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Raising future gulleteers


VaNC
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Okay, I like to eat good food. Not just fancy, expensive food, well prepared fresh, interesting, and healthy food. I am trying to raise kids who are the same. This is a frustrating in these days of packaged, oversalted, over colored, oversugared food for kids. This is a huge pet peeve of mine and all my kids have been bored many a time with my rants.

Which brings me to my question. Too often we go to otherwise good restaurants and my choice is either to get them a full-size entree, or order off the "kid menu" which is always the same thing (fries, nuggets, fries, really bad pizza, fries, etc.) On the other hand, there are some restaurants that are aware that kids do exist, that they are part of a family, and should be able to go to a restaurant, that is not fast food, with their family (an issue where Italy, Spain etc. are WAY ahead of us. They welcome kids in restaurants there! I digress).

So, please, please, can you share your finds in the Triangle area or NC in general? And tell me why they are great for kids?

Here are some of mine:

Kashin (Crossroads, Cary) - I was there today, which prompted me to post this). Japanese is very kid friendly cause my kids love miso soup, rice and california rolls. The oldest (6) also eats actual sushi (eel, salmon and "little bags of salt" are her favorites). But at Kashin today, they did simple things like bring the kids water in actual sippy cups for the 2year olds, with straws in them. Made my life much easier. And with my udon, they brought little melamine kid bowls, saying "so you can share your noodles with the babies". Without my even asking. My kids chowed, I had a somewhat relaxing lunch, and the food was good.

518 -Glenwood South/Raleigh - Here they have a kids menu that is simply smaller versions of their regular menu (Imagine...what an idea!) They have a small wood oven pizza, a bowl of penne with fresh tomato sauce. Great.

Armadillo Grill - okay, it is a bit chain like, but they have a peanut butter and jelly tortilla that I envy every time my kids get it. Plus they have have cocktails. Keeps me sane anyway.

Frazier's Hillsborough Street/Raleigh- I went there one day with another Mom who was freaking because they didn't have a kids menu (I find it a plus) and they waitress goes "We can make grill cheeses!". It is a good grilled cheese, not premade. And they are also very willing to work with you to get something on a plate the kids will eat. Such as duck quesadillas without onions, or if you see something as a side on the menu that your kids will eat, then they will put several on a plate and just make up a charge. Very accomadating to kids.

Deluxe (Downtown Wilmington) - Like Fraziers, they don't freak out if you bring in kids. You can just say, I see you have mashed potatoes and green beans, can we have a plate with some on them...." They will make food for your kid that is good. This is the only place where my oldest will eat spinach. Mine just doesn't meet her standards.

So, that is all I can think of now. Does anyone else have any favorites? Suggestions?

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i understand. i was eating in a japanese restaurant not so long ago when a family came in, the kid pulled a face and when i looked again, he had got himself a slice of pizza from outside!!!!

basically, just be strict about fast food. don't let them eat it.

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I don't live in the Triangle area, or even in NC, but my opinion on this applies anywhere and everywhere: we just don't bother with kids menus, and never have. I'm not going to feed my kids crappy food, plain and simple. We don't usually eat in restaurants that offer them in any case, but even when the usual chicken fingers and fries are an option we don't choose them.

Really little kids are fine with small portions of Mom's food (though we didn't dine out much with really little kids, so never mind). In-between ages are generally fine with a half order of pasta (not the kiddie pasta, but the real stuff) or an appetizer (my daughter developed a penchant for mussels when she was 8). My son's now 14, and the problem now is keeping him from ordering foie gras, tuna tartare, and kobe beef short ribs all in the same meal. And no, dear, you can't have the cheese plate tonight. Hmm, are you sure you want to rear eGulleteers? It gets pricey.

Japanese food is always great because of the small portions. Anything served family-style is also great---Vietnamese, Korean BBQ, etc.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Don't bet too much, GG! First, you might want to read this silly article I wrote some time ago about my hatred of children's menus. The reason I'm not the best person to ask is that I generally shy away from taking my kids to restaurants where the prices are above the mean -- I'm too cheap to take chances.

Now as far as best places for kids, I strongly suggest going to places where the chefs have small children. Heath Holloman, chef/owner of Bistro 607 and EVOO, has two young children, and I'd be sure he'd accomodate children.

The Q-Shack is a good way to introduce kids to various types of barbecue, as they have smaller sized portions at lower prices. The beans may be a bit too spicy for some kids, however.

I'd think that an Indian buffet would work well, too, as you could at least introduce children to the wonders of Indian bread and mango chutney!

VaNC, I'm surprised you didn't mention Vin, simply because they have small plates. That's something that Nana's Chophouse also offers. Any sort of tapas place would work. My favorite tapas place for kids is actually in DC -- Jaleo, Jose Andres' Spanish joint near the MCI Center was an unqualified hit with my two older children.

Share your sampler from Neomonde with your kids and introduce them to middle eastern food.

And, of course, you'd be doing your children a grave misservice if you didn't get them a burger from Char Grill. :wink:

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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I'm not in the Triangle, so I can't speak to specifics, but I have two words: Indian Buffet. My almost-two-year-old will eat rice, naan, saag paneer, and "pink chicken" all day long. Also, he's at an age where he can't stand to see other people having food when he doesn't have any, so the buffet is a good solution for getting some food on his plate fast. For a quick lunch, we also like Souper Salad - again the buffet aspect is good, and he can at least get some nutritious things there. When we're not at a buffet, I agree with others - don't bother with the kids menu. At his age, he'd never eat a whole kids portion anyway. I just ask for a side plate and give him part of my own food. Restaurant portions are so big that I never miss it. I suppose when he's older he'll want his own order, but I don't mind getting him something from the regular menu - we can just divide it up and take some home. I would love to see the upscale restaurants around here offer kids' portions (and prices) from the regular menu, but I don't think it will happen - it's not like those places really want kids in there anyway.

