Rethinking the Restaurant Children’s Menu

14 November, 2019

With modern-day parents increasingly well-informed about ingredients, good food and healthy eating it’s no surprise they are now also becoming more and more conscious about ensuring their children are eating as well as they are. Driven by the current trends for health and wellness, and sustainable and responsible eating alongside the move towards plant-led, vegetarian and vegan diets millennial parents are influencing how a new generation will eat. In addition to this, with access to foods and ingredients that their parents probably didn’t have when growing up, there’s a new generation developing ever more sophisticated palates through eating and enjoying a variety of exotic flavours and global cuisines. These days children are just as likely to be feasting on sushi or quinoa bowls as they are on chips and chicken nuggets.

While the food industry is constantly evolving, it seems that children’s food is a sector that has long been overlooked, but given parent’s changing attitudes we’re now starting to see restaurants and food brands react alike and re-image their offerings

Millennial parents are eating out more than ever as a family and are looking for the same experiences for their children as they expect for themselves. This changing demand, combined with the fact that competition for trade is a constant battle for restaurants, means that having an imaginative and healthy kids offering can be a clever, if not essential, way to get customers through the door. As such the type of lazy children’s menus that have long been offered such as chicken nuggets and chips or beans and sausages are increasingly being replaced by more creative and appetising options. Many savvy restaurants actually offer their kids meals for free as well, adding another incentive for families to visit.

Along with the aforementioned drivers of change, there’s also been a lot of media attention surrounding the issue of rising rates of childhood obesity in the UK, and as a response many restaurateurs are now prioritising child health by addressing both the size of and nutritional content of their kid’s meals. So while they may still offer tried and tested staples such as sausages and mash or chicken nuggets and chips (after all, these dishes are still loved by kids as much today as in the past) these will be made with better quality and healthier ingredients.

Of course these meal also have to have synergy with the overall offering, as a great family restaurant, from chains to independents, will have accessible menus and food that appeals to both parents and children alike and provide an all-inclusive atmosphere that makes everyone feel welcome.

It’s also important to remember that even if a restaurant doesn’t offer a children’s menu there’s no need to avoid it as a family and likewise, don’t  let children put you off going to independent, trailblazing restaurants – you just need to be clever in choosing when and where to go. For example look for places that offer small plates (plenty of choice here these days!) and choose the more straightforward options as a great way of getting children to try more grown up dishes. I would also recommended trying to get a banquet or booth if available so the small people can crash out while you enjoy the meal and also time your meal so that you eat off-peak, such as a late lunch or early dinner, when the restaurants will be less busy and the staff hopefully more relaxed and tolerant…

With all that in mind – here are some of the places in London offering up well thought out and innovative meals for the next generation – incorporating healthy versions of familiar children’s classics to more modern fare and global flavours.

Wagamama

  • Mini chicken ramen with thin noodles, chicken soup, grilled chicken breast, seasonal greens, carrots, sweetcorn
  • Mini grilled fish noodles with thin noodles, white fish, carrots, sweetcorn, cucumber and amai sauce
  • Mini chicken katsu with curry sauce – panko coated chicken breast, sticky white rice, carrots, cucumber, sweetcorn, katsu curry sauce

Wahaca

  • Build your own tacos – with grilled chicken or steak, crunchy cod or seasonal veg
  • Cheesy toated quesadilla sandwiches with gooey cheese or grilled chicken and guacamole, served with a side of veg sticks and tortilla chips.

HIX Soho (and other Hix restaurants)

  • Atlantic prawn cocktail
  • Breaded chicken escalope with garden salad
  • Glenarm minute steak with chip

    Kids eat free Mon – Fri 4-6pm & weekends 12-6pm

Café Murano

  • Chicken Milanese, potato fritti
  • Choose your own pasta and pasta sauce – ragu, meatballs, olive oil and parmesan, wild mushroom

Tredwells

  • The Culinary Kid’s Menu:
    Mint & apple fizz cocktail
    Mozzarella, mild chorizo
    Celeriac tortellini, burnt onion broth
    Cumbrian bavette, new potatoes, watercress
    Marinated pineapple, passion fruit, coconut mousse
    Salted caramel soft serve, chocolate sauce

Leon

  • Halloumi and avocado burger with baked fries
    Meatball rice box
  • Gluten free chicken nuggets – chicken thigh, baked fries, peas and tomato

Roast

  • Roast’s kids cheeseburger with skinny fries
  • Grilled chicken wraps with salad and fries
  • Fish finger sandwich

    Kids eat free during school holidays

Cinnamon Kitchen

  • Peshwari naan and house black daal
  • Herbed chicken skewer with steamed rice
  • Roti and cheesy peas pizza

Dishoom

  • Murgh malai – milk, tender grilled chicken thigh
  • Paneer tikka – tasty Indian cheese and peppers