The pleasures of dining out don’t diminish entirely once you have a child – they just shift a bit. An 8pm reservation becomes a 5pm reservation. Choosing a restaurant based on the variety of dishes turns into choosing a restaurant that has at least one dish featuring melted cheese. And lingering over that last glass of wine is no longer an option if you’ve still have bathtime, books, and bedtime rituals ahead of you.
Luckily, many restaurants that you enjoyed in your kid-less existence can be the setting for a family dinner. Take Broders’ Pasta Bar. This cozy restaurant on the corner of 50th and Penn in South Minneapolis is often the choice for date night, judging from the number of couples sitting atop stools at the pasta bar, but there’s room for the little ones, too. Imagine two scenarios:
Scene A: You and your date arrive at 7pm. You’re told the wait could be as long as 90 minutes, but you grab a glass of wine from the bar and chat until your name is called. Squeezing in at the pasta bar, you order another glass of wine and some appetizers or salad. You dally over your bowl of pasta, perhaps sharing tastes with your significant other, and when the waiter suggests dessert and coffee, you make room for the bestia negra flourless chocolate cake. It may be 10pm before you leave, but that’s OK – your stomachs are full, you might be an eensy bit tipsy from that third glass of wine, and you’re not in a rush anyway.
Scene B: You call at 4:30pm to put your name down on the list (you can call up to an hour ahead) and arrive promptly at 5:30, with kid and diaper bag in tow. Since the pasta bar isn’t an option, you still have to wait for a table. Waiting, of course, is not your toddler’s strong suit, but the little breadsticks on the wine bar counter help. The narrow entryway doesn’t leave much room for pre-dinner exercise, so you go outside until your buzzer goes off. Once seated, the ample breadbasket keeps little hands and mouths occupied until a bowl of simple penne and sauce arrives. The attentive server makes sure all cups – including sippys – are full. As for you, forget the salad and apps – you don’t have time for multiple courses. Slurp down your dish (a recent highlight was the risotto with sundried tomatoes and smoked mozzarella) while you cut the penne into bite-size pieces. You consider dessert briefly until your kid has decided he’s had enough time sitting in the highchair and begins to make more noise than the buzz surrounding the pasta bar. You grab the check and head for the door, hoping not to hit a fellow diner with the diaper bag on your way out.
So, should you take the kids to Broders’? Yes if you enjoy flavorful, seasonal pasta and don’t mind taking a little less time to savor it. A resounding yes if you go on Mondays before 6:30pm when kids eat free. But don’t expect to replicate date night – for that, you’re going to need a baby-sitter or Grandma.
Broders’ Pasta Bar
Italian in South Minneapolis
5000 Penn Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55410
OWNER/CHEF: Molly Broder/Michael Rostance
HOURS: 5-9:30pm Sunday-Thursday, 5-10pm Friday, 4:30-10pm Saturday
RESERVATIONS/RECOMMENDED?: No, but diners can call up to one hour in advance to add names to waiting list (highly recommended)
ENTREE RANGE: ($9-15)