Sunday, August 14, 2011

Moving to a new home!

Foodie Baby is moving! check out it's new home on under the category Foodie Baby, you will see all of the past posts here.
This blog will stay open for a while longer.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Soup Plantation in San Bernardino, CA

Foodie Baby

My Grandma wheeled me down the salad bar in this cool chair that leans back and buckles (I didn't get buckled, haha!) and I got to see all of the food I could eat.
It made me really happy to see my options and anything I expressed excitement about, my mom put it on the plate.
I ate beets for the first time, and they were so good it was the first thing I finished on my plate.
And the only thing, but that's because I filled up on apple juice.


I dig Soup Plantation for having a varied enough menu anyone could be happy eating there.  They have seasonal offerings and if you sign up for the emails you get coupons, which are a good deal.
Soup Plantation and Sweet Tomatoes, I guess, are the same thing, but I've never been in a ST to make sure.
Do they have those in SoCal?
Kids three and under are free, which made Foodie Baby's plate (he hardly ate) completely free. Of course, he got a boxed apple juice, which wasn't (bring a sippy to make it a free meal).
The salad bar has a variety of everything, including kid-friendly pastas, baked potatoes and of course lots of vegetables. This could be a good change to try to sneak something new o a plate and see if they will try it without preparing it at home. A lot of the vegetables are already cut up small, perfect for finger food. (Try stuff like peas, beets and raisins.)
If you had a small one, you could navigate the line by yourself pushing the aforementioned seat with you. With Foodie Baby, I would have been very slow if it had just been the two of us- I was holding up the line just building our two plates! So definitely, try to have a second adult with you to share the load.

I would also suggest not going at peak dining hours- the office desk crowd comes in droves at lunchtime, an early or late lunch would be a better and easier choice.
The staff if helpful, although when its busy it's harder to flag them down. The first time I cam I had someone carry my tray for me (I was holding Foodie Baby) and then go get a highchair for me while I waited at the table.
 again, during the lunch rush it would be hard to get the extra help.
They have very small ice cream cones so a dollop of soft serve in a cone is a special treat! I smear a little on the top- Foodie Baby enjoys eating the cone just as much as the soft-serve vanilla.

ChecklistChanging table in bathroom
Wooden high chairs available, some places could accommodate a stroller
Seating is tables and booths
Kid's pricing for salad bar- under three gets a free meal
Variety of drinks available including juices, milk and a self-serve soda fountain

Monday, June 13, 2011

Crayons at restaurants

Foodie Baby

Restaurant crayons are the best. First, they are usually brand new. All the better to nibble on.
Oh, come on, admit it. You eat them too. I prefer blue- that lovely, gritty... blue flavor.

And the kids menus? Always a great place to color. I like to color over all of the words rather than the coloring page part- that is boring.
My Mommy took me to Macaroni Grill today just so she could have some of their blackberry mint tea.
Wow, a whole table as a coloring page! I went crazy. Brown here, blue there. Black framing everything- I totally channeled Jackson Pollock.

Do you like to color at restaurants?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Tartan of Redlands


OK, this isn't going to be your usual restaurant experience, because this restaurant has a long history with me. And this chapter of the story is hilarious.
The Tartan, when I was young, was dark. You could still smoke in restaurants, and the restaurant was an adult-only institution I was banned from until I was grown... hence, I didn't go in it until I was 21.
And when I went, I felt so grown up and mature, transported in to a world where I was old-school cool.

The rules have changed since then, and now the dark adult-only restaurant is a little bit brighter inside, a little less smoky, and has a children's menu and high chairs.

My cousin came through town for a wedding last weekend, and mentioned she had never been, she herself having the same rules imposed on her I mentioned the injustice to my grandma, who set up a quick dinner there with we, my husband and parents, and of course Foodie Baby.

I checked the website online and was honestly surprised to see the kid's menu on there. Grilled cheese, chicken fingers, shrimp and hot dog, all with fries.

Considering the Tartan is a burger-and-steakhouse kind of joint (the word joint certainly applies in the description of the 40-year-old restaurant) I really hadn't expected more, and decided on the chicken strips and fries before we even went.

I called ahead and made sure there were high chairs, mentioned the 'injustice' I was served as a child for never getting to eat there, and warned the laughing waitress about my son's imminent arrival.
Because I was incredulous that they were actually prepared for a toddler.

Foodie Baby sat on the edge of a table in his high chair in the center of the Friday night crowd of middle-aged diners and one other family, both children much older.

Foodie Baby, being the jolly fellow he was, cheered, crowd and played with cars while waiting for his food. Much to other diners' consternation.
Yes, my son consernated other people.
When he squealed, several diners glared, much to my amusement. He often cheered for the baseball game which was on over the bar (I forget who was playing, but it never matters to him).
Several came and greeted my grandmother and other family (we're cool that way) and were noticed to have glared at my son while they walked up or away.
I figured that it must be the same as for a family to walk into a really nice, quiet restaurant and have the kids breaking up every one else's peaceful adult time.

Except this place wasn't quiet.

But we did break up the adult time.

The large cushioned wheeled chairs at the tables are hard to work around with a high chair right next to you, so picking up lost toys was a bit of an effort.
Foodie Baby loved his fries and chicken strips, which came with ranch sauce. We had a choice of orange juice, cranberry juice, or (I think) pineapple, so Foodie Baby got an adult glass of OJ (good thing I ALWAYS try to bring a sippy. Be prepared, people).
The waitress was awesome, the conversation hilarious ("Look see, she's glaring again," *giggle*) and my orange roughy delicious! (I went fancy, I also recommend the burgers.)

But, for kids this small, the Tartan is not quite a place to bring them. Leave the kids at home and enjoy a good burger and some old-school vibe at dinner (and the zucchini.)
Unless you want to piss of the regulars.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

What WON'T you feed your kid?

