roasted peppers sprinkled over the outsides while they were baking.

This may seem like an insane amount of food, and at first we thought we had over ordered when we kept seeing dish after dish appear on the table. We devoured every dish, however, and each diner reported feeling perfectly satiated rather than overstuffed. The perfect brunch had been achieved.

Beauty & Essex: #Kid-Friendly Restaurants, Lower East Side, #NY, via
What was our toddler doing, you may ask, during this parade of dishes? Cheese was on her best behaviour (lucky for us!) and was amused by new Elmo stickers, iPhone apps (her favorites are “Endless Alphabet” and “Beck and Bo”), the food (she inhaled my portion of scrambled eggs and loved the fries) and our obliging server, who repeatedly checked back in with us, not just to see how we were doing, but to specifically ask our toddler how SHE was doing.

The last happy surprise for the day was when the bill arrived. The menu had sounded expensive when we browsed it initially, but the total per person (including a cocktail for five of the six adults), was $33 each before tip. You really can’t do better than a restaurant that’s incredibly stylish, that serves decadent cuisine, that is welcoming to people of all ages, AND doesn’t put a huge dent in your weekly budget. Beauty & Essex — we will be back for more (especially more of those Vanilla Beignets!)

Last Bite: For a brunch venue that will please discerning adults and toddlers alike, Beauty & Essex delivers fine food for sharing fun.

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes, but bring a stroller that folds. Our stroller was “checked” and whisked away somewhere magical.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: No, but there’s a large lounge in the women’s restroom area that is perfect for changing babies if you need it.
Kids’ menu: No.

Beauty & Essex
146 Essex St
New York, NY
Prices: $$
Phone: (212) 614-0146
Hours: Mon-Fri 5pm-1am, Sat-Sun 11:30am-1am