RATING: 3 OUT OF 5 BITES
QUICK BITE: This rating pangs me a bit as 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. I have to dock off big for the toilet situation. Or lack of. Latrines are the only option and if you need to change your baby or toddler....lets just hope they aren't nude shy.
THE BIG BITE
Swan Dive just opened on the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn this summer. Yes, THAT Gowanus Canal. But rest be assured the Superfund is cleaning up the canal and in a few years you will be kicking yourself that you didn't buy property on it. The space is huge...10,000 square feet to be exact and it's all outside. Right now, it advertises as a seasonal pop-up restaurant but it would be pretty amazing if they managed to figure out a way to keep it running in the cold months as winter months= NY parents DYING to let their wildings out of the 700 square foot cage. It serves BBQ and that is pretty much it. So vegetarians kids won't be feeling the love.
What is the vibe?
Beach tiki-bar meets the most fun, backyard party ever. It has that feeling of "this could be MY backyard." Kids are everywhere and they are running amok and some are probably crying. But that is OK and noone cares. It also reminds me of when I used to day drink and had nowhere to be on a Saturday except for that outdoor bar. SIGH. The vibe is a win-win for parents and kids.
Can I bring a stroller into the restaurant?
It's almost like if you don't have a stroller you're the odd man out. So yes, bring two, three, four! They were out in full effect the two times we took Jenson.
Does the restaurant cater to kids in any way?
It does without trying. It's my gut that the Swan Dive crew wasn't thinking they'd create the most organic play group ever...but it just kind of ended up that way. Both times we went, we had a soccer ball and kids were running around playing ball. You can ask for chalk at the food bar and the kids can unleash their Van Gogh. There is also cornhole (presumably for the adults) but try telling a bunch of toddlers that they can't play with the beanbags and stand on the base. Good luck with that.
Does the restaurant have a changing table?
This is the biggest misstep. Not only are there no changing tables...there is no normal bathroom. A row of latrines will greet you and your offspring. And while they are nicely maintained, it's a latrine. You might be braver than me, but I will not be hovering Jenson anytime soon over the latrine as I will 100 percent drop him in. Murphy's Law. And if you have a newborn, you will have to change the diaper in the stroller. For bigger kids, this isn't an issue but anyone with younger kids will not be pleased with the bathroom situation.
Is there a kid menu?
There is no kid menu here which is a bit of a bummer as the last time I checked no toddler was finishing a half-rack of ribs. But the theory is everyone just swan dives right in? They do have hotdogs and burgers for a reasonable price so you won't be willing your child to finish his or her overpriced grilled meat. It's my understanding though that toddlers like nothing more than to gnaw on things. And what better way to practice this habit than on a rib bone? Not a lot of vegetarian options.
How early does the restaurant start serving dinner?
Are there food options for allergic kids?
Not really but the the menu is small and mostly meat.
RATING: 3 BITES
Despite there being a lot of great things about Swan Dive, as a parent of a small kid, the toilet situation is far from ideal. I also would like to see a few kid bites on the menu. Kids like having their own plate of food so it would be fun to to be able to buy a few ribs or a slice of pork. And where are the fun BBQ sides!?!? Come on! We all know BBQ is just a gateway for cornbread and mac' n' cheese. And this is the mom talking....not the kid.