Regular readers may know that Jon and I have developed skepticism about the ability to have a relaxed meal out with a busy two-year-old in establishments other than cafes or diners. But last night we tried again, and Laurel rewarded us by being an angelic dinner companion for nearly an hour and a half at Tamarind House in Porter Square.
It’s possible that the 15-minute post-nap tantrum over Laurel’s distaste for wearing pants depleted her crazy mojo reserve; or perhaps she’s just growing into a more mature dining out buddy. Those possibilities aside, a few other factors no doubt helped the cause. We hope these "dining dos" will prove useful for your future family dining:
1) Dine early to facilitate quick service. We were seated shortly after 5:30pm; appetizers arrived minutes after we ordered them, thus quickly engaging Laurel in her beloved dumplings. 2) Booths rock. In addition to serving to sequester Laurel (she can’t resist climbing up and down repeatedly on regular chairs), these particular booths were high backed, so Laurel wasn’t tempted to play with the people sitting behind us (as in Know Your Limits). 3) Interesting décor helps. Tamarind House isn’t terribly ornate, but they do have some pretty colored lamps and other accoutrements that Laurel was excited to check out. We walked her around during the brief intervals while we were waiting for food to arrive to give her a break from sitting. 4) Mix it up. We ordered two appetizers and two entrees and the pacing and variety of the food worked beautifully. All told Laurel ate an astonishing pile of brown rice, spring rolls, dumplings (5 of them!), and baby corn. She was so content that we even stayed for dessert. And she was so chill after that that we even had time to stroll down the block to get mama a café au lait at Simon's before heading home.
We’re by no means setting this experience as the bar for future outings, but we are still relishing in the glow of having had a fun and relaxing outing as a family while enjoying real adult food and no dishes to clean up at home.
Tamarind House, 1790 Mass. Ave., Cambridge; Tel: 617-491-9940