In Defense Of The Parents Who Brought An 8-Month-Old To A Thousand Dollar Dinner

Babies are so hard! And babies are so hungry! But the BIG questions is, would you bring your baby to a Michelin 3-star restaurant where dinners run around a thousand bucks and there is a no refund policy? Because that’s what happened Saturday night when a couple brought their baby to Alinea, a Chicago restaurant with menu items like:

(Image: twitter)

(Image: twitter)

This is basically just like mushy bananas and Cheerios, except with more head.

On Saturday night, the co-owner of Alinea tweeted:
Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 8.17.10 AM


and was met with replies like:

Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 8.20.14 AM


Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 8.19.50 AM


and of course, someone made a parody account:

Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 8.22.38 AM


I mean, it sucks when your sitter cancels, if that is indeed what happened. For all I know the parents in question thought their baby was so freakin’ adorable that it would add to the ambience of eating molecular cuisine and spending a lot of money to do so. According to Gachatz’s tweets, the baby was sitting on Mom’s lap, probably because extremely fancy restaurants don’t have lame things like high chairs, so I’m sure the poor mom didn’t enjoy her meal much either.

I wouldn’t bring any of my kids to a place that was super fancy, and my kids are all older and very well-behaved. I just don’t think they are worth that much fancy food, and I like to be able to go out and relax as a grownup. Plus, the other diners deserved to eat their blood orange foam and roe in piece, because most adults go out to dinner to escape the screaming brats that they have left at home.  But I have sympathy if it was a babysitting issue, because who wants to lose out on that much money?

But then again, if you have money to blow on a thousand dollar dinner, you probably have money to blow on an emergency nanny service.

(Images: twitter/getty images)


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  • jane

    Would I bring my kid here? No. Would I drop that kind of money on a meal ever even if I was childless/child free? No. So do I have a lot of sympathy for people who are eating in that restaurant? No.

    Look, being rich doesn’t protect you from all of life’s little annoyances. There are about 3 million ways to be irritated by other diners at a restaurant. Someone could take a loud cell phone call. Someone could have a hacking, disgusting cough. There could be a shrieking bachelorette party. If the baby was really crying and making a scene, the parents should have taken it outside or done a lap around the building or something. That’s just common courtesy, and it belongs everywhere, from Denny’s on up. But if there were occasional baby noises, all those other diners should just suck it up and try to enjoy eating a meal that costs more than the average annual income for people of many African nations. I don’t think that those judgy-mcjudgypantses get to determine what other people do or don’t do with their money or time.

    • Eve Vawter

      I love your comment so much

    • EmmaFromÉire

      I think they’re well within their right to be pissed of. It was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a family restaurant. If people are spending big bucks on a meal, regardless of your opinion on it, they are entitled to a quiet, grown up atmosphere.

    • Alex

      I would expect anyone making a loud cell phone call, a hacking disgusting couch, or a shrieking bachelorette party to ALSO be asked to leave the restaurant.

      The diners are not just paying for the meal, they’re paying for the atmosphere (which is also why I assume that they have a dress code that would probably not allow jeggings since it isn’t Denny’s).

    • jane

      Right, I agree with you, but the article just isn’t clear exactly how much of an offense the baby was making. One little cry? Or wailing throughout dinner? It seemed to me that people were much more offended by the idea that a baby was in the restaurant than anything that the baby actually did.

    • candyvines

      The tweet said the baby cried. Dinners like that usually last three or four hours. I’m betting it was more than a couple of peeps.

    • jane

      Then the restaurant F*ed up by not asking them to leave.

    • candyvines

      The parents fucked up by not leaving, IMO.

    • rrlo

      You don’t think it is the restaurant’s responsibility to find a way to solve this problem for it’s customers? The parents are not there for free – they paid too. So why do the other patrons have more rights than the parents?
      I don’t fully agree that the parents HAVE to leave. It would show good judgment to leave as a common courtesy to other patrons. However, just because one becomes a parent – it doesn’t mean that it becomes his or her responsibility to always inconvenience themselves in order to spare other people their inconvenience.
      I hope that make a bit of sense because every time the “I hate parents of babies in public places” sentiments come out (not that you are saying that at all) – I want people to remember that.
      Yes, parents should be courteous and think about others – just like everyone else – that is the hallmark of civilized society.
      However, the whole baby thing I find generally bring out unrealistic expectations from otherwise rational people. People don’t become altruistic saints all of a sudden they have a baby – in fact usually a bit of the opposite happens.

    • candyvines

      No, I don’t think it’s the restaurant’s responsibility to solve this for the parents. I think it is 100% the parents’ responsibility to remove their unhappy baby from a nice restaurant. I’m not saying that parents should not bring their children to restaurants, I’m saying they should bring them to family friendly ones or dine out early with the expectation of leaving early if their child can’t handle it. I don’t think that’s an unrealistic expectation.

    • rrlo

      Alright then. We’ll just agree to disagree.

    • Tinyfaeri

      I agree that it’s the parents’ responsibility to make sure their child doesn’t impact others’ ability to enjoy their dinner. It was the parents’ choice to bring their infant with them, after all. And I bet they make a hell of a doggy bag.

    • Kelly

      Is that how you approach life? You can do whatever the f*ck you want until someone with authority forces you to stop?

      Decent people are respectful of the people around them. That means you don’t sit in a nice restaurant and ignore your screaming kid, you don’t light up a cigarette in a movie theater, you don’t spit on the floor of the grocery store, etc., even if no one is following you around and threatening to throw your ass out.

