New research has found that children’s menus in the UK are not quite reaching parent’s needs, with nearly 4 out of 5 parents craving more from the current selection.
Tredwell’s kids tasting menu; Pulled-pork apple-and-ginger super sliders
Citing dullness and a lack of imagination as their biggest qualms, parents complain that pizza and chicken nuggets are repeatedly featuring on menus as cop-outs in lieu of healthy thought-through alternatives.
Other important factors influencing parents’ choice of restaurant include activities in the restaurant, healthy food options, and fast service (to avoid the kids getting bored). Although 57 percent of those surveyed agreed that the restaurant industry has improved in catering to families, they believe there is still some way to go in making the restaurant experience genuinely inclusive of children.
Engineering a menu that appeals to the kids could prove to be a lucrative market. Out of the 3.18 billion visits to food service venues last year, 763 million equated to “let-the-kids-choose” visits, worth £4 billion to the industry.
Branded pubs, such as JD Wetherspoons’, are the front runners in capitalising on this market, and can account 30 percent of all their family visits to the kids choosing them as a venue. This is due to the stimulating environment they provide, often featuring play areas, different types of seating, music, and television.
Another establishment that is redeveloping their menu in light of the findings are Thai chain Busaba Eathai. Marketing Manager Laura Ford explained that in addition to their children’s menu, they have toned down the spiciness of some of their dishes, in order “to prioritise taste and discovery”.
Following the research, chef Marcus Wareing of Tredwell’s partnered with Bookatable, and devised a £17 8-course tasting menu for children, featuring dishes such as “Courgette-and-pea dumplings with a creamy coconut chili sauce” and “cheeky chorizo-jam, egg-yolk and avocado tartlets”.
There is still plenty of room for improvement, as the research shows. However, restaurants taking the initiative to expand the variety on offer to kids will hopefully prove to be the start of a generation of more adventurous eaters.
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Restaurants who are getting the kids menu right
A Latin American chain whose kids meals do not compromise on taste. Children’s meals are £5.90 and feature a variety of dishes from around the globe, including quesadillas, tacos, and meatballs. Colouring activities are also provided.
Simplicity without lacking in flavour, the authentic Italian food restaurants offer a children’s menu consisting of smaller portions of dishes from the adults menu, so you can be sure there is no cutback on quality.
Kids under 10 can eat free (at certain times) and the restaurant is more than accommodating for children, given head chef Mark Hix campaigned for better eating for kids. Menu options feature De Beauvoir smoked salmon and Atlantic Prawn cocktail.
What better place to keep the kids entertained then knocking down a few pins at the bowling alley? After they’ve worked up an appetite you can treat them to a mini mezze or some chargrilled chicken pasta.
Their crayons, games sheet, well-spaced tables and high chairs provide a welcoming experience for all families. A decent selection of children’s food, with a special recommendation of the grilled salmon fillet.