Arranging a night out at a good restaurant can be challenging if you have young children. Eating a meal at a restaurant takes a lot longer than eating at home, and if your kids struggle to sit still and observe table etiquette at home, then the distractions of a restaurant will make it even harder for them to behave properly. Add in to this the powerful flavours and unusual dishes served at some high-end restaurants and it’s easy to understand why fine dining is a scary thought for many families. The good news is that there are plenty of child friendly “starter restaurants” where families can introduce their children to the joys of eating out. As your kids get older and learn to appreciate the joys of great food, you can gradually add new, more mature restaurants to the list of places they can go.
What To Look For In Child Friendly Restaurants
If you’re going to take your children to a restaurant, try to pick one that has a children’s menu. Ideally, this menu should include a broad selection of dishes, including scaled down (and less spicy) versions of adult dishes rather than just kid-sized burgers and fish fingers.
One example of a good kid’s menu is Nandos. The adult Nandos menu includes a large selection of incredibly spicy chicken dishes that most young children would struggle to eat. The kids menu features chicken too, but it’s much milder. This means that kids won’t feel left out – they’re eating the same foods as their parents, but they won’t end up being served something they can’t eat.
Another thing to consider in a kid’s restaurant is entertainment. It would be unfair to expect children to sit still at a table in a candle-lit restaurant where everyone is having quiet conversations, especially if dining out is a new experience for them. Help them get used to eating out by gradually exposing them to the “rules” of fine dining. A chain like the Hard Rock Café or Planet Hollywood is a good choice for a starter restaurant, since those venues are brightly lit, have lots of decorations to keep kids entertained, serve food most kids will like, and are usually quite busy, so an energetic or vocal child won’t be an issue. In fact, the Hard Rock Café actively welcomes kids and is happy to host parties.
Older kids, and kids who have shown that they can behave properly in a restaurant, will love a trip to Tinseltown in Farringdon. This restaurant is the perfect combination between entertainment and upmarket dining, and will wow any child that likes movies.
The days of restaurant dining being a stuffy and boring experience are long gone. There are many child-friendly venues that serve great food. If your child only likes burgers, take them to the Handmade Burger Company and let them enjoy a freshly made burger instead of a reheated patty from a fast-food place. If you’re going on holiday abroad, introduce them to a table service diner such as Denny’s. The choices are endless, and if you encourage your child to experiment with new dishes on each and every trip, you will be helping to foster a love of great food in the next generation.
About the Author:
This post was put together by Crispin Jones, the blogger for the Gourmet Society. If you want to find out more have a look at their site or download their app. Crispin considers himself a avid foodie and spends most of his evening is his kitchen. There have been no complaints from his wife or kids yet – which he takes as a compliment!