While visiting the Boston area for a "girls' weekend", my sister-in-law, six-year-old niece, and I recently spent a few hours at this location of Mattel's American Girl and we had lunch in the bistro. Admittedly, we had better luck with our shopping here than we had experienced at the New York City location last April, as all but one of the items that we had wanted were readily available for purchase. That said, the bistro was quite a different experience. First of all, it is not at all private at this particular location. It is just an open space off to one side of the primary shopping area on the store's second floor and it is therefore visible to all and quite noisy. The decor is undeniably cute - all pinks and greens with banquettes and tables sporting pink gerbera daisy centrepieces. We had a noon reservation but were kept waiting, with many others, for over fifteen minutes, just standing around in the open area at the top of the escalators. We were finally shown to a banquette tucked in a corner by the window where we appreciated the natural light and relative quiet. Initially there were no more "high chairs" available for my niece's two dolls to join us at the table, but eventually a kind, older man brought a couple over and helped us to get the "girls" seated. Our waiter struck me as an odd choice for this type of place. He was in his 30's and relatively disinterested in his approach. In fact, we were really surprised by the number of elderly waitstaff working a weekend shift at a restaurant geared towards children. I would have expected a bunch of exuberant university students. This type of venue draws a predictable crowd, paying good money, and so I would have appreciated a bit more interest and interaction, but that was definitely not to be on this visit. The two-course lunch menu has a set price ($17.50 for everyone over four years of age) and offers quite a number of choices. My niece had the "fondue" starter, which was two hunks of bread that could be dunked in what appeared to be melted Velveeta. She was not impressed. My sister-in-law and I each had the warm artichoke and spinach dip served with toasted pita points. It was okay, but not overly flavourful. I guess I am used to tasting more garlic in other versions of this dish. My niece ordered the burger and it was literally the size of her face! In restrospect, we should have insisted that she order the "picnic" meal, which has both a mini hotdog and a mini burger, as then she would have at least eaten the tiny burger. But she didn't want the hotdog and was insistent on having a burger and so we caved to her wishes, only to watch her eat two bites of the mammoth beast and then discard the rest. It obviously wasn't that appealing to her, I am sure at least in part because of the awkward size. It is definitely more of an adult choice. The accompanying curly fries were cold when they arrived. I had the salmon with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. The fish was fine, as were the potatoes. I was surprised that so much of the broccoli was peeled stalk with just a couple of florets tossed in, as the stalk is so rarely served in restaurants and is more typically reserved for soups. My sister-in-law loved her chicken pesto sandwich with buffalo mozzarella cheese and ate the whole thing, which is a rarity for her! That said, her curly fries were also cold and unappealing. My niece was happy with her pink lemonade and I really enjoyed a slushy frozen strawberry lemonade drink, albeit at a cost of $4.50. For dessert, I had the chocolate mousse served in a mini flower pot planted with a plastic daisy and sprinkled with oreo cookie crumb "dirt". It was good and just the right size (read: tiny) to enjoy a little taste of something sweet after lunch. My sister-in-law ordered a sampler dessert of two mini cupcakes, two little cookies, and a tiny heart-shaped brownie. She didn't enjoy any of them and ended up leaving the whole plate nearly intact, with just a morsel of each item missing, where she had at least given them a try! The meal took about 80 minutes from the time that we were seated and cost just over $90 for the three of us. I wasn't happy about the amount of food that we left behind, or the complete disinterest of the waiter, but I hadn't set the bar too high, and it was a unique experience that we can say we shared together. We'll probably be back to shop but not to eat!
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