I took my daughters to the American Girl store down at the Grove in LA last week.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, American Girl dolls are very expensive toys whose primary attribute seems to be cache with the 5-9 year-old girl demographic. It certainly isn't the quality of the toys, which are nothing special, and are vastly overpriced. But, hey, they're only little girls for a while, and these things make them happy, right?
In this case, we made fairly modest purchases. Each kid got an animal friend of one of the American Girls. My six year old got "Coconut," a Westie-looking dog. My three year old got some kind of black cat named "Licorice." These animals are basically hunks of unmoving plastic, covered in fur. They can't even turn their heads. But the kids love em. At $19 apiece, I'm kind of flabbergasted at the crap quality, but whatever.
The American Girl stores (there are only a handful of them in the U.S.) are the complete experience for kids. There are huge displays with the latest dolls and accessories. There are videos playing in rooms displaying the various historical period dolls (American Revolution, WWII, etc.) There's even a theater with some kind of stage show that, thankfully, my kids didn't notice.
What they did notice, or rather what my six year old already knew about, was the cafe in the store. It's more like a restaurant, really. An expensive restaurant. The difference is that here, the dolls are treated like part of your party. They get their own seats. They get some (empty) dishes put in front of them. It's quite cute, and the kids love it.
But the food is atrocious.
The menu looks nice, the dishes sound good, but someone in the American Girl organization has decided that, while sugar and spice and everything nice is fine for the rest of the store, the cafe will concentrate more on salt. And I mean a LOT of salt.
I'm the kind of guy who loves salt. Chips, fries, you name it, it's better salty. But I have finally found the restaurant that only serves food for the "vinegar, sea salt, and hydrochloric acid"-flavored chips crowd.
Two bites into a chicken sandwich and I could feel my kidneys beginning to shut down. They should have a warning posted for people with high blood pressure. Seriously. If you must go the the American Girl store, do not, under any circumstances, allow your child to wheedle you into eating at the cafe.
Ah, who am I kidding? You're going to go, if you go to the store.
Just order a salad.