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Childrens menus in pubs/restaurants

(61 Posts)
Colin80 Mon 22-Feb-16 18:35:24

Iv worked as a professional chef for nearly 20 years and having a young child myself one bug bear Iv always had is the children's menu in pubs and restaurants. Now I have recently taken over as Head Chef at a little countryside pub I have the opportunity to change that (well at least in my little corner of the catering world) so when I got down to looking at the children's menu which I feel is usually a after thought by most establishments I started to think where can I get inspiration from which can help me deliver a menu that real people/parents want there kids to eat and most importantly the kids themselves would want to eat.
So as well as instructing my office staff to devise a customer feed back form directed towards parents and the children's menu I thought I'd come on mumsnet to the brains of a wider audience so any insight, suggestions or ideas for what you would like to see on a children's menu in a pub/restaurant please take the time to share your thoughts.

JacquelineChan Mon 22-Feb-16 18:38:33

I don't want a drink and dessert 'thrown in'. My ds is only two , one course is enough. Or maybe some healthy puddings like fruit salad. The drinks offered are often full of sugar too. Of course this is only my personal opinion!

Watto1 Mon 22-Feb-16 18:38:50

I'd simply like to be able to order smaller portions of the adult meals. Fed up of seeing nothing but chicken nuggets and burgers for kids.

SewSlapdash Mon 22-Feb-16 18:40:52

I'd would really, really like two sizes of kids' meals, at least for some options. My 2yo does not need or want the same portion as a 7 yo and I resent paying for it to be wasted.

Pootles2010 Mon 22-Feb-16 18:41:02

Agree with whatto - just do half portions. My gran prefers half a portion too, so don't just make it a kids option.

SmallGreenBouncyBall Mon 22-Feb-16 18:42:58

agree with 'half portions' - available for everyone, not just kids.

Friendlystories Mon 22-Feb-16 18:46:14

I agree with Watto, my DD likes a wide variety of food and would usually prefer a smaller portion of what we're having to the usual burger/pizza/nuggets options. Also agree with Jaqueline about the dreaded meal deals, reasonably priced separate items is much more flexible, DD will say yes to the pudding included in the deal and then eat two mouthfuls of it so I would rather just pay for what she actually wants.

CustardLover Mon 22-Feb-16 18:48:11

Having a 'no chips' option would be great. I like the crudities offered at Pizza Express, they're an easy sell. What about the idea of offering to serve the meals 'kid ready', eg not as hot as lava - this is frequently the source of massive frustrations when my children are served but it's too hot for them to actually eat (they're 4 and 2) - better to keep it on the side for a sec first to avoid the hangry tantrums!

RhubarbAndMustard Mon 22-Feb-16 18:48:20

I quite like to see just simple kids food like fish fingers. If we are going out to eat I pick 'treat' food so why shouldn't DC. Not everything needs to be super healthy. My DS just wouldn't enjoy a child's portion of an adult meal and I want him to eat it if we are paying for it.

Agree to being able to just have one course and different portion sizes for different ages. Also having child size cutlery available.

kippersyllabub Mon 22-Feb-16 18:49:15

I want a half portion and a toddler portion as options. One of my dc is vegetarian and he'd love the goats cheese salad or squash risotto I'm eating, rather than pasta and sauce.

Buzzardbird Mon 22-Feb-16 18:49:24

My DD prefers a small version of an adult meal as her favourite meal is mussels. Independent pubs will usually pander to this whim.

Also agree with the dessert/drink thrown in with chain restaurants. The drinks are usually utter shite sugar/sweetener added rubbish and not all children want a dessert after a meal.

All children's meals appear to be needed to be covered in bread crumbs or battered and fried, yuk. Children love pasta but I rarely see it on menus unless it is covered in a sauce, which some children do not like.

BackforGood Mon 22-Feb-16 18:51:38

I would agree with different size portions - but not restricted by age.
As others have said - a 2/3/4 yr old is likely to eat a lot less than a 10 yr old, but, at the other end of the scale, as I get older (and I'm only 51 wink) I've noticed I can only manage smaller portions. I'm often out for a meal with people who would like to have a smaller main and leave room for some pudding, but who can't claim to be children smile
I've noticed this particularly amongst my friends who are in their late 70s and 80s 0 they just would like a smaller version of the meal, as they hate the idea of wasting the food that is servd, but really can't manage a full pub meal.

