It’s the downside of living in a small town like our beloved albeit overly lauded Cville that after a few years you feel like you’ve either worn out your welcome in every restaurant/coffee shop worth your patronage or the welcome has worn you out – and you’re just itching for the vibrant hostility of a big, alienating city like New York or D.C. Something different.
This tendency towards claustrophia – and let’s face it, boredom – gets intensified when you have children, because your Going Out options are that much more limited by the very small amount of child-friendly spaces around.
You find yourself having nightmares of giant turtles topped with screaming tots (Cville Coffee) or cringing at the UVA colors (Hoos Brews) and lying to your children about the Discovery Museum (it’s closed now, kids) because there is frankly little left to discover (the balls still go up and down, yay gravity, yadda yadda) and its attending carousel reminds you of your own trapped feelings of going around and around and getting nowhere (the horses are sick, honey) and anyway you’d rather ride the seven equines of the apocalypse than debate with your toddler about why he cannot climb the locked gate and give himself a ride, though maybe you should let him try, talk about an intense version of a playpen, right?
That’s why going to Arch’s on Emmet Street today with my 4-year-old daughter for lunch and a treat was so nice. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it before. The menu features great kid-friendly selections – Jo got a grilled cheese cut into easy-to-handle triangles on a cute fish plate that made her giggle. The prices were totally doable – much more reasonable than our usual hangouts. And the upstairs is inviting – spacious, full of light, and colorful. The walls were decorated with kid paintings, and there are couches, free wifi, and two balconies. Jo loved the skylights and the view — “It’s just so different!” she exclaimed.
All in all, quite a pleasant experience, and it was utterly delightful to break out of our routine habits without having to go too far out of our way.