Wednesday, April 16, 2008

American Girl - Peanut Allergy Friendly!

As promised, here's a review of our recent trip to American Girl Place in Los Angeles (at the Grove). It's a bit long. I warned you.

First and foremost, I want to get one thing out of the way. Many of you probably know (if you have a little girl) about American Girl. Basically they are for girls 8+ and they cost (are you sitting down?) $90 each - no that's not a typo. And you can buy about 4 million outfits and accessories for them. They also make little babies for the 3+ set (that also - surprise - has all sorts of accessories for purchase). What a racket, huh?

Getting an American Girl doll is an investment that you need to keep adding to (if you want your kid to stop bugging you that is :->). I knew Bella was too young for an American Girl Doll, and I wasn't really excited to start the tradition, but since it was my niece's birthday, and they had the little babies Bella could get, I made an exception. With trepidation.

And you know what?


The whole experience was so much fun, that it was worth having to hear Bella now tell me every day that she wants the double stroller, trundle bed, and pajama set for her new twins (yes, she got twins! but for the same price as one doll! she already knows how to spot a good deal!).

Getting to the Grove in LA is a total pain in the butt. BUT we made it (via a detour that fortuitously took us by the La Brea Tar Pits - cool!), got valet parking (this is LA, is there any other way to park?) and found the store.

My first impression - totally overwhelming - when you walk in you are hit with pure estrogen. This was a Saturday, so there were, oh, a few hundred girls in the store, all with high pitched voices running from display to display to see all the different dolls in their various outfits. And it was TWO stories. So basically you had to run all over the store, chasing your daughter to discuss the merits of Julie, a child of the 60's, vs. Molly, who's waiting for her dad to return from WWII. I mean, really, do you even have to think about it? BTW, the correct answer is Julie - she has better outfits.

Luckily, we made it to the area for the 3+ set and found the twins Bella really wanted (along with a double stroller that I REALLY didn't want to schlep home - I told her they were 'sending' it to us - I hope she forgets about it, but I doubt she will) and a few extra outfits for them. The staff there was great and so nice to the kids.

Once we had our dolls, we made our way to the cafe.

So the Cafe is apparently one of the hottest tickets in town right now, and you need to get your reservations in months in advance. If you even have an inkling that you want to go, make a reservation. I saw a few girls crying because their parents didn't make a reservation (because they didn't realize the popularity of the place) - that would really suck for you.

They have 3 seatings for lunch - expect to be there about 15 minutes before your seating. But don't worry, they have plenty of stuff for you to look at (err BUY) in the seating area.

Once you're in, the restaurant is a sea of hot pink and black (almost like the inside of an Eloise book). In addition to the number of people in your party, they ask you how many dolls you would like at the table. We had two (Bella left one of the twins in the bag), and they gave each a hook on chair so the doll could sit at the table along with a miniature teacup and saucer for each doll. They really work the tea party vibe in the room. So cute!

Now for what you guys really care about - the food. It's a fixed menu for $22 a person, which sounds like a lot, but included:
  • cinnamon buns for each person (which were little and cute and tasty)
  • fruit kabobs
  • chips/veggies with spinach dip
  • a main course that you choose (for both kids and adults - the choices were great, the portions were really big, and the food was great)
  • dessert that consisted of a small flower pot filled with chocolate mousse with chocolate cookie crumbled on top, along with a sugar cookie. if you have a birthday party there, the flower pot is filled with peppermint ice cream and you get a slice of cake (chocolate and vanilla layers with white frosting).
  • bottomless drinks like lemonade, juice, iced tea, etc. (non alcoholic, but if you wanted booze you had to pay for it).
None of the items they have there have peanuts or tree nuts, so you can rest assured that there are no issues with cross contamination from other items on the menu. Now, did I go in the back to see the labels of the items they use to see if there were warnings? NO. But I did get confirmation from the chef and manager that the only item that could possibly have suffered from cross contamination was the crushed chocolate cookies they sprinkly on the dessert (which would have occured at the facility where the cookies are made). The cake they serve for birthday parties (which we got along with the chocolate mousse dessert that comes with a standard meal) is also peanut free and nut free (and deemed safe from contamination by the chef). I felt 99.9% comfortable with the meal (I mean, come on, as a peanut allergy parent are you ever 100% comfortable when eating out?). It was so nice to be able to relax and eat and have fun with the girls, my sister-in-law, my brother, and my husband (yes, we made the men come with us :->).

And no allergic reactions made for a great time!

So, if you haven't figured out whether or not I would recommend a visit to the American Girl Place near you - I WOULD! It is such a girly experience that I am so glad we did together. Plus the fact that it is an allergy aware place puts it at the top of my list to visit again. Sure my credit card will hate me next month, but it's only m-m-m-m-oney, right? Gulp.

And we have Disneyland next month. Will it ever stop?

Added Bonus: We saw some stars (I guess) while we were there: Patricia Heaton and Jared Leto. Patricia Heaton was a teenie tiny cute thing and Jared Leto looked horrible and scruffy, both just as you'd expect.


ChupieandJ'smama said...

AWESOME! So glad that it was a blast and that it was safe. I have boys so I miss the American Girl experience but stay tuned next month for our trip to see Thomas the Tank Engine:)

vision said...

LOL I have to ask if Jared was with his friends and had dolls at his table too. He likes to go to trendy places but this is the first I've heard of him going to the American Girl Cafe O.o too funny. He is full of surprises.
Jared likes jewelry, makeup and nail polish and other girly things. He's the gayest straight guy around. He usually wears a plaid shirt, vans and skinny jeans, a creature of his grunge childhood for sure. So it's not surprising you described him the way you did.
a pic of him looking a little more cleaned up...he really is down to earth
and embracing his feminine side which he does often on stage LOL

Anyway...please dish a little more on Jared at the cafe Who he was with all that jazz. I'd appreciate it
thanks in advance

Gabs said...


For the record, I didn't see Jared Leto at the American Girl Store or at the Grove for that matter. He was at Joan's on Third, which is a trendy place where stars go to eat in LA.

That would have been creepy seeing him at the AG store...


Jenny said...

We visit American Girl Place in Chicago relatively often (TOO often) and they are wonderful regarding nut allergies and dietary restrictions.

Thank goodness, because my little girl always feels special there, and safe. As the VISA commercial would say: Priceless!