Brooklyn Heights Wine Bar: A Place for Kids?

Park Slope has a reputation as a neighborhood that’s almost too family friendly, to the extent that some “grown-up” restaurants have been asked to add a kids’ menu, and parents and their children are now welcome into bars. even did a story on it back in March:

[A] 14-month-old toddler is the sort of barfly who’s at the center of a recurring and heated debate: Should parents be allowed to bring their babies and children to bars?
It is a question in Brooklyn, New York, that’s fired up online arguments, prompted unofficial protests and made outsiders giggle. And while the issue may not be exclusive to that area, it’s the stuff disputes are made of in what [the toddler’s] dad, Matt Gross, calls the kid-heavy “greater stroller zone” of Park Slope and its surrounding neighborhoods.

I’d read the online brouhaha on the topic but never come across it myself, until one Friday evening while with friends at the Brooklyn Heights Wine Bar—a large group of parents came in with babies and toddlers, and the staff even had high chairs to accommodate them all. After a second and then third wave of families arrived, we decided to go get desserts at Tazza and head to my friend’s roof deck. So I ask BHB readers because I’m clueless as to whether this is the norm or not—are many bars now expected to welcome kids? Or does it depend on the bar? Or the neighborhood? And are bars—even wine bars—great hangouts for kids?

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  • Teddy

    Maybe it’s time for Burger King to return to the Heights. I’m sure the kiddies would prefer BK to a wine bar.

  • BH Mom

    As a mother of 2 older kids I think it depends on the place, time of day, and the age of the kid. I have always been of the mindset that no one thinks my kids are as cute as I do and I am very aware of that fact so the kids do not impose on others. But this is NYC. Just because we have kids doesn’t mean we should be relegated to eating and drinking at sub-par places. I taught my kids how to behave in restaurants (no standing on chairs or crawling under the table, for example). Now they are older and are great company and are well-mannered. It can be done, but it is really up to the parents to set the standard for what is acceptable. And if your kid isn’t behaving well, then you should take him/her home.

  • Kim G

    As a mom with three Little Ones…A bar is an adult place. I respect others enough not to drag my kids to a bar so “I” can have a glass of wine and relax. I think it would be very selfish of me to expect other bar patrons to accept my kids. We have our favorite spots and yes, they’re kid friendly. We also try to visit them during “off” hours so as not to disturb anyone. Honestly, most of the neighborhood bars/restaurants are entirely too small to drag in a stroller and set up high chairs.

    We’re not like many other parents since we tend to be home bodies opting to spend our time with our children and not maintaining our social lives but that may be because we’re older. Also, I’m not taking issue with kids in bars it’s just something we don’t do. Well behaved children having dinner with their families should be welcomed as any other customers.

    So do I think kids should be allowed in bars? I think it’s a sticky subject. In some states children are allowed in places that have separate dining areas but not specifically in the “bar” ( I don’t know NY’s laws ). I do feel that responsible adults should have a place they can visit that’s not full of kids and parents with small children should be able to dine where they want. I don’t believe in forcing bars/restaurants that do not serve “children’s foods” to provide a “kid’s menu”. It’s my responsibility to feed my kids, not theirs.

  • Bryan

    Brooklyn Heights Wine Bar is a restaurant with a full menu that happens to have a bar inside (like most restaurants), not a bar only despite the name. Noodle Pudding has a far more lively bar scene despite being a restaurant in name, so I’m not sure what the issue is. If you want a bar, go to a bar. Otherwise deal with the fact that kids will be in restaurants.

  • Peter

    Kim G … nice post. While I do not have kids, it is nice to see a refreshing outlook from a parent.

    Otherwise, back to the task at hand: should kids be able to hang out in bars? Well, do adults drink wine at the elementary school playgrounds?

    Just because they serve hot food at a bar, it doesn’t mean this is a children-welcoming establishment. A bar is intended for adults. Parents … please recognize that.

  • DrewBurch

    This should be good!

    I have to admit, that I am the first one to shudder when I see strollers wheeling in the door at a bar or upscale restaurant. To me it seems particularly inappropriate in places that are primarily drinking establishments.

    That said, I think BH mom is correct, it all depends on the parents and their child. I’ve been irked to see a baby seated next to me, and then gone on to have a lovely dinner barely noticing the child. There have been other times that I have endured screaming children running wild around a restaurant while their seemingly deaf parents sit by and do nothing. So it has more to so with the behavior than anything else. I am happy to have parents and kids around, as long as the child behaves appropriately. No screaming. No running around the room. I don’t blame the kids for that, I blame the parents for not dealing with it. If you are unable to control your children, then I’m sorry but you “should be relegated to eating and drinking at sub-par places.”

    I do think that babies in bars are ridiculous. It is an adult setting. There are plenty of establishments in this city designed specifically for children. Hell as a tax paying adult I’m not supposed to even enter a playground in the city without a child in tow. That’s all fine and good. But surely there should be places where adults can congregate without children around. And if you do bring your baby to the bar, don’t complain that it is loud, or crowded, or there’s no room for your stroller, or the guy next you is peppering his story with foul language. It is a bar, not daycare, not a tea house.

