In a time when restaurants are in the news for banning kids from their dining rooms, one Chicago-area eatery is making it clear that not only are kids welcome, but they're special, too.
Jerry's Restaurant in Winnetka isn't your typical tot-friendly spot. The upscale bistro features seasonal offerings like Chilean sea bass and coconut shrimp on its constantly changing menu. But on Tuesdays between 5 and 6:30 p.m., Jerry's offers the "Kids Are Special" promotion, which provides a sophisticated dining experience parents can enjoy with their children.
In the three years since the restaurant opened, owner Betsy Simson has noticed an increase in the number of kids interested in gourmet food-and in parents who want to introduce their kids to refined fare from an early age.
Plus, this is the type of place where the general manager shows off pictures of his grandkids while showing you to your table, making the child-friendly promotion a natural fit.
But even on Tuesdays, there's not a plate of mac and cheese or a hot dog to be found. Instead, the menu focuses on kid-sized portions of gourmet food, such as green and white fettucine with spring peas, prosciutto and parmesan crème, or a crispy veggie spring roll with sweet chili dipping sauce.
And of course, don't forget some molten chocolate cake for dessert.
With very small children, the best bet in warmer temps might be sitting at one of the picturesque outdoor tables to take in the world as it goes by-and stretch little legs while waiting for the food to arrive. Mini-foodies, on the other hand, will enjoy the indoor opportunity to watch the chefs work their magic in the open kitchen.
If you're looking for the regular "kids meal," Jerry's isn't it. There's no menu with a maze or cartoon characters and your food won't magically appear in 10 minutes or less.
But for parents who want to enjoy a nice meal with their little ones, it's a very welcome alternative to "no kids allowed."
Elizabeth Diffin is the associate editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.