Usually on this blog I talk about options on this blog that kid will eat- the not-as-messy options, the sneaky a la carte options, the perennial grilled cheese that is everyone's favorite.
But there is a trend on many kid's menus, including the ones mentioned here. I've talked about my philosophy before here, that going out is a treat and Foodie Baby can have whatever he (or Daddy or another family member) wants to offer him, within reason. 
But with certainty, many restaurant kid's menu's offer fried, breaded, sugary options that may not be the same healthy options tried to serve at home.
I'm not going to say it is wrong for restaurants to offer these, and I'm not going to say that every restaurant offers a bad option) or a few.
The question today is,

Is there anything you will not allow your child to order?

We're not talking allergies, that is a completely different matter.

We're talking the meals or options you won't let your toddler eat when out.

Perhaps you won't let them have juice, only milk or water. Perhaps no fries? Perhaps no butter on the grilled cheese (a personal favorite, we'll talk about that some other time).

Let's talk. What is on the forbidden menu?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fork, spork, spoon... moon?

Foodie Baby

Have you SEEN the size of those forks at restaurants? Yeah.
My buddy Noah likes to use them... not me. They're all big and pokey. Mommy usually brings utensils for me to use since the ones at restaurants are so big.
Sometimes they are pink. Sooo embarrassing.


I always have a spoon and fork in Foodie Baby's diaper bag. Regular-sized forks poke the sides of his mouth and when we are out and I want to take any opportunity to get him to use a utensil (lasagna is not exactly finger food.)
I bought Foodie Baby a set much like this- wide plastic utensils in a variety of colors- in the dollar section at Target.
If you are bringing food, hopefully you are remembering utensils to go with that food (a spoon for a jar of baby food or to eat mashed potatoes and applesauce).

I'm kind of in love with this spork(?) a fork on one side, a spoon on the other.

But I also see the down sides. a spoonful of applesauce could quickly be blindsided by some green beans and wham! your little ones is flinging food all over trying to use their utensil.

My personal favorite is one that was a first birthday gift (and currently lost) Instead of being wide and dull, they are like small versions of normal silverware. Since they are narrow, Foodie Baby doesn't stab his mouth (although he has poked a friend trying to feed them!) The closest I could find it this.

I also pack extra ones often for when Foodie Baby throws it on the floor!

The question for you- what utensils do you keep in the diaper bag? Why did you pick them?

And why do they make (dull) knives for babies?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Famous Dave's in Redlands

Foodie Baby

I am passionate about ketchup right now. Famous Dave's had it. I was happy!
This was the first time where I remember Mommy and Daddy's fingers getting as messy as mine. In fact, I think Mommy got even more messy than I did- she had ribs and squirted a whole lot of sauce to dip them in.


Famous Dave's is a messy, messy place to eat, especially if you are like me and order ribs every time (with the sweet and zesty sauce, please).
They have a whole roll of paper towels (aka napkins) on the table.
My first recommendation, if you don't already carry wipes in your bag all of the time, is to walk over to the to-go ordering and grab a handful of the little wipes.
Every once in a while I replenish my diaper-bag stash. I love the lemony scent.
Leave the stroller behind- the rooms are mostly booths with tables in the center.
The rooms are bright and the tablecloths red-checkered. Foodie Baby was entertained every time someone came by cheering "Feast! Feast!" (If you order a 'feast' they announce it as they bring it.)
The kid's menu ranges from about $4-5 and includes a roasted or bbq piece of chicken, chicken tenders, chopped pork sandwich, mac n' cheese, burger or cheeseburger, rib dinner or mini corn dogs.
Sides include potato salad, coleslaw (has a kick to it) fries, baked beans, dunkin' apples (so good) broccoli, garlic red-skin mashed potatoes, or carrots and celery.
I took and hid his dessert, a package of two Oreo cookies, before he could demand to eat those first. He enjoyed them later at home, having found them in his accidentally-not-zipped diaper bag.
We ordered the mini corn dogs thinking Foodie Baby, who had demolished a hot dog at an Angels game, would love it. Instead, he tore off the breading, leaving some sad little dogs behind, and dipped them and his french fries onto ketchup (in the barbecue sauce tray).
He also ate a hunk of Daddy's Dr. Pepper Glaze-On Brisket (part of a spacial going on now that also has blackberry sauce'd ribs and lettuce wraps).
When we went, the restaurant was pleasantly busy but our food took longer than anyone had expected. Our lovely waitress showed up unexpectedly with some hand-made potato chips, which kept Foodie Baby occupied until his meal came.
Adult meals can offer a lot, including a corn on the cob and cornbread muffin, so take those in mind when thinking of a meal for a little one- a little cornbread and broccoli could make enough of a meal for someone eating finger foods.
If someone has a birthday, let them know! I die for the praline-topped ice cream.
Also, they have a date once a year where anyone named Dave (David, etc) get a free meal, among other deals, and have a birthday sign-up.

Have I mentioned Famous Dave's carries sweet tea?

Changing table in bathroom
Wooden high chairs available
Seating is tables and booths
Kids menu available
Drinks include, cranberry, orange or pineapple juice, milk or fountain drink

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Spaghetti Factory in Redlands

Foodie Baby

Wow, they have a great ceiling here. It has fans AND lights. It's amazing.


Being a veteran of the Old Spaghetti Factory in Riverside, it took me forever to make it to Redlands'. It was a group outing this time with Mommy, Daddy, Foodie Baby and a set of grandparents.
I live for the cherry Italian sodas there. The best ever. I have a small collection of the glasses that come with it.

The restaurant is spacious with enough noise to cover a happy toddler, but not one who has found out they slightly echo when they cheer. We sat right by the trolley, which Foodie Baby didn't really notice till we were leaving.  He did try to watch a basketball game while we were seated. He likes to cheer. For anything, really.

