|(Photo by stephendepolo)|
I recently brunched at Joe Fortes, an upscale Vancouver restaurant. While perusing the menu online, I found something that surprised me: a children’s’ menu. Obviously I’ve heard of kids menus before, but the thought conjures up images of Happy Meals, and paper table cloths (with complimentary crayons). I look through a lot of menus, and up until now, I hadn’t come across a kids menu at a nice restaurant.
Curious what’s on the children’s menu?
· Children’s Pasta – Alfredo or tomato sauce 8.95
· French Toast – brioche, maple syrup 8.95
· Grilled Cheese – fries or salad 8.95
· Mini Cheese Burgers – fries or salad 8.95
· Eggs Benedict – ham, poached egg, hollandaise, hash browns 8.95
· Fish & Chips – coleslaw, tartar sauce 8.95
· House Made Chicken Fingers – fries or salad 8.95
· Little Joe’s Breakfast – 2 scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast 8.95
Pretty much what I expected in terms of catering to kids’ fussiness. Bland, white-colored foods, like noodles, toast, and chicken fingers, albeit with an upscale twist. Although kudos to the chef for putting eggs benny on the menu, which at least has a few more components, ditto Little Joe’s Breakfast.
I’ve always said that there’s no such thing as kids’ food, nor should there be. I don’t fully blame Joe Fortes though. I’m guessing the chef and staff just got tired of being asked for stuff the kids would eat, and decided to offer a special menu rather than having to come up with stuff on the spot.
Having said that, let it be known that if I were ever to have a restaurant and offer a kids’ menu, it’d be something of a tasting menu platter. It’d consist of an assortment of the regular adult foods, but in tiny sampler portions, and plated in a fun way that encouraged experimentation. Would it work? Who knows, but I’d love to try it, even if it’s just a way of opening up parents’ minds to their kids trying new foods.
A quick google search turned up several other Vancouver restaurants with kids menus, including chains (Moxie’s, Milestones, the Keg) and higher-end Oru. I don’t take issue with having smaller portions available for kids (at lower prices), but rather the foods that are being served in the kid category, which are very similar for each restaurant’s kids menu.
“We say, ‘We want your feedback, let us know,’ ” he said. “And that’s the way we get them to try it.”
But does the sight of cut-up cauliflower really inspire children to stampede the salad bar?
Wendy Siegel, a director of Tyler Hill Camp in Tyler Hill, Pa., said that parents might be surprised at what their nuggets-pasta-fries-loving children will try.
“If I say to my own kids, ‘Here’s salad,’ they look at me like I have four heads,” she said. “But when counselors say to campers, ‘Come make a salad with me,’ they go.”
Perhaps we should focus on engaging kids in growing, preparing and eating food rather than appeasing them them with what they think they want? Have you noticed kids menus at regular restaurants? Do your or your friends’ kids eat “kid” food when they dine out?