Eating out: Are we insane to dine at one of the world's best restaurants with a baby?

There's no screaming yet, but it's coming. You can't spend two hours in one spot with a baby and expect him to be quiet the whole time. Our seven-month-old might not have a proper tantrum today – in fact, he probably won't – but he'll make noise soon, some sort of noise, the type other diners might not be used to hearing in a high-end restaurant.

And so, we wait. We ply Angus with bits of the crusty bread he loves chewing on. We make faces at him and chat to him and try to keep him amused. We scan the dining room and watch as it begins to fill up with people and smile apologetically as they take their seats.

Fortunately, Spanish people don't mind babies, so as we sit here at Casa Julian, one of Spain's – if not the world's – best asadors, or steakhouses, we know we'll be cut a bit of slack, that people won't mind too much when the noise begins. And it will begin.

Ah, eating out: it used to be so easy. Relaxing, even. Before my partner Jess and I had a baby we'd love lingering over a long lunch, taking our time with it, enjoying every aspect. We'd drink lots of wine, eat lots of food, hang around for hours chatting.

But that feels like a long, long time ago.

Now, restaurant visits are a little bit different. We get in, we get Angus seated in a high chair, if the restaurant has a high chair, and one of us sets him up with some snacks (he doesn't like other people eating when he's not) while the other one skims the menu and orders food as quickly as possible.

By the time that food has arrived, Angus' fascination with the snacks has probably worn off, so one of us has to jiggle him and try to keep him amused while the other one eats. Then, we swap. Depending on how much noise our little gourmand is making, we may have to take him outside onto the street for a while to look at cars (which, oddly, he seems to enjoy).

Jess and I then smash whatever is left of our wine, clean up all the bits of bread and muffins Angus has strewn all over the floor, smile apologetically once again at the other diners, and get the hell out of there.

Beautiful, isn't it? But this is the reality of travelling with a baby. The good news is that you can still do pretty much all of things you always loved doing while you're on the road. The bad news, however, is that they'll be different. And in some cases, not quite as enjoyable.


Jess and I still go out to pintxos bars in San Sebastian, where we're currently based, but we go at lunchtime now instead of in the evening, and I wear Angus strapped to my chest so we don't take up too much room with a stroller. We go on day trips around the Basque country, but we arrange them around naps. We go on long walks around town, but we plan extra stops and take plenty of changes of clothes.

And we go out to restaurants, because that's what we love doing. We go to places like Casa Julian in Tolosa, with its amazing steak. The txuletas here – the huge, Basque-style rib cuts of beef – are sourced from the best producers, cooked to perfection over fire, the traditional way. Steak lovers make pilgrimages from all over the world to taste them.

And they're delicious. Or at least, I think they're delicious, because I don't remember all that much about the food at Casa Julian. What I remember is running outside every now and then with Angus when he started making too much noise, and eating one of the world's best cuts of beef in record time so we could get out of there without bothering too many people.

I remember the understanding smiles of the couple at the table next to us. I remember the help from the waiters. I remember the huge effort it now takes to do something that used to be so straightforward.

Also, I remember thinking we need to look into local babysitters.

Have you travelled with a baby? Did you find you could still do all the things you used to? Or did you change the way you travel?



See also: Hard, but worth it: The one thing that will change travel for you forever

See also: Don't feel bad: The 14 travel mistakes even experienced travellers make

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