TurnOffTheTv Mon 22-Feb-16 18:51:57

This is my local pub menu, it's a great place and they do half portions for children but don't offer a children's menu. If a child won't eat anything from the menu chef will ask what they will eat and make something for them.

FiveGoMadInDorset Mon 22-Feb-16 18:52:17

Homemade, not processed food. Smaller versions are good, my DD loves steak, something more adventurous like mild curry or chilli but again that could be covered by smaller portions. Cottage pied was always a hit when I worked in a pub many years ago

TurnOffTheTv Mon 22-Feb-16 18:52:56

Oh and they let me order a half portion as I can't manage a full portion, or two starters.

scrivette Mon 22-Feb-16 18:53:47

It would also be handy if milk was offered as a drink (or even milkshake) as I would rather that than sugary/fizzy drinks.

I quite like the idea of having a child's menu with things such as sausage and chips/chicken and chips etc but it would also be great if, in addition, a smaller portion of the adult meal was offered for a reduced cost.

Cookingongas Mon 22-Feb-16 18:59:31

I love it when milk is an option as a drink. It's pretty much all I'm looking for- because one child is fussy - if milk is alongside her meal I don't worry so much about if she's eaten any of it. Plus it's so much better than pop/fruit shoots etc.

TheSkiingGardener Mon 22-Feb-16 19:00:05

I also agree with the idea of smaller potions of the main menu. You could do 3 sizes of suitable dishes, toddler, smaller appetite and normal. If you also had chips as an available side dish that would be my whole family sorted and happy. We'd probably get a lighter appetite dish and a side of chips for the 5 and 2 year old to share, that way they could have something more adventurous than the usual options but my 2 year old could have some chips (he thinks chips are the only reason to eat out)

Sparklycat Mon 22-Feb-16 19:00:11

What really annoys me is when there are 5 choices and only 1 is vegetarian (and normally macaroni cheese). Easy to make other vegetarian choices and it's not just vegetarians that will order them for their children!

DarthPrincess Mon 22-Feb-16 19:00:39

My dd loves things like salmon and fish ... But not deep fried. Nothing bugs me more then a nice restaurant serving nice food then a bland frozen fried kids section. She likes similar to me so half portions would be ideal.

Ds however is a different story ... If its not bland chicken nuggets he won't eat it.

Agree with others about drinks, my dd asks for milk and ds water. Water no issue but I've had places refuse to serve her a cup of milk which seems ridiculous

whatadrain Mon 22-Feb-16 19:02:22

I like it when there is a small snack for the DC while everyone is waiting for the food. Some veg sticks, or plain popcorn or a breadstick... Keeps mine quiet until the food arrives. I agree that children's menus need to be more adventurous; not all kids want to eat burgers, chips and beans. One of my DC has severe autism and only eats the plainest of foods. It would be good to see in a restaurant that this can be accommodated, if necessary.

AuntieStella Mon 22-Feb-16 19:02:37

A quarter size and a half size version of whatever is on the adult menu, with a willingness to adapt slightly (remove trimmings, sauces on side, put any veg with any dish)

Plus a couple of standbys (eg plainish soup, basic pasta, pie and mash) and check there's a reasonable choice for young vegetarian.

And I agree strongly about not tieing in specific drinks or puddings.

Pointlessfan Mon 22-Feb-16 19:03:50

I agree about 2 sizes of kids' meals, my almost 2 year old cannot eat 3 fish fingers, 2/3 of a plate of chips and a bowl of peas plus pudding.
I would also prefer her to have smaller helpings of adult meals, the same as she would at home. She loves things like curry, shepherds pie or a roast dinner but child options are always sausages/nuggets/fish fingers and chips!

Pointlessfan Mon 22-Feb-16 19:09:52

Also please do not bring it out of the kitchen scalding hot on a red hot plate that she will burn herself on as she then gets hysterical when we have to take it off her to wait while it cools down. It would be helpful too if waiting staff were trained not to put hot drinks in reach of small children or lift trays of hot drinks over their heads as they pass my friend's son was burnt because of this, luckily there was swift first aid and it hasn't scarred him.
Toddler cutlery is always appreciated too. I'm pleased you are considering this.

Tiggeryoubastard Mon 22-Feb-16 19:12:43

Just what's been said above. Smaller portions of real food. Not everyone thinks that all kids want is shitty sausage or chicken nuggets.

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