Last week as part of my #Babylicious adventure, I headed out to Cluny Bistro with some special friends from out of town and all our kids.
So many great Toronto restaurants are participating in the President’s Choice mom and baby prix fixe dining event (including Tabule, Gusto 101, L’Unita, Boehmer, Ascari Enoteca, and Cibo) but it’s Cluny with its lavish decor, and French/Moroccan cuisine that called to me from the start.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Cluny just strikes me as one of those ‘impeccable-hygiene-a-must-and-you-need-to-wear-real-pants-fancy-party’ adult restaurants that make me feel like I’m in a movie. In my mind it was reserved for date nights and kid-free festivities— another reason why I eagerly jumped at the chance to experience it with two toddlers and my 6 year old.
What I didn’t expect was that the staff didn’t bat a collective eyelash when it came to manoeuvring around the necessary elements of the 10 day festival: they expertly dodged knee-high toddlers and gracefully weaved through high chairs as they took care of tables. They made sure babies got their orders in first. Glassware, silverware and anything remotely hot were kept well out of toddler-reach. There were sweet distracting smiles and helping hands appearing just when we needed them to diffuse potential tantrums. They were complete pros—but I couldn’t help but wonder how they felt about the concept from a serving perspective.
“Isn’t it wonderful?” says my server, a pretty brunette with a meticulous eye for detail and mom-helper ninja reflexes to match. “We love having kids here anyways, but they get their own menus and everything?…So cute…and you get to enjoy your meal a bit more hopefully, right?”
“What about all the clean up and the noise? Isn’t any aspect of Babylicious the least bit daunting for the staff?”
She laughs and shakes her head no. “Cluny has a huge family brunch on weekends so we are totally used to the younger customers who may be prone to throwing their food…” She winks and I can see in her eyes as well as in the faces of all the staff nothing but a kind of sweet anticipation as more Babylicious families are led to their seats.
Seeing their genuine enthusiasm and appreciation was exactly what I needed to be able to finally relax. Now I knew I would enjoy the Tagine or those addictive asparagus frites even more because I wouldn’t be mortified if somehow (with the help of little sticky fingers) half my food ended up on the floor.
PC Organics ABC noodles re-plated on Cluny china by my 20 month old.
The incredible Tagine – cous cous, chick peas, apricot with carrots in a tomato jus.
Crispy sesame-battered asparagus frites with a spicy mayo dipping sauce – a family hit!
As soon as I stood up to take the kids to the washroom my server again materialized from no where to help. “It’s just around the corner there and we have diapers and wipes and everything…”
Impressive. The only person who had constructive feedback was my 6 year old: “They should have put a steppy-stool, Mama. So we can have help getting to the sink. And soap that is pink. And smells like mangoes. And free toys that are kittens or unicorns for all the big sisters who worked so hard to make sure that their little stinker brothers stayed good all night.”
Hmm. The stools in the bathroom thing is not a bad idea. Of course if that’s the only thing they could improve on for next year, I’d still consider the entire event a smashing success.
Babylicious runs through until May 15, so hurry over to pc.ca/babylicious to make a booking at your favourite participating resto.
I’m still savouring my time at Cluny— here’s a round up of my 10 favourite things about Babylicious and why I can’t wait to explore more of Toronto’s culinary scene with my kids next year.
- Tried and true toddler favourites from PC Organics ensure your bebe actually eats.
- You mini gourmande can flex his/her foodie muscles by tasting new and interesting foods off your plate (and it won’t matter if they don’t like it because they have their own!)
- Properly equipped bathrooms with change tables, wipes, and extra diapers mean you don’t have to freak out if you forgot your diaper bag, and you also don’t have to bring an entire suitcase to the bathroom if you’re changing more than 1 kid.
- Adjustable seating is available for every stage – from high chairs to boosters.
- The staff is excited about the program, sensitive to your mood, and their M.O. seems to be ‘do not let mom get stressed’.
- The prix fixe meals showcase truly tasty chef favourites with decent portions and really do reflect the restaurant’s culinary strengths.
- Baby has options too – the PC Organics menu gives 2-3 choices per appetizer, main, and dessert for your tot so there’s bound to be something that even the pickiest eater will like.
- You will actually have time to drink your wine and there may actually be a moment where everyone is eating and you can look around stunned.
- Plastic bowls and spoons for the littles make for way less stress if you have a ‘thrower’ or an ultra-independent feeder like I do.
- Family gift bags that feature an assortment of PC Organics favourites including cereal bars, puffs and coupons ensure that once the novelty of the fancy restaurant wears off and your kid realizes that they’re still hungry (you know, in the car, way after they’re supposed to be finished dinner) you actually have something to give them. SCORE!
This post was sponsored by President’s Choice and Babylicious.
They sent me out for a Babylicious dinner so I could share my experiences with you. Opinions are my own. Well, and my 6 year old’s. Because she has an opinion on everything.