Kid-Friendly Dining for Youngsters & Their Adults
It’s unfortunate, but in America, “kid-friendly restaurant” tends to mean places like Chuck E. Cheese, fast-food franchises, and all-you-can-eat joints like Chuck-A-Rama. I say “unfortunate,” because I believe that kids, from a very young age, should be taught to eat well, not to have their food dumbed down for them. I believe in treating kids with respect and introducing them to a wide range of flavors and cuisines while they’re young—and not just relying on burgers, pizzas, chicken fingers and the like when it’s time to eat out.
Here then, are a few restaurants that might not be kid-friendly in the traditional, predictable sense of the term—they might not have crayons and drawing paper on the tables—but ones that welcome kids and their adults alike, and where both can find great food, service and ambiance.
Bruges Waffles & Frites
What kid doesn’t like waffles? But, have most of them ever tasted a freshly-made waffle—one that didn’t go from the freezer to the toaster? At Bruges Waffles & Frites kids and adults can get a little taste of Belgium with the classic Liège waffle or go for something more exotic like the S’more waffle, or the Pig on a Cloud—a Liège waffle with bacon, creme fraiche and caramel drizzle. The Belgian-style fries are also a kid favorite.
The next time you find yourself at City Creek Center, I recommend forgoing a noisy, maddening place like The Cheesecake Factory and instead, treating yourself and your kids to a high-quality dining experience at Nordstrom Grill. While mom and dad might enjoy dishes like Wild Salmon Oscar, Lemon-Herb Grilled Halibut, or Flat Iron Steak with Fingerling Potatoes, the kids’ menu is chock-full of tasty items such as Penne Alfredo with Chicken, Grilled Cheese with Homemade Soup, Seared Wild Salmon with Green Beans and Potatoes, Roasted Chicken Breast, and of course, Macaroni & Cheese (made with multi-grain pasta), and Buttered Noodles.
At Log Haven, with its outdoor amphitheater, hiking trails, waterfalls, and gorgeous scenery, there’s plenty of room for kids to roam. And I applaud chef Dave Jones and his crew for providing something more than chicken fingers and such to the little ones for dinner. The kids’ menu at Log Haven features a choice of fruit cup or salad, with entrees like Petite Filet Mignon with mashed potatoes; Ora King Salmon, Pasta with Marinara or Cream Sauce, a Smart Chicken Breast and … okay … they do also offer Fried Chicken Fingers. But trust me, these are the best chicken fingers ever.
Avenues Bistro on Third
When I’m eating out with kids, I tend to gravitate toward warm and inviting neighborhood eateries such as Avenues Bistro on Third. This uber-friendly dining spot owned by Mike Richey and Steve Garner is the perfect place to introduce younger gourmands to wonderful dishes such as Warm Almond Crusted Brie, Niman Ranch Lamb Pops, the awesome Akaushi Wagyu Bistro Burger, and a kid-friendly item that youngsters and oldsters can both enjoy: Olympia Provisions Frankfurter Corn Dog.
Red Maple Chinese Restaurant
When you dine at an excellent dim sum restaurant such as Red Maple Chinese Restaurant—especially on weekends—you’ll see oodles of families crowded around big tables with lots of kids in tow. And I think dim sum is a terrific way to introduce kids to somewhat exotic flavors, in this case, Chinese, without having to order large portions.
During dim sum service, carts full of bite-size foods are wheeled through the dining room, allowing kids (and adults) to look over the dim sum offerings before selecting some. Start with something kids will love like a Shanghai Juicy Bun, Turnip Cake, or Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf before moving on to more challenging dim sum choices like Shrimp Dumplings, Beef Chow Fun, Steamed BBQ Pork Buns, Spare Ribs in Black Bean Sauce, and Chicken Feet.
I know lots of kids who love sushi. One way to help develop a love for sushi, sashimi, nigiri and the like, is to attend a sushi-making class. Two excellent Asian restaurants in Sandy both offer sushi-making classes on Saturday afternoons. At Blue Marlin, Chef Soy teaches attendees, including kids, how to make hand rolls, nigiri, and a citrus roll. Meanwhile, over at Mt. Fuji Sushi Bar & Grill, Chef Joe teaches sushi making in a fun-filled atmosphere where kids are welcome. Private classes at Mt. Fuji can also be booked for birthday parties and for kids-only classes.