Pro Tips for Getting Kids to Enjoy Fine Dining
All photos credit: The Bold Italic
"It tastes like a Tinker Bell popsicle," said four-year-old Lyla Hogan.
The dish in question was on the menu at Thomas Keller’s renowned modern Californian eatery The French Laundry. It was actually not listed as a ”fairy popsicle,” but rather as a dainty “summer melon soup.” And this was little Lyla’s way of giving this, her favorite of the meal, four stars.
The Bold Italic's hilarious photo series “A Four-Year-Old Reviews the…" is the work of Isla Bell Murray and Jessica Saia, a designer and visual producer respectively at the magazine who wondered: How would a tot react to luxury dishes at some of the country’s finest (and priciest) restaurants?
Since the series launched more than a year ago, a handful of lucky kiddos have tucked into meals at some of the ritziest restaurants in California, including Yountville’s The French Laundry, San Francisco’s Mission Chinese Food, State Bird Provisions, and AQ, and Ume (formerly Plum) in Oakland.
Along the way, the two learned a thing or two about getting kids excited about eating adventurously. Here are their pro tips and hilarious snapshots.
"It takes kids a while to warm up to being in a fancy restaurant," Murray said. "At first, they’re a little shy, but consistently everyone has gotten into it." She suggested being patient with a squirmy kiddo, and not pushing a resistant one to eat something she doesn’t like.
"Whenever a kid gets overwhelmed and just doesn’t want to try stuff, we backed off and just were like, ‘We’re just going sit and enjoy ours,’" Murray said. "Then kids just get curious and want to try it."
Sometimes a child’s nemesis is texture, not taste: “I think all except maybe one kid started sobbing when they tried pork belly,” Saia recalled.
A certain creepy-looking type of seafood was also a non-starter for several: “They don’t like anything with tentacles!” Murray said. “I think that might be a visual thing.”
If all else fails, reach for the bread bowl. “They all really loved bread,” Murray said (although eating whole baskets of it might miss the point of fine dining). Still, consider employing bread as a vehicle for other foods, such as caviar or foie gras.