Parents, this week, you can make a reservation for dinner at one of nearly 20 hip Washington restaurants for you and your children -- without risking the disdain of your fellow diners.
Cookie and Gourmet magazines' Kids' Restaurant Week kicks off Saturday at 16 District eateries, including Art & Soul, Firefly, Zola, Belga Cafe and Mie N Yu. All will offer kids their very own multicourse meals whipped up just for this event -- you'll find no fried chicken fingers here -- while adults get a few pre-selected choices off menus that are on par with what you'd see during a typical Restaurant Week. Seatings are on the early side: Each restaurant offers the children's menus from 5 to 7 p.m. nightly.
Kids Restaurant Week was launched last year in Chicago last year by the magazines Cookie (which is aimed at women with children) and Gourmet (which is aimed at, well, folks who love food) as a way to get folks into restaurants during slower early-evening hours and to turn kids into pint-sized foodies. "Did you ever see what those kid's menus look like?" Cookie's publisher and vice president Carolyn Kremins told me this week about the concept behind the event. "How many chicken fingers can you eat? It's astounding that whereever you took kids, it was the same exact menu."
So what can your kids order? At Mie N Yu, the youth choices include tandoori chicken skewers and an organic beef burger; at Firefly, there's macaroni and cheese and a decorate-it-yourself cookie. At Art & Soul, you'll find Mac-N-Chini (a version of the fried risotto balls the restaurant usually serves), a peanut-butter-and-jelly hoecake and "baby cakes." Juniper's menu is sophisticated: there's a salad of arugula, cantaloupe, prosciutto, goat cheese and mint (which that should definitely be the starting point for a talk with your kids about unusual flavors) and a lime cheesecake lollipop; the herbs are locally grown (they come from the courtyard).
Children 11 and younger pay their age; adults and kids older than 11 pay $29. A portion of proceeds will go to Eastern Market.
The Washington event kicks off Saturday with a free daytime family festival at Eastern Market from 9 a.m.to 4 p.m. The event will include cooking demonstrations, food tastings and activities for kids.
Reservations are recommended. For reservations, details and a full list of restaurants, visit www.kidsrestaurantweek.com/dc.asp.
-- Lavanya Ramanathan (June 11, 2009)
Participating restaurants include:
Art and Soul
Beacon Bar and Grill
Cafe du Parc
Finn and Porter
Juniper at the Fairmont
M Street Bar and Grill
Mie N Yu
Taberna Del Alabardero