When I was a child, my family's get-dressed-up-during-the-holidays event was a trip to the Walnut Room in Marshall Field's. For my children, it may very well be tea at the Peninsula. I took The Girl there on Sunday for our first fancy-schmancy mama-girl playdate. I have been to the Peninsula a few times with friends and there have always been groups of fancily-clad little girls with their American Girl dolls, but until ChicagoParent came out with its list of holiday tea spots, I knew that I had to take The Girl. You can see us in the photo to the left. We were terribly overdressed, even for The Lobby/Avenues restaurant at the Peninsula, but I attribute that to the gradual casualing of America. I made reservations before Thanksgiving, but they were not able to take us until 5:30 p.m. on a Sunday. I was a bit disappointed, because when we arrived, the maitre d' took us into Avenues, which was stuffier and also emptier than The Lobby. They reassured it me that it was just as nice as The Lobby. And the service was good, as was the food, but it was just not as festive as The Lobby, with its two-story windows and giant Christmas tree, was. Oh well. Better luck next time.
For her part, The Girl was a dream. She was perfectly mannered, nicely dressed, and excited to be there. She drank tea--not the proffered hot cocoa--black, without sugar. The older couple dining next to us found her charming and cute. They kept asking me how old she was, etc. I told her that in England, they have "tea" for dinner, which she seemed to find interesting. We were both hungry, and enjoyed our little meals. The Girl ate most of her kids' tea:
And part of mine as well. She did not like the lemon curd or the cold salmon, but she liked the curried egg salad on pumpernickel and some of the chocolate desserts. It was definitely a splurge--$18 for kids' tea, $38 for adult tea, plus $23 in valet parking, but I consider it part of The Girl's Christmas present, and it was pretty fun.