The kid's menu comes folded with a set of crackers, crayons and a wipe inside, perfect for an antsy toddler with a taste for coloring (or at least crayons). Foodie Baby got the crackers instantly.
Spaghetti Factory was named Parents Magazine's 10 best family restaurants in 2008.
The waitress was considerate of the toddler, who was put on a table that seated 4 people (somehow, still enough room even though he, Daddy and I should have been bumping elbows- the tables are nice and roomy).

The kid's menu includes several versions of spaghetti, fettuccine alfredo, ravioli, mac n' cheese, and the perennial grilled cheese sandwich. Meals come with salad or applesauce and a dessert and a beverage for $5.25.

Spaghetti Factory also offers whole what pasta and a gluten-fee menu that includes kid's items.
Foodie Baby got applesauce as his first course, and devoured it.
This was Foodie Baby's first forage in pasta aside from at home (namely, because red sauce is so messy!). I ordered him a spaghetti with meat sauce and left it in their hands for the amount of sauce, which was just the same as I put on his spaghetti at home. The pasta was uncut, so I tried to attack it with a knife to make it smaller pieces.
The big heavy bowl had cute child-friendly decorations on it.
The spaghetti is a portion meant for an older child- I took home almost all of it, since Foodie Baby wasn't very hungry and filled up on said applesauce and crackers. What he did eat, he ate with his fingers.

Foodie Baby didn't even finish the spumoni that came with his dinner (other choices include vanilla ice cream or. a juice bar) though he grew quite excited at the tiny scoop of chocolate, pistachio and cherry ice cream in the small bowl (same size as we adults got with our meal).
My marinara-covered spaghetti with a meatball side was good, but the meatballs might be too spicy for a little one to nibble on.

The Old Spaghetti Factory has a kid's club that allows a free kids meal on their birthday.
The Redlands location also offers call-ahead seating- call after 5, up to an hour before you plan on dining, to find out the wait time and put your name on the list. Perfect for having to plan for a child that is fine one minute, starving and crying the next.

Changing table in bathroom
Wooden high chairs available
Seating is booths and tables, leave stroller behind
Kids menu
Kids drinks includes fountain drinks, apple juice and milk

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cuca's in Redlands/Mentone

Foodie Baby

The first time I went to Cuca's, Mommy and Daddy were hungry and desparate for some good food. I cried in my seat so much they had to change their order to go.
The next time was great- I had an enchilada and loved it!
Then there was the time I feel asleep over my quesadilla and Daddy had to eat with one arm because his shoulder was sooo comfortable, and the time I left some artwork on the wall.
Last time they ate at Cuca's, they left me home.


Cuca's in Mentone is the second of a now chain of restaurants that began with the walk-up location on State Street in Redlands.
Nearby Redlands High School used to have open campus for lunch and that place would be crazy busy from the students running over there to snag a burrito.
My closest location is in the Stater Bros. shopping center on the corner of Lugonia/Mentone Blvd and Wabash.
Everyone I know calls it the Mentone Stater Bros. and the Mentone Cuca's even though it's technically across the street from Mentone.

The menu is your typical Mexican place for around here... refried beans and rice for sides, sopes, taquitos, tacos and burritos.
We've taken Foodie Baby several times.
They bring you a dish of tortilla chips and salsa for while you wait- we let Foodie baby have a taste of the salsa since he was begging for it- it can get pretty hot, so he's usually fine with a tortilla chip to nibble on.
I invariably get a huge dollop of salsa that is spicy and then remember there are no drinks yet, so I usually wait till I have a beverage before digging in just in case.

The kid's meals are $5.49 and include a side of beans and rice of fries. You can order a taco, quesadilla, bean and cheese burrito, hamburger, enchilada or chicken strips. I ordered an apple juice with Foodie Baby's quesadilla, which he promptly fell asleep over.
He enjoyed it for lunch the next day.

I also have ordered off of the sides menu for Foodie Baby. An enchilada, side of beans or other options can be just the right amount of food for a toddler, especially once that isn't very hungry. His cheese enchilada was dollars cheaper than a kid's meal he would not have finished, and I had water besides.
A more beginning eater could just enjoy some of the beans and rice off of your plate.
Kids eat for free on Mondays at Cuca's- one kid meal per adult entree. The kid's menu also comes with a 50% off coupon for a kid's meal when an adult entree is bought so you can also find a deal on your next visit there.

Cuca's has multiple locations, including the walk-up on State Street and a new one at the shopping center on the corner of California Street and Barton Road in Loma Linda.

One note of advice- skip looking at the website for actual menu information and just try a location (addresses are found on the website). I couldn't find any information on stuff I had actually eaten there.

No changing table
Wooden high chairs available
Seating is booths and tables, a small stroller might be accommodated in select areas
Kids menu
Kids drinks includes fountain drinks and apple juice

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A horror story for a child in a white shirt.

You've ordered the food, and sip on an iced tea while a wiggly someone played with a toy brought from home.
Stood up and retrieved the toy from under the next table over, only slightly embarrassed because it's happened before.
Someone has grabbed a knife, thrown a crayon.

The elderly couple next to you smile and wave your little one, the waitress compliments them.
You give them bread to nibble, or a Mum-Mum cracker to entertain them just a little while longer.

The food comes.
You're hungry.
You fight the urge to pick up your own fork and begin organizing your child's meal. Cut it into smaller bites, pull out an applesauce and spoon.

One thing is missing.

Silly, we forgot the bib, you say.
You reach down into your bag, and...

There's no bib.

What do you do?

We've all been in this scenario... have you found a way to work it?
Ask for extra napkins and use them to create a temporary fortress, hoping to protect the shirt from the carnage of a meal?
Do you have a special way to fold it so it doesn't bother your little one?
Or do you just deem that shirt a casualty of the dinner war?
Turn a shirt around?
Maybe you luckily have a bib in the car?
Another shirt?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Jason's Deli in Riverside, CA

Foodie Baby

As you can tell from previous post, I am quite the grilled cheese connoisseur.
Whatever a connoisseur is.
This place make the best! I danced in my seat when I ate it, making the wheels on the high chair scoot away from the table. It was fun!
There's also little ice cream cones here. I ate all of my vanilla soft serve and finished the cone, or as my buddy would say, my 'ice cream and cookie'.


