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eating out with kids: order kids meal? regular meal? or just extra plate and give some of your own? - Page 2

post #21 of 41

When we do go out...we just went out to breakfast the other day, we do breakfasts a lot more than dinners, so much cheaper and DD is usually not tired or cranky or whatever...

 

Anyway we just ask for an extra plate for her because when we have ordered her a small thing she usually doesn't even care about it. She's only just turning 2 though and still nurses a lot so she isn't stuffing her face by any means.

post #22 of 41

Well most places we eat don't have kids menus but from what I heard (and seen on road trips) is the food is all processed junk that my son doesn't like anyway.

 

In the "better" places we go to the chef is happy to make a kids portion of whatever is on the menu or our son orders an app. I think having kids who don't ask for plain pasta with butter is a treat for most of the chefs. We have gotten to know a number of them and they love to see our son coming. 

 

At the small ethnic places we go to most are family style so we order a few dishes, some rice (or naan, pita, whatever) and we all share. Before our son liked really spicy and we wanted it "Thai spicy" the owner would make a small serving separate for our son.

 

Our course it much easier now that my son is nine and can maneuver even the finest of places. Probably around age 4 is when we would get him his own meal.  Before that he would just eat whatever we ordered and I never bothered ordering him a separate meal.

post #23 of 41

When they were small they ate off my plate or I ordered a side dish for them. As they got bigger they would share and I would add extra rice or a side salad or whatever to make sure they had enough. Now we prefer family style or Indian buffets, but my 2 teens can eat a LOT! ;) We eat out rarely now, though.

 

 

post #24 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by HollyBearsMom View Post

Well most places we eat don't have kids menus but from what I heard (and seen on road trips) is the food is all processed junk that my son doesn't like anyway.

 

In the "better" places we go to the chef is happy to make a kids portion of whatever is on the menu or our son orders an app. I think having kids who don't ask for plain pasta with butter is a treat for most of the chefs. We have gotten to know a number of them and they love to see our son coming. 

 

At the small ethnic places we go to most are family style so we order a few dishes, some rice (or naan, pita, whatever) and we all share. Before our son liked really spicy and we wanted it "Thai spicy" the owner would make a small serving separate for our son.

 

Our course it much easier now that my son is nine and can maneuver even the finest of places. Probably around age 4 is when we would get him his own meal.  Before that he would just eat whatever we ordered and I never bothered ordering him a separate meal.

 

Boy, I wish our restaurants did this.  I actually started a thread about this a couple of years ago because I wondered if it was regional.  Places like NYC, they had no problem, but here in the midwest, nobody does it.  The places we go say that it's too much trouble to do half-portions, including the fine dining places that we frequent.  Even the Indian, Turkish, Greek, and North African restaurants we enjoy won't do smaller portions and none of them have children's menus.  Luckily, most of these places, you can just eat family style.  The other places, we just bring home dd's leftovers.  She's 9 now, too, so it's making less and less of a difference.  It's making me wonder again if this is a regional thing, though.  Hmmm.....
 

 

post #25 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by HollyBearsMom View Post

In the "better" places we go to the chef is happy to make a kids portion of whatever is on the menu or our son orders an app. I think having kids who don't ask for plain pasta with butter is a treat for most of the chefs. We have gotten to know a number of them and they love to see our son coming. 

 


I've worked in some "better" places, and I must say that I've never met a chef who is happy to do so. It would be fairly simple to make a kids portion of a pasta dish or something, but a kid's filet of salmon or cut of steak? What would the chef do with the remainder of the portion? It would be wasted and every chef is conscious of food costs.

 

I hear ya about the pasta with butter thing. I never heard of such a thing until I was an adult; I don't think anybody ate stuff like that where I grew up. The first time someone ordered that from me for their child, I was like, "Really?" Didn't know it was a common thing....

 

We didn't go out to eat much when our kids were little. I really can't recall what we ordered for them.

