Swaying to the soothing strains of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” a little girl sets the table for her special tea party, with a giant stuffed toy broccoli and Mickey Mouse as her invited guests. I had been in this space years ago, child-free, only then there was Champagne instead of orange juice, and ambient harp music in the background.
After going through multiple possibilities for this interesting space, which is perched on the 59th floor of the Sunshine 60 skyscraper in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro neighborhood, the restaurant group Casita settled on a winning formula: peaceful dining for parents, toys and slides for the kids.
The Dome is completely separate from the main dining area of Ocean Casita, Casita’s Italian-style seafood grill, but patrons can still enjoy the same items on both menus.
What it lacks in views, The Dome makes up for in toys and a play area for children, ingeniously placed in the center of the dining area. Frequent users of child-friendly restaurants, such as yours truly, likely know that play areas are usually put in the back, away from other patrons. The luxury of this space, which is exclusively for diners with children, is that all tables surround the play area and that allows parents to eat without craning their necks or leaving the table every two minutes to check on what mischief junior is up to.
I have to confess, I was rather surprised that Casita, whose restaurants my husband and I used to frequent in our child-free years on special occasions like weddings, would cater to children.
“Many of our guests, who were married in our restaurants, now have children and want to let their children be a part of the Casita experience,” says Koichi Nakayama, general manager of Casita restaurants.
If a view is what you are after (you are on the 59th floor, after all), the restaurant is happy to accommodate requests to begin your meal in the main dining room with its picture windows, before moving to The Dome as the little one gets antsy.
As for the menu, the Kid’s Plate (¥900) has a little bit of everything: soup, pasta, hamburger steak, salmon, salad and dessert. The pasta, penne with a hearty Bolognese sauce, was an instant hit with my taste tester. A close second was the buttery, smooth potato soup.
For adults, there is the Prefix Lunch (¥2,000) on weekdays and the Holiday Brunch (¥2,500) on weekends, both of which include an appetizer, pasta, main dish and dessert. We sampled the Genovese pasta with scallops and komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach), which was refreshing with a garlicky kick. Although I must confess I finished my daughter’s pasta first, I liked it so much.
The Dome fills up quickly for lunch so make sure to book early. The experience of wiping your hands with a lemongrass-scented towel as the kids launch toy cars down bright orange slides off to the side is a bit of a mismatch, but it’ll have you thinking, “Yeah, I could get used to this.”
Sunshine 60, 3-1-1 Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo; open for lunch from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and dinner from 5-11 p.m. on weekdays and Sat., and for lunch from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and dinner from 5-10 p.m. on Sun. and holidays; call 03-6864-6061 for reservations. English is spoken and an English menu is available. Highchairs and changing tables are available.
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