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Not Your Average Kids Menu

July 18, 2012

(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 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.

While on the one hand we have kids menus and babyccino atrocities, on the other end of the spectrum, there are kids’ camps that feature haute cuisine. And you know what? The kids aren’t complaining:

“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?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Muriel July 19, 2012 at 7:05 PM

I think there’s been a kids menu at every class of restaurant I’ve ever been to, but this is the land of the SAD diet and skyrocketing obesity, in America. We don’t go out to eat hardly ever anymore, but since our kids are constantly eating healthy unprocessed foods and new flavors at home, we do allow them to eat the crud off the kids menu on the rare occasions we go out to eat.

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[email protected] July 21, 2012 at 8:49 AM

Interesting, maybe it’s more common in the US? Although I didn’t see it in my travels. Perhaps it’s just some areas.

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Aaron July 19, 2012 at 8:51 PM

You made me think of the ‘surprise’ lunches my mother made for us growing up (and now my brother occasionally makes for his kids). Muffin tins with small portions of food in each compartment – grapes, crackers, raisins, baby carrots, yogurt etc. It made lunch exciting and I’d bet you could sneak some healthier options in there and have a much better chance of kids trying them just from the novelty of the ‘surprise’ idea. Possibly anyway.

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[email protected] July 21, 2012 at 9:10 AM

That sounds similar to those bento box lunches. Really cute, and yah through sheer novelty/fun you can sneak some healthy stuff in. Kids love those. Heck, adults do too.

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Venjeana July 20, 2012 at 2:22 PM

My kids ate whatever we, the parents were eating. They turned out to be pretty adventurous when it came to food as they got older.

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[email protected] July 21, 2012 at 9:17 AM

Sounds like you went about it the right way :)

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