Tots at upper-echelon restaurants?First, it was babies in bars. Now, children in fine-dining restaurants are feeding a raging debate.
The argument is fueled by new efforts of some Michelin-starred New York restaurants like L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon and Café Boulud to cater to the under-3-year-old crowd.
Not every patron of expensive restaurants desires to share a formal dining experience with young children who may be more interested in playing with their food than savoring it
Some are upset at the parents of the young diners, but others believe that even adults don't always behave in ways that allow customers to enjoy peaceful dining.
More than 100 people -- mostly against the idea of tots at upper-echelon restaurants -- posted their heated comments in response to Shivani Vora's recent New York Times piece, "Fine Dining Where Strollers Don't Invite Sneers."
"People who force their toddlers on others in enclosed public spaces like fine restaurants (and airplanes) are even more selfish than those who insist on talking on cell phones in such places," one Times reader said.
"If you object to 'howls' (based on your ridiculous presumption that all children inevitably howl), let's start by excluding all the adults who are yelling into their cell phones, are drunk and/or obnoxious, etc." another commenter said.
"As with any performance, practicing before a big event, such as going out to a restaurant, is a good idea," advises Sue Fox in "Etiquette for Dummies" in a chapter on Tips for Children and Teens. "I know of people who dress their kids up, sit them down at the family dining room table and hand out homemade menus to practice eating out."