I booked a birthday party at the new American Girl store in the Alderwood Mall before it even opened. If I hadn't mentioned it to my soon-to-be 9-year-old daughter, the ad in her American Girl Magazine surely would have had her begging for an American Girl birthday party. Because even though she doesn't play with her dolls as much as she used to, we were pulled into the thrall of American Girl years ago, and the chance to go to a real store with a real bistro were too much to pass up.
The Bistro Birthday Celebrations run $28 per child and $17 per adult, which didn't seem that bad to me. (Did I just say that?) For that price, each person gets an appetizer, small entrée, beverage and cake with ice cream. Plus, the kids get a goody bag of American Girl swag. When we went shortly after the grand opening, the store was out of tiaras for the dolls, which are generally part of the package. But the goody bag did contain a bunch of other things for the dolls: a party balloon (made of plastic), a shirt and a wee shopping bag. Plus, the birthday girl got a decorated paper tiara.
The menu items – mini hot dogs, mac and cheese, fruit kabobs, etc. for the kids; pasta, burgers and salads for the grown-ups – were good enough, if not brilliant. You can find a link to sample menus at http://www.americangirl.com/stores/location_sea.php#dining.
The cake, though, was fabulous. The store has PinkBella Cupcakes, a neighbor in the Alderwood Mall, making all of their cakes. The two layers, one chocolate and one vanilla, were moist and tasty, and I'm pretty darned sure the frosting was real butter cream. We were delighted to have leftover cake to box up and take home.
The girls are each given an attach-to-the-table seat for their American Girl dolls, and the store has loaners available for any girls that didn't bring one.
If you decide on a Bistro Party for your child, brace yourself for the monument to consumerism that is an American Girl store. There are hundreds of dolls, thousands of accessories, clothes for girls as well as dolls, books, videos and a doll hair salon. Don't get me wrong – I like American Girl stuff and our family has more of it than I am willing to admit here. But, it's good to prepare for the inevitable "can I have it?" moments. In our case, my mother bought a gift card, which the birthday girl could spend on whatever she wanted. It gave her a set amount of money for her shopping spree, and relieved us of weighing each item for a "Yes, you can get that" or "No, I don't think so."
My younger daughter is now asking for an American Girl Bistro Birthday Celebration of her own. And, come next April we'll likely do it again. The birthday girl and her guests all had a great time, and it was fun for everyone to go someplace new and exciting.
IF YOU GO
Where: Alderwood Mall, 3000 184th Street, Lynnwood.
When: The Bistro Dining Room is open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The store is open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: Bistro Birthday Celebrations are $28 per child and $17 per adult. The store also offers a Deluxe Birthday Celebration in a private room that also includes a hands-on craft, table games and a special gift for the birthday girl, for girls ages 8 and up. The cost is $45 per girl and $35 per adult.
Contact: For reservations, call 877-247-5223. For the Lynnwood store, call 425-412-2900. www.americangirl.com/stores/location_sea.php.
For 7 or fewer guests, you can also book your reservation online. Follow the link on the Seattle store home page.
Ruth Schubert is the managing editor of Seattle’s Child and mom to two American girls.