    • rrlo

      Wow, you sound so angry and personal! I don’t do any of these things. And said many times that I personally wouldn’t bring a child (certainly not a screaming one) to a nice restaurant.
      Just having a hypothetical discussion about what is reasonable to expect and what isn’t. And what rights parents have over other people.
      SHOCKINGLY, what I think CAN be different from what you think!!!!! I don’t HAVE to agree with every random person on the internet with a differing opinion than me….

    • Francine

      “However, just because one becomes a parent – it doesn’t mean that it becomes his or her responsibility to always inconvenience themselves in order to spare other people their inconvenience.”

      Yes it does if their child is the cause of the inconvenience.

    • VA Teacher

      Becoming a parent absolutely DOES make it your responsibility to inconvenience yourself to prevent others from being inconvenienced by YOUR children.

    • rrlo

      Again, very hypothetical discussion. I feel like everyone is getting so touchy… Here is where is my hypothetical thought process is coming from.

      On the subway, do we HAVE to give up our seat to a pregnant person? We should – but should the expectation always be that someone must inconvenience themselves for the convenience of the other person?

      On a crowded elevator, do we HAVE to hold the door when we see someone running towards it?

      On the highway, do we HAVE to let someone into our lane?

      There are so many examples like that. These are common courtesies – not laws.

      So I still agree to disagree that parents – just because they are parents – should be held to a different and higher standard of common courtesy that people are failing to abide by in droves.

      Anyway – that’s enough of that!!! I shall forever remain silent on this topic and I assure you neither my child nor I will ever knowingly ruin any of your meals!

    • candyvines

      No one has to do any of these things, but in most cases it is rude and selfish not to. The parents are being held to the same standard as everyone else in the restaurant – you have no idea what concessions other diners may have made to be there. We’re calling out the parents because they acted selfishly. You have mentioned a few times that you wouldn’t bring a baby to a nice restaurant – if this is something you wouldn’t even do you can surely understand why this is an issue for some people. Also, maybe everyone seems touchy because you’re arguing about hypotheticals and we’re talking about something that actually happened.

    • C.J.

      I don’t think that the other other patrons have more rights than the parents. Anyone who is creating a disturbance should be expected to leave. There is only so much a restaurant can do to solve a disturbance other than asking the people causing it to leave. Part of parenting is sometimes not getting to do what you want. It’s up to parents to not put their children in situations they can’t handle or remove them from situations when they have had enough. Parents should put their child’s needs first and if baby is distressed it is not fair to expect the baby to sit there for hours because the parents don’t want to give something up.

    • wmdkitty

      “However, just because one becomes a parent – it doesn’t mean that it becomes his or her responsibility to always inconvenience themselves”

      Ha ha ha NO. If you choose to have a kid, you are 100% obligated to inconvenience yourself if your crotch-goblin is being a little shit. I don’t care if you paid to be there, you don’t get to disrupt the experience — the food, the atmosphere, etc — of other people who also paid to be there, without their kids.

      It’s bloody rude to inflict your child on other people when your your child is being a disruptive little monster.

    • daddybigcat

      either that or your just full of shit again kitten-

    • Elizabeth Licata

      Someone apparently brought an infant to Next, Achatz’s other restaurant. Next is not as crazy or fancy or expensive as Alinea, but dinner for two is still probably $600. But the Next baby just sat quietly and did not become a Twitter thing.

    • Ellie

      Jane – Jealous much? You sound a little bitter towards folks with a few extra dollars… “All those other diners should just suck it up…” Seriously? I think most of us can agree that if you make a reservation at this type of establishment, regardless of whether you have money or this is a special occasion treat, there is an expectation that the food, service, atmosphere, and overall experience will be great, and no expectation that a crying baby, or any of “life’s little annoyances” will impact that experience. They PAID for that experience. So, yes, Jane, those “judgy-mcjudgypantses get to determine what other people do or don’t do with their money or time.”

    • mom2three

      You call them judgemental while judging them for having more money than you and not constantly apologizing for it. We get it, you are so deep and a special snowflake immune to luxury and wanting to escape life for a few hours. Rich people also make more charitable donations in one hour than most Americans make for a salary in a year. So… I don’t really get the point you are making. Rich people should tolerate bad manners with a smile because they are shallow for spending their own money. Okay then.
      Some places should be child free because some of us are not super mom and want a freaking break from crying babies for two hours. You can take your children everywhere else. Let the parents who don’t want to talk about diapers for one night get a break that they too deserve. You said it yourself, Denny’s is all about family.

    • jane

      Hello projection! I would love to have the money to “escape life for a few hours” and I am the LAST person who takes her kids everywhere. I love it when I get a break from my kids. We get babysitters and go out and like a night out free from crying and diapers and all that stuff. I don’t even object at all to restaurants being child free if it is stated that they are child free. What I am judging is the amount of vitrol that is directed at these people who simply have the “audacity” to have a child and bring it somewhere. If the baby wasn’t welcome at the restaurant, that should have been stated from the get-go and they shouldn’t have been allowed to be seated in the first place.

      I just think that, in general, people deserve a little more compassion. We don’t know anything about this couple. Maybe they’re on their honeymoon and they saved up for months to eat here and then the babysitter called sick at the last second. Maybe they had reservations for months and the baby just came home from the NICU and they didn’t feel safe leaving her at home. If the child was really being disruptive, it’s the restaurant’s job to usher the whole family out. There’s no need to publicly shame them on twitter. That’s the element of “I’m rich and I can’t believe anyone dare get in my way” that I am finding so off-putting about this whole thing.

    • Elizabeth Licata

      I feel the same “I’m rich and I can’t believe anyone dare get in my way,” but the biggest part of me is attributing that to the parents who weren’t willing to sell their tickets or have one of them stay home out of courtesy to other diners.

      They almost certainly had reservations for months. It is actually completely conceivable that they made these reservations before they even got pregnant. But they had options, and selling their tickets and not going was an option.

