Who changed a stinky diaper on Raphael Brion's day? The Eater scribe heaped scorn on the launch of Taster Tots L.A., a new Los Angeles restaurant blog for parents: "Taster Tots certainly has its place in that the breeders will find it a handy guide. It can be helpful to know who has chicken fingers or serves pasta with butter. And the rest of us will use it as an anti-Yelp: Any place that's recommended as being child- and especially baby-friendly, people will happily know to avoid," Brion wrote.
"Aaah, that story reads like Gawker's guide to douchey blog posting," shrugs Taster Tots' founder (and for now, sole blogger), Jessica Ritz, dismissing the ire. "I'm surprised actually that Eater even noticed me."
She shouldn't be. Ritz has accidentally hit upon a vast, yawning gap in the food blog world. While there are plenty of blogs about feeding your kids at home (Gastrokid, Weelicious, look, I didn't name these sites!), as far as I know Ritz's is the first blog that focuses on, as she puts it, "places that adults want to go that will also work for kids."
So yes, she notes the presence of chicken fingers and other plain, kid-friendly fare in her spotlights on LA restaurants, but she also looks for dishes adults will like, as well as amenities parents appreciate, like changing stations in the bathrooms and sectioned plates that keep food from touching for extra-squeamish tykes.
Ritz says she ate out a lot before having kids and wants to continue. But at the same time, she doesn't want to annoy other patrons. With that in mind, she has several key pieces of advice for parents who want to continue their restaurant habit:
• Go early: "Don't take up a table during prime dinner hours and order just french fries. A lot of restaurateurs are delighted to serve families who start eating at 5:30 and are out by 7," says Ritz.
• Take a book or some other quiet distraction: "No one wants to listen to your kid playing games with lots of electronic noises."
• Minimize gear: "Leave the stroller and giant diaper bag at home or in the car."
• Everybody sits: "Nothing is more annoying to a waiter than a little kid running around, and it's dangerous, too."
• Change your damn diapers in the bathroom: "Gross. I draw the line there."
• If all else fails, utilize your takeout box: "If it's not working out, it's not working out. Don't force the kids to behave when they can't. Just take the food home or eat it in the car if you have to."