Baby Talk at a Michelin-Starred Restaurant

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nibble and squeak
Many parents usually self-conscious about eating at most restaurants because they don’t want to bother other patrons and restaurant staff.

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To enter the restaurant Delaware and Hudson last Thursday, you had to navigate a massive jumble of strollers, stacked like a demented game of Tetris. Inside, roughly 25 grown-ups ringed a huge banquet table — which was actually a bunch of smaller tables jammed together and topped with butcher paper. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the guests of honor: 22 babies, most under 12 months.

What fun! This was the inaugural meal for Nibble+Squeak, a Brooklyn event series designed for new parents. Remember when you used to go out to eat like it was no big thing, before your little tyrant angel started calling the shots? Nibble+Squeak aims to give new moms* an opportunity to eat a nice meal — without worrying that their wean just spit up on the floor.

Delaware and Hudson, to their immense credit, did a very good job of converting from a handsome, Michelin-starred restaurant to a Chuck E. Cheese competitor. When I sat down, I shuttled a few Cheerios off my seat, then introduced myself to Lila (13 months) and her mom Pia. Lila would be my test kid for the meal — was she going to enjoy Delaware and Hudson’s artful fare?

This was part of the event’s mission, to expose young ones to new and interesting cuisine. Founder Melissa Elders envisions Nibble+Squeak will not just stage events at posh bistros; kids could benefit from exposure to many different restaurant styles and cuisines. The only issue was age — with most of the “kids” being infants last week, it was a little early for a full culinary adventure.

Or so I thought! I’m not sure if Lila was just an exceptional eater, but she housed everything from pickled beets to whitefish to sauerkraut. The only thing she didn’t seem to care for was sun-dried tomatoes, but we’ve all got our things right? (e.g. I think goat cheese is the grossest) I told Lila’s mom that her daughter was well on her way to being a cultured Brooklyn kid.

Some moms breastfed at the table, and there was an impromptu changing area set up near the back of the house. Touches like this might have been the event’s biggest advantage: total comfort. Multiple parents told me the same thing: they are usually self-conscious about eating at most restaurants because they don’t want to bother other patrons and restaurant staff.

Delaware and Hudson had some heroic servers on hand that day — infinitely patient without a touch of fine dining snootery. And it was clearly appreciated. Looking around, all the parents seemed at ease, eating and chatting and sipping at wine or iced coffee. Bethany Reade, a mom from downtown Brooklyn, said it felt like a luxury just to spend that much time eating at a restaurant.

“My husband and I have this strategy where we bring Hudson (her 4-yr-old son) to a restaurant, order a cocktail and get him some food,” she said. “Then we order our own meals to go and eat at home later. It’s just less stressful that way.”

I don’t have kids myself, but Nibble+Squeak’s appeal is quite apparent. It’s a pretty sweet deal to get a multicourse tasting menu at a Michelin-starred restaurant for only $38. And that’s not even accounting for all the kid-friendly touches.

Elders said she hopes to set up an email list soon but as a new mom herself, she’s a bit busy (hence the inspiration for Nibble+Squeak). There will be a meal in February, though she hasn’t determined the location yet. For now, the best way to learn about future events is visiting their website.

Future events may target a different time of day, like around happy hour. Restaurants may be more likely to give up their real estate during the quieter time, and it would allow school-age kids to attend. Now that is something I’d like to see.

*Yes yes, dads too, though there was only one at lunch.

Jesse Hirsch

Formerly the print editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan, Jesse Hirsch now works as the New York editor for GOOD magazine.

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