Wish you could bring your tot to a fancy restaurant without having to worry about making a scene? Thanks to Nibble + Squeak, a New York–based startup dedicated to simplifying “dining for parents and pipsqueaks,” you can.
Founded by Melissa Elders, a native New Yorker with an “outsize appetite,” the company hosts family-friendly meals at upscale eateries all across the country, from Los Angeles to Chicago, as well as in London. “We really want to give young families the confidence to go out and have parents enjoy the kinds of dining they loved prekids,” Elders says. “Our events take the worry out of the restaurant experience for parents and allow the little ones to be little.” While still sampling foie gras and truffles, of course.
Nibble + Squeak works closely with chefs to create menus that reflect the cuisine each restaurant is known for, so that parents can experience as close to a “normal” dining experience as possible. “Many of our meals are served family-style to allow our guests to taste a wider variety of dishes than they could on their own,” Elders notes.
The company also collaborates with restaurants, including the three-Michelin-starred likes of Eleven Madison Park (where not one, but three Nibble + Squeak luncheons are taking place in January, due to popular demand), to create baby- and kid-friendly affairs, replete with everything from extra high chairs and bendy straws to toddler-safe bowls and plates. “We never want to disqualify a restaurant based solely on the limitations of its space,” Elders says. “However, we always take note and let parents know about potential obstacles, such as steps at the entrance, tightly packed tables, and noise level.”
All Nibble + Squeak events follow a similar timeline: After guests arrive and settle down, snacks and refreshments are distributed, followed by a few courses paired with drinks. “We aim to keep the meal itself within a slightly shorter time period than is typical, taking into account child attention spans,” says Elders, who brings her own toddler, Serena, to almost all of the New York events. To assuage picky eaters, clients are asked to supply all dietary preferences and restrictions in advance—such as what color foods their children will or won’t eat. And there’s usually a play area for kids to take a break from sitting at the table if need be.
This March, Nibble + Squeak will revisit one of its perennial New York favorites—chef Thomas Keller’s Per Se. (Its last lunch was an especially warm and inviting event that featured a multicourse tasting menu showcasing special creations tailored to tots, such as gourmet chicken “fingers” with roasted fingerling potatoes and “mac and cheese” with rigatoni and Béchamel sauce.) The spring menu has yet to be decided and will hinge on the best produce available.
Why You Should Go: These meals are meant to be dining events for your family, akin to seeing a show, that introduce your kids to the art of fine dining. That you and your partner or a friend get to have a drink and a grown-up meal for a change is the shallot vinaigrette on the mizuna salad.
Nibble + Squeak
Eleven Madison Park, 11 Madison Avenue (between East 24th and 25th Streets), Midtown
Saturday, January 27, noon–3 p.m., and Sunday, January 28, 11 a.m.–2 p.m.
$298 per adult; $48 for children; free for infants
Red Rooster, 310 Lenox Avenue (between West 125th and 126th Streets), Harlem
Sunday, February 11, 10:30–11:30 a.m.
$111 per adult; $15 for children; free for infants
Per Se, 10 Columbus Circle, Fourth Floor (at West 60th Street), Upper West Side
Saturday, March 10, 11 a.m.–1 p.m.
$260 per adult (or $298 with wine pairings); $22 for children; free for infants
Let us reserve a few spots at this three-course gourmet extravaganza before it’s too late!