THE BRIDGES DUMBO: 66 Water Street, Brooklyn NY
It was a Sunday and it was the first weekend of March Madness. My request to have brunch at a TV-free venue was not going over well. And then all of a sudden I realized I did sound crazy and really, really not fun. So I immediately switched gears and went into a "lets do this properly" mode. Give me a place with LOTS of screens and lots of fried food on the menu. We had friends in DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass) who were already watching the games at The Bridges. Since we were already playing outside at Brooklyn Bridge Park, it was an easy 10 minute stroll to the place. Here is our review:
How disruptive will my kids be?
Your kids will not be disruptive (well maybe to YOU...but we're talking in terms of OTHERS) Genuinely. It is a rare treat to go to a place that has this much space. It is huge. Huge from NY standards at least and there are TVs everywhere but it doesn't seem like you're sitting in a sports bar. The bar area is separated from the eating area so it all feels just a touch civilized. But the place is loud enough that if your kids screams or jumps around, no one will notice. And THAT is a beautiful thing. Keep in mind, we came on a Sunday afternoon in between basketball games, but the daddies who were there before us had arrived during peak crowds and they said it was fantastic for the kids. We scored a corner booth area and we white flagged it hard. There was plenty of room for all the kids to get out of the booth, walk around and run up and down a ramp that led up to our area. If there were more people in our section, I might not have let Jenson roam as much, but that wasn't the case when we were there. It was truly a dream spot to kick back and have some beers and wings, but also know your kid will not be accumulating any voodoo spells from the other patrons.
Does the restaurant cater to kids in any way?
Yes. Kids under eight eat free brunch on the weekends. Wait..what? Yes, you read that correctly. FREE. Why doesn't every restaurant do this? There is nothing more maddening than paying too much for pancakes to have your toddler take two bites of it. We ordered chocolate chip pancakes and they were good. So good, I had to continually remind myself that I already inhaled a falafel wrap about 30 minutes prior and this was lunch....for MY SON. There is a kid menu with your standard kid fare. Read: nuggets, burgers, fries, noodles, etc.
There are changing stations in the bathrooms downstairs. Highchairs are provided, but no booster chairs. They have crayons and coloring books for kids and there is art everywhere. So distraction levels are really high.
Can I bring a stroller into the restaurant?
Yes. I imagine if it was super packed, they might ask you to fold it down, but I saw a few strollers unfolded the day we were there.
How early does the restaurant start serving dinner?
The place opens at noon and dinner menu begins at 5PM. Kid menu is served all day.
Are there food options for allergic kids?
Not officially. The server told me if anyone has any allergies or sensitivities they would try to accommodate as best they could.
Why? This place almost checks off everything. I'm not giving it the full 5 bites because they don't have booster seats and there isn't a whole lot to eat if your child is gluten-sensitive or has a peanut allergy. And while I give this place props for having kid menu, it's a tad unimaginative. We need to stop feeding into this philosophy that our kids palate should only rise as high as nuggets and buttered noodles. But overall, The Bridges is a GREAT place to hang out with friends and bring your kids along. We will definitely be going back.
Missed the post about how we got to this review system? READ HERE for the full explanation!
***If cooking Christmas dinner is making you cringe like my hubby was when I asked him to take this photo then you should read this post
Tis' the season to start amassing even more credit card debt, regret behavior at work parties and spend a dizzying amount of time feeling inadequate about your potentially tacky-looking mantle and pathetic-looking reindeer cookies (Die. Pinterest. Die.) So I thought I'd bring some Brooklynites some holiday cheer that comes in the form of a list of restaurants that are open on Christmas or Christmas Eve...and some are open on both days. Stop feeling guilty about what you're not making or beating yourself up because your table setting would make Martha's hate list. Let someone else (IE) a restaurant do all the dirty work for you...
Little Goat gets high marks for being open super early on the weekends (7 AM!), which is helpful if you have little creatures at home who arise with the sun. They also offer valet parking, which seems like an unnecessary extravagance early on a Saturday morning, until your hanger overtakes you and you scream at your husband because there are no. goddamn. parking. spots.