      I’m actually completely in favor of taking small children to fancy restaurants. But Alinea is a different kind of fancy, and an infant is different than small child. A particularly sophisticated 2-year-old who will happily eat the fish heads and make conversation at a reasonable volume? Awesome, go right ahead. But a baby? Like an actual still in diapers, not eating solid foods, can’t be 100% trusted not to cry randomly baby? I hope I would stay home with the baby for the benefit of it and the other diners.

    • Marisa Miller

      Do you have kids? A sitter doesn’t cancel months in advance. They decide to go to a party and blow you off an hour before. A baby will usually take a bottle and sleep through most things. A toddler will crawl under the table and shriek when you take away the fork. Sometimes life is messy and you have to be flexible on BOTH sides. I couldn’t afford to lose $1k so I would never make that bet as the parents of 2 kids, but they did and they were trying ( assume) to do what they could based on Alinea’s “screw you, no refunds” policy.

    • Ellie

      Jane – you state that people deserve a little more compassion. I agree. But look at the flip side; where is the compassion for the patron that had to put up with a less than desirable experience? What if I was a patron that night, and maybe on my honeymoon, or I saved up enough money for a special occasion, and a crying baby spoiled my night… Life happens, and in all fairness to the child, the other patrons, and themselves, the parents should have made other arrangements for their child or cancelled their dinner plans (and I am sure the restaurant has a reservation waitlist)…

    • meteor_echo

      Um, fucking no.

      In those types of restaurants, you turn your cellphones off, you speak mildly and politely, and even if there is a bachelorette party, it should be held at the volume tone which does not disrupt other diners. A wailing, screeching human vuvuzela has absolutely nothing to do in a three Michelin star restaurant. Even pre-teens have nothing to do there, unless their table manners are perfect.
      And no, I wouldn’t suck it up. I’d write a note and ask the server or the manager to relay it to those people, because if I pay $500 per a freaking person, I’m not going to take shit from a braying baby and its ill-mannered parents.

    • Kelly

      No, I won’t suck it up. If I’m paying for dinner at a nice restaurant, they will take care of obnoxious customers or I will leave, without paying for my unfinished meal.

    • Paul White

      I wouldn’t spend that either, but their money, their call. And who in their rigrht fucking mind would think of taking a kid?

      I’m down with kids in family friendly restaurants, I really am. We take Sam with us regularly. How else do they learn to behave in public? But a 500 dollar a person meal isn’t a “family restaurant.” That’d be like taking an infant to a world class opera…just tacky and rude and you shouldn’t have to be particularly socially aware to get that.

      As far as the sorts of people that spend that on meals…eh, if they have it they can spend it. I doubt I would–I’m more a fan of a decent 15 dollar steak and a baked potato. But you’re talking about them being judgy while making massive implicit judgements yourself.

  • EmmaFromÉire

    A $1000 dinner? No for reals, I could pay my transport to and from college for a year with that kinda money. #collegekidproblems

    • gothicgaelicgirl


  • pixie

    I think the parody account was a little mean.
    Yes if the baby was shrieking and crying and disturbing other patrons and the staff, then maybe ask the parents if there is something that can be done to calm the baby (walk it around outside, etc) or to leave if they refuse to do anything. I’ve never been to a restaurant that costs nearly as much as $1000 per meal, but I have been to some fairly nice restaurants before (my parents pretty much always brought me with them on their anniversary dinners, it’s not the norm, I know, but I’ve been going to nicer local restaurants since I was a kid and I knew how to sit still and behave) and unless a baby or kid is making a fuss, I don’t think there’s a huge problem with bringing infants and kids to fancy restaurants, if they can be quiet for the amount of time it takes (babies/toddlers a little more difficult, I realize). A restaurant like that doesn’t have to be family friendly, but having the odd non-adult in there shouldn’t be the end of the world (but like I said, if they’re well-behaved and not running around and/or screaming like a banshee on steroids).

    And who the hell pays $1000 for a meal? I wish I had that kind of money to blow, because currently that kind of money basically covers my rent, hydro, internet, and groceries for a month (rent, why you so expensive??).

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      You make so much sense, I want to hug you!

      I do agree, I think if you are brought to restaurants as a kid, you learn how to behave.
      Of course my dad had the brainwave of making us take a book with us, thereby encouraging us to read, provide conversation material and make sure we were good. (of course we were little divils once we got our dessert)

    • pixie

      Yay hugs!
      My parents would bring a small note pad and pen/pencil for me to draw with to keep me occupied and talk to me. It also helped that my parents liked to walk to dinner, so any excess energy I might have had was burned off before dinner. :P

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      yeah my parents were fond of the silent game too lol.
      i had odd parents.
      they never had a problem with us ordering whatever we wanted and actually encouraged us to go for adult meals rather than the usual kids menu, which typically consists of fish fingers, chicken nuggets, sausages or chips and some bland pasta shite.

      probably why squid was my favourite food as a four year old lol

    • barefootwithoutagun

      YES to encouraging kids to choose from the adult menu! All kids are ever offered here in the U.K. is the same old fried, breaded crap – the stuff most people keep in their freezers at home, for a fraction of the price. How are kids ever meant to expand their tastes if that’s all that’s on offer?

      Restaurants/pubs should offer smaller portions of each ‘adult’ meal on the menu, not just nuggets!

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      and the main thing is to let the child know they will not be punished for not liking something new. at worst, it costs you €10 for something they don’t like.
      I understand it’s still a good amount of money but the point is it’s something the child has now tried.

      The only rule we have in our house is you must try two mouthfuls of everything. Except fish, seeing as the kids make puking noises whenever I make it for myself lol.