After going over the top family restaurants again I had a craving for Jason's Deli, so I went with a mommy friend and her son during a play date. The only one in California sits on the Moreno Valley/Riverside border in a large shopping area.
Jason's touts an healthy menu of sandwiches, soups, salads and wraps and has a salad bar with organic options.
I love getting the salad bar, which has a variety of veggies, dressings, and other items like tuna pasta and three-bean salad.
And the french onion soup- adding a cup of soup to the salad bar is only 99 cents.
The kid's menu has a variety of options, mostly standards like various sandwiches, mac n' cheese, and pizza, and as with the rest of the menu, vegetarian menu items are marked.
Both the Kidwich and J.D Pickle menus include the options of organic apple juice, organic milk or chocolate milk or a fountain drink in a sturdy plastic cup. The Kidwich menu items also come with organic apples, organic carrots, fresh fruit, chips or a pickle.
There is also a salad bar option on the kid's menu, which could be good for someone who would like a lunch of grape tomatoes, uncooked vegetables like broccoli, cucumber and carrots, edemame, dressing, and pudding (we cheated and brought a couple things from the salad bar to the table. The crackers were perfect for keeping the two toddlers entertained while waiting for their meals.)
Foodie Baby wasn't into the red pepper hummus, but his friend really enjoyed a bite of chocolate mousse and both boys enjoyed gingerbread muffins from our plates.
When the boys' food came there were extra napkins next to the plates- a must- and plates were cleared for us occasionally (we got second helpings at the salad bar.
There is a self-serve soft serve station, and the boys both enjoyed a touch of vanilla on cake cones while we had bowls with chocolate sauce.
The iced tea selection boasted four different kinds including black currant and melon pomegranate green tea.
 To the left- a Kidwich grilled cheese on whole wheat bread with a fruit side. Foodie Baby has already grabbed the first piece.
Below is a box of apple juice and a cheese pizza off of the J.D. Pickle menu.
Jason's Deli is also special because it has a gluten-free menu, including a grilled cheese on gluten-free bread (more expensive than traditional menu grilled cheese).
To navigate Jason's might require more than one adult, depending on what you order. Since I went with another adult, we both went through the cafeteria-style line together and then picked a table, taking turns hitting the salad bar while the boys chugged their juices and eagerly awaited their lunches.
Everything but the salad bar can be brought to table- you get a number to place at your table for someone to bring the food on a tray.
The room is a large cafeteria-style room with tables that seat four to sic and booths that line the room.
The highchairs are strong molded plastic with wheels- they could be hard to navigate in the crowded room (even at lunchtime, I haven't seen one yet) but are a breeze around the sides and the booth seating. A stroller could also be accommodated at the tables on the sides of the room.
The employees are busy but friendly, helpful with menu questions and greeting young children (I had one stand and talk about her son with me on her break when I had eaten at Jason's before with Foodie Baby).
Jason's Deli also offers pickup ordering and catering.

Changing table in the restroom
Molded plastic high chairs with wheels available
Most of seating is tables and chairs, strollers can be accommodated in some areas.
Kid's menu and gluten-free options available
Kid's menu items come with choice of organic milk or chocolate milk, organic apple juice or a fountain drink in children's cup

Friday, April 15, 2011

Strawlution winner!

First, another story about the straw's awesome powers, and my kid's random tastebuds.

I went to Jamba Juice yesterday and, because I rarely think things through to the end when making an impulse decision, I chose the new berries and beet fruit and veggies smoothie (there's two other flavors as well).
Yeah, Foodie Baby's in a new shirt and I got a berries and beet smoothie.
I thought for sure that it was going to be stained, but since I didn't notice how deeply red the smoothie was until I was picking it up and Foodie Baby was escaping out the front door, I had no choice.
Luckily, I had a spare lidded cup with a Strawlution straw in it, so I just dumped some of the smoothie in my cup and prayed.
Foodie Baby didn't get a drop on him and he drank two cups!
I on the other hand, took a sip, decided the lady was silly for suggesting it tasted like pomegranate (if pomegranates had a definite beet taste) and declared Foodie Baby more adventurous than me for the time being.

back to business...

The winner of the Strawlution giveaway is Lara!
And I loved her silly straw idea...
My dream silly straw would be a dolphin one with a butterfly on the nose of the dolphin. :)
Of course, I also loved the monkey with googly eyes (because that makes everything rock!) and the cute puppy (who doesn't love a puppy) and the backhoe (that would work really good for a root beer float, I would think!)
Someone get the patents going!

Remember, if you're local, a pack of ten is at Kissui for $7, and they have multiple colors! Perfect for shoving in an Easter basket (what kid doesn't get excited over straws!)

Thank you everyone who entered!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Parent's magazine top ten family restaurant for 2010

I read Parents magazine's 2011 list of top restaurants for families with relish.

Well, not relish. I don't like relish.

 (from Parents magazine's website)
Parents analyzed the calories, fat, saturated fat, and sodium on both the kids' and adult menus of more than 150 national restaurant chains. For the places with the most healthy options, we also scrutinized the quality of the ingredients such as whether there was organic milk or antibiotic-free chicken. Then we considered conveniences like call-ahead seating, online ordering, crayons to keep kids busy, and high chairs and boosters.

To my disappointment, not all of the restaurants are local, but most of them are...
Here's the ones that Foodie Baby and I have checked out, written about, or just want to go to.

Jason's Deli

There is only ONE Jason's Deli in California and it is less than a half-hour away on the borer of Moreno Valley and Riverside.

