Adventure, baby!

New York

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.

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Room front of house.
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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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

Get Easter Treats at Betty Bakery; Kid-friendly Cafes Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, NY

We dropped by our local bakery, Betty’s, this morning to pick up some delicious Easter snacks. If you’re like us, you enjoy eating your way through Easter. Yum! Happy Easter everyone!

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Marzipan Bunnies – Betty’s Bakery, Boerum HIll
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Easter cake and cookies – Betty’s Bakery, Boerum Hill.
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Easter Cookies – Betty’s Bakery, Boerum Hill.
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Petits Fours – Betty’s Bakery, Boerum Hill.

Highchairs: No.
Stroller storage: No. There is space for a few strollers in the store however – we’ve fit three at once and still had room for other customers.
Easy access: No. There is only one step, but it’s a narrow door frame and tricky to manoeuvre the stroller in.
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: No.

Betty Bakery
448 Atlantic Ave,
Brooklyn, NY
Phone: (718) 246 2402
Hours: Tues-Thurs 7:30am-7pm, Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 11am-5pm. Closed Mondays.

Get directions.

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Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain; Kid-friendly Restaurants, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

We often end up at the Farmacy on a Sunday afternoon when we’re craving a grilled cheese and shake, and want somewhere close, low key and extremely kid-friendly. I have an obsession with finding the perfect grilled cheese sandwich, and Brooklyn Farmacy has the best grilled cheese I’ve found so far.

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Brooklyn Farmacy, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, NY.

The shakes at Farmacy are phenomenal – we always order a vanilla malt thick shake to share.  It arrives in an old fashioned glass, so thick that it’s hard to slurp up through the straw.

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Sharing a shake, Brooklyn Farmacy, Carroll Gardens, NY.

What makes the grilled cheese so special? The cheese is plentiful and sharp, and oozes out the sides of the bread. The bread is crispy but not hard, and is toasted in a sandwich press rather than being fried, so it’s never oily.

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Grilled cheese glory. Brooklyn Farmacy, Carroll Gardens, NY.

One more reason why we keep coming back to the Farmacy – it’s one of the most kid-friendly, baby-friendly, and, thankfully for us, crazy toddler-friendly restaurants in Brooklyn. No one minds if your toddler, like ours, spends their entire time there running around the store and playing with the old fashioned scale in the entrance. Bless you, Farmacy, we love you.

Highchairs: Yes – but only one. There is, however, plenty of room to keep your baby in their stroller at your table.
Stroller storage: Yes – if it’s not too busy you can leave your stroller in the back room or by the front door.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: No (there is a large bathroom where you can change your baby on the floor if needed).
Kids’ menu: Not a special menu, but most of the food is friendly for bigger kids.

Brooklyn Farmacy
513 Henry Street (at Sackett st),
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Phone: (718) 522 6260

Winter/Spring Hours: Mon-Thur 10am-10pm, Fri 10am-11pm, Sat 8am-11pm, Sun 8am-9pm

Get directions.

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Little Muenster and a Pony Ride; Kid-friendly Things To Do, DUMBO

I’ve been known to travel all over the city in search of the perfect grilled cheese sandwich. There’s just something about crisp bread and melted cheese that makes my day. On the hunt for more local grilled cheese makers, we checked out Little Muenster in DUMBO – a teeny, tiny little storefront with a few stools at a bar, right next to the register and kitchen area.

Whiteboard menu on the footpath, Little Muenster, DUMBO.
Tiny storefront – Little Muenster, DUMBO.

While Little Muenster pride themselves on making “super fancy grilled cheese”, I ordered a classic, plain ol’ white cheese on white bread, with a side of tomato soup. It arrived quickly in takeaway containers – if it was nicer weather, it would have been perfect to eat at the nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park. Instead, we perched on the stools and enjoyed our lunch.

Classic grilled cheese and tomato soup – Little Muenster, DUMBO.

Kids love a good (or even bad!) grilled cheese – fact. Missy Cheese polished off half of mine and wanted more. An added benefit of the tiny store is being able to talk to the staff as they cook your grilled cheeses – they also highly enjoyed watching our Cheese inhale her sandwich.

Grilled cheese thief – Little Muenster, DUMBO.