      I’m the only fish eater and all I did was ignore the girls making noises. Eventually the youngest asked for a nibble of smoked coley with leeks.
      She now devours half of Ireland’s sushi supply.

      Food is more than just something to make you feel full, I always try to make food that makes the kids smile.

      I personally am sick of requesting proper veg to supplement a kids “menu” of chips, processed meat and canned pasta.

      The waking moment for me was going to a small local restaurant and being told “we don’t do half portions for kids, but they can have chips?”

      What restaurant DOESN’T offer half portions or at least SOME variation for a kids menu? They then went on to tell me I couldn’t share an adult meal with my 8 year old stepdaughter, she’d have to order her own seafood pasta.

      Utterly ridiculous. We left, went to the GBK instead and had gorgeous veggie burgers and sweet potato fries. =) (can’t fault GBK for their great kids menu too, sure it’s chips but you can also get falafel! FALAFEL FOR KIDS!)

    • pixie

      Doesn’t offer half portions for kids? Do they offer half-portions for seniors? Because while I did know seniors who could eat more than I ever could, I also know a lot of seniors who can’t eat a full-sized meal and often complain about there being too much food.
      I know kids aren’t seniors, but I don’t see why it would be a problem for a restaurant to give a smaller portion to a child like they would with a senior. (most restaurants that I know that do a smaller portion for seniors, it has to be requested, but I’ve never seen the restaurant get upset about it).

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      Unfortunately a lot of restaurants near us only offer a full size and refuse point blank to offer a half portion for kids.
      they would rather shovel deep fried crap down the kids throat and call it a meal and charge us for it.
      god forbid I should want to see some vegetable other than spud in a “family” restaurant…

    • wmdkitty

      Whatever happened to taking home leftovers?

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      O we do that lol, it’s more the fact that kids are forced to be limited in a lot of restaurants

  • mad4b

    I practice attachment parenting but I wouldn’t do this. It isn’t fair for the diners OR the child. Babies, just like anyone can sense a hostile environment full of people who want them to leave and it makes them more upset. I’m all for having fun after having kids but you are not the center of the universe. Maybe another couple spent 1000 dollars on a meal because they wanted to ensure a child free evening on a date night. Not having a babysitter isn’t everyone else’s problem, it’s yours. Should I bring a five year old to a bar and expect everyone to adjust their behavior for my precious

    • Horrid Baby Names

      Finally. A parent with a head on their shoulders. Snaps to you.

  • keanesian

    I”m sorry. I’m still not over how gross those fish heads look.

    • keanesian

      Although I guess that makes me feel better about not having the money to waste eating there…

    • pixie

      Yeah, I’m not exactly into having my food stare back at me.
      Or have that many legs like whatever is shoved into the fish heads’ mouths *shudder* (seriously, I hate legs on things. Whenever I have lobster with my boyfriend I have him open it up for me because I can’t deal with the legs)

    • aliceblue

      Lol. I have a “rule” about my food – I don’t eat food that can look at me (fish heads, entire lobsters) or move on its own (raw oysters, jello).

    • ted3553

      you had me until Jello. I love Jello, slurpy slurpy jello. As long as it doesn’t have crap in it like shredded carrots. WTH is that?

    • Eve Vawter

      I’m gonna shove those fishes in your face hole and make you LIKE them

    • keanesian

      Gah, I hope you don’t charge me $1000 for the experience of that.

    • shel

      They’re probably covered in Cilantro…

    • tubesfilledwithcats

      50 shades of greyfish?

    • Elizabeth Licata

      Food is art now. It’s supposed to make you think. This dish sets us on edge by making us think about how the ocean is full of terrifying monsters that want to eat us, but simultaneously it soothes us with the knowledge that we can cut off those monsters’ heads, stuff their mouths full of other creatures we’ve killed, and then eat them with a deconstructed bearnaise sauce. Suck it, the ocean.

    • Shelly Lloyd

      That needs to be the comment of the week. :)

    • keelhaulrose

      Think about it, they’re geniuses: They charge a grand a seat for what the $100 a plate restaurant next door is throwing out. They’re profiting off freeganism (that word just made my spell checker explode).

    • Kay_Sue

      I am so glad I’m not the only one. Hell, if I were a baby, I think I’d be terrified if those were staring at me from ours or another table…

    • wmdkitty

      I’m an adult, and I’m a little terrified. Food isn’t supposed to stare back from the plate…

    • Kay_Sue

      I know. I kind of feel like I should have a conversation with it? But that would probably make people look at me weird.

  • Elizabeth Licata

    That can’t have been fun for the baby. Dinner at Alinea would take hours. OK, I don’t know what babies do for fun, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t watching mom spray a bacon atomizer into her mouth. I sympathize with a last-minute babysitter cancellation, but I think if it were me I would try desperately to find a replacement or one of the parents would stay home. (I’m currently imagining my argument for why it should be my husband, were we to find ourselves in this situation.) I have no doubt the spare ticket could easily be sold to a friend or to one of the many nice people who watch the Next or Alinea facebook pages specifically for opportunities to pick up tickets like that.

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      we’ve had this, where one of the kids was sick, the sitter was sick and we had tickets to one of our favourite bands. My fella very kindly took charge said I should go and take my best friend, because I had introduced him to the band, he figured since I was the bigger fan, I should go.
      I did the same in reverse for when another band was playing and the young lad was recovering from his appendix operation.
      No point in both missing out. =)

      Though if it came to choosing who gets to go to Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant, I’ll always win. My fella is petrified of me when I’m eating.

