There can be little else more trying to the gastronome's nerves than the sound of shrieking children ricocheting off the walls of a favourite restaurant. Badly-behaved brats can ruin your well-earned meal out, but what's the form when it comes to letting your displeasure be known?
Restaurants could take matters into their own hands: Last year Olde Salty, a restaurant in N. Carolina, banned children outright – 'Screaming children will not be tolerated' is their hard line and they have reportedly seen a rise in custom to compensate for the undoubtedly peeved families taking theirs elsewhere.
We're a bit politer in this country, however, and Hardens the restaurant guide, in conjunction with gurgle.com, has now published a guide to eating out with young children. Having packed it with essential information and tips on just how to get through it successfully (without causing other diners to stage a walk-out), Hardens are no doubt hoping that the publication will encourage parents to continue taking their children out to eat and the rest of us will just have to put up until the bambini get some table manners.
According to a recent survey, 31% of adults with young children have been turned away from restaurants mindful of their other customers. We're surprised it's that high – and how many have been turned out once the children start raising the roof? Chains such as Giraffe have made young families their life-blood – and good for them. It's refreshing to see restaurants taking the young diner seriously but what's the deal with finer dining? Should children be allowed anywhere near the higher echelons of the dining experience?
Actually, we're not against children eating out, but there must be savvier ways of doing it. Children should be exposed to a variety of eating experiences and food, but surely good table manners start at home: shouldn't they be fully trained before they hit the high street? Are separate dining times or even rooms the answer – where appropriate? What's your take and where have you dared dine with your children?