 

post #26 of 41

The restaurants we tend to go to have pretty good kids meals, so when we're there, the kids usually one of those. At other restaurants, they sometimes share a regular meal. It just depends on what they want to eat that day. They aren't as happy sharing as they used to be so I love when the meal is split in the kitchen.

post #27 of 41


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2xy View Post

I've worked in some "better" places, and I must say that I've never met a chef who is happy to do so. It would be fairly simple to make a kids portion of a pasta dish or something, but a kid's filet of salmon or cut of steak? What would the chef do with the remainder of the portion? It would be wasted and every chef is conscious of food costs.

 

I hear ya about the pasta with butter thing. I never heard of such a thing until I was an adult; I don't think anybody ate stuff like that where I grew up. The first time someone ordered that from me for their child, I was like, "Really?" Didn't know it was a common thing....

 

We didn't go out to eat much when our kids were little. I really can't recall what we ordered for them.

 


Maybe because we are regulars? I don't know, we have never had an issue at places we dine frequently. And if the chefs were unhappy they never let on and often came out to check out the kid who wants to the fried calves liver or bouillabaisse.  But to be honest I don't think we ever ordered a child's portion of steak/meat though, LOL.  My husbands wants the leftovers! That's not to say that we didn't occasionally come across some places not willingly to accommodate us. In those cases my son stuck to apps or he ordered things that would make a good lunch the next day.

 

The pasta and butter is very common in Italy for the little ones but more often than not its "Aglio e Olio" w/ lots of parmesan cheese. However here in the states it seems to come from panicked parents who are happy to have their kids eat anything even if there is little to no nutritional value.  Its kind of sad really, since how do kids even know about plain white pasta with butter if the parents didn't give it to them. 

 
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post

Boy, I wish our restaurants did this.  I actually started a thread about this a couple of years ago because I wondered if it was regional.  Places like NYC, they had no problem, but here in the midwest, nobody does it.  The places we go say that it's too much trouble to do half-portions, including the fine dining places that we frequent.  Even the Indian, Turkish, Greek, and North African restaurants we enjoy won't do smaller portions and none of them have children's menus.  Luckily, most of these places, you can just eat family style.  The other places, we just bring home dd's leftovers.  She's 9 now, too, so it's making less and less of a difference.  It's making me wonder again if this is a regional thing, though.  Hmmm.....

 

I think I remember that thread velo.  We live out side of Boston and its very common. The ethnic places are like yours for the most part- no kids menus and family style dining. 

 

A number of chefs here are kid focused-Ming Tsai and Barbara Lynch come to mind which I think helps the broader range.  Ming has kids with food allergies so every menu item has complete list of ingredients.  Barbara has been doing a lot of work/cooking classes with under privileged kids. There are high end food places with a family focus popping up all over the place. However when we went to visit friends in Michigan a few years back if a place had a kids menu it pretty much defaulted to chicken nuggets and mac n cheese. They looked at us strangely when we said we didn't a kids menu.

 

This is an interesting article that ran the Boston Globe recently: http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2011/05/04/little_people_big_palates/
 

 

post #28 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by HollyBearsMom View Post


 


Maybe because we are regulars? I don't know, we have never had an issue at places we dine frequently. And if the chefs were unhappy they never let on and often came out to check out the kid who wants to the fried calves liver or bouillabaisse.  But to be honest I don't think we ever ordered a child's portion of steak/meat though, LOL.  My husbands wants the leftovers! That's not to say that we didn't occasionally come across some places not willingly to accommodate us. In those cases my son stuck to apps or he ordered things that would make a good lunch the next day.

 

The pasta and butter is very common in Italy for the little ones but more often than not its "Aglio e Olio" w/ lots of parmesan cheese. However here in the states it seems to come from panicked parents who are happy to have their kids eat anything even if there is little to no nutritional value.  Its kind of sad really, since how do kids even know about plain white pasta with butter if the parents didn't give it to them. 

 

I think I remember that thread velo.  We live out side of Boston and its very common. The ethnic places are like yours for the most part- no kids menus and family style dining. 

