There was plenty to rave and rant about on Twitter last weekend, from the Seahawks beating the Saints to the travesty that was Zoe Saldana's Golden Globes dress. (It had to be a sick joke played on her by designer Prabal Gurung, right?)
But what really consumed Chicago was a tweet that Alinea chef Grant Achatz sent Saturday night about a couple bringing a baby to dinner. "Tbl brings 8mo.Old. It cries. Diners mad. Tell ppl no kids? Subject diners 2crying? Ppl take infants 2 plays? Concerts? Hate saying no,but.." he tweeted via @Gachatz.
Comments boiled into a heated debate. Why would anyone bring an infant to one of the city's fanciest, most expensive restaurants? How could the restaurant allow it? If the couple's baby sitter canceled and their tickets to dinner were nonrefundable, what choice did they have?
Next came a parody account (@AlineaBaby) and a Yelp review written from the baby's point of view. By the time national news had picked up the story, the whole hoopla had been christened Babygate. (Speaking of, couldn't someone at "Good Morning America" have clued in George Stephanopoulos on the right way to pronounce Alinea?)
Whether or not it's OK to bring children to special-occasion restaurants has been obsessed over on social media before; remember the kerfuffle that ensued when chef Dale Levitski declared brunch at his former Sprout no-kids-allowed? If a crying baby distracts you from your $10 noontime bloody mary, I can't imagine how you'd feel if you had dropped hundreds on tickets for a nearly-impossible-to-get-in, award-winning restaurant such as Alinea.
Though the couple's identity wasn't disclosed, I bet Alinea's Babygate diners are feeling some serious shame about now. At the time, they may have thought the worst-case scenario would be their kiddo having a full-on meltdown and having to make a hasty exit, leaving some of their courses uneaten. Now they're the subject of national news headlines such as "Couple 'Crashes' Fancy Restaurant."
Still, it could have been worse. They could have brought their kid to any number of other places, right? And with that, I'll leave you with my Top 5 list of Chicago places that are more inappropriate to bring your 8-month-old to than Alinea.
5. El Hefe Super Macho Taqueria on a Sunday afternoon. The servers here sometimes wear tutus, but this raucous day party is no Tiny Tots ballet class.
4. 2-for-1 Tuesdays at Admiral Theatre. The "Bring a friend!" tagline does not apply to your offspring.
3. Porn & Chicken night at Evil Olive. All the free chicken wings in the world won't make up for scarring your kid for life.
2. The Wiener's Circle. Because some drunken bro is bound to order the chocolate milkshake.
1. Spin in Boystown, during the Friday night shower contest. Enough said.
Lisa Arnett is RedEye's Eat & Drink editor. firstname.lastname@example.org | @lisamarnett