My husband and I have always loved eating out, way before Oliver arrived on the scene and we were determined to continue to do so after his arrival.
He made his first trip out at 1 month old to Café Gandolfi in Glasgow’s Merchant City, to be fair he had no clue what was going on, but his Granny was happy to show him off. After this we continued to take him to places home and away and he continued to know nothing about it.
When Oliver started to get interested in food and I was prepared to order from the kids menu I started to notice the poor choices available to little ones. Chicken and chips, fish fingers and chips, burger and chips, with the occasional pasta dish thrown in for good measure. Initially my go to dish was the pasta with tomato sauce, after all he loved this (and still does) when we have it at home. It soon became obvious that little thought or effort was put in to what was being served, it was as if they thought toddlers/kids had no taste buds. I won’t name the establishment, it wouldn’t be fair, but on one occasion the dish served was so bad it was actually inedible, even Oliver wouldn’t eat it. It was at this point I decided I would either let him eat from our plates or ask the eatery if he could have a miniature version of an adult meal. The first place I tried this was The Burnside Hotel in Glasgow and to my delight they were more than happy to accommodate my request. They made him his very own little steak pie, including a toddler size portion of puff pastry. He loved it, it was after all full of flavour.
I know some people will say there is way too much salt etc. in adult food, but I feel for the amount they are eating it is negligible. Which leads me to my next point about portion size. The kids menus are generally designed for under 12’s, this means the portions are way too big for a 2 year old (and sometimes I think for a 12 year old). Restaurants could cash in if they offered tasty toddler menus.
At this point I will point out that I am not working on behalf of any eating establishment, I am simply offering (whether you want it or not) my opinion. So here are my top 3 best eating out experiences with Oliver.
- The Corner Hotel in Carnoustie is with out question the best eating experience we have ever had with Oliver. They were amazing and always offer small portions of the adult menu. They also brought his food out a wee bit earlier and already cut up to allow it to cool. (another pet hate of mine is his food coming to the table burning hot on a hot plate. Trying to convince a toddler not to eat food in front of them is not easy.) I also don’t know how they cooked their carrots, but Oliver could not get enough of them. With all this and amazing staff I would recommend this to any family.
- Paesano Pizza in Glasgow is a firm family favourite. The staff are always great with Oliver and he loves the pizza. Another huge benefit with a toddler is the speed of service. On one visit we had finished our pizza, so Oliver turned to the next table to see if they were prepared to share, they were not.
- Padano in Rutherglen is a new favourite for us. Friendly staff and great food. Oliver absolutely loves their Penne Pomodoro, so much so that I usually have to cut him off. The food is delicious, but the portion is a wee bit big for him, although he would probably disagree.
It would seem that when eating out with a toddler Italian is a pretty safe bet.
Anyone that knows me knows that this topic is an ongoing bug bear of mine, but I don’t think I have the influence of Jamie Oliver to do anything on a grand scale, so maybe us mums out there can pull together and change one restaurant at a time.