RATING: 4.5 BITES OUT OF 5 BITES
QUICK BITE: This place is pretty kid-friendly. There is a 99 percent chance your child will chain him or herself to the toy kitchen in the play area when you say, "time to go." The atmosphere is fun and chaotic, albeit really loud and noisy and stress inducing for parents of toddlers who can't remove their offspring from the premises. So get out of Dodge as soon as you can (and I realize I sound 112 years old.) If you want actual food (although I am firmly in the camp that ice cream IS real food) then you are out of luck. There is a changing table and a roof-top bar with views of Manhattan...so you are basically at a swanky roof-top. Riiiight.
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
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.
What is the vibe?
Sugar-laced, pure and innocent fun with a dose of stressed out adults bargaining with their offspring. They play awesome music...think hits from the '80s and '90s. Oh, I'm sorry, you don't think that is awesome music!?!? Not sure we can be friends. The place is loud so you will feel no shame when your child has an epic meltdown from the inevitable sugar crash.
Can I bring a stroller into the restaurant?
Yes, but I wouldn't advise it. There is a not a lot of hang out space inside and while we did bring our umbrella stroller in, we should have folded it down. Reason being, as the place got increasingly crowded, you could see the stares of shame aimed at the moms who left their GIANT uppababys open. There is a roof top as well, so if you're feeling like your biceps need a bit of attention, you could always drag the stroller upstairs where there is more room.
Does the restaurant cater to kids in any way?
Not to state the obvious but I will. It's an ice cream place! So of course it does but Ample Hills really does take it up a notch. As if kids needed any more reason to stay, they carved out a play area. No, I'm serious. Think books, play kitchen, toys, etc. It was sort of mind blowing and awesome but utterly painful trying to get Jenson to leave. I told him Elmo was outside waiting for him and had such guilt I almost just threw in the towel and opted to negotiate with the staff for an Ample Hills sleepover. But Elmo was honestly the only way I was leaving with my child. The place has a huge, colorful mural on the wall and they even sell onesies and kid t-shirts. They also have party rooms for kids. To a kid, this place must seem like the best preschool ON. EARTH.
Does the restaurant have a changing table?
Yes. But only one bathroom so that could get tricky during peak hours.
Is there a kid menu or will I be unbuttoning my pants to finish my kid's ice cream?
OK, like you're not going to WANT to finish your kid's ice cream...ANYWAY, yes there is a kid's menu. Which is great because these are not Baskin- Robbins prices. You get what you pay for and the ingredients here are really the best. But fret not, you don't have to watch a $7 cup of ice cream melt before your eyes, get your kid the kid's cup. That being said, they only serve ice cream here. So if your kid is all of a sudden hungry for something that doesn't make him want to run up the walls, you are out of luck.
How early does the restaurant start serving dinner?
If you are in my camp that ice cream can be dinner, they start serving at noon and open until 10 or 11PM.
Are there food options for allergic kids?
I imagine ice cream places must be tough for kids with nut allergies. I was really impressed when I saw signs around the kitchen that designated areas that were "Nuts Only." The ingredients for all of their flavors are listed on the website and there are sorbets for people who don't eat dairy. But if your child has a severe nut allergy, this place might be a tough nut to crack. That being said, this place is so embedded in the community, I imagine they would be open to improving the ice cream experience for allergy-stricken kids
RATING? 4.5 BITES
WHY? Ample Hills didn't have to do anything. They know the kids would come. But they choose to put forth a little more effort to make the place that much more kid-friendly. I didn't give it a full five because the space is a touch awkward and I really think they should create an area outside the building to park the strollers. And I know I sound really really old but the music is SO loud. Combine that with the kids and it's not the most relaxing of places. Oh, and booze...I think us parents might need a few glasses of wine while we're here...right?