Doing restaurant reviews I spend a lot of time looking at menus and whenever I eat out I always have a quick scan of the kids menu. I am not sure why I do it; I guess I keep hoping to see something interesting on a kid’s menu – just once.
It is something that is apparent on every menu, and I am sure it is not just the Sunshine Coast, I am sure it is Australia wide, and that is that every kid’s menu is filled with crap!
No wonder kids are faced with obesity and a whole host of other dietary related afflictions when all they get to choose from is fish and chips, chicken nuggets, spag bol, and pizzas. There is nothing even remotely inspiring on their menus and certainly nothing that would fall under the category of nutritionally wholesome. I am sure there are some exceptions but generally this is the case.
I guess the reason for this is that it is to keep the little darlings quiet while their parents peacefully eat their meals and there is the general perception that this is the sort of food that would do that. Or maybe it is a treat for them as well. But I would really like to see some restaurants step out of their comfort zones and include something different, perhaps even something a little more exotic, they might be surprised.
I can already hear an echo of readers saying that kids just won’t eat anything else, but this is just so untrue and has been disproven a number of times. Chef Laurent (Laurent Vancam) has proven many times over that children will try sometimes the most unusual of meals if given the opportunity. Chef Laurent has managed to reform the whole of St John’s College tuckshop (Nambour, Queensland) by introducing an amazing, nutritious selection of lunch options which the children are choosing – of their own volition!
I saw it myself when coordinating the Paddock to Plate demonstrations at the Nambour State Primary School. We had kids eating baba ganoush, hommus, buffalo mozzarella, sourdough bread and a whole heap of other yummy things that are usually reserved for adult palates. And they loved it, asked for more. They ‘oohed’ and ‘ahhed’ first, but they ate it, asked for more and then went home and raved about it to their parents.
Recently I went to a restaurant and it served a mini version of lamb shanks on a kids menu and I thought that was fantastic. Why not give kids an option of mini meals? The whole menu doesn’t need to consist of them but give one or two selections. My son grew up on delicacies many adults don’t yet have the courage for. Growing up with a European grandfather saw him eating steak tartare, bismark herrings, venison, confit duck and even rendered pork fat on sourdough (don’t bag it until you have tried it!) from a very early age. Sure, he would shuffle his vegies around the plate, and I remember him involuntarily dry-retching once at 4 when he was served an Asian coriander based soup, but he would pretty much give everything a try. Travelling through France when he was just five, everything he ate was a mini version of my own – fantastic. McDonald’s was, like almost every child, his favourite, but it was a random treat, having said that so was the rendered pork fat on sourdough (not implying that it was any more nutritious)
I bet kids would love lotus chips as much as I do, and love the crispy skin of a confit duck or salmon fillet. Why not just a nice roast chicken piece instead of the traditional nuggets. I am sure chefs can come up with something!
I would love to hear from you if you have discovered restaurants or are the chef of a restaurant that do have some interesting and more nutritional things on their menus and I will collate a list so we can all encourage and support them. Let’s educate our kids from a young age to demand good food!
Well that’s my beef for the night, thank you readers for allowing me to get that one off my chest – I feel much better now 🙂
This post was written by Petra Frieser – Local Harvest