Afterwards, we took a stroll through DUMBO, checking out the new Heartwalk installation at the Pearl Street Triangle. The massive 30-foot art installation was made from Hurricane Sandy-salvaged wood by Situ Studio, a 20 Jay Street-based design studio. You can check it out until April 30.

Heartwalk installation, DUMBO.

It’s pretty impossible for us to visit DUMBO without a ride on Jane’s Carousel. Cheese yells out “neigh!” when she sees a horse, so we can’t walk past without taking her for a ride. It’s worth noting that living in Brooklyn, Cheese’s exposure has to horses has been limited to carousels and rocking horses, so she may have a heart attack when she sees a real one in the flesh. A spin on the carousel will cost you two bucks. Well worth the small change for the amazing view of Manhattan alone.

Jane’s Carousel, DUMBO.

Little Muenster
Highchairs: No.
Stroller storage: No.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: No.

145 Front St (between Pearl St & Jay St)
DUMBO, New York
Phone: (646) 499 4331
Hours: Tue-Thur 12pm-3pm, 6pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-12am, Sun 12am-8pm

Get directions.

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Bacchus Le Cafe; Kid-friendly Places To Eat Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, NY

Sunday morning, breakfast date with friends. It’s still fiendishly cold, so we head around the corner to our local patisserie for a simple, fast breakfast before the kids need naps.

Sweet, very French, interior – La Patisserie, Boerum Hill, New York.

The counter is piled high with freshly-baked goods. Croissants, pain au chocolate, pains aux raisins … the smell is unbelievable.

Complimentary sweet treats for the babies.

The service is fast and super-friendly. They were so welcoming to us, crazy toddlers and all.

The food is great – fresh omelettes packed with spinach and tomato, flaky crossants with layers of ham. The kids shovel as much of the food into their mouths as they can, unable to believe their good luck at getting so many treats on this cold morning.

Freshly-baked madeleines.

I took a madeleine to go for the Cheese – and when I tasted it later I wished I’d bought more. It was so insanely good that I went back a few hours later, just for a few more madeleines.

This casual little cafe is absolutely going to be our weekend place to stop by and grab fast and delish food, either to eat in or to grab a pastry on the run. It’s hard to find a decent crossant in New York – but this little cafe really delivers. The pain au chocolate I tried was light and soft, flaky but not hard.

A sign on the counter displayed their free wifi password, so this cafe could also be great as a working location – if you can resist gorging yourself on the pastries, that is.

We had such a pleasant and delicious morning, that we will most certainly be back for more.

Where do you head when you’re in the mood for a croissant?

Highchairs: Yes, there is one highchair.
Stroller storage: There is room if they fit through the narrow front door. Think Bugaboo Bee or smaller.
Easy access: Yes. One or two easy steps.
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: No.

Bacchus Le Cafe
411 Atlantic Ave
(between Nevins St & Bond St)
Brooklyn, NY
Prices: $$
Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-9pm, Sat-Sun 8am-9pm
Get directions.

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Prospect Park Zoo, Brooklyn, New York

Nestled in beautiful Prospect Park is the sweet little Prospect Park Zoo. It’s a tiny zoo – perfect for people like us with a toddler. We saw everything in an hour and 20 minutes with our 19-month-old walking everywhere herself. I don’t like zoos much – I usually find them a bit depressing. The Prospect Park Zoo, however, is filled with well cared for animals and exhibits.

Sea lion, Prospect Park Zoo.

Miss Cheese’s favourite animals of the day were the sea lions, whose exhibit is smack in the middle of the zoo. Make sure you catch the daily sea lion feedings at 11:30am, 2pm and 4pm, to get a really good look at the sea lions performing their natural behaviours with some help from the keepers.

Kids of all ages (including us!) will love feeding the animals in the barn area of the zoo. Cows, goats, sheep, alpacas and chickens are housed in barn-like pens, with slats and holes in some of the fences so you can feed them the designated food. Watch out for the goats and sheep – they are so used to being fed that they climb up onto the fences and reach their long necks over for better access to food – funny for us, but a bit scary for little toddlers. They’re super gentle and tame though, and Cheese had no problem feeding them with animal kibble straight from her little hand. The best bit: baby lambs, just two weeks old. Squeee!!

Lambs! Prospect Park Zoo.
Baboons! Prospect Park Zoo.

