Hear this from the lips of your wise aunt lobstersquad: once you have kids, restaurants, as you know them, are over. Yes, they are. Just face it. None of this pious "oh, it's just different, no worse or better, just different". Because it is. Worse, I mean.
Don't get me wrong; my kids are astonishingly beautiful, wonderful, charming, funny and bright, and I love them to bits. They are also two and three, which means they are impatient, loud, fidgety and extremely annoying.
Sounds bleak? Take heart from this most beautiful of words: babysitter.
And whatever you do, don't fall into the so called "family restaurant" trap. Unless run by an actual family, like my favourite place ever, Virginia´s. Otherwise, family restaurants are bottomless pits of hell, constructed around luring you in with promises of crayons and balloons, while holding you hostage for ages until you cave and order overpriced nachos and brownies. And don't get me started on "kids' menus".
So, then: dim sum. Chinese restaurants don't discriminate by age. They treat everybody with the same gruff indifference. No crayons, true, but also, no sigh of despair at the sight of very young customers.
Kids don't like to wait, and things arrive quickly. Kids don't like to share, and dumplings are ideal single serving portions. Kids like variety, so lots of little plates keep them entertained, and everyone gets to choose several things.
Kids like familiarity, so there is no better option when out of town; they see dragons, chopsticks, Chinese characters on the wall and are instantly at home.
By the time their best-behaviour span is over, so is lunch. Pay, go, smile, and wipe their little soy sticky selves before you get to the car.