Saturday, February 19, 2011

Victory at Red Lobster

You may remember from previous posts that one thing zombie parents dread is going out to eat in a sit-down restaurant. Sure, a place like Chick-fil-A or Wendy's is a lot easier because the food is a lot faster and the restaurants often come with child distractions like play areas or kid's meal toys. Sit-down restaurants have distractions like crayons and doodle paper but the kids can't run around like they do at more casual places.

We decided that we need to give the children more practice at sitting down and behaving in restaurants because that is just part of life for us. So today we went to Red Lobster for lunch. We had a gift card from Christmas (thanks Granny and Grandpa!) and it was a convenient conclusion to running Saturday morning errands. We arrived about 11:20, so the lunch rush hadn't started. After briefly admiring the lobster tank, we were shown to our table.

Jacob and Lucy both had high chairs and sat catercorner from each other. Lucy doodled on her paper kid's menu with the crayons provided. Jacob started looking through the table menu that advertises all the appetizers, special meals, drinks, and desserts. Angie and I made our choices and chose a chicken strip meal for the children to split. When the waitress came for our order, Jacob pointed to pictures in the table menu of what he wanted: lobster tails and a margarita. Luckily the waitress paid more attention to his parents than to him. We all enjoyed a laugh at Jacob's request, which only encouraged him to make further requests later. He loved the waitress.

The salads and fabulous biscuits (I don't know how they make them so great) came quickly. Lucy and Jacob started on biscuits while Angie and I started our salads. After a while, Lucy asked for salad. Angie wasn't finishing hers, so she gave Lucy a bite. At first, Lucy made a face but she ate it up and asked for more. Jacob loved his biscuit and his milk, not asking for anything else.

Eventually the meals came and we cut up the chicken into bite size pieces. Angie offered them french fries since their side was fruit. The kids ate it all up like there was no tomorrow. Lucy kept asking for salad, which amazed and delighted us. Jacob was content to dip his chicken and his fries ten times in the ketchup in defiance of the absent Grandpa. Everything was going so smoothly.

Then we were finishing up and asked for the check. We paid our bill and cleaned up a bit, then headed off to the car. We stopped at the lobster tank on the way out to say goodbye. Then we climbed into the van and headed for home.

It was the best dining out experience we've had at a sit-down restaurant. The kids stayed at the table and didn't even ask to go wandering around. The meal was yummy and a good time was had by all. Part of the success was being there early so food wasn't delayed. Also, it was just us four so it wasn't a big family order. And the food delivery was well paced--salads and such came quickly and covered until the main meal arrived. Jacob enjoyed looking at the little menu and interacting with the waitress. Maybe we'll try a Tex-Mex place next. They give chips and salsa early which should help, along with the fun decor and maybe even a tortilla-making machine! Regardless, I hope we can repeat this success in the future.

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