One of my New Year's resolutions is to begin dining out like a normal adult again-whether we have a babysitter lined up or not. In other words, my husband and I won't choose restaurants based on the kids' menu, but rather on where we want to eat-and our 5-year-old twins will have to deal with it.
Sound determined, don't I? The truth is I was slightly panicked as we approached The Atwood Café downtown for our 5:30 p.m. reservation. When I peeked in the window and spotted not a single kid, but plenty of adults sipping peacefully on their cocktails, I almost backed out. My children are not known for their quiet demeanors or impeccable manners, so I pictured them causing a ruckus as we received nasty glares from other patrons who managed to escape their own children for the evening-and didn't want to deal with mine.
The good news: my girls rose to the occasion, slightly enthralled with this "fancy" venue where their juice came in lovely (and quite breakable) round glasses. The even better news: our meal was delightful, the server completely understanding that our kids might get antsy and brought out their meals as soon as they were ready, not waiting for our sirloin steaks-perfectly prepared with polenta, mushroom and onion-to come out.
There is, in fact, an Atwood Café kids' menu, aptly named "The Grownup Children's Menu," which includes items like pasta, mini-burgers and chicken tenders. Kids' meals are $12 and include a drink and a choice of ice cream or sorbet for dessert.
For adults, the entrée choices are diverse and adventurous. Rabbit scallopini and hen are main course options along with more conventional choices like pork, mackerel, red snapper and a not-to-be-missed barley risotto adorned with radish, peas, mushroom and parmesan.
Upon finishing our steaks with a nice glass of pinot noir as the girls amicably bantered about school, a woman sitting nearby leaned over and complimented my daughters on (gasp!) their impressive behavior. I usually don't stick to my New Year's resolutions but maybe this new dining out philosophy is the charm.
Linda made it a goal to try out every kid-friendly venue in Chicago, which she chronicles in her Chicago Parent Good-to-Go column.
See more of Linda's stories here.