Family-Friendly French

For my son’s birthday, guess what we did? No. Not a crazy party with five-year-olds, a bouncy house, lots of sugary cupcakes and the most tired, worked over version of me. (We’re doing all that and then some next year!) All of us sat at a comfortable booth table at the most upscale, kid-friendly French restaurant in Manhattan. (I’ve been taking him there since he turned one, so it’s a tradition or else I’d have chosen a Brooklyn resto.)

My family had a marvelous time despite our differences in priorities. Being an active toddler/ladies’ man/social butterfly, my son’s favorite restaurant sport is running under tables, all the while melting every heart in the room. My mom is a veteran retiree who deserves an Oscar for her role as a food critic and restaurant inspector each and every time our family eats out. My sister, embarrassed by us all, couldn’t pick a better time to be engaged with or to her phone. And, I can’t wait to get my appetizer, usually something French, served in a wine glass.

Not unlike any other family-friendly French restaurant that we’ve patronized, they served us with ready plates. Great service, good food and they have cotton candy! I’ve noticed that this inclusive behavior is typical of French eateries. I’m sure that France’s family-first policies have some significance in the general way that the French consider the importance of family life.

Most Brooklyn French restaurants that we’ve tried have been so accommodating for a family with a young child, and also cater to the needs of a family with an aging parent. Life is so good when you can swap a horrible, fast food chain location for a lovely, safe restaurant where you can watch your son play, and catch up with your mom and sister while enjoying a nice cocktail, even if only three times a year.

Hopefully with the tremendous amount of five-star family-friendly French restaurants in Brooklyn, I will continue to be be able to afford and enjoy many meals out with my family. extended family, and family-like friends and their kids too.

Here’s a short list of restaurants that I’d like to try. ’Tis the season to be jolly with your loved ones.

Cafe Paulette
The Place: Lots of dramatic sunlight by day with sweeping windows and a view of Fort Greene park across the street. Spacious, somewhat plain, minimalist with an expensive air or maybe that’s the delicious smell from the kitchen that fills the room.

Other notes: No kids’ menu, but we noticed a few other families noshing on the Poulet Roti and the burger. Closed for one and a half hour before dinner.

The Place: Cute, quaint, and comfy cafe-type interior with a mural of black and white photos of French antagonists. A secluded table for one mid-sized family—it’s in a cozy corner. A handsome lush garden will woo you.

Other notes: No kids’ menu but they have several kid-friendly options. The Michelin-star-worthy food is so finely, crafted that you’ll want your future foodie (hopefully), to try it. My son liked the cheese soufflé, not the sorbet that comes with it. I liked everything.

La Cigogne
The Place: True Parisian aesthetic vibe on Union Street. Green walls and a bit of greenery for tables that counter each other. A fireplace that if you’re lucky enough to get a seat by, is perfect for this kind of weather.

Other notes: Opens early at 4 p.m. for dinner. The kids’ menu is fantastically different. It doesn’t list chicken fingers that they won’t eat anyway. The Shirley Temple though would make my son smile.

Le Paddock
The Place: French rustic appeal that is primed for a brick-oven pizza dinner. From the branches chandelier to the distressed wooden bar to the real wooden tables to the barn-like floor, this place takes its name seriously.

Other notes: Order the pizza and you’re an automatic hero to your kids. Order one of their cool cocktails and you’re wind-in-hair ready to face the world. Very close to Prospect Park. My son felt at home here after a trip to the park, and ravaged his salmon entree.

Le Petit Paris Bistro
The Place: Brick walls, lots of accent lighting makes it cozy. The space is OK, but the view of the food is the reason you come this little Parisian bistro.
Other notes: Boasts an extensive menu with traditional French entrees. Picky eaters welcome. Lots of choices for everyone. Proudly doesn’t offer WiFi, but rather encourages actual face-to-face conversation.


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