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Childrens Tasting Menus


Krys Stanley
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In the SF Chronicle's What's New section today, there is a mention of restaurants that are offering Children's Tasing menus.

Restaurants include:

Viognier, San Mateo

Foreign Cinema, San Francisco .

Chez Panisse Cafe, Berkeley

Puccini & Pinetti, San Francisco (make your own pizza)

Yankee Pier Larkspur (special events).

Tuesdays at Chenery Park, San Francisco

It is thinking like this that makes me love living in the Bay Area.

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In the SF Chronicle's What's New section today, there is a mention of restaurants that are offering Children's Tasing menus.

Restaurants include:

Viognier, San Mateo 

Foreign Cinema, San Francisco .

Chez Panisse Cafe, Berkeley

Puccini & Pinetti, San Francisco (make your own pizza) 

Yankee Pier  Larkspur (special events).

Tuesdays at Chenery Park, San Francisco

It is thinking like this that makes me love living in the Bay Area.

sure this is great, but...

you'd think since its the bay area that they'd have HEALTHY kids menu options... not corn dogs!!

besides, there is NO WAY a kid is going to eat 3 whole courses in a restaurant...

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I agree with you. Actually I was only half serious. Part of me thinks that a childrens tasting menu is over the top.

On the other hand it is great because the restaurants listed are not ones that I would think of as child friendly, so it is nice that thay are making an effort to welcome children at these places. The parents get a good meal and the children get exposure to good food and and hopefully quality food.

I know I saw a box once upon a time about why a post was edited. I don't seem to find it. Anyway edited for being too flip.

Edited by Krys Stanley (log)
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The main theme of today's SF Chronicle Food Section was food awareness and healthy eating for kids. There were many books and other resources listed for forwarding this cause. I think the Chronicle staff did a great job on this issue.

The item about 3-course tasting menus for kids was a small sidebar. The comment was made that by offering "courses" to the kids, it might help the pacing of a meal and allow the attendant adults to better enjoy their own dinners.

If kids menu choices feature corn dogs, pizza, and mac 'n cheese, then I guess this is just the reflection of the kind of familiar food that small children prefer. I would trust that the restaurants that were profiled here provide a wholesome version that is up to the standards of the rest of their offerings.

Since I don't have a toddler in the house, I'd like to hear from some current parents who have some experience with this.

Pamela Fanstill aka "PamelaF"
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My daughter is just 3, and doesn't eat enough to justify a tasting menu. The idea itself is somewhat appealing, though we'll see how it plays out when she's older and has a larger appetite.

But I don't like the menu choices offered. I really don't understand why so many kid's menus are filled with junk: burgers, chicken nuggets, mac & cheese, hotdogs & corndogs and the like. It's understandable that one would find such menu's at diners and chains, but at nice restaurants? I'd expect better! For that reason, we pretty much never order off the children's menu and instead get another plate and feed her from ours.

And it's not an issue of what kids will eat. I think our daughter would be delighted if we could order for her a simple pasta primavera: something with large noodles and large slices of veggies that she could grab with her hands or would be easier to stab with a fork. Hey, even add some chunks of chicken while you're at it. She is at the age in which she is particular as to what she eats - but what she wants to eat changes from meal to meal - so dishes with several ingredients work best.

Another point that these restaurants miss is that part of the reason for eating out is to expose kids to different foods. If you're going to give them the same shit you'd serve them at Denny's, there is little point of taking them to Chez Panisse.

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My daughter is just 3, and doesn't eat enough to justify a tasting menu.  The idea itself is somewhat appealing, though we'll see how it plays out when she's older and has a larger appetite.

Comllona

I was wondering which restaurants you consider child freindly. It sounds though you are pretty comfortable taking your daughter any where. Maybe the question is are there child unfriendly restaurants out there?

I haven't been there in years, but at Chez Spencer the owner had a son that was a toddler, so the outside dining area had a little sandbox.

Townsend, besides getting my vote for one of the best breaksfasts in town, is one of the most child friendly. Every now and then you get those parents who think they are at home. Besides the parents being impossible, the child threw scrambled eggs all over the floor without the parents correcting jr. Then they left not much of a tip. The staff was always polite and just quietly cleaned up. I told the server what a great job they did and left a few extra bucks in my tip.

One of the waitresses at Bizou, Christine, has a toddler and is an earth mother type. I'm sure she would make a table with a child very comfortable and probably fawn over the child. I haven't seen high chairs at Bizou or Chez Spencer and there isn't really stroller room, so probably they would be good for older children.

To be fair, Viognier was the only place that offered the corn dog (Adell's sausage?) Most of the choices seemed to be in the pizza, sandwich, and breakfast item category.

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We've been doing tasting menus for our kids all along. We give them a taste of whatever we're getting. We even include wine pairings if they want to try.

Of course, now my kids are old enough to handle a tasting menu on their own. Too bad, as they're expensive. No way am I springing for the wine pairings.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Of course as many people will realize, some young children have been going into Bay Area restaurants (and thriving there) for many years, this did not begin with a specific newspaper article (any more than traveling for food did, or other things suddenly topical via publications).

But to give my own experience, year or so ago I was getting together with some old friends at Manresa in Los Gatos, and two of them wanted to bring their three-year-old daughter who is an omnivore. I was a little unsure if it would work out, but she had a great time. (Marching back to the kitchen at one point to thank them for a pasta dish they whipped up for her.) Someone mentioned that one family regularly brought a two-year-old to the same restaurant and ordered the regular many-course tasting menu for her! Also, these are children who are at ease in restaurants, and who get along well with everybody while dining.

(Adult children can do this for their parents too, by the way.)

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Children should not be dining at restaurants with tasting menus. Not only do they not want to go (for the vast majority of kids), but I don't want to sit next to them. Dining at a restaurant with a menu that spans over several courses is something I want to do in a leisurely manner, among other adults dressed in nice attire, drinking wine in a quiet and comfortable environment, talking about things adults talk about. Leave the kids at home. They'll thank you for it and so will I.

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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Children should not be dining at restaurants with tasting menus.  Not only do they not want to go (for the vast majority of kids), but I don't want to sit next to them.  Dining at a restaurant with a menu that spans over several courses is something I want to do in a leisurely manner, among other adults dressed in nice attire, drinking wine in a quiet and comfortable environment, talking about things adults talk about.  Leave the kids at home.  They'll thank you for it and so will I.

I think this depends on the child, IMO you can't generalize. There are adults that should not be dining at restaurants with with tasting menus. I have a friend who's nine year old has a culinary knowledge that surpasses most adults. It always amuses me to get into a serious dissucession about, say the merits of casoulet. However, the child I mentioned at Towns End did not belong in any restaurant, and, neither did his parents.

The fact that some of these upscale restaurants are offering children's food is a welcome by the owners of these restaurants. Anyway, kids are not going to be dining out very late anyway. I don't think you will see them at prime time, but rather at lunch or earlier in the evening. Perhaps it should be renamed from the "Early Bird" special to the "Big Bird" special.

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