 I've been to Jason's Deli several times, but only once with Foodie Baby being able to partake in some of the menu, so I have as yet to do a post on the Jason's Deli.
The last time I ate there I gave Foodie Baby items off my salad bar plate as well as the snacks I had packed him (impromptu trip) but the portabello mushroom wrap is my favorite item on the menu right now.

The Souplantation on Hospitality Lane in San Bernardino is another place where Foodie Baby has eaten off of my salad bar plate.

When he was small, I was thrilled to discover car seat-style seats that rolled along as you picked out your items from the bar, letting a baby see what you're doing and making it more manageable than a car seat. Regrettably I've forgotten how big of a child they hold, but I'm sure a small toddler could fit.

For a Souplantation trip I recommend having more than one adult around for a small one- you still have to juggle a tray and seating after you pay, but I had a very helpful employee wank my stuff to a table for me before.

We haven't been to the Hospitality lane Red Lobster for a long time either, but Foodie Baby has had a kid's menu meal at another location and they give a sturdy lidded kid's cup with the meal He also had a helpful employee let him interact with a lobster (this was months ago, I'd love to see what he would do with one now!)

I haven't been to a Chipotle in a million years- there was a time where I happily got a burrito and ate it for 2 meals straight (anything a thousand calories needed that treatment!)

Mexican is an easy pic for Foodie Baby (as long as it isn't really spicy) and their kid's meals are free until May 1 on Saturdays and Sundays with select adult purchases

I avoid Red Robin for some personal reasons but know several people that love their burgers! You can get a balloon on the way out of the Lugonia Ave. location- we all know how cool a balloon is!

I was going to write one about Mimi's after a not-so-great experience but hesitated when I saw they were on the list. Sadly, many of the things they mention in the Parents article didn't happen (they even brought everyone else's drinks and left Foodie Baby's for last!) so I decided to give them one more chance.
If you have a light eater a muffin may be all you need there, although Foodie Baby did enjoy his chicken and veggies plate.

I've written about Panera Bread before and we love it. I recommend it, especially to eat the mac n' cheese.

The closest P.F.Chang's is in Riverside at the Galleria at Tyler but Foodie Baby hasn't eaten there yet. Like my beloved Thai places in town, it encourages family eating, so if you have an adventurous eater, they may be happy sharing a plate with you.

Do you agree that these places are the child friendliest?
Have you had any experiences at one?
Do you have a restaurant you would add to your personal 'best of' list?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review and Giveaway- Straw-lution

Foodie Baby

I love to pull out my straws from cups with my teeth. I get bored easily, I guess.
Mommy found a way around it, darn it.


Back in the early days of this blog, I Googled my way around the Internet looking for items that would be of interest to anyone that read this blog (namely, things that would make dining out or mealtime at all easier).
One of the more interesting ones I came across was a straw.
A straw, you say?
I'm sure here is where people are imagining some kind of super silly straw that somehow turns into a spork and makes the food organic and devoured with relish.
I wish.
I found the Straw-lution online and immediately though "Hey, that's cool." I bookmarked it and continued with my hectic life until I finally came across a physical package of the straws at Kissui in Redlands and bought a pack of yellow ones.
I LOVE them.
They are made to be used with packages that are drinkable and come with a plastic or foil top (that can be punched through- think Capri Suns).
They are the same size as the straws that came with Foodie Baby's take-and-toss cups (that I now usually bring to restaurants so he has a guaranteed sturdy drinking cup).
Actually, they are slightly wider- I have to shove the straw through the hole from underneath, and push aside the little teeth that are in the inside.
That can be hard, especially when you have a chewer like Foodie Baby, who likes to chew on things and makes flat ends on straws, making me have to bend it back into a circle to stick in.
One I had to do that a few times to already cracked a little on one end.

To the left is what it looks like in a cup- this is one from Chevy's (an experience I have yet to write about).

The straws are made of thick plastic, and the little things that keep it from going back through a lid are sturdy.
Foodie Baby has picked up his little take and toss cup by his teeth and the lid nor the straw has not come off.

I have tried a variety of options for using the Straw-lution (some are mentioned on the bag), including a yogurt cup.
For the yogurt cup, Foodie Baby ended up making the hole bigger, which made it harder for him to keep the straw still,but it still stayed in the cup.
(See the chewed straw?)
Another aside- this was soy yogurt. Foodie Baby chugged it.

The applesauce was a bigger challenge for Foodie Baby. The regular-sized applesauce cup with a lid was a little harder to poke a hole with, but made it through neatly. The straw, however, was too long to go straight in, so it had to sit at a sharp angle.
Which could be fine unless you're like Foodie Baby and notice how much applesauce is still in the cup you he hasn't gotten yet and gets upset.
To the left is what it looked like afterwards. Foodie Baby was satisfied with the result.
The website says that the straws are BPA-free, so don't worry that the package doesn't.
They come on four colors, yellow, pink, blue and green.
At Kissui they are $6.99 for ten, and I've only pulled three from the packaging so far (one to stay in diaper bag, one is in the utensil caddy after being washed (dishwasher safe!) and one has already gone missing in action.
So there you have it! A proven way to make dining out easier. Restaurant cup? Throw a straw in it. Pack a pudding as a treat? Got a straw for you.
Packing a work lunch? Grab your kid's straw.
Drink a pudding cup as you do errands! (OK, I'm not going to promote driving and eating. Even though I have been known to do it.)

Ready to try some? Run down to Kissui, check out the website and make sure to post a comment telling what YOU thought of Straw-lution!


I have a pick of the yellow Straw-lution straws to give away!

To enter- (please post a comment for each entry)

-Leave a comment describing your dream silly straw (mine would be a unicorn!)
-Like Foodie Baby on Facebook or say you already have
-Follow Foodie Baby on Google or say you already have

Contest ends Thursday, April 14 at midnight and the winner will be announced April 15.

