Picking just the right spot for a holiday meal with children in tow can be a tricky affair; one that requires choosing a destination with good food, ambience and just enough room and background noise for junior to play — and stop you from pulling out your hair.
When I pick a restaurant to go to with my child, the meals just can’t compete with those of the places I get to go to when the baby sitter is in. Happily, Bistro Favori in Daikanyama turned out to be an exception: One of those few establishments with great food, an ambience that isn’t stuffy (but still formal enough for a special occasion) and, last but not least, a changing table in the restroom.
On the day that we were there for a weekday lunch, there were several mothers with children dining with their child-free friends, a good sign that both the food and atmosphere pass muster. Located at the back of the dining room is a private room that can accommodate eight to 12 people and can be reserved for no extra fee.
Heading up the kitchen is Chef Shinya Shiota, formerly of Belle Epoque in the Hotel Okura, whose creations range somewhere in between the casual and formal for an accessible approach to French cuisine — think dishes served in Staub Dutch ovens and flank steak as opposed to more delicate cuts of meat. The restaurant prides itself on serving only locally sourced vegetables from farms in the Tokyo area, bringing the freshest produce to your table.
We tried the ¥2,900 lunch course, which needs to be reserved in advance. It consisted of a salad, soup, appetizers, a main dish and dessert. The restaurant does not have a regular children’s option on the menu, but they are able to accommodate requests for a children’s plate if reserved in advance.
Our selection of appetizers was a delightfully colorful mix of vegetable terrine, kampachi (amberjack) carpaccio and sweet potato mousse, with an edible flower garnish. Surprisingly, the biggest hit with the children was the creamy bean potage, a blend of broad beans, green beans, peas and root vegetables. My daughter refused to share the soup at first, but I finally managed to sneak a sip.
This was followed by the bavette or flank steak, seared to medium and simply seasoned with rock salt, mustard, and served with minced shallots. The dessert featured a bruleed crepe with strawberries, with a light yet satisfying crunch.
Bistro Favori is ideal for babies and older children with adventurous palates who aren’t afraid to try new things. For the less adventurous, and more rambunctious children, a better option for holiday dining may be Lounge & Dining G. This sprawling establishment located inside the Tokyo Marriott Hotel provides plenty of space for children to roam while still offering a sophisticated ambience.
Just 10 minutes from Shinagawa Station, the Tokyo Marriott Hotel seems worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the city, partly due to a view of the gardens of Gotenyama Teien.
We were seated in an area to the back of the dining room, which can be separated with heavy curtains from the rest of the restaurant and is probably the best spot to be if you are dining with a young child. This area can be reserved for no extra fee, and has both sofa and regular seating.
Safely ensconced in their chic, gray high chairs, the children went straight for the Kid’s Plate (¥1,850), a decidedly kid-friendly assortment of hamburger steak, french fries, fried prawns and some boiled vegetables. As the restaurant is an American-style grill, the hamburger steak was grilled to perfection, and served with a delectable onion sauce that I would have liked to have had on my plate.
For children who are able to venture out of their comfort zones, the restaurant, like all Marriott restaurants, offers many of its regular menu items in children’s sizes, including its entire pasta selection and many of its grilled offerings.
The adults enjoyed the Gourmet Plate Lunch (¥3,200), which featured a Chef’s Grilled Plate with a trio of meats: venison, duck confit and beef braised in red wine — a meat-lover’s dream. The deconstructed tiramisu was an unexpected end to the meal with a fluffy mascarpone mousse and bitter finish.
Even if enjoying a special meal with your not-always-so-angelic child seems like a daunting prospect, Lounge & Dining G is a place where family dining can be an enjoyable experience. So sit down, relax and let somebody else do the cooking. Happy Holidays!
Bistro Favori is located at 1-4-8 Aobadai, Meguro-ku, Tokyo (open for lunch from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. and dinner from 6 p.m.-11 p.m. on weekdays, and for lunch from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and dinner from 6 p.m.-11:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays; closed Dec. 31-Jan. 3). Call 050-5868-5699 for reservations and 03-6416-3665 for inquiries. English is spoken, an English menu is available. Highchairs and a changing table are available. Lounge & Dining G is located at 4-7-36 Kita-Shinagawa, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo (open 6:30 a.m.-midnight). Reservations can be made at 03-5488-3929. English is spoken, an English menu is available. Highchairs and a changing table are available.
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