Kid Friendly Dining in Winnipeg


Here is an article that I was reminded of today.  I originally wrote it for Dish Magazine. 

What is your criteria for a child-friendly restaurant? The answer will be different depending upon the age of your child (or children).  My husband and I met in the restaurant business and we always knew that dining with our children would be a part of our lives

 Here are some guidelines that helped us over the years:

Since deep-fried options weren’t our first choice for our children, we became experts at scoping out the affordable places with grilled cheese sandwiches (Kay’s Deli, Star Grill), mac and cheese (Bistro 7 ¼, Saucer’s), falafels (Falafel Place-Caution: cash only) and spaghetti (Bellisimo, Old Spaghetti Factory).  Of course pizza was always a good option too (Mona Lisa, Santa Lucia).

Many kids, including our own, like to experiment and create food of their own and so ethnic restaurants where they can choose their own items to have grilled (Mongos Classic Grill, Palatal) or stuff into a fajita (Don Pedros, Los Chicos) are a great choice.  Vietnamese was often a favourite choice for our youngsters.  We taught them at home how to handle rice & lettuce wraps before we ventured out (Little Saigon, Viva).  Moo shi was another favourite and one order could feed three kids quite nicely (Spicy Noodle House).  Let your kids have messy fun.  Why not?  You don’t have to clean up after them for a change.

Dim sum always did the trick for us because the food could be delivered quickly (Dim Sum Garden, Kum Koon Garden).  We would often let the kid’s have a turn making a selection for all of us and the parade of carts circling around was fascinating to them. 

Buffets also empower kids when they can make their own decisions (East India Company, Buffet Square).  They are more likely to eat what you’ve paid for, if they decided to select it in the first place. 

Of course it is always a bonus, if a restaurant has crayons or an activity sheet (Kegs, Olive Garden).  We always considered it our responsibility though to engage our own kids so we would play games of 20 questions or eye spy.   

Milk, real fruit juices and smoothies (The Don, Smoothie Bar at the Forks) are always welcome items on a menu too.  If the restaurant is able to provide a top for a toddler’s glass, that is a bonus.  It is difficult for a child to grasp the concept of not “crying over spilt milk”.

High chairs and booster seats make sense as well as wide spaces in between tables where you can wheel in a stroller (Stella’s, The Grove).  The offer by a staff member to heat up a bottle is a nice gesture.  Disposable bibs and wet-naps are always a welcoming sight; as well as the knowledge that there is a change table or a family bathroom available.   

A bright, clean, cheerful, casual décor with easy to clean surfaces is always appreciated.  Lots of visual stimulation is a plus as well.  The Old Spaghetti Factory does a great job of providing this.  We used to take the kids for a stroll to see the fish in the huge fish tank that they once had.

If you haven’t done your research and you arrive at a place with low lights, a hushed atmosphere and worried looks on the hostess’s face, you’ve likely shown up at the wrong place.  A noisier atmosphere (Hermano’s), where you will not be stared down if your infant has a cry or your toddler a temper tantrum is a better choice.  Hey, even the best behaved child has a bad day.

One last point, it is always a good idea to choose a restaurant close to home (Jonnie’s Sticky Buns, Baraka Bakery).  Walking to and from will help work up an appetite.  A short drive time will ensure that you have not used up your child’s good behaviour on the car-ride over.  A spacious parking lot (Confusion Corner, Clay Oven) where you can load and unload the rinky-dinks safely, is a key point too.

Brooklyn’s Bistro named their restaurant after their daughter.  There are images of her on the wall and the food is excellent.  I would put them on my family friendly list, if I were you.  So too, Bistro 7 ¼ where they make whatever a child would like to eat.  One time, the staff even ran to Safeway for chicken to make chicken fingers). Kids love to watch Chef Alex cook and I have seen his son help out in the restaurant with his own pair of chef’s whites on. If you bring a baby around, Danielle will carry him/her while you eat.  They will also let kids draw on their chalkboard.  Now they know how to welcome a new generation of food lovers!

Kath’s quote: “Ask your child what he wants for dinner only if he’s buying.”-Fran Lebowitz

Love-that is all.

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2 Comments to

“Kid Friendly Dining in Winnipeg”

  1. Avatar November 15th, 2012 at 1:31 pm Lori Says:

    We took our little guy to Ichiban when he was 18months-ish and he had a blast!! He was entertained by the “show” of the chefs prepping our food and put on a show of his own, drumming to his own beat with his chopsticks :) I have a great photo of him with his chopsticks and a little chef’s hat!

  2. Avatar January 28th, 2014 at 8:16 pm RUG RAT RESTAURANT REVIEWS… | Wee Ones in Winnipeg Says:

    […]      Other sites or blogs about family friendly foodstuff listed here:                             […]

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