Disclaimer- I purchased both the reviewed product and the giveaway.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Foodie Baby's Mexican tip

Foodie Baby

Growing up, my mommy always mixed up her beans and rice when eating Mexican food. Her friend, who had a Mexican family, teased her for eating it the wrong way. She didn't care- she though beans and rice were delicious together.
I do too! She always mixes my beans and rice for me so I can scoop it all up in my spoon. Yum!


 As long as your child can handle the refried beans and rice they serve, mixing them together makes it easier to eat both.
I've also been to restaurants that serve blank beans and different kinds of rice- I say mash the black beans up and mix them in!
Always taste test if your little one is sensitive to spices- I've been surprised at the spiciness of some rice being served! But putting in beans also helps with that as well.
Beans, rice and cheese can also be scooped in a tortilla to make a little burrito if someone is having fajitas as well.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Coco's Bakery Restaurant in Redlands

Foodie Baby

Coco's was one of the first restaurants that I ate in. I remember getting nibbles of sweet potato fries from Mommy, slurps of milk and a lot of attention from the other people in the restaurant since I was on my best behavior.
Daddy usually gets pretty good-looking food, and so does my uncle. They share the good, greasy, man-breakfast food with me like nibbles of bacon, ham and hash browns and let me pick out pancakes and stuff.


Coco's Bakery Restaurant has been our stop of choice for pie for years (especially when I was pregnant) and the other option besides IHOP for breakfasts on a Sunday morning as a family. In fact, no matter what time of day there's a good chance someone is at least considering the breakfast menu in our crowd.If you go early enough, it is only a few minutes wait, otherwise, the place fills up with the after-church crowd.
The servers are usually very sweet but busy, so sometimes you need to flag someone down, but they will help you out very quickly. My coffee mug is never empty there.
Coco's has a variety of food for anyone and not only good dessert (I'm craving pie as I write this) but a good breakfast menu as well. I've eaten the huge bowl of oatmeal, berries and nuts more than once and really like it. (Oatmeal is only served until 11 a.m.)
If you order a coup, salad, bakery item or a side of something at your meal, be prepared to either fight off a hungry toddler, share, or have packed some fruit snacks. or, try ordering for your little one as fast as possibles they have food then as well.
Their kid's menu has a good variety of sides to go along with their breakfast and lunch/dinner offerings, including rice, veggies and fruit.
The kid's cup is pretty much a paper coffee cup with a hot beverage lid that they give you with  straw. Since the straw is not a perfect fit after you shove it through, I would recommend bringing a sippy cup or a straw cup for a little one with developing cup-and-straw skills- I could see Foodie Baby tilting that sucker back and juice coming out of the hole.
We've been twice for breakfast the last two weeks, and Foodie Baby has gotten the eggs, fruit and toast (or a pancake) both times. The toast comes buttered, which I often forget to ask about when I'm dead tired from tending to a sick kid and a partying (literally, I was cool for a little while) weekend and sit looking dazed into my big mug of coffee. Mmm... pie and coffee...
The pancake is a pretty big one for a toddler, and comes with butter on the top and syrup on the side.
Both times the fruit for Foodie Baby's meal has been cut-up cantaloupe and honeydew, and both times there has been pieces with the rind still on. The pieces have been manageable for Foodie Baby, who likes to shove entire chunks in his mouth, but we still cut up a few to get rid of rinds and have better portion control.
For breakfast, the choices really depend on what you are willing to let your child eat- a treat of pancakes or french toast sticks (with or without the delicious but sticky syrup) look pretty good. There is also an oatmeal and fruit option. I know Foodie baby would love the oatmeal, since he eats it often at home, but I also know what kind of mess he leaves behind in the high chair.
Perhaps spoon feeding some oatmeal and letting a beginner pick up pieces of fruit could be an option? Or waiting till they can eat oatmeal without a bath afterwards (yeah, it can be that bad around here).
 Since Foodie Baby has not had a lunch or dinner at Coco's, I'm not sure what it all looks like. As usual grilled cheese could be a good option. There is also grilled chicken, macaroni and cheese (Kraft) or crunchy chicken strips, that could go well with any side on the menu including mashed potatoes, fries or cinnamon apples.
You could also order off the a la carte menu and stick with toast (including whole wheat and sourdough) and jam, breakfast potatoes or just fruit for breakfast, or veggies, sweet potato and the like for dinner.
They also have bowls of fruit with whipped cream for dessert, so you won't feel as guilty eating your pie.
I wish I had pie.

P.S. Kid's 10 and under eat free at Coco's after 4 pm.m on Tuesdays and Wednesdays! One free kid's meal with each adult meal.
Changing table available
leave the stroller at home, no room- booths and tables
Wood highchairs available
Kid's Meals available
Kid's drinks available- apple and orange juices, milk and soda

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How do you know when it just isn't going to work anymore?

I sat down for lunch yesterday with uncertainty. Even though he had happily ran to the door, Foodie Baby had rubbed his eyes a couple of times on the way to the restaurant.
He happily sat in his highchair, drank water from his sippy and took our offerings of tomatoes to keep him happy (and enjoyed being doused with juice, as I forgot to throw the bib on him before he bit into a juicy cherry tomato half.)
Then, it went downhill.
He chugged from the sippy, then threw it to the floor.
"Uohh" (new word).
His ever-faithful Chuck truck made a few rounds before it too went on the floor.
Then, by the time I got my soup, It had turned into only playing on my lap. Then he wanted down.
Nothing was working.
We ended up pulling the highchair in the quiet dining room (considering other conversations were about babies, no one was minding) and putting him in a chair.
He didn't want his fried rice, he poked at it, took a couple bites, then cried.
Q quick reprieve was made when a food pouch was pulled and he sucked on pureed pears, peas and green beans for a couple of minutes.
Kicked the glass window.
Rubbed his hands all over the glass window.
During a fit I whisked him away to have a talk. First he got to take out a few wiggles on the patio (a better choice for future excursions)
" Are you still hungry?"
"Would you like to go finish your lunch?"
"OK. but you have to sit nicely and eat your lunch so we can sit with Grandma."
I'm sure many people know what a toddler's word can be worth.
Another walk outside with grandma let me scarf down my yellow curry and finish my soup.
A few minutes later, well, he was gone for good.
I checked all over and surveyed the damage. Surprisingly little food on the floor, pouch cap on the floor, long smears on the sparkling glass.
I threw down some money and left, forgetting the fried-rice-to-go I had the waiter package.
because darn it, it's good. He would eat it another day.
The waiter chased me down with the bag as I found Foodie Baby and my mom, who had wandered down the street in his apparent elation.
And then he feel asleep instantly in the car seat.

