Reader Question: How Do I Get My Kids To Behave At Restaurants?

In 2017 at Commander’s Palace

The most commonly asked question I get from parents is “how do I make my kids behave at a restaurant?” There isn’t a magic pill. This takes consistency and lots of grace. When I first started taking my kids out to eat. I made up my mind to be prepared mentally and emotionally to leave at any point where my kids disrupted another diner. Of course, I always make sure to not put my kids in situations that are selfish, such as having them out too late. Last year at ages 3 and 5 we were able to enjoy a very nice, long meal at Commander’s Palace with my mom. My daughter understood that eating there was very special and a treat. This is not to toot my own horn. This is simply what has worked for us and for others. I promise you, it has not been easy from the beginning. When they aren’t accustomed to something like eating at a restaurant, they won’t inherently know how to behave. It has taken consistency in my expectations and sticking to my guns if something happened. Thankfully, it hasn’t in years. Enjoying a meal out is not a right that we are given, so having respect and courtesy for others is important. Here are a few tips that have worked over the years:

(1) Let them know your expectations upfront. I would always let my kids know what the plan was and what was expected of them. We didn’t eat in front of the tv every night and then magically expect them to know how to act at a table. I would go over basic table etiquette with them so they would become more comfortable using it, such as using a spoon or fork instead of their hands.
(2) Be consistent. Just like in a restaurant, we don’t allow yelling or crying at the table. If they’re frustrated, they may tell us why. We also have them place their napkins on their laps. By practicing at home, it is a more natural transition for them to use these techniques in public.
(3) Be realistic. Don’t expect your 18-month old baby to be okay sitting still and quiet for three hours at a fancy restaurant. For your first time out, ask for a to-go box at the start, if that makes you more comfortable. If your child is old enough to talk, point out all of the fun colors and build up this experience for them. Once you consistently see the results you want, you can incorporate something new, like dining in the evening.
BONUS TIP: Be prepared. This is especially necessary if you’re going out to eat during a busy time. Take a board book, colors or silent toy to keep your child occupied. Also, it’s okay for those who are little (think under four-years old) to have a snack brought from home if things are too busy, such as puffs. If you bring something for them to eat, have everything you need. Don’t ask for the restaurant to provide anything.

An Elegant Experience – The Chophouse on Bankhead

On Saturday evening, two of our closest friends went to dinner with us sans kiddos! This rarely happens, so we were all excited for an opportunity to spend time together. We mulled over various dining options on Saturday afternoon, and we decided to try a place none of us had ever been to before – The Chophouse on Bankhead.

I was beyond blown away. From the moment the open the door to greet you to the time they say good night, everything was perfectly executed. At no point during the evening did I think, “I wish they knew or did that.” The restaurant is located in Mt. Vernon, Texas, which was about a 20 minute drive for the four of us. Mt. Vernon is a fun town where my best friend and her family lives, so I already enjoy visiting there. The Chophouse on Bankhead is incredibly unique and different from the other restaurants currently there, though. Our meal was a true experience, lasting well into three hours.

We started with a charcuterie board, which was just fantastic. The executive chef pays such close attention to the details and pairing of foods. A lot of love and time went into each course. The homemade pickles, though, were my top pick from our appetizer!One we had enjoy the platter, we all opted for wedge salads with perfect, tangy blue cheese dressing. Since we knew we would have multiple courses, we chose to have each couple split the wedge, which the restaurant was more than willing to do.

I’m not even normally a huge lover of blue cheese, but I couldn’t help but each every delicious bite. Our entrees took the longest time of all the courses for us to decide what to eat. While the menu was vastly more expansive than this, my picks were narrowed to choosing between the mussels (l0ve), the ribeye (love) and the crabcakes (love). Simply because everyone who has left a review has raved about the steaks, the ribeye won out, which my husband and Jonathan also got. Sally opted for the crabcakes, which looked absolutely wonderful!

The au jus was the tastiest I’d ever had, and my baked potato was dressed perfectly. Even as big of a steak eater as my husband is, none of us could finish our steaks. This may have been paritally due to the food consumed prior to this course, but did we let our full stomachs stop us from ordering dessert (no picture of it….sorry about that!)? No, we sure didn’t. We ate our sticky toffee pudding like they had just told us the place was on fire – that is to say, very quickly!

Something that really pushed this visit over the top in every way were the extras they brought. An amuse-bouche was brought over by the executive chef himself prior to our meal, and I wish I had thought to take a picture of it! It was a delicious mousse resting on top of a quarter of a cucumber slice. The flavorful bite impressed us all. After our entrees were eaten, the chef again brought us another delight – coconut macaroons, which were perfectly creamy with that toasted coconut flavor throughout. The attention to every last detail was unmatched.

I will say, I felt a little odd taking pictures of the food, as I know that isn’t truly in accordance to etiquette. However, I had spoken with the executive chef and let him know about my etiquette business, so he was very encouraging of my blog post, which needed pictures.

All around the restaurant there were frame photos and newspaper articles about Mt. Vernon. The pictures were so neat to look at, but the newspaper articles took the cake! We learned about one poor man who was “minus his right little toe” after a mishap with his gun that shot the toe “clean off even with his foot.” Most of the stories we read about were just as comically written.

If you have the opportunity, I hope you’ll visit The Chophouse on Bankhead. The experience is magical, and I know you won’t be disappointed!