Saturday, September 12, 2009

CBS Scene Hopes Football Season Starts Soon

My curiosity is always piqued when I read the latest review of a new restaurant with a lot of positive buzz.  The exquisite food, the stiff drinks from the bar, the surly staff...everything that I love about big city dining, without fail, makes me say to my wife, "we should go there next time we have a babysitter."

The babysitter.  Now there's the rub.  95% of the time when we go out to a restaurant, three kids come along.  As much as I want to pay for that $30 customized pasta dish for my picky 7 year old ("Eww, what's that green stuff?" he asks.  "Parsley." I respond), usually the new restaurant has to wait, if it is visited at all.  By contrast, my reviews will include places that we take our kids, and my scores will focus on the important dining factors when bringing children.  I don't care as much about the quality of the service or food when I have the kids with me.  The atmosphere also takes on less importance when you're spending 20 minutes hunting for more ketchup.

Foxboro, MA.  CBS Scene opened up last year with the ballyhooed Patriot Place near Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots.  The first and only of its kind, its hulking four story structure immediately scared my daughter.  "Are we visiting someone in jail, Daddy?" she looks up and asks.  "No, we're going to a dinner place."  I say on the outside.  On the inside, I wonder how she knows what jail is.   

Tips of the day.  The two times we went there, we parked down by the Patriots Pro Shop.  Even though the bottom floor door was open both times, we were told that we had to go to the front desk to check in, eight flights of stairs above us.  Don't park down there with small children unless you plan on carrying them on your back halfway up the stairs. Additionally, the place is enormous.  The first time we visited it was 90 degrees outside and they chose to forego $10,000 per day air conditioning that afternoon.  I would forego this place in the Summer.   

GROG:  Some fair choices on tap, including Sam Adams, Harpoon, Stella and Guinness.  I order a Guinness and am asked whether I want a 16 ounce or a 22 ounce beer.  Look at me.  We have three young kids with us.  Do you really need to ask that question?  "Well let me go upstairs and get that for you."  He grumbles. My wife notices some unique offerings as well, a Coffee Nudge martini made with Starbuck's Coffee Liqueur and a Viognier late harvest dessert wine.  "We should try these when we don't have the kids with us."  She tells me.  Sure.  7.0 Happies out of 10.

KIDS' CRAYONS AND OTHER ENTERTAINMENT:  I'm sure I don't have to explain myself here.  Many establishments believe that a sheet a paper, 4 crayons and a 13" TV can pass for entertainment.  On the other hand, CBS Scene barrages you with multiple TVs on multiple platforms in multiple rooms in addition to the paper and crayons.  My two boys are immediately mesmerized, and they don't even care when the hostess said that she has to walk all the way upstairs to get more crayons.  We proceed to walk down a couple flights of stairs ourselves to our booth, which is equipped with a personal TV.  This being CBS, the choices of stations are of course reduced.  I tried to talk them into college football, How I Met Your Mother (the jokes would go way over their heads) or 60 Minutes.  We settle on The Price is Right.  This is a highlight show, so literally everyone who plays wins a car.  My 5 year old asks me when he can go on that game show and win a car, too.  9.0 Happies out of 10

SPEED:  I'm skeptical when orders arrive too fast - are these meals just microwaved - but food also serves as an excellent diversion from yelling and screaming.  It took literally 5 minutes from our order being taken to our order arriving.  No walking up and down the stairs for our food, I assume. Overall, we were in and out in under an hour, and I was nursing my beer so the kids would forget about the promise I made to them in the next paragraph.  9.0 Happies out of 10.

DESSERT TIME:  Their choices were ice cream, pudding and jello for $3.  They came with whipped cream, so there's that, I suppose.  Seriously, desserts need to be included in a kids meal, guys.  I had to promise the kids a visit to the Patriots Pro Shop to talk them out of securing for themselves a sickly scoop of $3 ice cream.  Thanks, CBS.  3.0 Happies out of 10. 

WHO'S PAYING:  Not out of the ordinary for places like this.  $5 grilled cheeses, hamburgers and hot dogs are mostly the norm these days.  Similarly, adult meals were around $10 to $20.  The beers were higher than usual; it's not surprising though since this place caters to Patriots fans and Revolution fans (if there are any out there).  6.0 Happies out of 10.

Final Tally:

34.0 Happies out of 50.0.  Not perfect but better than bad.

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