Conservatory Cocktails (and Cooking)

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

When we first heard that Franklin Park Conservatory was offering kids' classes during its weekly cocktail hour, we couldn't wait to check it out. We love the idea of activities for kids and adults at the same venue but in different spots.

MELISSA: As longtime members of the Franklin Park Conservatory, we've often been ambling through the Palm House when workers were setting up for a wedding or other special event. I've always wished I could attend a wedding at the beautiful venue but, alas, we only seem to know other old married couples. That's why I was so intrigued when the botanical wonder started hosting Cocktails at the Conservatory a few years ago. I was so eager to check it out that last year I badgered a group of girlfriends into taking me there for a drink on my birthday. We spent a delightful evening on the rooftop garden chatting and laughing. I was excited to experience it with Geoff.

GEOFF: I've always enjoyed the conservatory, too. Add a bar and live music, and subtract the kids - it sounded like a winning formula. Better yet, the conservatory made it easy by offering a kids' cooking class at the same time. The cooking class wasn't cheap - it would certainly cost more than a sitter - but it sounded like fun.

MELISSA: The kids had to be at their class at 6 p.m., so we were among the first people to arrive at the event, which is held every Thursday. It was a rainy evening, so the bar was set up in the Palm House. As I always suspected, it's a lovely spot to sip grown-up drinks and talk about grown-up stuff. The event attracted a varied crowd - a bachelorette party, groups of co-workers, couples of all ages.

GEOFF: There were "happy hour" prices for the first hour. The band provided nice background music. Of course, you can't beat the setting. So why wasn't I having fun? The crowd was thin, and if there was a vibe of any kind, I wasn't catching it. At some point I even wondered aloud if we had time to leave and go somewhere else before picking up the boys.

MELISSA: There wasn't a lot of interaction among the attendees. It almost felt like we were at a private party where we didn't know anyone. The Palm House is just as beautiful as the rooftop garden, but it didn't have the same vibe. The evening was a totally different experience from when I was there with my girlfriends. Perhaps this event is best enjoyed when you bring a group of friends and create your own party.

GEOFF: When we picked up the boys, they were listening to a story while gobbling up the last of the pizza they had made. Worried we would interrupt, they impatiently shooed us back out the door until the story was over and the class dismissed. Clearly, they'd had more fun than us.

MELISSA: The boys are still talking about their class. They were amazed to learn that fresh herbs and vegetables taste delicious on pizza. They've even started picking chives and chewing on them while playing in the backyard. They want to know when they can go back for another cooking lesson. I'm not ruling it out. After all, one of my friends has a birthday coming up.

The financials:

Two rounds of drinks with a tip for the bartender: $25

Hummus plate: $6

Kids' cooking class: $40 (2 at $20)