    • Marisa Miller

      I had to do this for the first LudoBites that I went to. My husband missed out. The next time we just brought him. Fortunately there are amazing dining experiences out there where children are welcome. Ludo and Krissy Lefebvre are fantastic hosts this way. I am a chef so I can also understand wanting to eat there and saving up for the ressie for months if you are blue-collar and the idea of forfeiting $1000 b/c a sitter cancels is terrible. Some people have mentioned concerts or sporting events not refunding $, but most concerts don’t cost that much and some people do bring babies to shows and games.

  • G.E. Phillips

    I wouldn’t have done what these parents did, but also, first world problems. There are way worse things that could happen in this world than a baby crying a few tables away while you dine on ceviche, sea bass, and filet mignon.

    • G.E. Phillips

      Oh, I guess some people do think this is the worst thing that could happen to you. Oh.

    • candyvines

      I didn’t downvote you, but I don’t agree with the idea that just because there are worse things that happen in the world doesn’t mean we can’t be annoyed by things that are annoying.

  • keelhaulrose

    If I’m going to a family friendly restaurant I shouldn’t complain about having screaming kids, though it’s rude to let a baby fuss throughout dinner either way. If I want to avoid kids I shouldn’t go to the matinee of the latest animated feature.
    However there are certain situations where I pay extra to avoid kids. The matinee showing of Frozen might be cheaper, but if I pay the extra to go to the 9 PM show I’m doing so because I know it lessens my chance of being surrounded by restless four year olds who loudly announce their need for the bathroom. Of course, that’s a movie, and my experience at the 9:30 showing of Catching Fire shows people will bring their three year olds to almost any show.
    But the theater my husband and I went to last night bills itself as an adult-friendly place where I can spend twice the normal ticket price to be assured I won’t have The Hobbit spoiled by terrified toddlers. Yes, you buy your tickets in advance, and no refunds. If you want a good seat you have to buy early. I’d be mad if I spent that much on tickets and still had to deal with a crying baby (even more so because I went on a gift certificate, I can’t afford that theater just any day)
    Same thing with restaurants. If I’m spending a couple months rent on a dinner I expect a more adult experience than if I’m hanging out at the nearest TGIFridays.

    • Mel

      I agree mostly, but I still think I should always be free of a screaming person in a restaurant/store/whatever, even if that person is tiny. It’s just anti-parent, it should just be part of the general social contract. If someone is causing a disturbance whether that be your kid or your drunk friend, take steps to protect everyone else from it. That’s just the polite an decent thing to do, no matter how inexpensive the prices are.

    • keelhaulrose

      I get stuff happens with even the most well behaved children. Parents reaction is key, and there are ways to avoid most situations, up and including not bringing your child somewhere.
      My church has “summer services”, not full services (summers off from those) but guest speakers and presentations. Because it’s not full-time church there’s not things like Sunday school. Many parents skip summers, those that do bring kids have well behaved children and busy bags to keep them quiet. It works well. There was one little girl we always sat behind was a perfect little lady, she played quietly, didn’t bother anyone, and worked out a silent signal to mother if she had to go out to use the bathroom. One day, during a visiting minister’s talk, the minister accidentally let out a cuss, and this little girl gasped loudly, and nearly shouted “he said a big people word!” in the kind of tone you’d expect on Downton Abbey
      It was funny, and the minister quipped about watching his mouth, and the girl quieted back down. The whole thing was forgivable. A single fuss, shout, or outburst is okay, stuff happens and I can’t expect kids to behave like adults 100% of the time, but enough noise to significantly disrupt the others around the child is inexcusable.

    • Psych Student

      That sounds not only forgivable but *adorable*.

  • gothicgaelicgirl

    I can see both points.
    I’ve had to bring the girls with me to the docs after the sitter unexpectedly cancelled.
    Not ideal to hear them bickering (as small kids are wont to do) in the waiting room while i give my best impression of a butt naked starfish but hey, you do what you gotta do.

    But I personally wouldn’t A) Bring them somewhere that is so obviously not child-friendly and B) Pay €1,000 for fish heads!

    • Samm

      Why are you leaving small kids alone in the waiting room?

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      Probably should have clarified that- The secretary is a good friend of mine who kindly agreed to keep an eye on them so I didn’t have to reschedule my appointment.

  • candyvines

    Some people spend $1000 on a handbag, or tickets to a sporting event. While I migh not personally spend that much on those things, I can understand why one might want to. No only the super rich go to special occasion dinners, don’t understand why some here think they deserve to have their experience ruined just because they bought something extravagant. That being said, certainly the restaurant has a waiting list they can call so people won’t bring their children for fear of losing a deposit?

    • Marisa Miller

      It’s not a deposit. it’s a ticketed event. No refunds. You can sell or exchange with someone else which wouldn’t work last minute in most cases.

    • SomminSneakers

      I think a ‘Dinner at Alinea tonight, two tickets’ would have raked in about 1200-1500 on craigslist, immediately.

    • Marisa Miller

      immediately like within AN HOUR? Who is combing craigslist dressed and ready to drop a $k at Alinea? It’s not that popular among foodies anymore, only latecomers to the Achatz show.

    • Marisa Miller

      Next, maybe, but not Alinea. I’d say it would take the better part of a day.

  • CMJ

    I’m shocked they even got a reservation.

  • Tinyfaeri

    If I sit on her lap and pretend to be a baby, do you think they’d take me?

  • C.J.

    It should be common sense to not bring your baby to a restaurant like that. Our children are the centre of our universe but they are not the centre of everyone else’s universe. People pay extra to go to places that are not child friendly to get a break from their own children. People without children or with grown children sometimes pat extra to go to places that are not child friendly so they don’t have to deal with children. Not only is it not fair to the other diners, it is not fair to the baby to put them in a situation they are not able to deal with. If baby is distressed it should be time to leave, even if it wrecks your own meal. It is selfish to bring a baby to a restaurant like that because your sitter cancelled and you don’t want to miss out. Part of parenting is having to miss things sometimes because of unforeseen circumstances.