"There is nothing like a good tomato sandwich now and then."

-Harriet M. Welsch

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Varmint -

One of my issues is that two of mine are two, so ribs, etc. are just not going to cut it...yet. The 6 year old will eat most anything...but portions are an issue.

I had forgotten about Neomonde. And indian restaurants are good too, as the kid will eat "red chicken".

Funny you should mention Vin. I recall taking my now 6, then 3 year old there way back. We got there REAL early..were the only people on the patio and I asked, just out of curiosity, if they had high chairs (I can get around them, but it is easier when they are real little). The waiter copped an attitude and said, in a haughty voice "Uh, we don't really get children in here". I said no problem. You should have seen his face when she ordered the duck and woofed it. By the end of the night, they were all asking if she was always this good in restaurants and agreeing to bring her a special ice cream sampler. She has been back many times now.

You mention DC. We stayed at the Monaco last time we were there and ate their restaurant We had 4 kids under 5 and a middle schooler. They had a great kids menu. Including a simple broiled chicken breast with green beans. My kids loved it.

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Funny you should mention Vin.  I recall taking my now 6, then 3 year old there way back.  We got there REAL early..were the only people on the patio and I asked, just out of curiosity, if they had high chairs (I can get around them, but it is easier when they are real little).  The waiter copped an attitude and said, in a haughty voice "Uh, we don't really get children in here".  I said no problem.  You should have seen his face when she ordered the duck and woofed it.  By the end of the night, they were all asking if she was always this good in restaurants and agreeing to bring her a special ice cream sampler.  She has been back many times now. 

I am surprised that you had such an experience at Vin. They have highchairs, and we have brought out daughter there for dinner and brunch many, many times. No one has ever been anything other than very accomodating. When we take her with us, we generally try to eat at non-peak times, like 5:30 or 6 pm, but it has never been a problem. In fact, it is one of our favorite places to take her.

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I am surprised that you had such an experience at Vin.  They have highchairs, and we have brought out daughter there for dinner and brunch many, many times.  No one has ever been anything other than very accomodating.  When we take her with us, we generally try to eat at non-peak times, like 5:30 or 6 pm, but it has never been a problem.  In fact, it is one of our favorite places to take her.

Zeb, as I mentioned in my post, this was three years ago. I was there at about 5pm. My daughter has been many times since and loves it. She is partial to the pate.

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I don't know if this would be frowned upon in restaurants and eateries but when I was growing up (not in the US), my Mum would never choose anything off the "children's menu" for us to eat. Instead, she would order food from the adult menu and portion the food appropriately to our age.

So, we never ate crap that passes off as kid's meals.

Foodie Penguin

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We have had good experiences with our 4 year-old recently at both Magnolia Grill and Lantern. he is a super good eater, the little gulletter that he is, but the staff was super friendly and attentive. There is no kidz menu per se at either, but they were both flexible with substitutions and stuff like that.

There ia always Elmos, but frankly I find their food to be a bit mediocre. They are super kid friendly though.

Also Dips is very kid friendly! And so is her daughter's place, Bon's, in Carrboro but Bon tends to give unsolicited parenting advice to a sometimes annoying degree...

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My children are 38, 34, 24, and 20 - so my experiences with them as small children are a bit dated. When the oldest were young we generally ate Chinese and shared. As they got older, we ordered more food and still shared.

With our youngest - our pickest eater - she frequently ordered an appetizer when the children's offerings didn't suit her. She also loved Ryan's when she was young because she could go to the buffet and pick her own food. We only insisted that she keep her intake balanced. What meat and what vegetables wasn't particularly important to us - so long as she didn't fill up on desserts or bread or meat to the exclusion of all else.

Last year, my oldest brought her family to Atlanta on vacation and, since her husband is South African and had never found a South African restaurant in the US - we took them to 10 Degrees South. They had no children's menu which caused my daughter no concern. The children were 9, 7 and 5 at the time. She ordered one adult entree and two extra plates and they were thrilled to be eating adult food from Daddy's country.

Between adult entees, appetizers, children's menus and to go boxes - we were never particularly worried. Behavior - now that's a different issue.

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I don't know if this would be frowned upon in restaurants and eateries but when I was growing up (not in the US), my Mum would never choose anything off the "children's menu" for us to eat. Instead, she would order food from the adult menu and portion the food appropriately to our age.

So, we never ate crap that passes off as kid's meals.

At the restaurant where I currently work, we do not have printed children's menus, but we do have a short list of children's meals that we will make. I'm not a big seller of the kid's menu, and I tend to only rattle off a few items with the child usually stopping me after I mention the chicken tenders or the grilled cheese. I especially don't like selling a kid burger, since it's exactly the same as our regular burger, but it costs $5 instead of $9. Kid's menus are generally a financial loss to the restaurant, aside from being generally dull food, and so I fall squarely on the side of the people who don't like them.

What I do find a bit ironic is that, our policy states that children's menu items come with a free beverage, but if the kid eats adult food, I'm supposed to charge for the soda they drink. To me, that kind of feels like I'm penalizing the people who are teaching their children better eating habits.

So I try to take it on a case-by-case basis. If a young child is just drinking one small soda with his meal and eating a little bit of mommy's food off a side plate, I don't charge. If a 9-year-old girl, like the one I saw today, sucks down 3 large refills of Diet Coke in 10 minutes, then she looks like an adult to me.

I don't know if I'm making the right judgement or not, truthfully.

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