The 17 restaurants taking part in Kids Restaurant Week aim to take the financial sting out of a dining experience that’s often reserved for grown-ups. Places such as Mie N Yu, Café du Parc, and Zola are offering a three-course prix-fixe menu that costs $29 per adult, and children 11 and younger pay their age.
We settled on Mie N Yu because of the menu it posted on the Kids Restaurant Week Web site. Not only were there many more options, but it sounded tastier—and less dumbed down—than the other menus posted on the site. We’d originally made a reservation at Café du Parc but changed it when we found out how limited the menu was. For $29, I’ll take crab cakes over a croque monsieur with French fries any day.
Mie N Yu turned out to be a great place to take the kids. We sat at a raised round table draped in tent-like white linen, with a circular bench decked out with throw pillows. There were fountains and wooden horses and piles of rocks in the bathroom sinks. All of these fun decorative touches make great distractions for a toddler during the two hours it might take to eat.
And the food, for the most part, was very good. The kids had appetizers of tandoori-chicken skewers with mint yogurt and an excellent lacquered-duck taco. Their entrées—a burger cooked to within an inch of its life and breaded pork skewers that turned out to be chicken—were lackluster, but the adult dishes of crab cakes and Moroccan beef were enjoyable. Desserts were nothing remarkable, but not bad.
While we were impressed with the menu and the surroundings, there are a couple of things the restaurant could do to improve its Kids Restaurant Week. First, there’s no reason why the meal had to take two hours—with entrées not appearing until one-and-a-half hours into the meal. The place would do well to work on the pacing so toddlers (and parents) don’t get restless, hungry, and tired.
Second, don’t give the kids chicken when you say it’s going to be pork, or dulce de leche ice cream when you say it’s going to be berry sorbet—especially if you don’t plan to even mention these swaps to parents. Forget the fact that most kids don’t generally like a last-minute switcheroo; there are genuine allergy issues to consider. And one small quibble: It’d be a nice touch to cut the pointy ends off the meat skewers before they’re served. It’s tough for a parent to eat when worried about their kids poking their eyes out.
But when else can you pay $2 or $3 for a meal at places such as Art and Soul, Belga Café, and Taberna del Alabardero? You can’t beat that. And it feels good to participate because a portion of the proceeds benefit Eastern Market and Miriam’s Kitchen, which feeds the homeless. Plus, it’s a great way to introduce your children to the world of fine-dining. For restaurants, perhaps the most important thing about Kids Restaurant Week was summed up by my fellow diner: “It’s nice to know that kids are welcome. I never would’ve thought to bring kids here.”
Hopefully, more Washington restaurants will sign on for next year—and let parents know their little ones are welcome.
For a list of restaurants taking part in Kids Restaurant Week, click here.