Fact: Every baby ever born, boy or girl, looks like Winston Churchill … except mine. The Chow, Baby clan recently added a member –– a little baby boy. I haven’t slept in four months, and I feel like I got a hold of some bad acid. Besides that, things are great.
This is my first. And before the kiddo, I was the person who would cringe when parents toted a baby onto an airplane or into a restaurant dining room. I made it a point to stare. I was the worst.
Now, of course, having a little one has ratcheted up my empathy level to the nth degree. I’m also painfully aware of the gawking jerks that fall all over themselves to visibly roll their eyes at my little family. I feel your gaze, but it’s not going to stop me from going out to eat.
Here’s what those jerks don’t know: When babies are in what I call the baked potato phase –– 0-9 months, when they just sit there not really contributing anything except the occasional dirty diaper –– that’s the perfect time to take them out. They usually just sleep or stare aimlessly into the middle distance. And the little rug rats are getting acclimatized to the noise, hustle, and bustle of restaurants. I’m grooming my little guy to be the perfect dinner guest.
It’s toddlers you have to watch out for, with their lack of volume control, constant questions, and tendency to dart off into … I’m still working on that empathy thing.
Now that I’m an expert after four months, here is some advice for parents: Don’t take your kids to a romantic place where you’ll be seated next to sharply dressed people trying to impress each other so they’ll want to make babies of their own. Take your kid somewhere noisy and try not to go during the peak hours. Ambient restaurant noise seems to soothe our kid.
If the baby is in the baked potato phase, be sure to feed him/her just before you leave. A little snack and a car trip usually knocks our guy out for at least a couple of hours.
I recently celebrated a birthday at The Tavern (2755 S Hulen St, 817-923-6200), and that place is perfect for well-behaved babies. For one, it’s loud. My guest and I were sat in a corner booth –– yes, I let someone put baby in a corner –– and we could barely hear him when he got a little fussy. One day, he’ll get to enjoy the place’s luscious, fresh house-smoked salmon ($13) and the Mexico City Enchiladas ($13), slathered in a creamy, gooey mole-esque sauce.
I also recently took the kid along on my first visit to Oni Ramen (2801 W 7th St, 817-882-6554), Chef Jesus Garcia’s new noodle joint. The place was half-full on the weeknight my guest and I visited, and the noise level was perfect –– neither rock concert loud nor study hall quiet.
The baby mostly slept while I enjoyed the only raw offering on the former sushi chef’s menu, the large Poke Bowl ($12), fresh tuna and salmon, salmon roe, and avocado atop perfectly sticky rice, as an appetizer. The Straight Outta Kyushu ramen ($12) was a boldly flavored amalgam of rich, salty broth, thin noodles, decadent pork belly, woodear mushrooms, bamboo shoots, green onion, mustard greens, red ginger, black garlic, and a runny egg. (I’ll do a more extensive feature of Oni in the coming weeks.)
Through the transitive properties of breast milk, my kid is getting to sample some of the best grub in this city –– as long as he behaves. Try not to judge.
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