Breaking News! Jenna & Mark eat out without the Kids!

January 30, 2012 |  Category:   dining out family life nyc

Friends, I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. This is only the 3rd time in the history of this blog (that is nearly 4 years!) that we’ve gone out to dinner without the girls. The last time was on my 40th birthday nearly 2 years ago. Let’s not get into the why, but rather revel in the fact that we did it (and to think that I got totally chewed out by a blog reader last year who said that I treated the girls like burdens to our lifestyle when we handed the kids off to Mark’s mom as soon as we got to Seattle so that we could walk around Pike Place by ourselves, bwahahaha).


We’re so out of the whole restaurant scene at this point that it was hard for us to choose where to go, but after some deliberation, Mark chose The Modern for his 40th birthday meal, the fancy formal restaurant inside The Museum of Modern Art. Somewhere along the way over the past few years, fine dining with 3 or 4 course tasting menus has turned into dining experiences with many little extra dishes in between the courses that you do choose (we are not talking about the 8 course tasting menus which, sad to say, I’m unsure I can do anymore. Can’t eat like I used to in my old age). So even before your first appetizer comes out, you may have already been given a few amuse bouche dishes and a few extra sweets at the end of your meal. In our case, we had some kind of foamy carrot soup in a test tube-like glass vessel, a bit of raw fish and some kind of goat cheese tart served on spoons, and our personal favorite, a ceviche like dish with skate in a sauce that I could have licked straight from the bowl, with a single squid ink marshmallow cube. And after our dessert course? Your waiter comes around with this insane sweets cart filled with rows and piles of macarons, petite cookies, brittle, marshmallows, chocolates and truffles and you get to choose whatever you want. And while you are stuffing your face with all this sugar (after already having dessert), some other waiter comes and hands you mini cones filled with perfect domes of ice cream, and then as you are handed the check, you are presented with this fancy, shiny box of petite cakes filled with caramel to take home.


I gave it to the girls. Okay, there were 3 mini cakes inside. I ate one.

We don’t have any more big birthdays coming up in quite a while (oh thank god, because I didn’t have a problem with 40, but the next one is almost too much to bear), and that has been the only time that we’ve indulged in such fanciness because let’s face it, the bill at the end of the meal can be shocking, but we decided that we should go out to fancy dinners once a year, perhaps on our anniversary. We also decided that when Mia turns 10, we’d like to take her out to a lunch at one of these fancy restaurants. If there is any kid who has a sophisticated adventurous palette, it’s this kid. While looking over the menu trying to decide what to order, we couldn’t resist saying how much Mia would have enjoyed this meal.
PS. thank you all so much for the birthday wishes to Mark. So sweet.

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  • geena January 30, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Good for for you guys! !!

    dont you just love when someone tries to tell you how to take care of your own children
    ” rolls eyes”

  • ethaney January 30, 2012 at 11:40 am

    happy belated birthday jenna! i’m so glad you guys had a great meal together. it sounds like it was really special and fun.

  • Cecilia Madden January 30, 2012 at 11:47 am

    sounds unbelieveable.
    i’m so happy you two got to celebrate properly :)

  • Sherry January 30, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Never feel guilty for taking time for you & Mark. Happy Marriage equals Happy Kids. Yes, definitely take Mia out for fine dining. We took our 3 1/2 year old to on a Sunday night. Less crowded and not your typical Friday or Saturday night crowd. He did great. Did they have things to accommodate him, no, but we didn’t expect it either. They did treat him like a patron and were kind. I remember in Italy parents taking toddlers to dinner at fine dining restaurants and remarking how well behaved the kids were. I realize some kids don’t have it in them and neither do their parents. It isn’t for everyone.

  • Alice January 30, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    You know what is best for you, your husband and kids. No one should have to justify spending some alone time with their husband without the kids. Sounds you like you and your husband had a great time treating yourselves. So nice.

  • Kate365til30 January 30, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Yay you guys! Much deserved!

  • Melissa@Julia's Bookbag January 30, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    HOW FUN! So happy you guys got such a fabulous dining experience! I love your idea of taking Mia out to a fancy place when she gets older — my parents did that with me and I felt so much like a “fancy lady” — I loved it!! Happy days to all of you.

    I hear you about no biggie with 40 but after…ick. I just turned 42 and I feel appalled by the notion.

  • nichole January 30, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Whoa. This sounds amazing! It’s been so long since I had a meal like that. WHat a fun night!