Yes, Foodie Baby, I guess, I think (this is my first kid, y'all) may be hitting the age where going to lunch is no longer a casual thing. Carefully orchestrated around naps, or food taken to go may be my theme.
We have one more try coming up tomorrow, a little later than I wanted but still earlier than my last lunch.
We shall see.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Of course you want a kid to eat for free! It's FREE.

One of the bigger changes for us dining out is the expanded bill at the end of the night. Not only dropping extra on a tip for the mess of food you leave behind, but the extra money for the side of kids meal for your little toddler to munch on.
A quick Google search produced several websites devoted to telling you where to get a deal of a child's meal, as well as several deal sites that had a section on eating out.
Since some sites have different offering than others, I am listing several! hopefully one will be helpful, or at least inspire you to look for deals in your neighborhood.
And please call to confirm- this is not a definitive resource for deals, just a guide to what I have seen.
The first web site I encountered a few months ago was Kids Meal Deals, where the listings for Redlands show restaurants like-
Denny's, (kids eat free 4-10 pm select days. The Alabama Street Denny's locations has free meals Tuesdays and Saturdays, I called to verify)
Coco's (Tuesdays and Wednesdays after 4 p.m.)
Marie Callender's (Tuesdays and Saturdays).
Mikan Teppan Sushi Lounge was a surprise to me- two kids eat for free when you buy one adult teppan meal on Wednesdays 5-10 pm. (teppanyaki is a style of cooking- this deal would be for an older child and not toddlers.)
My Kids Eat Free lists the same offers and also does not list the days for the Denny's meal (so I would recommend calling your local one if you like Denny's. Personally, not my fave.)
I found two web sites that have coupon or frugal themes that also had restaurant information.
I also recommend to look at not just your local area but restaurants you eat out at when you go out of town shopping or on errands.
The Coupon Divas website has a chart of chain restaurants according to which day of the week.
I discovered some of my favorite burgers have free kids meals on accident, Islands (this is again a call-ahead restaurant. The website has a list of conformed locations here you can use as a guide.
Not all websites cover every area. For example, a search by zip of 92373 at Kids Eat For sent me to a calendar graphic with restaurant links and a note whether kids 'eat free' or 'eat cheap' for the Riverside area (so not a Riverside zip code.)
Frugal Living has a list that includes commentary on the kid's menu's for restaurants, again all chains.
Have you eaten at a kid's eat free restaurant day? Tell us what it was like!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Boba Tea House in Loma Linda, CA

Foodie Baby

It was hot, so we got stuff to drink. There was a couch and a magazine with red cars in it. I didn't sit for long though. My drink was cold. We drank them at Great-Grandma's house and I played the piano.


OK, this place is mostly for the parents, but I love it.
I have been a die-hard boba tea fan ever since I discovered a boba place within walking distance of Cal State Fullerton (where I majored in photocommunications. Go Titans!)
After some sleuthing, I found Boba Tea House on Mountain View Avenue (right by Papa Johns in the Stater Bros complex) and was in heaven. They had my favorite, a taro milk tea (purple and sweet and milky-tasting) and once I punched my giant straw into the plastic top and sucked up sweet purple liquid and boba (tapioca ball), I was in heaven.
Bubble tea is served in plastic cups with a thin plastic lid stuck on like saran wrap on picnic food. You stick the straw through the plastic. It makes the drinks easily transportable (providing you haven't had a sip yet) and hard to spill.
Finally, we get to the part about the kids. Did you think I had forgotten the children? No, we cannot forget them. Especially if they are with you all day long and go where you go.
Everywhere, including grocery stores, where they fight the meanie-ness that is having to sit in the grocery cart.
It was blazingly hot on Wednesday Since I had to go to Staters anyway Foodie Baby and I hoofed it over to treat my grandmother, who had someone drill through a water pipe in her home and was having a bad week because of it.
Yes, I carried a bag of three drinks to the car while keeping a very hyper Foodie Baby from running into traffic, he having decided being carried was not an option that day. The lids? Spillproof.
I'm sorry, I digress.
The menu at Bona Tea House is a rainbow variety of fun. You can order items from taro, coconut, and red bean to green tea, peach, and strawberry (I don't know what red bean tastes like).
The drinks are around $3, depending if you get boba or not.
I was told in a phone call the milk teas and slushes are made with a non-dairy base, and also include tea, ice, flavoring or boba as ordered. The milk teas are served over ice, as are the iced teas. They also have hot teas, yogurt smoothies, 'snows' and  mocha 'blasts'.
Since the straws are so big, what I did for Foodie Baby (who at 16 months had problems sucking up the liquid through such a big straw) was pouring out his jackfruit slush (he did share part of it) into a sippy cup I had in the car. It was the perfect solution, and Foodie Baby could cool off at his own pace without leaks.
If you are OK with your little ones having a super-duper-neat treat and aren't afraid of non-dairy products, I would suggest a sweet milk tea for them or a slush. If you are unfamiliar with flavors like jackfruit or lychee ask, Foodie Baby loved the jackfruit, which is sweet.
Two problems with the drinks, other than any someone would have with ingredients, are the straws and the bobas themselves.
The large straws are hard for a little one like Foodie Baby to get a lot of liquid. Either bring your own straw or pour it into a sippy cup.
Secondly, the boba themselves could be a choking hazard, so leave them out of the little one's drinks until they are old enough to be able to stop sucking and chew on the balls.
Boba, if you have a little one, could be a place to meet a friend while the babies slept in car seats (if you go on the right Wednesday morning, you can go to the breastfeeding support group Loma Linda offers, look at for the information through the children's hospital and Birth and Beyond classes) or take a well-behaved child to sit on the cool red couch or look at neat cars in magazines (Foodie Baby saw red. Literally. Some sporty red car and was a very good boy looking at pictures for two minutes.)
Or you could be like me- a quick in and out after running an errand and a delicious treat to savor in the car.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

