For those of you who don’t already know the sensation that is “American Girl”, let me explain. The company started off as a publisher. A way to get little girls interested in history through their line of historical dolls and books that told an accurate but fictitious story of those long long ago and far far away. From there the brand has sprung boarded. Growing their name with dolls that look like you and stories of girls that went through life’s issues just like you. Lessons on bullying, a developing body, and saying no to drugs. Life made easy with manuals that read like a story. Mothers and daughters agree the dolls are a hit, a girl’s best friend personified.
After visiting the American Girl Boutique at Chapters Robson and wanting to learn more about this experience and phonemon, it was time for a field trip to the states. Our destination, the American Girl store in Lynnwood. We went as a group of doll enthusiast ready to have eyes wide open and jaws dropped. Here we would reflect on our childhood and the absence of these wonderful dolls in them.
The cafe is located with in their store, another service along side the hair salon, the ability to pierce your doll’s ears and to craft her her own tee shirt to match yours.
The cafe is a barrage of cute and pink, swirled together in varying shades to become every little girl’s dream room, her favourite place to host high tea. Pink walls, pink tops, pink flowers in a miniature watering cans on each pink table, and pink menus divided into desserts and entrees. Each seat was set with napkins folded and tied off with a pink bow. A hair tie you then get to take home to use in your own hair or that of your doll’s The booths were striped in pink, brown and green; and the chairs done with brown backs and a polka dotted cushion.
Most impressive was the ceiling feature, designed to look like a giant flower blooming from above. It’s centre a swirl of lights, wires, and bulbs. And surrounding it, more lighting in the form of orbs made of intertwined wire.
Seeing as we didn’t have any dolls of our own we were able to enjoy our snack with dolls that the bistro loaned out. Dolls sitting on shelves waiting to dine with you right at your table, and best part you can choose which one you wanted. Each doll came dressed in her trademark pink top, grey skirt, and brown boots. With them we were given a special pink seat. The miniature chair easily slid into place between the table’s edge. Positioned beside you on the kitty corner, your doll and her seat didn’t take up any extra space. Our group of three each choose a doll with hair and eyes that best matched our own. I named mine Ivy for the day. This concept is such a smart event. What little girl doesn’t enjoy eating with her doll? If she brings her’s to the dinner table at home imagine the joy of bringing her to an actual restaurant? And if any girl comes without her doll or with a friend who doesn’t have a doll, they don’t have to miss out on the experience by dining with the dolls on loan.
The servers wore pink aprons over their black and white dress code. Like the rest of the staff they were all female and all well trained to speak to younger girls and their older accompanying associates. After all this was all about letting these girls be girls in a safe space. Our server greeted us like a long lost friend. Inviting and friendly, she wore it on her face as a smile and spoke it through her kind words. As this was our first time she went through the adventure with us, setting down a little pink box when she was done. These were table top conversation starters. Random questions to propose to your group and stir some friendly comparisons or gentle debate.
When in Rome… Apparently the thing to get here is their “pink lemonade”. A neon drink that best represents the pink of the place in liquid form. And as we were given our glasses each of our dolls got her own cup and saucer too. Little extras that we would be able to take home, as another great souvenir of today’s events.
We were here focusing on their menu of desserts. Broken up between “frozen treats” and “one of a kind creations”, we passed on the every day milk shakes, smoothies, and sundaes; opting instead for that which we couldn’t find else where.
“Chocolate mousse flowerpot”. Light and fluffy chocolate mousse topped with crumbled cookies, and served with a mini cookie on the side. Each serving arrives in their signature green flowerpot with a cheerful daisy planted in. What a cute idea, a visual feast before you actually feasted. The cookies were moist, clearly baked on the day. The mousse was whipped until smooth and best paired with the crunch of the ground up cookie crumb “dirt”.
A “Trio of mini ice cream cones” in vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate. Each ball of ice cream is dipped in colourful candy sprinkles. They tasted like your standard Neapolitan flavours in your regular cones made of butter, flour, and sugar. It is more about the novelty of having three ice creams instead of one, and having three flavours instead of committing to one.
“Biggest brownie sundae ever”. The suggested sharing was between 4-6 people. Our group of three women was up to the challenge. Eight alternating scoops of chocolate and vanilla ice cream, smothered with rich brownie crumbles and topped with whipped cream, chocolate syrup, sprinkles, and bright red cherries. At $21 this would be the most I have ever spent on ice cream. But wow you get a lot. Assembled for the most impact on a long dish, you can’t help but to to stare with awe in your eyes while grinning with delight on your lips. The ice cream and toppings were out of your childhood dreams. Though the cookie crumbs were hard and almost stale; I wanted more chewiness from them like what we had with our heart shaped brownie pieces at each end.
This whole experience is replicated for every little girl that enters on any day of the week. Be it a Sunday high tea service with an actual three layered tray and tea pot, an everyday lunch of sandwiches or pasta, or a once a year birthday party with all her closest friends. The back is equipped with a full kitchen and a band of talented chefs. Their goal to put out the perfect plates to keep these little faces smiling. With advance notice the staff are also able prepare a special room to host any party. But for a birthday each girl and doll get their own crowns to wear in celebration of the occasion. And to take home a goodie bag with birthday themed tee and red American Girl balloon for each doll.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Maybe not the first place in mind for a meal with your grown up friends, but truly one of the best places for a little girl and her doll. I only wish I had this growing up and can share this now with all the little girls I know. A restaurant that is not only about the food, but has equal emphasis put into the setting and the service, then the experience of everything all together. For an hour I was allowed to be a kid again, to play make believe and order whatever I wanted without thought of consequence. For me this is a memory I will cherish, as I know, no doubt the other girls in the cafe would too. Don’t deny your cravings.