After too many sub-par meals at “kid friendly” restaurants, I:
A) came to a conclusion
B) made a vow
First up the conclusion… As harsh as it sounds, I’ve come to equate restaurants calling themselves “kid friendly” as typically some combo of a dumbed-down and often dirty atmosphere, broken crayons, sticky highchairs and offensive “kids” menus. The only consistent exceptions are a stable of Mexican food restaurants in Dallas that we frequent (specifically Mi Cocina and Gloria’s), which seem to have the combo of kid appropriateness and stellar food down pat.
Now for the vow… Until my conclusion is proven otherwise (really, why is this such an elusive concept??), we’ve vowed to only go out to eat if it’s a restaurant we really want to go to for the food (not because it’s “kid friendly”.) Otherwise we stay home.
Needless to say, we’ve been eating at home a lot.
We have had some surprising success at a few spots though. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not frequenting restaurants with multiple course menus or that serve a little amuse-bouche before the meal. We know our limits and try to stick to them.
We’ve had two great meals with the kiddos at Park, and Audrey and I had a great lunch recently at R+D Kitchen. Our formula is to go at a wickedly early hour (think senior citizen dinner hour in Florida.) Yep, we show up at restaurants at 5:00 pm… but ya gotta do what ya gotta do. We also come armed with our own bag of “special treats”, which is essentially a little stash of goodies like fresh crayons, new coloring books and a few small toys that don’t see the light of day unless we’re going out to a restaurant (the thrill of the new inevitably buys us at least a few minutes of mellow, content kiddos.) We’re also totally on board with the idea of aborting mission. If we sense the girlies melting down, we make it easy on everyone and ask for the check and everything gets wrapped up to go stat. Granted we’ve only had to do this once, but it’s in the arsenal if we need it.
So…spill it. How often do you go out to eat with your kiddos? Where do you take them? Do you have any strategies for a great meal out?
p.s. yes I know I still owe you my cooking group recipe for the week. It’s coming. I promise!