As we were in town we took advantage of the situation and took ourselves off to meet a couple of The Friends for a leisurely coffee.
The Baby was very well behaved for the hour and a half whilst we were in the coffee shop. I think this gave us the confidence to make a decision we would probably never had made had we been at home. The decision to go to dinner, with The Baby and The Eight Year Old, to a 'fancy' Italian restaurant.
Earlier in the day we passed by the restaurant, a relatively new addition to it's current location in the City Centre, and the seed of the idea of eating there (instead our original idea of going to a chain like Pizza Express) was planted. We had checked if babies and children were welcome. They were.
We arrived at the restaurant a little before 6pm thinking that there would be very few other customers choosing to eat so early on. We were wrong. The place was packed.
I immediately felt anxious. The Eight Year Old is used to eating out. But The Baby, well, not so much. The thought of keeping him entertained throughout our meal felt much more 'do-able' when we thought the place would be largely empty but in front of an audience? Another thing entirely!!
Reading the faces of the customers as we entered the restaurant, in our very casual clothing and wheeling in front of us a pushchair weighed down with coats and bags, I sensed three reactions:-
- Horror. "Our fancy romantic meal is ruined" they were thinking.
- Pity. "The only way these poor people can eat out is by bringing their children".
- Empathy and mild amusement. "What a lovely family. Cute baby and child. We know/remember what it is like to brave/avoid an outing like this!"
The Eight Year Old was on his best behaviour - happily playing with his new 'super hero's and villains trump cards' - and The husband was able to rock The Baby to sleep. All was well.
Of course, The Baby only slept for around 20 minutes after which our kind waiter swiftly provided a high chair that was a little too big and that The Baby sat in for all of two minutes! The Husband and me spent the rest of our time there using the well practised 'tag-team approach' - taking it in turns to entertain The Baby and to finish our food...all the while trying to stop The Baby from grabbing cutlery, menus, trump cards, food...
It struck me how little people actually move around in a restaurant once they have been shown to their table so we caused quite a stir with all of our baby-entertaining manoeuvres and created a bit of an obstacle course for the very patient staff.
The Baby drew a lot of attention and charmed his way through the evening. Around 7.30pm he had just about had enough and was getting restless. I laid him down on a leather bench at the empty table opposite ours so he could have a wriggle around. No-one seemed to mind although The Husband did point out afterwards that the waiters face had been a picture as he seemed at first to think I was perhaps about to change The Baby's nappy right there in the middle of the restaurant!
As the volume of The Baby's restless murmurings increased I could be heard hissing over to The Husband "Let's get the bill! And leave a big tip!!" - much to the amusement of a fellow diner.
As we walked back to our car we congratulated ourselves on a successful family dinner out - our first 'fancy dinner' as a family of four. It may not have been the most relaxed meal out we've ever had but you y'know what? We felt all sort of warm and fuzzy inside, really happy. Although that could have been the wine (polished off at top speed) talking ;-)
For anyone wanting to experience what is, in our opinion, the finest restaurant in Sheffield City Centre then pop yourselves over to Gusto's. We promise that we 'll try to give you some warning if we're planning another family visit anytime soon :)
The food was completely amazing and the staff couldn't have been more lovely or accommodating. I'm hoping to write up a foody review of our visit that should be appearing on 'Cocoa & Fig' sometime very soon.