  • Kim G

    BH Mom you’re right “… mindset that no one thinks my kids are as cute as I do”. I ( Parents ) shouldn’t expect others to put up with my children’s shenanigans. What’s funny on the playground may not be so amusing to the young couple dining next to us. I’ve been on the receiving end of some nasty looks and comments even when they were behaving themselves.

  • Kim G

    Thanks Peter!

    @ DrewBurch, not all restaurants that welcome children are sub par. Our favorite place is very upscale but again we visit during the “off” hours.

  • harumph

    Along these lines, we went to Henry Public for a drink and bite to eat this weekend (our date night away from our kids) and the place was teaming with crying babies, running toddlers and the like…needless to say we were bummed – and I know this sounds a bit like an ex-smoker being intolerant of smoke – but we would NOT bring our little ones to a bar….there are PLENTY of restaurants in which to bring a whole family in our neighborhood. Seeing kids or wanting your kids in bars is just wierd.

  • DrewBurch

    Kids at Henry Public? That is just ridiculous! Did they bring them there for bone marrow and Bourbon? Come on people!

  • ABC

    I think at a certain time of day, the Wine Bar mostly serves as a place to have a drink while you wait for your name to come up at Noodle Pudding. I’m cool with kids doing that too. And as mentioned, it does have a menu and brunch/lunch. So of course they have high chairs. BTW Tazza does not have high chairs which seems a little hostile and dumb — they want to discourage kids, but people just pull strollers up to their tables which is way worse

  • adam

    I don’t mind the kids at all. I do mind when the parents put their kids entertainment/happiness above the rest of the restaurant/bars patrons though. Keep your kids under control, quite and not throwing their toys around and I’m more than happy to see them in the bar. It reminds me of London.

  • zburch

    Not a fan of bar babies. Well-behaved children in restaurants…no problem. I define well-behaved to mean not screaming and/or running around, throwing things, etc. On that note, I want to thank the new parents that were seated next to us at River Deli recently. Baby was removed and taken outside as soon as he/she started wailing. I wish more parents were as considerate.

  • K8

    I don’t happen to think that kids belong in bars, but I think it’s even more of an issue when the management of a place doesn’t realize that they can do things to manage the situation. For example: if there is tons of empty seating, don’t seat the couple with the baby RIGHT NEXT to the couple that just ordered martinis. Furthermore: if the couple that just ordered martinis and now has a baby in their midst has made it clear they don’t want to linger (such as, say, by stacking their empty plates on the table and waving the waitress down), don’t take another 15 minutes to run the credit card. (This actually happened to my husband and me at the BHWB on Easter Monday — it’s the only disappointing experience we’ve had there, but it soured us on the place for a month.)

  • PS 8 parent

    I think it’s all context. If a restaurant has a full bar (or calls itself a bar but has a full menu), then it seems reasonable to let children in. I don’t think parents should bring their children into bars that are only bars and not places to eat, or into clubs, as I’ve seen more than once in Manhattan but not Brooklyn. On the other hand, I don’t think bringing kids into the latter should be illegal; I just wish more parents would think through what they’re doing. As a parent, it’s my responsibility to prepare my child for life in a civilized society, and that means making sure said child knows how to behave in a restaurant. There’s a common-sense element involved, too, like dining relatively early with kids if your choice is a busy, upscale restaurant. Meanwhile, though, I’ve had some bizarre and hostile reactions over the years when I’ve had children in public places, from the woman who blew cigarette smoke in the face of my friend’s baby while she upbraided her for nursing on a park bench to the man who yelled at me and my six-year-old for conversing quietly on a bus. So…plenty of strange people on both sides of the debate.

  • WillowtownCop

    Are there no teenagers left in Brooklyn that would be happy to earn some babysitting money while parents enjoy a night out? Is it guilt for being at work all week and leaving the children with a nanny that leads parents to want to drag their children to bars on nights and weekends? Or are people so overprotective of their precious offspring these days that they can’t go off and leave them with someone else? There are restaurants that I won’t go in because I don’t like how the staff deals with unruly children- by ignoring them. Teaching children to be civilized sometimes means say no, you cannot come with us tonight- know your place.

  • tb

    Henry St. Ale House = no kids.
    And Ozu will seat a table with kids right next to a couple having a *quiet* dinner.
    Ask my husband, he will tell you!

  • lcd

    zburch – how was River Deli? I was looking forward to checking it out, then it suddenly closed. Hope to hear good things about it.

  • nabeguy

    I’ve tried taking my 8 year old to the BHWB but she can’t stand it,,,says the adults are just too noisy.

  • AEB

    One of the things that makes city life less civilized is the confusion of adult and children’s spaces.

    Understood that parents no longer have the “help”–nannies, maids, etc.–they once did, but this doesn’t justify the appearance of children in places reasonably meant for adult enjoyment.

