Last night we returned to eat at Rayhoon in Stockport ( see review here ) the food and service were very good but the edge was unfortunately taken off the evening by one of the more depressing aspects of modern life – over-indulged children.
It was quarter to nine when we sat down to eat. Close by, a family party of nine adults and three children under five occupied a long table. I entertained a forlorn hope that the bill might be presented to that table soon. It was not to be, the only thing that happened soon was, predictably, the three little girls got bored and decided to run around the restaurant shrieking and generally carrying on.
The adults response to this was remarkable ( or perhaps not ) the six adults at one end of the table carried on as if nothing had happened , the mothers looked fondly on and the father-wimp, appropriately attired in his M&S “Blue Harbour” casuals was not to be discouraged from enjoying a quasi-sexual relationship with his Blackberry.
Eventually the mothers decided to the best way to placate their darling offspring was to organise a game of Simple Simon Says in a corner of the full dining room barely 3 feet from a table of 4 adults. When they tired of this ( the darlings not the diners ), one of the mothers asked the resident pianist if he could play something that the children might dance to !! They were all still at table at ten to eleven when the majority of the adult customers had already left.
No – Chips, Fry Ups, Silly Foil Portions, UHT or Convenience Foods.
No – Gaming Machines, Juke Box or Music
No – Designer Drinks, Shots, Poofs and Tarts Drinks
No – Pub Crawls and Racegoers by invitation only
Plenty – Real Food, Cask Ales, good wines all served in an old fashioned grown up atmosphere.
Over 18’s Only – No Children
I grew up in Austerity Britain, Another Country where ” Children should be seen and not heard” and a trip to a pub meant a boring hour outside in the car park with the occasional reward of a lemonade or packet of crisps. I would not want to go back to that and have enjoyed the company of my own children in many restaurants from an early age. But there were rules and expected behaviour that started with consideration for others and ended, as did the meal, when your children couldn’t stay seated.
Scoping the internet for some opinion on this, I came across this page which sums up current attitudes for me from Safekids.co.uk. If you can’t be bothered clicking the link ( Perhaps the little ones are getting fractious and you still have over half a bottle of Pinot Grigio to finish ) then this paragraph from the page will give you a flavour:
For example, avoid sitting near the kitchen or next to an aisle where waiters or waitresses are frequently walking along with hot meals or trays of plates and glasses as this instantly poses a danger if you’ve got young children with you. If they step into the way of a tray carrying waiter, or play in the area where waitresses need to walk, it could compromise their safety. Be aware of kitchen doors too, as so often they’re the swing variety that swing both ways – one accidental blow can easily knock a child flying.
Instead, choose a large and quiet corner, where there’s space for children to play around near your table – and close by enough so you can keep an eye on them.
I may write to the owners of this site suggesting some alternative guidance as follows:
Not everyone feels the same way about your children as you do. They may even have had some of their own. Perhaps they are enjoying a well earned rest from their children or have spent good money on a baby sitter.
There are any number of eating places in the UK that positively welcome children , even pre schoolers. You can easily identify them as they often use bright colours, give away toys, have playgrounds in them and their names may contain Wacky, Mac or Pizza
Choose eating out times with care, the sun can help you with this. If it has gone bobos in the summer then perhaps it’s too late. Best to take them before the little hand is on seven and the big hand on thirty.
When they are big boys/girls and can tie their own ties or shoelaces you can try somewhere else where they must be good for almost an hour.
When your treasures get to Big School, they can stay out a little longer as long as they can remember not to throw food on the floor. That way, the nasty middle aged man who has been scowling at you since the darlings were two years old will suppress the urge to take revenge by boring you to death with a twenty minute monologue on his last round of golf or the nuances of undertaking a 20,000 mile service on a Mark 3 Ford Cortina.