What should kids eat at restaurants?
I was invited to Clos Malverne wine farm for lunch the other weekend (R298 for 4 courses, each course with a glass of wine – I think you’d struggle to find better value than that anywhere) and because it was the weekend, I asked if my 8 year old could come too. “Of course, no problem” was the answer “but we don’t really have a kids’ menu as such, but the chef will make a plan. Is that okay?” Absolutely and when the ‘plan’ arrived it was a juicy 100g steak with handcut potato wedges, some steamed veg, all served beautifully with a small bowl of tomato sauce. My son ate the lot.
It got me thinking about what kids are usually offered in restaurants and why we, as parents, put up with it? Far too often, the kids menu is dominated by processed, frozen food – pizzas, chicken nuggets, fishfingers, all served with frozen chips. Nothing green, nothing healthy, nothing actually prepared from scratch and on site. If we are paying good money to take our children out to restaurants, shouldn’t we ask for something better than that?
I’ve run a restaurant and I know that issues such as portion control and stock management often come into play when it comes to kids meals. But all it needs is a little thought – 100g of steak could also be the topping of an adult’s steak salad or become a steak satay starter or something similar – meaning there is no need for special orders or any wastage.
With 1 in 5 South African children being overweight or obese, I think eating out with kids is an educational opportunity which shouldn’t be wasted. There are so many things kids can learn around a restaurant dinner table – sitting up straight, using cutlery, making conversation, asking the waiter for what they want, thanking the waiter when he brings it – and learning about good food is only one of them. Jamie Oliver is on a mission with his Food Revolution Day which is coming up on May 15th – maybe a few more restaurants could be inspired and offer something slightly more interesting than nuggets and chips.