I am usually dissappointed by kids’ menus at restaurants. Why is it that the restaurant can serve fresh, organic, delicious food on the adult menu, but the the kids’ is an afterthought with a choice of who’s who from the freezer section? Why offer a kids menu at all if you’re stooping to offer a steamed hot dog and boxed macaroni and cheese? When did people get the idea that kids will only eat hot dogs, hamburgers, pasta with butter and chicken strips? And even if the kids’ menu is decent, why does everything have to come with fries? If your restaurant makes pasta for adults, make pasta for kids (just not such an overwhelming size). If my family is going to a mexican restaurant we’ve decided we want mexican food, not a burger and fries. If you have salads for adults, why not a small salad or some fresh, raw veggies for the younger set? And what about milk? Some kids are only offered soda, juice and chocolate milk.
Seems easier to use same ingredients and cooking techniques too. I rarely offer my kids what’s on these menus other than the games and pictures to draw (although harder to edit now that my son reads). We prefer to order a smaller or shared portion from the main or appetizer menu. Or we pay for two adult size portions and take food home.
OK…Enough of my ranting.
I was impressed on two recent occassions when dining out with my family. First, we went to San Luis Obispo where we had a lovely breakfast at Big Sky Cafe. The kids’ menu did have a drawing to color but the offerings were actually made from the same fresh organic ingredients as the regular menu, just smaller portions. A stack of blueberry pancakes just wasn’t stacked so high. A make your own omelet only came with 2 eggs and the steel cut oatmeal was appealing for every age with a selection of dried fruit and fresh berries. I wish we were staying for lunch and dinner too. Anyone for a petit filet with potato croquettes? Mind you this was not a high end restaurant, as everything was under $18 for dinner on the main menu, under $10 on the kids’ menu.
Another great local find with a good kids’ menu is Piatti Ristorante. There are 9 locations in all – most in California, but also in Colorado, Washington and Texas. This is a good italian trattoria for family and friends to gather as well as a date night spot when the kids are at home with a sitter. Each location’s menu reflects the local taste and season. Their bambini menu is the largest I’ve ever seen with a selection of antipasti, pizza, primi (pasta), secondi (salmon, chicken, steak), verdure (broccoli, mixed veggies) and dolce (gelato, panna cotta). They started with an antipasti of salami, mozzarella, veggies and olives (so much we brought some home). My daughter loved her spinach and cheese ravioli as did my son appreciate his tomato gnocci. This was higher end for the main menu but everything on the bambini menu was a bargain at less than $10.
So, yes. It can be done. Any place you care to share with a good children’s menu?