Parents who struggle to reconcile their dinner plans with those of their children might have an easier time next week, when Collingswood businesses offer a restaurant deal exclusively for children.
“We wanted to do something where the kids were the focus,” said Chef Mark Smith of the Tortilla Press, who credits his wife, Lydia Cipriani, with the idea.
“What if we did a little prix fixe menu for kids and tried to make it fun, and helped to introduce them to our cuisine?”
From Sunday to Friday (September 21-27), six restaurants in town—Benny's Burger Joint, Casona, Indiya, The Pop Shop, Tortilla Press, and Villa Barone—will offer a three-course, $10-12 meal for diners 12 and younger.
Out-of-towners joining in are Smith's Tortilla Press satellite location in Merchantville and Norma’s Mediterrean Restaurant in Cherry Hill.
Many of the featured dishes are scaled-back versions of regular menu items typically available from the participating kitchens, Smith said, with a focus on fresh or minimally processed ingredients.
For example, his tres taco platter, which appears on the kids restaurant week menu at Tortilla Press, includes three "mini-sized" corn tortillas, filled with beans and cheese, beef, or pulled chicken.
Casona is offering a citrus-marinated pulled pork over rice with sweet plantains, a gluten-free dish that also appears on the regular menu, said Anna Clemency.
The vegetarian macaroni and cheese dish from Benny's Burger Joint has a foot in both worlds, with spinach, mushrooms, and garden tomatoes over a real-cheese-and-pasta-shells base.
In addition to providing fresh and local ingredients, said Pop Shop owner Bill Fisher said, restaurants are increasingly called upon to accommodate a growing number of dietary issues, from allergies to childhood obesity.
But while they're trying to get their kids to eat healthfully, he said, parents often are also simply trying to get them to eat.
“As a parent myself, I’m sick and tired of my kids eating nothing but crap,” he said. “I see a lot of celery and carrot requests, fresh fruit requests, as side dishes as opposed to the fries.”
Smith, a farm-fresh ingredient advocate, said his tacos are seasoned with a fresh spice mix he makes, not a pre-packaged product. Fisher said the fry oil at The Pop Shop is changed three times a week. Capasso bakes his own potato chips.
"We’re keeping things as healthy as possible," Fisher said.
Preview some of the kids restaurant week dishes in the video above. Check back with Patch for menus as they become available.