    • ted3553

      yep. you can bet sure as hell, when my husband and I go out for dinner on a date night, we don’t choose Boston Pizza. We want to go somewhere for adults that we can’ go to with our little guy. There are just places you don’t take them.

  • rrlo

    I completely agree that I would NEVER bring my child to a fancy restaurant. I hesitate to take my child to a divy, ugly restaurant half the time.

    HOWEVER, speaking strictly from a rights perspective – a person’s right to eat a child-free meal does not trump someone else’s right to bring his child to said meal – unless the restaurant had a strict policy.

    People can complain, huff and puff – but ultimately will have to suck it up.

    • Kelly

      No, they won’t have to suck it up. Nice restaurants will simply realize that people out there are too fucking stupid not to bring their infants to dinner and create “no children” policies.

      People aren’t going to pay thousands to sit next to a wailing baby. Restaurant owners are smart enough to understand that and if they aren’t, they won’t be restaurant owners for much longer.

    • rrlo

      That’s what I mean. Unless the restaurant have a no-child policy – (and if they do, they need to tell people before selling the $1000 meal) – the other patrons can’t ultimately do anything about it.

      Honestly, what can the other patrons do? They can forcibly throw the baby and family out of the restaurant. Maybe give dirty looks, send a note – that’s it. Or take to twitter.

      I figure any parent brazen enough to bring a 8 month old to a uber-fancy restaurant will be able to brush off any dirty looks, notes or social media put-downs.

    • Kelly

      What can they do? They complain about the disturbance. Restaurants absolutely can throw people out for being loud and disruptive.

      The other patrons don’t have to form a mob and throw anybody out. Any decent restaurant would do it out of consideration for all the other people in the restaurant. If they won’t do it, then they will lose customers, which would serve them right.

    • jane

      Right, I absolutely agree with you, actually. If your meal is really being disturbed (i.e. the baby is crying and not just sitting there being a baby) then you absolutely deserve compensation in some way. I would complain if the air conditioning was up too high or I was right next to the kitchen and it was too hot or any other number of things. It is totally the “mob mentality” of people going to town on these parents that really bothers me. It seems as though, if the baby were creating a disturbance, someone would have complained and it would be resolved and that would be that. But because people just had to look at a baby when they were out they took to twitter et. al.

    • wmdkitty

      The baby WAS crying — read the original tweet that set this whole thing off.

    • rrlo

      Yup, absolutely. I agree that it is the responsibility of the restaurant to take action. In fact, when selling $1000 plates, they should be able to accommodate a family with “disruptive” members (be it baby or someone with other issues) – like offer them an area away from the crowd, or seat all families near each other – what have you.

      When I say patron’s will have to suck it up, I don’t mean they can’t complain or seethe in anger – just that legally they can’t do much.

      I am just not in the camp of blindly vilifying families of young
      children that show poor judgment- because restaurants and movie theaters take their money as well. It is unfair all around.

    • keelhaulrose

      Maybe the other patrons can’t throw the family out, but if enough threaten to leave they may have well dropped the baby on the step themselves. No restaurant is going to let a dozen seats leave to save two.

    • rrlo

      Two things here.

      Firstly, I would like to think unless a baby is being disruptive, patrons are not going to freak out. A baby being quiet and sitting around should not cause patron’s to complain. That is completely unreasonable and make no sense.

      Secondly, if baby is being disruptive – then the disturbed patron’s should bring it up to the restaurant’s attention. And not make a big deal or scene with the parents – not going to help.

      And if both of the above happens, I would hope that the restaurant who has seated a family with a baby in their restaurant would find a good way of diffusing the situation in an appropriate way. Because honestly the onus is on the restaurant to make their customers happy.

      All I am saying is as much as I personally would not take a child to a fancy restaurant – I don’t believe just because one is a parent, he/she has to inconvenience themselves in order to accommodate strangers in a restaurant.

    • keelhaulrose

      I doubt the owners of a $1000 a head restaurant were expecting to deal with a baby.
      There’s no way to respond if you’re the owner, however, to the situation as it played out. Either you kick the family out, leaving them unhappy, or you let them stay, leaving the rest of the dining room unhappy. There’s no way to get out of it without damage, there’s only minimizing the damage.
      It takes a special kind of oblivious and entitled to sit with a fussy baby on your lap and not think it’s disruptive to those around you, or that they should have to deal with it.

    • rrlo

      Restaurant owner expects no one with a baby will come to a $1000 plate dinner with a baby.
      Restaurant patron expects to eat meal in peace and quiet.
      Parents of infant expect to be able to bring their baby to an establishment that would accept their money and seat them at the restaurant.
      I maintain that it is unrealistic to expect only the parents in this situation – with three separate parties involved – to exercise good judgment and fully accommodate the other two.
      In this whole scenario, I think the restaurant is the most to blame. And the other diners the least.

    • Kelly

      Yep, if the restaurant has to force you out because your infant is crying, you’re a shitty parent.

      Any decent parent would have handled the issue (even if it meant leaving) before it got to that point.

    • Fluffy_1

      Exactly. And it doesn’t have to be a top end establishment, either. I once saw a mother and screeching demon child get tossed out of a Wetherspoons cuz other patrons complained. The manager asked the mother to quiet her child or leave, she responded by calling him a cunt. He then told her to get out.

    • rrlo

      Oops, I meant they CAN’T forcibly throw the baby and family out of the restaurant.

    • Tinyfaeri

      If a person is being disruptive, the establishment owner has every right to ask them to leave.

    • Elizabeth Licata

      Yeah. I suspect Alinea will be getting a no-babies policy soon. It seems like it just genuinely never occurred to anybody that someone would bring a baby to a place like that.