Swan Dive turns into the most organic playgroup you've even seen. Kids can roam free, draw with chalk, play corn hole (or just stand inappropriately on the base) and parents can drink cocktails and not worry about disrupting the neighbors (you are)...but it doesn't matter. The food is mostly meat and lets just hope your kids aren't nude shy...
OK, so this is an ice cream shop. I get it...of course it's kid-friendly. BUT, not all ice cream shops are cut from the same kid-friendly cloth. And being that 76 percent of my diet in the summer months is ice cream, it seemed my/our civic duty to review this place for the First Bites community. First off, if you live in Brooklyn (and Manhattan for that matter) you KNOW Ample Hills. Bold statements are made from people that this really is "the best ice cream in America." And being that this ice cream shop is headquartered in the artisanal capital of the universe, rest be assured Ample Hills makes from start to finish all of their ice cream flavors. But don't get too attached to a flavor because the menu is constantly changing. They keep us on our toes...and validating deep internal monologues of why we MUST go back the next day....and the day after that.
08/09/14 - For Sunday Features. Lines. Ample Hills Creamery is located at Union Street in Brooklyn. NYC August 9 2014 (photo by Christian Johnston)
They opened their first place in Queens, NY six years ago....and now they are opening up locations in Tokyo and Frankfurt. Bareburger moves fast. If I'm being totally honest, it's the sort of place I normally don't like eating at. Why? It's just all a bit too perfect. Sort of that "you're in Disneyworld" feel and the founders have spent a lot of money on consumer psychology research. But like Disneyworld, you somehow find yourself BACK in Harry Potter land and swearing to yourself that you are going to go for New Year's Eve EVERY.SINGLE. YEAR because it is THE BEST PLACE ON EARTH.
So you don't have a Shake Shack in your city? No problem! I recreated the Shake Shack burger in my kitchen and it legit tastes JUST like the real thing. Thank you @Smittenkitchen for this amazing recipe. Just because you don't live in New York, doesn't mean you can't eat like a New Yorker. And seriously....this TASTES JUST LIKE THE REAL THING!! Chalk this up to one of my life's greatest accomplishment. Sorry husband and child......
This is basically NY's version of In-N-Out except it is not. Shake Shack is a bit more urban and it stands apart in the burger arena by using a proprietary burger that’s vegetarian fed and humanely raised. Cooked-to-order burgers are topped with fresh ingredients and served on a non-GMO roll. They also make their own custard ice cream that is full of REAL sugar and the most important part of this chain....they serve ALCOHOL. Uh huh. So go ahead and order your kid cocaine that comes in the form of a brownie, custard concrete...it doesn't matter, because you will be sipping wine and all will be right in the world.
It was a day of lunching sophistication. Not even an American (me) could damper that. We headed over to Hotel du Vin, Cannizaro House. Hotel du Vin is a chain of luxury boutique hotels scattered throughout London. Olly's family lives in Wimbledon so we walked over to Cannizaro Park, a massive park that is amazing for kids to run around in (did I mention it is GRASS and NOT concrete?!), feed the ducks, look at flowers and see a mini aviary of birds. On these grounds sits the large mansion-hotel that has a windowed bistro that sits on the park grounds. Before we had lunch, we walked around, fed the ducks and tried in vain to tire out Jenson. Once we walked into the restaurant, I noticed something immediately. There were no kids except for Jenson and my 7-year-old-niece...
So this place is in the heart of Brooklyn and is a vegetarian-only, vegan, gluten-free optional restaurant. You can only wear hemp and showers are not encouraged (KIDDING.) But I do command you to stop your eye roll and Free Yo Mind! Even the most loyal of meat eaters would have a hard time saying anything bad about the food here. It is that good. If you think you could never have mac and cheese without the cheese...I dare you to try their cashew-based mac and "cheese." You won't even miss the cheese. Their gluten-free, veggie burgers are something to write home about and they start the meal with complimentary gluten-free pumpkin muffins...which are also blow-your-mind good. Oh, and portabella steaks are a thing. Did I mention that they are MASSIVELY kid-friendly?!
Calexico is a venue that started out selling their burritos and tacos out of a food truck and now have locations all over New York...but they still sell out of carts. Armed with Jenson, we popped in for some lunch at their new*ish Red Hook location before hitting the Brooklyn waterfront.