 

A number of chefs here are kid focused-Ming Tsai and Barbara Lynch come to mind which I think helps the broader range.  Ming has kids with food allergies so every menu item has complete list of ingredients.  Barbara has been doing a lot of work/cooking classes with under privileged kids. There are high end food places with a family focus popping up all over the place. However when we went to visit friends in Michigan a few years back if a place had a kids menu it pretty much defaulted to chicken nuggets and mac n cheese. They looked at us strangely when we said we didn't a kids menu.

 

This is an interesting article that ran the Boston Globe recently: http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2011/05/04/little_people_big_palates/
 

 


I really like that article.  The only thing I don't agree about is that by 10 - 12 months toddlers should be eating what the parents are eating.  My dd didn't even start solids until right at or after a year old.  She was still EBF.  However, she did jump right in to eating what we eat by about 15 - 16 months old.  We were living abroad when she was a toddler, we've traveled all over the world with her in her lifetime, and my dh isn't American ( what we eat at home is kind of odd, too), so she's always had a wide variety of foods.  And she's an adventurous eater, with a palate to rival most adults.

 

As for restaurants not wanting to cut down a regular portion, my chef friend (who won't do it even for us, although we're regulars at his restaurant) explained to me that when they are in the kitchen and an order comes in for, say, Steamed Mussels Provençal (a favorite of dd's), they probably have more than one order on the line for that particular dish.  Trying to make sure that the portion is made correctly can put more strain on the kitchen because there is a rhythm to how they have their stations and what not.  Then the runners have to make sure the right portion goes to the right table.  They consider it a headache.  But with a children's menu, if an order comes in for, say, chicken strips, it's only on the children's menu and they know it will be a children's portion.  It's about how the kitchen flows, he says.  Now, I've never worked in a commercial kitchen, so I don't know all of what he is saying, but why they can manage it on the East coast and not here is beyond me.  ;)

 

post #29 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post
Now, I've never worked in a commercial kitchen, so I don't know all of what he is saying, but why they can manage it on the East coast and not here is beyond me.  ;)

 


I don't think it's a matter of being able to, but about wanting to.  

 

I work in a large, extremely high-volume restaurant. On a Saturday night we generally have between 12-15 line cooks busting their behinds back there. That doesn't take into account the prep cooks or kitchen management. We do accommodate special orders, to a degree, and customers do not understand the level of communication necessary to get their dish made correctly when they've decided to create their own entree. For example (and this is a very simple request, relatively speaking), someone orders a sandwich made with fried chicken instead of grilled chicken. The station at which that sandwich is made does not have a fryer. So the person in charge of expediting the food (he or she is akin to the conductor of a symphony....making sure the right things happen at the right time) has to tell the person on the fry station to make the chicken and get it to the other station so the other cook can build the sandwich. Sounds simple, right?

 

The fry cook has now been interrupted from making his own orders. The sandwich station has to wait for the chicken. Meanwhile, there are six other items being made for the table with the special sandwich, all at different stations, and they're all computer timed to (hopefully) be ready to go to the table at the same time. The computer does not take into account the extra time needed for the special chicken....it sends the order to each station as it has been programmed to do. (If someone orders a well-done steak and her dining partner orders fried calamari, the steak order gets sent to Broil's screen as soon as the order is submitted. Assuming it takes, oh, 18 minutes to cook a well-done steak, and 4 minutes for fried calamari, the Fry screen will not receive the calamari order until 14 minutes after the order is submitted.) So, if the kitchen is already struggling to keep up, that piece of fried chicken can delay the entire order....everything else will be ready, and the food runner will still be waiting for that sandwich.

 

Now keep in mind there are many nights where we do $1,000 in sales per hour. The restaurant seats almost 300, there is usually a wait at the door, plus we do take-out. Imagine how many orders are coming in, and consider how many people make special requests. So if you've decided to design your own meal, for whatever reason, and your dish isn't ready when everyone else's is and you have to wait for it....that's why.

 

Special orders slow things down and cause stress on the kitchen. A slow kitchen means guests wait longer to eat. I can understand a restaurateur not wanting to go that route. You have to keep the majority of your clientele happy to be successful in the restaurant business. If the majority of your clientele are families with young children, it makes sense to do kids portions or have a kids menu.