    • Horrid Baby Names

      That parent isn’t brazen. They’re fucking mental and deserve to be filleted with that scary looking fish up there.

  • Mamas Guide

    The point isn’t the cost of the meal, but the context. I take my daughter to restaurants all the time. I research the setting, ask if they welcome babies if I need to (it’s as simple as a phone call), and if we arrive and don’t feel it, we leave. It’s the “cost” of dining out with a baby!

    • ted3553

      I had a better time with my baby who was really well behaved than I do with him now at 1.5 yrs. We used to dine out a couple times a week and now barely go out because he doesn’t sit still for long. It’s not fun for me, it’s not fun for him and it’s definitely no fun for other guests. We will be staying home until he gets past this wiggle worm stage. You’re right that you just need to adapt when they’re little. It was your choice to have them so the rest of the world doesn’t need to adapt to them.

  • keelhaulrose

    I’m looking around, and I can’t find a single reference to a cancelled babysitter.
    This restaurant is set up so you buy a ticket, with a certain time, go and sit and they serve you. It would be a lot like buying a good seat to a Broadway play on opening night (plan WAY in advance or you’re out of luck). Much like a Broadway play a last second babysitter cancellation does not automatically give you permission to bring baby along. Unless you’re the only customers somewhere you always have to give some consideration to the other patrons. I may have spent thousands on those tickets, but it would be incredibly rude for me to show up sick and demand others put up with my retching because I paid a lot of money, damnit.
    And not getting a babysitter for the night you’re going a top-50-in-the-world restaurant is being inconsiderate and oblivious. If you’re into attachment parenting more power to you, but I’m sure most attachment parents realize there’s a few places baby isn’t welcome, and you give up going there because your parenting style is more important (not knocking attachment parents, most I met very considerate and mindful of those around them)

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  • SA

    I have brought my child to finer dining (not using the term fine dining because it was obviously not $1k tab, so I guess it was missing something!). However I live in a very family friendly place so no one really bats an eye, we also eat out with our toddler a lot so she is very accustomed to sitting in a high chair for a period of time. I don’t see the difference as if we are at a nice restaurant or at a bar & grill, I am not going to sit there and let my child cry….we step outside and if kid can’t get calm we pack it up and leave. One thing we do is before going to a restaurant where we have never been, we simply call and ask if they have high chairs, if they don’t we assume that children are not welcome and we don’t bring our kid. I tend to not think that a child being somewhere is offensive rather the child’s behavior and parents reaction to.

    This was the parents fault for not calling the restaurant ahead of time and for not leaving when the child cried.

    It is the restaurants fault for not having a policy or asking the parents to step outside with the crying child.

    • Kay_Sue

      I totally agree. It’s a combination of faults, although I do personally place more blame on the parents, because I hold them responsible for their kids (as I do myself for mine).

      My older son was a dream in restaurants. My younger son? Yeah, not so much. There have been a couple of cases where we’ve been out to eat (not even nice dining, just chain restaurants or this awesome local Mexican sit down place) and one of us takes him out to the car, while the other pays and gets to go boxes. I know this probably wasn’t an option for the couple in question…but that’s one more reason why they probably should have made other arrangements for their kid too.

  • kay

    I take my 7 month old baby out to eat all the time. But we never take her somewhere we can’t easily box up the meal and leave quickly should she melt down. (And we don’t let her yell even in “family friendly” spots.). And we’ve embraced getting takeout from spots that do it that aren’t super kid-friendly (looking at you favorite tiny hole in the wall BBQ spot that’s smoky and full of drunk hipsters)

    There’s a happy medium between “NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE WITH THAT THING” and “Everyone loves my screaming baby, it’s cool!” You shouldn’t have to hibernate once you’re a parent, but you gotta accept that some things change.

  • Carolina

    I would never take a child to a fine dining establishment, but we do dine out pretty frequently at places that aren’t Chuckie Cheese. The rule in ANY situation like that is to remove the child if s/he starts to cry. It’s really not hard to step out to the lobby/outside to calm the child and then return. And if the child can’t be calmed, that’s when you switch your order to “to-go” and beat a hasty retreat. I can’t imagine just sitting there with a crying infant.

  • chickadee

    I suspect Mr. Achatz will be composing some new policies for his restaurants. Honestly, it would never occur to me to bring a baby to a setting like that..for my own reasons. First, it’s an expensive, adult-oriented night out. Adult conversation is difficult when you are simultaneously caring for a baby. And let’s think about what you might wear, and whether you want to get baby ooze on it. Plus, who wants to have the pace of the meal dictated by a baby’s mood? I cannot imagine that Achatz thought that his customers would need telling that the restaurant was not child-friendly….most people would assume that it isn’t.

    • CMJ

      This. This is what I can’t wrap my head around – at what point would someone say….”You know, I think I’m just going to bring the baby with me to Alinea. It’s totes kid friendly, right?”

    • Fluffy_1

      They’re probably the same people who are amazed when told that no, they can’t bring their baby into a strip club or sex club. “But little Cznowflayke is so mature for her age!”

  • SA

    Another comment I have is that I do find it tacky that the co-owner was tweeting this. Either man up and do something about the situation or put in place policies for the future, but to tweet about paying customers is off-putting.

    • Maria Guido

      You are so right about this.

  • Kay_Sue

    I don’t take my kids to Applebee’s unless I have to. It’s off-putting to have them staring at me while I drink. :-P

    • Tinyfaeri

      Just tell them it’s really watered down!

    • Kay_Sue

      But those eyes…they just, they know. I don’t know how, but they do.

