It was a cold Saturday afternoon in Soho and we walked past this amazing beer hall. Against our better judgment, we ventured in. Not only was it a March Madness weekend, it was a cold Saturday and what better way to spend it than chugging down steins of beer. And that is what all the childless people in that establishment were doing. So we knew walking in that we were potentially going into enemy territory, but we were hungry and we rationalized that a beer HALL would be a place Jenson could at least roam free. The game was a few hours away from starting so the hall was not rammed when we entered. In fact, we were patting ourselves on the back for "discovering" such an amazing, kid-friendly place. Well, as it turns out...not so much. As quickly as we came, we went. And it was one of those moments where we watched the people around us order beer after beer, knowing they were subscribing to the "lets just see where this day takes us" mantra. It's a mantra Olly and I have not regularly said to ourselves in a long time. Without further ado....here is the review:
How disruptive will my kids be?
Not at all in the grand scheme of things. I dare the most disruptive toddler to compete with a bunch of primal college students day drinking on a Saturday afternoon. That is the good news. The bad news: you will feel like you should not be there. Even when the tipsy college girl is cooing over your child and the college bro is asking your toddler for a hi-five. In fact, when those scenarios occur, you will REALLY feel like you shouldn't be there. It's as if you are tainting their innocence by throwing parenthood in their faces.
Can I bring a stroller into the restaurant?
Yes! But you will want to fold it down...immediately. We literally found the most kid-friendly area in the whole of the hall. Yes, we were sat by all the untapped kegs, but we sort of had our own private area where we did keep his stroller open. And bless the friendly waitstaff, they didn't tell us to fold it down even when the place was starting to fill up quickly. The place fills up fast and as the day went on, it got increasingly more crowded. We had been there for only 15 minutes when a group of students negotiated with us to change spots with them because an entire sorority was joining them and we had apparently landed Beer Hall Table Gold. We happily obliged and moved, but the move was made all the easier because we didn't have to maneuver our open stroller around the hall. I legit didn't see any strollers in the whole of the place. I think if this hall was in Brooklyn, it might be a different scene. But Soho, Manhattan says keep your over priced kid chariots off my streets. #respect
Does the restaurant cater to kids in any way?
No. Do not let the overly kid-friendly menu fool you. I mean, they feature Milk Truck grilled cheese sandwiches and soft pretzals for crying out loud. It's like the Holy Grail of kid food. Do not be fooled. There are no changing stations in this place and zero kid accommodations. That being said...if you arrive there as it opens (noon every day) and there is no big sporting event, I think this place would be great for rowdy toddlers. Because they really can run around and no one cares and as long as you beat the hungover childless crowd, you could probably rule the hall for a period of time. But just know you should leave not too soon after you've arrived. We went there on a Saturday afternoon. Maybe the weekday is different?
How early does the restaurant start serving dinner?
They open at noon and food is served all day until the wee hours of the morning. Menu is massively kid-friendly.
Are there food options for allergic kids?
Houston Hall makes a point of saying on their menu that they take food allergies very seriously and to please inquire if there is an issue. This is a good sign.
Why? It's a bit obvious, but this place is a beer hall. Beer. Hall. Think back to the days where you spent too many hours in one of these places...did you see a bunch of strollers and kids running around? Probably not. On its face, it might seem like a great place for kids. It has SPACE...a commodity in NY, grilled cheese galore on the menu and it's loud. Which is why this spot is not zero bites. But the moment your kid starts to cry, it's amazing how exposed you will feel. If your life allows, I bet a weekday lunch visit to this spot would be pretty great. But for the weekend, this spot is best left to the people who don't have to ask if there are changing stations in the bathrooms...