Some more, please: How to eat out with a toddler

2010-09-09 07:39

Eating out with toddlers is a bit like an extreme sport – exhausting, and dangerous enough to give you a buzz you need days to recover from.

Gone are the days of leisurely three-course dinners with wine and witty conversation. But I refuse to end up eating in places that serve everything with chips and barbecue sauce either.

So that we didn’t have to give up eating out entirely we developed a game-plan for eating out with the pint-sized marauder.

Most of the middle-of-the-range restaurants nearby open at 6pm. So we arrive before anyone else and are gone before the serious diners start coming in from 7pm.

We don’t dilly dally about what to eat – we try and know before we get there (more or less).

The other option is to send one member of your foraging party ahead to order the food, give the chef a chance to get cooking and arrive with the toddler mere minutes before the food is served.

Most important is to get a selection of everything that everyone’s having onto a plate in front of the toddler – this distracts her from trying to escape from her portable high chair.

The big plus is that you get your child to try different tastes – at the delicious Indian up the road (the best in Joburg – Mantra), my daughter now applauds when she sees her naan bread and paneer curry arriving. Similarly, at the local tapas restaurant she woofs back everything from chorizo to Spanish omelette with gusto.

At the Chinese she tries to get whole dumpings in her mouth at once and eats noodles one by one with her hands.

To keep the restaurant owners happy, I try and clean up the mess and give a big tip to cover the rest, this takes the sting out the inevitable need to change the table cloth.

So, we usually have mild indigestion from eating faster than a champion hot-dog eater from Texas, but it’s still better than eating tasteless processed food at some so-called family restaurant.

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