    (Adults ACTING like children is another matter.)

  • Lou

    I take my kids to the Henry Street Ale House all the time. Even after they removed the “Childrens menu” from the menu. They love it there and we like taking them there. It’s a win win. If a place serves food a kid will eat then it’s fair game.

    Kids act up sometimes. Sometimes they don’t. We’ve never really had an issue with it but if the kids aren’t acting out then who cares where they are. If the meer sight of kids in your area is creeping you out then maybe the kids aren’t the problem. If the parents aren’t in control enough to keep the kids in line they shouldn’t be taking them out to dinner. Know your kids!

    I really wish there was a good way to find teens who do baby sitting. I guess the St. Anns and Packer kids don’t need the money…

  • Hicks St guy

    to the selfish parents who insist on imposing their children in adult venues, i.e. bars & restaurants, I have one word: babysitter. if you want to act childless, stay childless. it is so tiresome to eat at restaurants with wailing kids whose noise is music to their clueless and selfish parent’s ears. I pray that the restaurant owners are reading this (River Deli especially)

  • Quinn Raymond

    Lou is right.

    I don’t have kids, but I really don’t see an issue here. If the place serves food, kids should be fine.

    I do think it would be a little weird to bring a kid into a place that was exclusively a bar– and that’s not much fun for the child either.

    Obviously parents are always expected to be responsible for their children’s behavior, but that is the case in any public setting, isn’t it?

  • travy

    kids shouldn’t be ‘at’ the bar but at the tables is fine. just don’t expect me to curb my potty mouth just because your kids are nearby.

  • na

    Keep kids for kids stuff, adults for adult stuff – just more puritanical moronics from good old USA. Please, relax people. All over Europe kids are welcome at bars, and nobody gives a sh*t. Brooklyn Heights – so damn provincial sometimes.

  • ABC

    hicks st guy, you’re telling me you were never taken to a restaurant as a kid?

    I’ve been to River Deli a half a dozen times, early in the evening, when more tables than not were filled with kids. Sorry, but you don’t allow kids and you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Plus, they’re italian, right? Puh-lease. Kids at bars and restaurants until all hours of the night. Good kids and bratty kids alike.

  • Hicks St guy

    @ABC, actually very rarely did I go out to eat as a kid, parents couldn’t afford it, and when I did, my siblings & I did not behave in such an infantile manner like the brats that we have to endure. when I was in Italy & France, the kids didn’t act like the spoon-fed ones we have to endure here. the parents also allowed them some wine and soda mixes, that’s how they could sit at tables for hours, quietly.

  • DrewBurch

    Comparing the spoiled kids in Brooklyn who run wild around a restaurant to well-behaved European kids is a joke. Earlier this week an Italian Family with an infant was seated next to us. When the baby started whining, the parents took him outside. They didn’t wait until it was an ear splitting wail. They took care of the situation before it got to that. I can’t remember the last time I saw a brooklyn parent do that! Though it sounds like most of the parents commenting here are very conscientious, I never seem to be eating next to them.

    As I said I have no problems with kids in restaurants, as long as they behave and disrupt other diners. But kids in places like Floyd, The Roebling Inn and Henry Public, that is just stupid.

  • ABC

    I won’t generalize about the behavior of european kids or what they’re given to drink. I’ve seen good and bad, same as here. And I’ve seen local parents take fussy babies out of restaurants more times than I can count.

    Honestly, I think the anti-kid thing in this neighborhood is a little weird.

  • zburch

    lcd, River Deli is a great addition to the nabe. However, it is overrun with kids early, but it hasn’t been too much of a problem for us, we just go late. I love the bartendress Esra. The meat and cheese app is tasty. The small one is actually quite large for 2. Recently I had the bronzino(fish of the day) and it was cooked well and served with a perfect light salad. The sardinian pasta with meatballs reminds me of sgaghetti-o’s but I am sure the kids love it. I love the papparadelle with mushrooms which has a light broth with garlic chips. Tagliatelle is richer. Have not had the calamari fritti, but it sure looks good. I wish they had a traditional pasta with raisins and anchovies. Salads are big and fresh. All in all I am delighted to have somewhere so close to home where we can have a decent meal out. I think they are doing a good job of serving the neighborhood, families, and childless adults alike. Its nice to sit up at the bar for dinner if there are too many kids running around. But I do wish that parents realized that even though restaurants make an effort to accommodate kids, that does not mean they can run around and disrupt the entire place. In my experiences in Europe, the kids were much better behaved in restaurants, so it wasn’t as much of an issue as it is here. My husband and I enjoyed an anniversary lunch recently at Le Bernardin and were amazed by the kids (probably 5 and 7) at the table next to us. There was nary a complaint from them as their parents ordered coffee after being there for 2.5 hours. Amazing. So it can be done, those parents should teach a class on preparing kids for family dining in public. My brother and I never got to eat out because we were too unruly.