The Foodie Tot and I attended the Cookie + Gourmet Kids’ Restaurant Week kick-off at Eastern Market on Saturday, catching the fun cooking demos with Zola‘s Chef Greg Lloyd and Firefly‘s Chef Danny Bortnick and son. I know the vendors and businesses aren’t exactly thrilled with the 7th Street closure at the market, but the open promenade was a great platform for the event and made it easier to roam the market with kids. Anyone who’s attempted to navigate Dupont Circle’s summer market with a stroller can appreciate the advantages of a market with a little breathing room.
There was a full audience of kids watching the cooking demonstration when we arrived, while parents snatched up the reusable shopping totes and sipped lemonade. Zola’s four-cheese fusili, with a choice of mix-ins ranging from chicken, shrimp and bacon to mushrooms and broccoli – was quite a hit.
Chef Danny Bortnick’s three-year-old son Jonah was an adorable sous chef and clearly a crowd favorite. Their tough naptime time slot (1pm) saw a smaller audience, but those who remained seemed to enjoy the sweet banana bread. My son was impressed that another “kid like me” made the bread.
(Note: While Eastern Market’s temporary hall is closed this weekend for the move back into the newly-renovated building, the outdoor food/craft vendors will be open as usual this weekend, June 20-21.)
We chose Art and Soul on Capitol Hill for our dinner out, making a reservation for the first seating on Monday night in hopes of there being a smaller audience in case of any mishaps. Armed with a new sticker book, we settled into a cozy white booth. The boy had announced on the way that he wanted milk and salad for dinner (making that the first time in his life he’s actually asked for salad) so we were nervous when we ordered the crunchy macaroni bites as his first course. He heard us ask about the ravioli on the parents’ menu and decided he wanted that; strike two as the kids’ menu offered only unfried chicken or a turkey burger. He was initially unimpressed by the fried macaroni and instead slurped up the husband’s asparagus soup with morels when dad stepped out to take a call. Any smugness I might have been feeling quickly evaporated when the turkey burger arrived with a side of peas and baby carrots, and the boy cried, “Where are my fries?!” A side order of fries later, and the boy happily ate a fair amount of his burger, veggies, and the insides of the fried macaroni balls.
The parents’ menu options were not the most exciting choices from the full menu, but the asparagus soup was excellent and my crispy fried trout was moist and flavorful, topped with rhubarb vinaigrette, a hearty dose of dill and a mountain of fresh spring vegetables. “Baby cakes” for dessert won the boy’s approval, the husband went for the chocolate meringue, and I enjoyed hot doughnuts with blueberry sauce. The dining room was full of families taking advantage of the designated kids hours, and while there were a few signs the restaurant is not accustomed to serving little ones (full-size glasses filled to the brim with milk, leisurely service) overall it was not too traumatic an experience. Maybe not as relaxing as a grown-up-only date night, but at $2 for a 3-course kids meal and no babysitting expense, it was a nice family treat. I hope Kids’ Restaurant Week becomes an annual tradition, as we’re sure to take more advantage of it as the boy gets older. And it’s not too late to make a reservation — the event continues through Sunday and a quick check on Open Table shows tables still available for this weekend. (Elsewhere, Kids’ Restaurant Week kicks off June 20 in NYC and Chicago.)
Speaking of family fun, DC’s hometown ice cream shop Gifford’s is offering free ice cream sundaes this Sunday, June 21st, in honor of the first day of summer (and the premiere of the film (500) Days of Summer) – to the first 500 people beginning at 12:00 noon at the downtown (E & 10th NW), Bethesda, Chevy Chase or Hyattsville locations.