Kids and E.A.T in New York City
>> Anyone who has tried to diversify outings for a stir-crazy toddler over a long, New York City winter, OR has a ten-year-old who just announced that that he has three birthday parties this weekend (and it's Friday night), OR wishes that her huge jogging stroller could navigate the corner coffee shop after a night up with "monsters under the bed" - will find comfort at E.A.T and E.A.T Gifts.
My eight month old daughter and I have exhausted all of the diners on the Upper East Side that can accept my stroller along with its accessories. And did I mention my need for restaurants with highchairs big enough for my daughter's spewing Cheerios?
Madison Avenue, while replete with high-end children's clothiers, is sparse in its offerings of fun restaurants that offer light fare. This lack is especially difficult for mothers like me who can only partially enjoy a nice meal alone with a baby. And yes, there is something incredibly therapeutic about being able to enjoy myself in a lovely restaurant with my daughter, with or without a "mommy friend," away from Barney, my 900 square foot apartment, and the same old routine.
When E.A.T Means Eating
Madison Avenue's E.A.T, thankfully, is more than your average cup 'o joe. Part luncheonette, part gourmet market, E.A.T offers sit-down meals and take-out dining for the most discriminating Upper East Sider, with or without a little one along.
Owned by Eli Zabar, well-known for Eli's Vinegar Factory and Eli's Restaurant, his other East Side landmarks, E.A.T opened in 1973 and has grown in size and offerings since that time. His "eat to go" market offers prepared foods and fresh breads, along with distinctive New York treats, which have become Eli's trademark, such as tasty and fun Metrocard cookies.
The restaurant side of E.A.T inspires memories of old fashioned coffee shops, complete with checkerboard floor and cozy tables. The menu includes everything from casual fare, like eggs and croissants, to more decadent offerings, such as beluga caviar omelets and ratatouille pizza.
E.A.T Toys and Gifts
The real dessert, beyond the scrumptious oversized cookies and tarts offered at E.A.T, is a visit right next door at E.A.T Gifts. My little one, and my own inner child, was in heaven in this luxury gift store, crammed from corner to corner with clothes, toys, books, and trinkets in every color of a glittering rainbow.
E.A.T Gifts sells items for newborns to teenagers, and Coco, one of the store's knowledgeable salespeople, shared with me the secrets to the store's unique collection. They select toys that range from vintage to futuristic, coupled with an ever rotating selection of holiday-themed items.
While many of the selections are decidedly up-scale, there are enough low-cost options to satisfy any urge for a small gift. Trust me...no one is left out! Coco adds that the store provides free gift wrapping and ships nationwide. Want a bit of shoulder-rubbing, too? Then check out their impressive roster of celebrity customers.
E.A.T Gifts is hit for birthday party planning, with their large stock of goody-bag stuffers. Best sellers, and some of my personal favorites, include the Princess Castle, the Harley Davidson rocker, the Passover Bag of Plagues, and Chenille Chicks in a Basket. As an adult, I would not mind owning the "Get Off The Phone Excuse Machine," or several dozen of the glittery bangle bracelets. Gifts can also be personalized (in Swarovski crystals, of course!).
Despite a voluminous selection, the store is easily navigated by stroller, or with child in tow. A visit, even without a purchase, is a very special event (but good luck escaping the shop empty handed).
E.A.T is open seven days a week from 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM and E.A.T Gifts is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM and 12:00 to 5:00 PM on Sunday.
Eli Zabar's Toy Shop and Restaurant
1064 Madison Avenue
Between 80th and 81st Streets
New York, NY 10128
For a few more things to do while in the area, LeSportSac's flagship store, with it's playful handbags (including a feather-light diaper bag), is accross the street, and just steps away is the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Central Park!
Article and photos by Amy Kotulski. First published on 7/4/2006. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.