 

post #30 of 41

What she said above is exactly why we like to dine a little off-peak whenever possible. We don't dine out that often, but when we do we prefer to have a little more flexibility.

 

DD, age 10, usually shares with us. We generally order two regular meals and split them amongst the three of us, requesting an extra plate and specifically NOT doing a "split plate" (not due to money but rather the unique way we will divide up the meals to feed us all). It has taken DH a long time to be comfortable with this, but he does wonderfully now! He will even let the server include all the ordinary items for the meal and just ask for the things he doesn't like to be served on a separate dish. This is HUGE!!! I will almost always eat whatever it is he doesn't like because it is usually veggies or fruits and I like nearly all of them. I let DD place the order often to give her practice.

 

DD doesn't like ordinary kids menu type foods. We eat mostly cooked-from scratch or close to it at home, so prepackaged fried stuff and boxed mac&cheese doesn't cut it. The only boxed mac&cheese she likes is Annie's and it more because of the memories we've created than the actual food. (She has half-days once a week at school and she learned to cook lunch those days - with me. We started with easy things like this.) I won't pay $5 for grilled American cheese on white bread, either. DD makes her own grilled cheese sandwiches at home with whole grain bread and whatever cheese we have (never American), so she understands why I won't pay that much for something she doesn't even like that much and doesn't fill her up.

 

We eat at a variety of places (chain and independent; various meals; various foods offered), but we don't go out that often. Our monthly dining budget is $101 this calendar year, which equals 1-4 meals of any kind out. We like cooking and eating at home, but it can be fun to eat out once in awhile. Some places offer good kids meals and DD chooses one sometimes. We've ordered off the menu at chains and local places during off-peak times. I have not found appetizers to be well-rounded substitutes for a meal in the places we go.

 

DD eats about as much as I do at most meals. We have found in the past couple years that breakfast at most places requires three regular meals for us to be satisfied. The portions at breakfast, at least around here, seem skimpy. Dinners are still too large for us to each have our own. We rarely go out for lunch, but that one is highly variable. It is the one meal DD eats less volume than me, but most lunch foods are single portions. Too large for any one of us, but not easily split three ways from two orders. Leftovers are hardly ever desired when we do go out for lunch because those are usually when we are out already doing other things. We bring our own a lot of the time or eat a hearty breakfast and bring snacks and water or plan an early dinner or whatever. Lunch is the most flexible meal for us.

post #31 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2xy View Post




I've worked in some "better" places, and I must say that I've never met a chef who is happy to do so. It would be fairly simple to make a kids portion of a pasta dish or something, but a kid's filet of salmon or cut of steak? What would the chef do with the remainder of the portion? It would be wasted and every chef is conscious of food costs.

 

 


I work in a place where people often have special requests that leave a lot of waste.  As far as they know I am happy to do it because that is what I am paid to do.  but the truth is we all cringe when those people come in.  That waste comes out of our paycheck.

 

 

 


Edited by lilyka - 5/22/11 at 7:57pm
post #32 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilyka View Post




I work in a place where people often have special requests that leave a lot of waste.  As far as they know I am happy to do it because that is what I am paid to do.  but the truth is we all cringe when those people come in.  That waste comes out of our paycheck.

 

 

 

 


I've worked in several nice restaurants (mainly Italian and Japanese) and a chain restaurant and my experience has been exactly the same. The customer won't know it, because I smile and say 'Of course! We'd be happy to do xyz' when the truth is I'm going to walk into the kitchen and annoy the chef. The only place I worked, where the kitchen staff didn't outwardly show annoyance had an open kitchen, where the customers could watch them. If a customer request was too costly we would always pass it on to the customer or say no. Some requests required too much prep work, for example in a pizza place if someone wanted a calzone without onions, the answer had to be no. It takes the pizza guys over an hour, including rising and baking time to put together a calzone so they are made in large batches early in the day.