The other highlights for us were the baboons, housed in a large enclosure adjoining one of the visitors centers, with floor to ceiling glass, and the Discovery Trail, a winding path through gardens and scrub lands, with animal exhibits like prairie dogs and red pandas. Cheese particularly loved the ducks, including eating the duck kibble instead of feeding it to the actual ducks.

Cheese watching the ducks, Prospect Park Zoo.

What to eat: This is the sad part of our post. While the animals are well fed, the humans aren’t. There are a lot of outdoor picnic tables to sit at, but inside the cafeteria lies only vending machines. We highly recommend you bring your own lunch, or leave the park and eat at a nearby cafe or restaurant. Check out our personal fave in Prospect Heights, Gueros, or download this guide to eating in Prospect Heights for a larger directory of places to eat.

Prospect Park Zoo
450 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY
Phone: (718) 399-7339
Hours: Spring/summer (Mar 23–Nov 3, 2013) Mon-Fri 10am-5:30pm, Sat-Sun 10am-5:30pm.
Fall/winter (Nov 4, 2013–Mar 28, 2014) Daily 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m

Betty Bakery; Kid-friendly Bakeries and Cafes, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, New York

Betty Bakery is the place to stop in Boerum Hill when your sweet tooth is getting the better of you. The bakery was opened in 2006, by renowned cake designers Cheryl Kleinman and Ellen Baumwoll. A touch retro, a touch modern, it’s the go-to place n the neighbourhood for cupcakes, custom cakes, cookies and hot chocolate.

Betty Bakery, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.
Kids hoping for snacks. Betty Bakery, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.

What to try: In summer, you absolutely have to have their strawberry lemonade. They also do a strawberry lemonade cupcake that will delight your tastebuds. In winter, get a hot chocolate and mini palmier to go – or perch on a stool in the bakery and take cover from the nasty elements outside.

Mini palmiers. Betty’s Bakery, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.

Betty’s loves to celebrate special occasions and seasons, so it’s the perfect place to drop in and pick up last-minute Easter and passover treats.

Highchairs: No.
Stroller storage: No. There is space for a few strollers in the store however – we’ve fit three at once and still had room for other customers.
Easy access: No. There is only one step, but it’s a narrow door frame and tricky to manoeuvre the stroller in.
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: No.

Betty Bakery
448 Atlantic Ave,
Brooklyn, NY
Phone: (718) 246 2402
Prices: $$
Hours: Tues-Thurs 7:30am-7pm, Sat 9am-7pm, Sun 11am-5pm. Closed Mondays.
Get directions.

Betty Bakery on Urbanspoon

The New Pier 5, Brooklyn Bridge Park; Brooklyn, New York, Playgrounds

Something miraculous happened over winter. Pier 5, Brooklyn Bridge Park, opened to the public on a suitably arctic day, too cold for most New Yorkers to check it out.

We had a chance to take a look soon after it opened, and fell in love with the sweet little toddler play area, perfect for kids Cheese’s age (she’s currently 19 months old).

New playground at Pier 5, Brooklyn Bridge Park.

As well as the little toddler area, there is a playground for slightly older kids, with a spiders web to climb.

Not a bad view. Pier 5, Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The new pier also features a 200,000 square feet sporting field and a picnic peninsula with tables, grills and umbrellas for some much needed shade come summer.

What to eat: After Memorial Day weekend, Prospect Heights’ Ample Hills Creamery will be serving crazy flavours like Maple Baon and Ooey Goey Butter Cake at the pier. You’ll also be able to walk to Pier 6 next door and grab a slice of pizza from Fornino, who are opening up for the season. Enough of this cold already, bring on the summer!

Pier 5, Brooklyn Bridge Park
Joralemon St,
New York, NY

The Best Desserts In DUMBO, New York

DUMBO (standing for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), is industrial neighbourhood on the verge of gentrification. Old factories have been gutted and turned into luxury condos, hipsters bars and restaurants like Superfine are popping up everywhere. DUMBO is also a haven for those with a major sweet tooth. Here are four places to hit up for an intense sugar hit.

Whoopie pies and spiky cupcakes, One Girl Cookie, DUMBO.

