Pete & Sam's Restaurant
3886 Park Avenue
A month or so ago, RJA had the brilliant idea of having most of the Dining with Monkey bloggers (and their children) all go out to eat together—-a Monkey Convergence if you will--and then each write about it. Andria and I, also gluttons for punishment, immediately jumped on board. The big question was “Where should we go?” Should we pick a place that caters to kids or one that is really small and fancy (think Cafe 1912)? Should we pick a place we like or one that we hate (you know, to scare waitresses into sterility)? After a LOT of back and forth, we decided on Pete and Sam’s.
I felt like Pete & Sam's was a bit too easy since large crowds are not at all intimidating to them, but Kristy (RJA’s wife) was adamant that we pick a place that the kids would actually want to eat at. Fair enough. When my dad was alive, Pete and Sam's was one of our frequent family stops and I have a lot of good memories involving the restaurant. (Kristy said the last time they went, C, then a year old, left with a concussion after falling out his high chair, but oddly, she still wanted to go too.)
Once we decided on a place, we needed a time. This turned out to be more challenging than picking a restaurant. It seemed as though our great idea would stay just that—an idea. Then on a Friday afternoon, Andria sent out an email saying, “What about tonight?” Funny enough, none of us had any plans so we decided to go ahead and do it. (Then, of course, we had one more round of "Where should we go?")
The monkeys (Satchel, 4, and Jiro, 2), Warren, and I were the first to arrive (6:30 sharp), so we picked the seats in the middle of the huge table that was already set up and waiting for us. There were several baskets of bread and crackers already on the table which was both good and bad. The monkeys quickly started unwrapping, cutting, and buttering everything in sight. “Don’t fill up on bread,” I said into the wind.
Ten or fifteen minutes later everyone else arrived. “I can’t believe you people are late!” I said as I cracked my captain blogger's whip. As Andria and RJA’s families scrambled for seats it soon became clear that no one wanted to sit next to Jiro. (Poor baby has a bad rap.) Andria’s husband, Jeff, finally ended up in the hot seat and tried to pretend he was okay with it. While his daughter sat quietly in Andria’s lap, he got to watch as Jiro licked the butter off of his crackers and handed them back to me.
Next I turned my attention to RJA’s family. Everyone was looking very crisp and clean—just the way you would imagine from RJA’s reviews. JP was even wearing a white shirt, which I thought was most impressive. Soon the perfect little Alleys were all in their seats with napkins in their shirts (“They watch ‘The Godfather,’” RJA said) ready to join in the bread and butter bonanza.
I informed everyone that they better decide what they were eating quick, because this whole show rested on us getting our orders in as soon as possible. Jiro must have sensed the urgency in my voice because he immediately lost all interest in the butter and made his first attempt to get out of his highchair. Jeff, now taken with Jiro’s undeniable charm, started trying to interest Jiro in stacking the small butter containers. “No!” he screamed as he knocked them over and commenced with his escape. Andria pulled a hot wheel out of thin air and presented it to Jiro. He glanced at it for a moment before flinging it across the table and into the wall.
This maneuver got S’s attention. (S is clearly the weak link in the perfect Alley chain.) She was out of her seat and by Jiro’s side within seconds. I was determined to keep Jiro in his chair, so I did what I had to do. I gave him the digital camera to play with. S was not deterred. She immediately crawled under the table and was joined by Satchel and JP moments later. It was nothing short of a wild rumpus. Since I had fond memories of playing under many a restaurant tables as a child, I did nothing. I simply hoped the table was heavy enough to absorb the shocks from the monkeys’ heads as they banged around down there.
Andria’s daughter was still sitting quietly in her lap and Andria had on her best, “Nah nanny boo boo, I have the best child” expression. That was fine by me. I was just happy that the Alley children were romping about. Even GK woke up for a minute or two to squawk. “Do you just think RJA is a big liar?” I asked outloud. RJA may or may not have heard me. Even though he was sitting right next to me, it was clear that he had transported himself to a place far, far away.
All of my observations were cut short when Satchel announced, “I need to go to the bathroom.” I informed Warren that he was in charge of Jiro, and set off toward the ladies’ room. When I noticed Satchel sitting down, I said, “Oh no, do you have to poop?”
“Yes!” he said happily.
Soon Kristy, GK, and S joined us in the bathroom. S and Satchel acted as though they were at the best party in the world, rather than in a fairly nasty bathroom. Kristy and I took a few minutes to visit with each other since we weren’t getting much adult time at the table. Soon she and S left, and I was alone with Satchel who was taking the world’s longest dump. I left mid dump to let Warren know we were still alive and noticed that, of course, our food was being served. Back in the bathroom I begged Satchel to hurry up, but frankly, there wasn’t much he could do.
Finally we made it back and surprisingly my lasagna was still nice and hot. (It must have been scorching when it arrived.) Jiro was happily eating his mini pizza and Satchel dug right into his. “Is that a burger?” I asked Warren accusingly when I saw what he was eating.”
“No,” he said defensively, “It’s a steak sandwich."
Both monkeys decided to help Warren eat his French fries and that’s when it dawned on me that the waitress had forgotten Satchel’s spinach. That’s right, spinach. She brought some over pretty soon after and much to my delight, Satchel dug right in. I tried to point it out to everyone at the table so that they would be clear on the fact that I have the best eater of them all, but they were nonplussed.
Once they had a few bites of food in them, the children retreated back under the table. Warren and RJA soon found themselves in a modern day parenting pissing match to see who could most creatively convince their wildest child to behave. RJA threatened to put S in the car by herself while we all ate. When that didn’t work, he threatened to put her in someone else’s car. Warren told Satchel he better look out before “Mr. Sam” came over. When “Mr. Sam” stopped sounding threatening, Warren warned of “Mr. Pete.”
After quietly eating her dinner as well as a bowl of black olives, M finally dismounted from Andria’s lap and started exploring the restaurant. Jiro, who could be contained no longer, let out his hundreth request for "wollipop" and took off after M. I sent Warren after him with all of my change, while I sat in my chair groaning, “Where’s the check?”
RJA looked at me and asked, "Do you think they purposely put us next to the table of young, beautiful, childless people just to rub it in?"
Before I could answer, the waitress appeared and we were all on our way out the door. All in all I was very pleased with the food, the service, and the fact that despite the wild rumpus at our table, no one seemed to notice or care. I actually can't wait to do it again. The Monkey Convergences can be our version of a book club or something.
See more Pete & Sam's Monkey Convergence reviews by Andria, Kristy, and RJA.