Bistro Bobette offers kid-friendly chickpea fritters. (photo by Kim Frost)
You’ve got kids. Now what? If you’re afraid your fine-dining days are over, worry not; here in Richmond, you’ve got options with elevated kids’ menus that can build better eating habits and introduce your children to high-quality food at nearly any age, while you eat well, yourself.
“Children learn from early on through repeated exposure to a variety of foods, and that variety of foods starts to develop the pattern that serves them for a very long time in life,” says T. Bettina Cornwell, a researcher who has led multiple studies on developmental food preference. “Our argument is: Why not start them on the right trajectory early so you don’t have to do the hard behavioral adjustment later?”
Southbound can help, with kids’ menu dishes such as fried catfish or roasted chicken with grits — a huge improvement from that run-of-the-mill handful of chicken tenders snatched from a forgotten corner of a restaurant’s walk-in freezer. If your budget is tight, treat yourself and the little one to sushi at Sticky Rice where, on Thursday, the children’s menu is free with an adult’s meal.
But dining out is also a time for exploring new and exotic foods, and with today’s menus loaded with small plates and different sides, there’s never been a better time to expand our kids’ culinary understanding. Pizza Tonight Restaurant & Bar’s oven-fired pizza provides a great opportunity to teach the kids how a simply made pie with clean flavors and fresh ingredients should taste. Perhaps, as in my house, you’ve got a picky eater. Trot them over to Bistro Bobette, settle them in with an order of the chickpea fritters and a dish of Truffle Mac ‘n’ Cheese and you’ve got one happy kid. There’s also nothing wrong with playing up the “ick” factor, especially with two boys in the house, like I have. Vagabond’s chef Owen Lane is a master of ingredients — from rabbit to organ meat — that will make the kiddies recoil in mock horror before devouring his delicious creations. One small-plate special, Beef Tongue Bolognese, is still the subject of feigned horror in my household, even though I had to order a second helping to sate my kids’ appetite for it.
So, save that babysitter money and take the kids out to eat. Expose them to foods and flavors beyond deep-fried processed chicken. They’ll thank you now, and they’ll definitely thank you later in life.