  • SY January 30, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    My kids are a tad bit older than yours and we are just now starting to venture out more by ourselves. I agree, the bill at the end is a bit daunting, especially if you have to hire a sitter. Now that the kids are older and having more sleepovers, we do try to take advantage with some adult time — sometimes it’s just drinks and appetizers at a fancy restaurant, but we make it work. I like your idea of including Mia into the celebration fun, I might just have to steal the idea for my oldest, he too has a very adventurous palette and loves new food and restaurants. The younger one is getting better, but it takes a lot of coaxing :)

  • Sora January 30, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Hooray for couple time! We sometimes have to sneak in lunch birthdays or even have been known to take in a movie together during a slow work day (since we run our own biz). It’s worth it!

  • Lakshmi January 30, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Would love to know what you wore to this fancy and awesome-sounding dinner.

  • web hosting January 30, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    It sounds so beautiful and romantic. Great post.

  • Eve January 30, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Firmly believe that sometimes you just have to splash out big time! Would have struggled to decide on just one dessert on that menu….want them all :) Glad to hear you endeavor to do it again.x

  • Annie From Seattle January 30, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Squid Ink Marshmallow! It was a savory marshmallow, yes? Pure awesomeness! What a great sounding night~

  • Aya January 30, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    I’m thrilled that you two got to have a special night out together like this. How fun. And how deserving you two are. Happy birthday Mark!

    I really appreciate how you keep it real. Some other blogs I end up getting bogged down in envy at their eternal cheeriness and their constant flow of cool new stuff. Instead of feeling sad that I won’t have that life, I feel hopeful reading your blog that I will have a full, beautiful life–with a family one day, and my own set of challenges that I will overcome (hopefully with an ounce of your grace) day by day. Thanks for sharing with us.

  • rebeccaNYC January 30, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    someone chewed you out for letting Marks mom take care of the girls? Can you say quality time with the grand-kids? What grandmother does not want to have her grandchildren ALL TO HERSELF without the parents around to interfere (I mean, to enforce the rules…like bedtimes, amount of snacks allowed…etc)

    Your dinner out alone together sounds just wonderful! I vote that you do this AT LEAST once a year!

  • Vivian Doan January 31, 2012 at 1:17 am

    Jenna, you take beautiful photos, even your instagrams are gorgeous!! Happy 40th to both you and Mark this year. You make 40 look so awesome and fresh and young, the true testament to 40 being the new 30. Hope you enjoyed every last delicious moment of that tete-a-tete with your hubby.

  • Helle (Helen) January 31, 2012 at 3:48 am

    I don’t know or know of any people who do as much with their kids as you guys seem to do – what a weird thing for that person to write. Wow, sounds like a great “experience” that dinner.

  • Anissa January 31, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    It’s a relief to hear of another couple not going out so much by themselves! Our kids are 10 and 8 and we’ve only done it, literally, a handful of times. I always relent and think, “How can we leave them home on this special occasion? Let’s take them.”

  • oilandgarlic January 31, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    I think I’m going to be like you & Mark. We have gone out once without the kids since they were born. We have to step it up if we want to even get up to 3 times in 4 years.

  • Mandy January 31, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    A joy. I became a mum in October 2008, shortly after the last time my husband and I went to dinner together on our own. Now I have two boys, and we’ve yet to enlist the help of a babysitter to enjoy what we used to love doing – treating ourselves every few months to a long, red wine fuelled meal. It’s been 3.5 years and we have another baby on the way so who knows when it will next happen. But it will. And in between there are all those other dinners with the boys that are hard work but totally worth it, just to see their faces try something new. Good on you for taking time out together.

  • Heidi Leon February 1, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    My hubs and I, we are on the other side of the scenario. Without any kids and having a gypsy life (or as my Mom and Mother in law refer to our expat life) well, life is a bliss. Although we do set our year budget and we try to follow it, I cannot lie and say we deprive ourselves from fancy dinners and travels; which recently has make me think how all these things will change the day we wil have children. I cannot say I am ready or willing to leave all the pretty luxurious things behind but I guess having a little one drawing you nice welcome back home notes makes it worth.

    Oh, and good for you guys, making that extra effort to bring Mia to a fancy restaurant for lunch when she will turn 10. I think that´s a fantastic idea and probably will be a lovely memory for her.

    ps. Happy belated birthday Marc!.

  • Heidi Leon February 1, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    oh, sorry I wrote Marc instead of Mark (gosh, I´m becoming frenchhhh…..)

  • tooodayi February 2, 2012 at 6:52 am

    Congratulations on nearly 4 years of your blog! I’ve been following it for some time.

  • Meghann Chapman February 3, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Woo hoo! How exciting! Sounds like you had an excellent night. :)

    Also, I like the new design here.

  • Jen Laceda February 4, 2012 at 12:50 am

    oh, congrats on the night out, heehee! i’m on the same boat as you guys…very few fancy date nights since the kids…glad to know you had a wonderful time.