 

post #33 of 41
My oldest (age 10) usually orders an adult meal, the 3 younger kids order off the kiddie menu. It would be rare that anyone shared a plate or didn't order whatever they wanted, including drinks. The exception is when DH and I go out to eat at lunchtime on a weekday right after picking up our preschooler, b/c he eats lunch right before then. He does usually get a drink and side or dessert, though - I feel like we should order him something.

We aren't very frugal when we go out to eat, but I figure it's a treat, so why not go all out. I also tip 30%, and clean up what I can of any mess my kids make.


ETA: all of this is so interesting. Everyone who makes special requests or is upset about their order should read some of these posts (or everyone should have to work a week in a busy restaurant).

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
post #34 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marsupialmom View Post

As the kids grew ---

 

First we took some from our plates. 

 

Kids starting eating more so we would get an appetizer and share our plates. 

 

Kids demanded their own food so we ordered off the kids menu.


That's where we're at right now. Our kids are 7 and 10, and so they are still OK with a kids' menu.

 

Since we go out to eat about 4 times a year, it's not a big deal. I suspect that in about 2-3 years, when ds hits a growth spurt, he's going to start needing an adult portion. But the last time we went out to eat, he had a cup of clam chowder, and then a kids' portion of salmon with fries. He ate all the chowder, most of the salmon and a few of the fries. Dd got a kids' burger and fries and ate all of the fries and 2/3 of the hamburger, and a lot of ketchup. So, even though she's younger, she put away a lot of food.

post #35 of 41
It depends. DD is 6 so has a decent sized appetite. If there is something that we want to share, we do that. If not, we get something smaller for DD. We eat healthy at home so doing a kid's meal once in a while is ok...and most of the restaurants we frequent have healthier choices, as well or are willing to sub a side of veggies in place of fries (DD doesn't even like fries). At some places, we construct a meal from appetizers or sides. Even when she gets her own meal, she usually asks for a bit off my or DH's plate if she sees something she likes.
post #36 of 41
Quote:

Originally Posted by 2xy View Post
I don't think it's a matter of being able to, but about wanting to.

 

<snip>
 

Now keep in mind there are many nights where we do $1,000 in sales per hour. The restaurant seats almost 300, there is usually a wait at the door, plus we do take-out. Imagine how many orders are coming in, and consider how many people make special requests. So if you've decided to design your own meal, for whatever reason, and your dish isn't ready when everyone else's is and you have to wait for it....that's why.

 

Special orders slow things down and cause stress on the kitchen. A slow kitchen means guests wait longer to eat. I can understand a restaurateur not wanting to go that route. You have to keep the majority of your clientele happy to be successful in the restaurant business. If the majority of your clientele are families with young children, it makes sense to do kids portions or have a kids menu.

 

 

I know this is kind of getting OT, but the bolded above makes complete sense to me.  In Germany, when a dish is done, they bring it out... whether the others are ready or not.  Everyone gets their food hot, and it's really only a few minutes waiting in between the dishes coming out, but makes all the difference in the world as each dish is fresh and hot.  If the kids' dishes come out last, so be it.  I wish they did that in the US. 

 

When my mom is with us, she is so picky, she tweaks every single component of every single dish (this has to be done like just so-so and that has to be done just so-so).  Because mine is always the straightforward meal, it gets done first, sits in the window and comes out cold.  But if I'm paying $30 for a dish, I do send it back if it arrives at my table cold.  I sympathize with the kitchen staff (I'm the cook at home and can't imagine the stress of a commercial kitchen), but I'd rather them just say "no" to my mom than to say "O.K." and then mess things up.  They won't make smaller portions for dd, so why do any special orders (unless there is an allergy issue).

 

We don't skimp when we go out to eat because it is quite literally our only form of entertainment as a family.  Our bill is always at least $60 for the 3 or 4 of us and often over $100 (a couple of weeks ago we took out some friends that had done us some favors and the bill was $250).  We *enjoy* the dining out experience and take our time.  We are great tippers.  But I do expect that the food for a meal that costs this is going to be hot, cooked properly (I want my $30 filet to be medium, not medium-well and I will say something if it isn't), and that the waiter is attentive to things like giving plenty of time to eat the appetizers and/or soup/salad before bringing out the mains.  I don't mind a slow kitchen if it's done right.
 

