PROVENCE EN BOITE: 263 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY
This particular Saturday, Furst Bites decided to get buck wild and brunch with another baby. That meant two strollers and twice the potential for epic meltdowns. We were every restaurant's dream that morning. Adding to our first world brunch problems that only people with kids understand was the question of, "What place is open at 9AM that isn't a diner." You'd be surprised to learn just how many establishments don't open until later on the weekends. I have mad respect for those places because really brunching is best left to the set who can idly chug bloodies all day with the only pressing concern being: where to continue day drinking. But we needed to eat and our former Brooklyn besties were visiting from Chicago so there was immediate cause for brunch celebration. We all thought of one fab spot in our hood that opens early. It's a little French place off of Smith street and I've spent many occasions here...mostly before I had Jenson. It truly is a little slice of Paris in our Brooklyn neighborhood. We love the French owners and the woman, Leslie, always makes you feel like she remembers you and your offspring. No matter how annoying they might be. Which brings me to the full review.
How disruptive will my kids be?
On first look, this place does not scream, "Come eat here with your kids." If only because it's a bit cramped and you are literally eating on your neighbor. But it has that magical feel of being a truly local spot where the owners know many of their patrons and their families. So you do feel welcome even if the place is a bit cozy (code word usually for TURN AROUND NOW.) On this morning, the place was not that crowded yet so Leslie put us in the back booth with lots of space. She even interacted with our children straight away which is always a promising sign. But even if this place was a bit more crowded I don't think you'd feel disruptive with your kids. It somehow toes that line perfectly of being a cool, local spot that also doesn't really care if your kids are throwing some serious shade and throwing sugar packets on the ground.
Can I bring a stroller into the restaurant?
Not really. You will see in the video we were rolling two deep but we immediately folded them down. The space just isn't big enough to accommodate open strollers. Baby Tabby is still rocking her carseat so we just put her on the booth, which is a great option for parents of wee ones. On a nice day if you sit outside, they let you keep your strollers open onto the sidewalk. We have done that with Jenson in the past
Does the restaurant cater to kids in any way?
Not particularly but Leslie came up to us a few times during the meal and asked if we were OK with the kids. She moved our strollers out of the way for us and generally seemed concerned as to whether we were having an enjoyable experience. You get the impression you could hand over your kid for her to watch if they were getting unruly. Highchairs are available but I didn't see any booster seats. They don't have a kid menu and they don't have any kid crayons. I mean, come on...that wouldn't be really French if they did have those accommodations. Bathrooms do not have changing stations BUT I have been told in the past to just "change the baby in the back of the restaurant." Some might think that is gross. But to a parent who is at a place with no changing stations, those words are from God. Yes, I will take my changing mat and put it on this comfy and spacious booth and change my baby without any staff recourse. SIGH.
How early does the restaurant start serving dinner?
They serve food continuously all day.
Are there food options for allergic kids?
Not specifically. After all, you got to respect the Frenchness of this place. In France, you don't order a sandwich a million different ways with this and that on the side. You eat what they give you. But this place is really family friendly so if you told Leslie that your child had an allergy, I have no doubt she would be in the kitchen herself whipping up a meal to accommodate.
Why? The place on its face is not kid friendly, but the owners are so fabulous and so excited when they see your offspring, you just want to keep on coming. The lack of changing stations is something they should fix but everything else I really respect. I don't think families should necessarily go out to eat and expect places to be an art supply store. I also like the fact that this place doesn't have a kid menu. Granted, the prices are reasonable so you're not cringing if your toddler leaves the entire omelette on the plate. Part of the reason you feel like you are in France is because of the Frenchness of this place. And while that is not everyone's cup of tea, it make me smile. Little one, quiet down and just eat your croque monsieur.