Best whoopie pie: One Girl Cookies
Lovers of cookies will find it hard to restrict themselves to just a few treats when stopping by One Girl Cookie’s DUMBO store (They also have a cosy cafe in Cobble Hill). What to try: Tiny, exquisite cookies give the store its name, but it’s the spiky cupcakes and whoopie pies that are the big drawcard for us. If you’ve never had a whoopie pie before (for the uninitiated, it’s two mounds of cake – usually either chocolate or pumpkin – with a cream cheese filling), get thee to One Girl Cookie now!

Little piggie. Whoopie pies at One Girl Cookie, DUMBO.

One Girl Cookies
33 Main St (corner of Water)
Brooklyn
Hours: Mon-Thurs 8am-7pm, Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 9am-8pm, Sun 9am-7pm

Desserts at Almondine, DUMBO.

Best croissants: Almondine
This beloved pastry-haven was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy last year. It reopened a few weeks ago and has been packed ever since with returning loyal customers, desperate for their favourite crossants. What to try: Almondine are well-known for their croissants, macarons and loaves of bread.

Almondine
85 Water St, Brooklyn
Hours: Mon-Sat 7am-7pm, Sun 10am-6pm

Best candy in town – Dewey’s Candy Store, DUMBO.

Best candy: Dewey’s Candy Store
Venture into this store only if you’re ready for the smell of sugar and a desire to eat everything in sight. Dewey’s Candy Store is an adorable retro candy store that will make you feel like you’re in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Just don’t lick the wallpaper. What to try: Get a little clear bag and fill it with bits and pieces of everything. Our particular favourites are the cola bottle sours.

Dewey’s Candy Store
141 Front St, Brooklyn
Hours: Mon-Wed, Fri & Sat 12pm-7pm, Thur 12pm-8pm, Sun 12pm-6pm

Best chocolate hit – Jacques Torres, DUMBO.

Best chocolate hit: Jacques Torres
Whenever we need a major chocolate hit, there is no place in the neighbourhood like Jacques Torres for really good chocolate. They currently have a huge range of Easter treats like bunnies, chickens and traditional Easter eggs, as well as their usual supply of delicate chocolate bonbons, pastries and chocolate-covered nuts and pretzels. What to try: We’d say one of everything, but if you can’t handle that much sugar, the must-haves are the hot chocolate (think pure chocolate melted in a cup) and the chocolate-covered almonds.

Jacques Torres
66 Water Street, Brooklyn
Hours: Mon-Sat 9am-8pm, Sun 10am-6pm

What are your favourite places to go for sweet treats in your neighbourhood?

Superfine; Kid-friendly Restaurants, DUMBO, Brooklyn

On a cold, unexpectedly snowy day, we trudged on down to check out Superfine in DUMBO. It’s such an in-the-know-only hipster joint – if you didn’t know it was there, you’d walk straight past it.

Snowy day, nondescript exterior …

Inside is a spacious bar and restaurant, where kids are welcome and the cocktails run strong.

Inside is this bar …
And this huge area just for us.

We wheeled our jumbotron stroller up the ramp to the eating area and were given a massive table next to some strollers. “Great,” I said to the hostess, “stroller parking!”. “Actually, there are babies in there”, she confided, as she slipped away again. We peeked inside the strollers and, sure enough, there were babies asleep in there. We sat down, baffled as to what to do with the slumbering babes, when their mother came over and let us know that they could sleep through a hurricane, so not to worry about them. Ok!

And that, really, sums up the atmosphere at Superfine. Super casual. Anything goes. Park your stoller (and potentially babies, too) wherever they fit.

The misc toys we found.

We also found some spare toys they had lying around for Cheese to play with when she wasn’t running up and down the ramp like she was possessed by a demon.

Delicious. Baby thought so too.

We were super keen to try out Superfine’s brunch menu, but I didn’t realise it was only served on Sundays, so we had the Saturday lunch menu instead. My sandwich with fries was fresh and tasty, and the fries were devoured by Miss Cheese.

The cocktails are a must-have. If you’re a lightweight, be prepared to have someone escort you home after just one, as, yes, they are that strong.

Superfine is known for its live bluegrass music, but sadly we didn’t have any during our visit, so perhaps it’s only on Sundays – their website is a bit sparse, so I’d suggest you call them directly for more information on anything.

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: No.
Kids’ menu: No.

Superfine
126 Front St,
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 243-9005
Call for updated hours.

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