 

post #37 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post



 

I know this is kind of getting OT, but the bolded above makes complete sense to me.  In Germany, when a dish is done, they bring it out... whether the others are ready or not.  Everyone gets their food hot, and it's really only a few minutes waiting in between the dishes coming out, but makes all the difference in the world as each dish is fresh and hot.  If the kids' dishes come out last, so be it


Totally agree with this post but we never encountered the bolded part. In our experience the kids meals were generally served at the same time or frequently 10 to 15 minutes before the adult meals, so the kids could eat and then go play. We did generally go to biergartens with playgrounds or normal restaurants with a play room or at the very least a toy box. I really miss how child friendly the restaurants over there are. It was nice to walk in with a toddler and have the staff act like you brought in their favorite rock star. love.gif


I'm also so jealous of all the people with lots of ethnic options. Most of the time I love living in the middle of nowhere, but the lack of restaurant options is definitely not one of the highlights.
post #38 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post

 In Germany, when a dish is done, they bring it out... whether the others are ready or not.  Everyone gets their food hot, and it's really only a few minutes waiting in between the dishes coming out, but makes all the difference in the world as each dish is fresh and hot.  If the kids' dishes come out last, so be it.  I wish they did that in the US.


That's how it is in some ethnic restaurants, too. But here in America, everybody is obsessed with the entire party being served at the same time. Lots of people won't start eating until every dish is on the table. And some people will not let you clear away their dirty dishes until every single person at the table is finished eating.

 

As for what ArtsyMomma said about annoying the chef, she's spot on. If you've made a special request and enjoyed your experience, it would be nice if you tipped a little more. Your server probably had to suffer verbal abuse in the kitchen to have your food made the way you like it. I have seen chefs throw dishes and pans, too. Gordon Ramsey's temper and attitude may seem extreme to TV viewers, but it's actually pretty common.

post #39 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drummer's Wife View Post

ETA: all of this is so interesting. Everyone who makes special requests or is upset about their order should read some of these posts (or everyone should have to work a week in a busy restaurant).

 

 

I agree! I worked at two very busy restaurants and the descriptions are absolutely true. 

 

post #40 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2xy View Post




That's how it is in some ethnic restaurants, too. But here in America, everybody is obsessed with the entire party being served at the same time. Lots of people won't start eating until every dish is on the table. And some people will not let you clear away their dirty dishes until every single person at the table is finished eating.

 

As for what ArtsyMomma said about annoying the chef, she's spot on. If you've made a special request and enjoyed your experience, it would be nice if you tipped a little more. Your server probably had to suffer verbal abuse in the kitchen to have your food made the way you like it. I have seen chefs throw dishes and pans, too. Gordon Ramsey's temper and attitude may seem extreme to TV viewers, but it's actually pretty common.


Yes, lol the good tips really are appreciated! The stories I could tell!! Being a server you walk a fine line between making your customers happy and keeping the kitchen staff from throwing things at you. I've never thought badly of the kitchen staff in the different restaurants I work at - they just don't see things the same way. They aren't out to make the customers happy, and they don't work for tips (most of the time). Their job is just to cook food. Restaurant owners tend to care about the customer satisfaction a lot more than the line cooks, prep guys, etc.

 

One of my all time favorite ridiculous stories: The last place I worked at, I covered the lunch shift - it was just me and one other waitress, one cook, one prep person (who didn't speak english) and two pizza guys. We had sandwiches on the menu - but they rarely got ordered. Whenever someone did order a sandwich, and we put the order through the system you could hear the cook screaming from the kitchen "This isn't Subway!". He really hated making sandwiches, so the servers usually did it instead. A few times, we had our cook just disappear (different guy). His infant son had died, so there were many days we were serving, and preparing the food. We would work so hard, and so fast, and still customers could be so mean.

 

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