Photo courtesy Michelle Bernstein


Michelle Bernstein of Cafe La Trova on the Joys of Dining With Kids


Resy has partnered with Kalamata’s Kitchen and Taste Bud Travel Guide — experts on Officially Kid Friendly food experiences across the country — to develop articles like this one for the Field Guide to Family Dining. Dig in for more helpful resources.

Today’s we’re chatting with Michelle Bernstein, the chef-owner of Miami’s beloved Cafe La Trova.

Resy: What are some things that make a restaurant experience with kids more enjoyable? 

Michelle Bernstein: I love taking our son out to eat with us; we have been taking him out to restaurants since he was just a few months old. We allow him to choose almost any dish from menus, and we try steering him away from the usual tenders and pasta with butter and cheese. We converse about things he loves to talk about, invite his friends sometimes so he has a “partner in crime,” and make it feel special for him. He gets a little dressed up, hair brushed, actually ties shoes, and truly enjoys the whole experience as we do, We’ve gotten him really into seeing and appreciating new things, good service, and the details in the cuisine. Every now and then, we either take a little walk, a sort of breather if you will, so he can stretch his legs, and cut the sitting-down time a little with some stretches, and hopefully find hidden gardens of something cool he might like to see. If all else fails, we play “I spy” or other games that are appropriate at the table; no phones allowed, BY ALL. 

What’s a dish or experience that your kid loved that either surprised you or made you super happy? 

I think my greatest joy came from his adoration of sushi, sashimi, anything raw to be be honest with you. And does he know his fish? If it’s not pristine, he knows it. He also LOVES nova, in fact, he can eat a half pound in one sitting (I know, it’s a lot of sodium — he doesn’t actually eat that much, but if left alone, he could.) He’s allergic to shellfish, which sucks because I know he’d love it. However, watching him enjoy good raw fish is definitely enjoyable. 

What are some of the foods that you’re excited to see your kid try? 

Anything filled with vegetables. Kids are so funny about greens. Luckily, ours loves zucchini, artichokes, spinach, and green beans.

What’s your favorite part about dining out with kids? 

The learning experience, the excitement, and the whole newness of everything. 

What’s your best piece of advice to parents dining out with kids? 

Be patient, start slow, expose them to everything, and try not to stick an iPad in their face and hands every time you have dinner out. I get it — it’s nice to have “alone time” with your partner, and an iPad allows for that. However, there’s nothing more rewarding than a good conversation with your kids over dinner.