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Alinea’s Chef Achatz to consider age limit after crying baby disrupts diners

Various plates created by Chef Grant Achatz at Alinea in ChicagoThis image was Tweeted to @Alineababy as "Not baby food"
Various plates created by Chef Grant Achatz at Alinea in ChicagoThis image was Tweeted to @Alineababy as "Not baby food"
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To the dismay of customers, acclaimed Chicago restaurant Alinea recently had their youngest diner to date. It appears a couple decided to take their 8-month old to the upscale restaurant not realizing what a stir it would cause. Unfortunately the newborn would not stop crying causing patrons to start complaining and Chef Grant Achatz to Tweet about the disturbance stating, “Tbl brings 8mo.Old. It cries. Diners mad. Tell ppl no kids? Subject diners 2crying? Ppl take infants 2 plays? Concerts? Hate saying no,but…”

Needless to say this has caused quite the uproar among single fine diners and parents alike. Should there be an age limit at establishments such as Alinea? Think about it, there are no children’s menus, play mats with crayons, plastic cups or high chairs. Not to mention that people wait months to just get into Alinea which requires advance ticket purchase for their extensive tasting menu that averages around $250 per person plus the cost of drinks and gratuity.

The Yelp description and other reviews of Alinea clearly state it is not a restaurant for kids. Nothing about Alinea comes off as baby or even family friendly. So why did a couple bring their baby that evening? According to the couple their sitter canceled at the last minute and Alinea does not give refunds. Aliena does however allow the tickets to be sold or transferred. It goes without saying that the couple just wanted to enjoy their much anticipated evening out. There’s nothing wrong with that, right? Except that the other diners were also there to enjoy their evenings; assumingly kid free especially at such a price.

Obviously the couple’s decision had an impact on the other diners who were unable to fully enjoy their dining experience due to the shrieks of the crying baby. So the question is should fine dining restaurants have to establish an age limit or do parents need to use more common sense in manners such as these? It doesn't seem unreasonable to accept that not everything is appropriate for children.

Alinea is number 15 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2013 (number 7 in 2012) and Chicago’s only 3 star Michelin awarded restaurant. Chef Grant Achatz won this year’s Chef Choice Awards. Achatz’s Tweet has caused uproar since he is now considering not just an age limit but banning baby’s altogether. What seems to be the most disarming is what some call the audacity of Achatz for shaming paying customers on social media. In fact all the drama of what is now being called baby-gate has created a new Twitter account @AlineaBaby where both sides come to debate the issue of baby banning.

However this is not a new topic. In fact more upscale restaurants are setting age limits but that number doesn't compare to the thousands of family friendly restaurants able to accommodate young children. So with all the options available there really is no reason for a baby to be at any fine dining establishment. Alinea is located at 1723 North Halsted Street, Chicago.