Lunchtime With Tillie: Der Schwarze Kölner

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Lunchtime With Tillie. Or maybe as I should refer to it this week, "Lunchtime With Tillie and the Beer + Babies crew!" That group--of which I am proud to be a member--meets every Friday at beer garden Der Schwarze Kölner on Fulton. And since I had a personal mission to accomplish there, it all worked out nicely for an LWT destination.

The Beer + Babies idea was formulated by frequent CHB commenter Betsy, who has a must-read blog for the parenting set called Mommy FTW. I don't know how she first figured out that the beer garden was the place to go for the ultimate in kid-friendliness, but I do know a lot of parents are glad that she did!

And when I talk about kid-friendliness there, it's hard to even convey how nice and accommodating the staff is. They break out crayons and rocking horses and soon as families walk in. The owners are new parents, and I think they just love to be around other children and see them have fun.

Anyway, if you just happen to be at home on a Friday afternoon and thinking to yourself, "Hmm, I wonder what Van and Tillie are doing? That crazy pair is always up to something," well the answer is that we're at Der Schwarze Kölner. I've even been working on incorporating my stay-at-home dads group meetings into the Friday routine. You get the point: I like DSK. Now let me tell you about this personal mission of mine.

As a decent observer of the Lenten season that just passed, I don't eat meat on Fridays. I'm a big bratwurst fan, and the beer garden serves the best I've ever had. So I'm going there every Friday, just to be denied one of life's little treasures. This past Friday, with Easter long gone, I was out to eat at least four or five brats with a couple of kielbasas thrown in for good measure!

We got there, found a parking spot for the stroller and settled in among the rest of the parents. Tillie was a little subdued at first, I guess due to just waking up from her nap. Usually as soon as we walk in, she's running from one side of the restaurant to the next. (Sorry other patrons!) I scooped her back up and walked to the bar to place our order and this could be kind of cool or sad, depending how you look at it: The waitress automatically said "Einbecker?" which is my beer of choice there and I said, "Yep!" Then I ordered what I thought would be the first of my many brats and a pretzel for Tillie.

We made our way back to where the rest of the parents were and mingled for a bit. Then as she was walking around, Tillie noticed the tricycle stroller for another kid. She immediately pounced on it and I pulled her off, which lit up a little cranky fire underneath her. The parents said it was OK for her to sit on it, so I let her at it.

Then our food arrived and the first thought that came to my mind was, "Oh glorious bratwurst: Where have you been the past six weeks? I've missed you so!" I held off on jumping into that first bite seeing as how I had a daughter to feed and all! Plus, I've been super anxious about T's eating habits lately: I'm reading a book now that says things change eating-wise when babies hit the toddler stage. And Tillie's been that way and then some. The day before, I fixed four different lunches trying to get her to eat!

I got lucky as the pretzel seemed to agree with her mood. She had a bite then walked around some more, which gave me a chance to get that long-awaited first brat bite. After devouring the whole thing in about 47.2 seconds, Tillie came back around for her second piece of pretzel. Then she went back around to the trike. (I'm sorry, other parents, if she was monopolizing it!)

Then after hanging out and chatting some more, I realized that I needed to pick up the pace if I'm going to eat all that sausage, so I put in an order for a kielbasa and another Einbecker. They arrived shortly and were consumed just as quick.

And just when I was contemplating the next stage of my attack, Tillie's mom called and said the spring festival at Pratt was going on and there was a big bouncy castle out there. I decided to abort the mission and figured fun with the family at a bouncy castle would be a great alternative to beer drankin' and brat eatin' all day!

So I packed up, threw in my share of the tab and headed out with Tillie to meet TM on a nice Friday afternoon.

This is usually the part of Lunchtime With Tillie where I say if I'd recommend the place or not. I hope I made it obvious throughout this here tale how I feel about Der Schwarze Kölner! But in case I wasn't clear, then yes, I'll be back: It's the perfect place for parents and kids to go. I plan on being there most Fridays eating till I can't eat anymore--at least until Lent comes back around!