  • jendra_berri

    I feel pretty accomplished when I take my baby to weekend brunch. That’s about as far as our dining out experiences have gone, and will go, until he’s much older. And then it’s family restaurants.
    My nine-year old won’t sit in my lap for more than a few minutes before he wants to get off me and crawl all over and grab things. A high chair buys time, but this place had no high chair.
    They spent a thousand dollars to have a miserable meal, while others had a equally pricey diminished meal due to screaming. That’s some expensive disappointment.

  • guest

    The restaurant should ban young children. Even Victoria & Alberts, which is in Disney World, has a minimum age of 10 for diners.

    • footnotegirl

      And on the Disney cruises, their two special restaurants (Palo and Remys) are for 18 and over only, though they do occasionally do a Knights and Princesses Tea Time when adults aren’t eating in them (which I think is awesome, kids absolutely should be taught how to behave in finer establishments by getting the full experience).

  • Justme

    Eve, you know I love you and everything…but I’m going to disagree on this one. Being a parent means that there are times when you’re going to make sacrifices on what YOU want to do. This is one of those times. A sitter bailing sucks major donkey balls and I would be totally bummed if I were these parents…but I also know that there are places that babies don’t belong. And plus – if I’m paying that much for a fancy dinner, I want to enjoy it as an adult and not worry about my own child ruining the experience of others.

  • kelliewg

    Nope. No. No to the nth No of No-ness. NO. Not OK. There are certain places where babies do not belong and $1000 dinner restaurants are one of them. No matter how cute you think your baby is, or how attached you are, or how only you can nurse them, or how Grandma/nanny/sitter backed out at the last minute, or how you want to expose your baby to the world of fine dining. NO.

  • footnotegirl

    We take my toddler daughter out a lot, always have. We figure that she learns best about how to act at a restaurant by having always been aware of what’s expected of her, and by practice. THAT SAID anything nicer than a greasy spoon or chain restaurant like Chili’s or something, we stick to lunch or brunch times or very early dinners (think 4:30 p.m.). And I would NEVER EVER take her to a place like that!
    I do get pissed though at people who seem to think that children don’t belong in the public sphere whatsoever. They are humans. People! They deserve to partake of public social interaction so long as they are relatively well behaved and/or the parents are on point to remove or discipline the child as is reasonable if they become a bother for others.

  • hbombdiggity

    What I think people are missing is the type of restaurant Alinea is. Its not just a run of the mill fancy restaurant. Its the type of place that sells an entire experience along with the meal. Its not unheard of that they would smash the food into a ball (technical term), hang it from a string, and require you eat it with your mouth. Its allbpart of the Chef’s concept. Its a place for serious foodies, not just people wanting an adult date night. No they dont have a kids menu, because they serve you what they want. there is no menu for adults eithe. You eat what they make that night. No, they dont care if you get offended. The waiting list is months long. I’m 31 and have a Masters Degree, and I don’t think im mature enough for that place.

    • Psych Student

      That whole experience sounds really uncomfortable and dreadful.

    • Horrid Baby Names

      Only if you’re an infant or some dunderhead parent who thinks that babies can be brought anywhere and everywhere because leaving them at home for a few hours will damage them beyond repair.

    • Psych Student

      I wouldn’t enjoy that restaurant. I don’t do well in restaurants that fancy, but that’s probably mostly lack of exposure to them.

    • Wow

      “smash the food into a ball” = technical term LOL

  • me

    Babies are suppose to go to bed early! This is just poor parenting, with obviously NO foresight.

  • Hien Nguyen

    what is the name of the fish ?

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  • Common Sense

    Oh first world problems!

  • Kevin Hahn

    To bring a 8 month old to a 3 star restaurant is the height of oblivious parenting. Sitter cancelled? Don’t care, it’s not the place for that baby. Accept that life has it’s ups and downs and this is a down. THAT’s WHAT YOU SIGNED UP FOR WHEN YOU AGREED TO BE A PARENT!!!
    I have two toddlers and understand clearly there are places for kids, and places for grown ups. These snotty parents need to understand that as well.

  • Foxs momma

    I have an 8 month old son and we don’t have a babysitters yet. My husband and I live far away from our family so our son comes with us everywhere (with the exception of bars) if you don’t like to see my 8 month old son out in the world including fancy resturants that’s to bad for you stay home! My husband and I should hide at home or go to chuckie cheese for the next 13 years?

    • IntelliWriter

      Not 13…maybe just 10.

    • mewmew34

      How about you stay home? You made the choice to have a child, and that means you made the choice to sacrifice some things until the child is old enough to behave itself in public. Every other person in the fancy restaurant shouldn’t have their time ruined because of some self-centered a-holes like you and your husband who think the world revolves around them and everyone else who either made a point to not have kids, or who made a point to hire a damned sitter, should just deal with it.

    • Mikster

      If it’s going to take you 13 years to train him up right- yeah- in fact, take 14 for good measure~ @@

  • common sense

    Sorry. There IS no defense of these self-entitled a-holes. Children = sacrifice; eg: you sacrifice the money you spent on ticket-reservations instead of ruining dinner for an entire restaurant of diners who paid JUST as much as you did. Jerks!

  • Horrid Baby Names

    Those people should have been asked to leave. The restaurant wasn’t McDonald’s or Golden Corral where one would expect a baby crying. This is an upscale ADULTS ONLY restaurant. It’s so frustrating that parents like these believe they’re above the law and can inconvenience other patrons because their child is special. Your child is not special. YOU are a dumba** for thinking he/she is and that’s okay to ruin everyone’s night by your squealing sprog.

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  • A. Levy

    The fanciest restaurant at Disney World, Victoria and Albert’s, doesn’t allow children under 12. If the most family-friendly resort on Earth limits where children are allowed, I think it’s safe to make it a societal norm.

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