paying homage to bath books at dinnertime

Foodie Baby

I love my bath books
every time the same pictures
keep me company


Bath books
the wipe able, washable
three-page ccompanions
entertain one just able to hold a book
What a bright cover!
One old enough to look inside
familiar faces smile back
Who am I?
What color am I?
He laughs along at silent jokes
and throws you on the floor
but even then
covered in marinara
smeared with beans
they keep a loved him happy

(Note: The small waterproof bath books I see sometimes in the dollar section at Target fit well in Foodie baby's diaper bag. They were in there constantly from a couple months of age till well over a year. He has Sesame Street and Disney Cars ones and he loves to look at the characters. Sometimes we leave him to look on his own, sometimes we ask him questions about the pages (although he mostly just points and says 'da' still But if you ask where Elmo is he points at him!).
They're perfect because you can use baby wipes or a napkin to clean them up before throwing them back in the bag, and it doesn't matter if the get dirty at the table.

Have you tried them?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Coffee coffee coffee

Foodie Baby

Now that I am all grown up and stuff, Mommy has taken me to a few coffee shops to enjoy ourselves for a few minutes.
Last time we went to the farmer's market, we sat at a coffee shop nearby. We split a banana muffin, and then I enjoyed a song from the guy talking about his girlfriend and making up a sad song.
It seems like a lot of grown up songs are sad ones about love.
We have a favorite lady at a drive thru that always talks to me when we get something during errands or on the way to a playdate- I make sure to wave and say bye when we go (of course, I say bye to the speaker that we order at, just to be sure I don't offend anyone.)


When I'm off to a play date or running errands and am dying for a treat, I drive through the Yucaipa Starbucks (by the Yucaipa Boulevard freeway entrance) the most.
Foodie Baby often gets a Peter Rabbit Organics fruit pouch to enjoy in the car if we're in the middle of errands.
By the Saturday Morning farmer's market there are several good coffee shops. The one in the Citibank building (forgive me for forgetting the name at the moment) has a delicious coffee with vanilla and honey. Augie's is also right on 5th Street right by the market. Foodie Baby and I have shared a fruit salad, banana nut muffin, or a cookie several times (it's also my fave latte around.)
Coffee shops are also a special treat for Foodie baby for a couple of reasons. First, he gets to sit in an adult chair. He is always happy to sit in a real chair anywhere, of course.
Secondly, people walking into a coffee shop and sitting down are usually there for a while. Therefore, Foodie Baby gets a lot of attention by sitting there and looking cute from retired people enjoying a mid-morning chat, college girls ready to ooh and aah over a cute kid flirting with them, or whatever musician is sitting with a guitar and loves an audience of one that will clap gleefully.
Unfortunately, it can be a hassle unpacking a toddler and going into a shop, especially when they would rather run around and pound on the glass display cases or try to go outside than sit and eat a treat. So I don't get to enjoy sitting at a coffee shop often, but when I do it's a real treat for both Foodie Baby and I.

Do you go to coffee shops? What's your favorite treat? Any favorite local shops?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Feel free to join the fun!

I love to eat out, but frankly, I don't so it all of the time!
I created this blog hoping to start conversations about eating out with little ones and to get input from other parents as well.
Since this is my first child, and I like certain places, my expertise is limited.
This is where you, my faithful readers, get in on the fun.
Have you had a meal at somewhere we've mentioned? feel free to talk about it in the comments!
Been somewhere we haven't tried? Email me about it and tell me your experience! I would love to have other people contribute to this blog, and I will accept submissions of restaurant experiences.
Have a particular expertise (say, eating out with many children? I know I have one of those!) feel free to tell me all about it?
Eating out with a child with allergies? Behavioral challenges? Feeding a vegetarian in a world of hamburger joints?

Email me at alilacwood at!

I would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

IHOP in Redlands

Foodie Baby
 We went to IHOP Sunday. For some reason, little girls flock to me there. Last time we ate here, we had girls from the next table over waving and talking to me. This time, I had two little girls from the next booth over sitting enraptured while I told tales of my harrowing adventures at the Brookside Park playground. (That's Mommy's best guess, at least.)
I think they were also impressed by my drinking a whole cup of orange juice through a straw and eating my whole dish of fruit, leaving my grilled cheese alone on the plate uneaten.
I'm a lean mean climbing machine and I gotta keep it that way!
And I ate the grilled cheese when I got home.
There are lots of people to look at here, and it is a loud enough restaurant on a Sunday morning no one cares how much talking I do, so I just let loose and enjoy myself here.

Foodie Baby has only eaten breakfast here (who goes for dinner and plans to eat dinner food anyway?) so we will be focusing on that.
I have figured out the room in the back is the first place they try to stick a family with small children- we've eaten there several times since Foodie baby started coming with us.
Of course, everyone in the restaurant can still hear his happy cheers, so nice try! Haha.
The breakfast menu at IHOP is pretty much what you'd expect- lots of pancakes, eggs and meat. The  kid's menu is pretty much the same- five out of eight breakfasts have pancakes, then there is a french toast option and eggs. All accompanied by varying levels of fruit, bacon, and eggs.
All of the lunch/dinner options come with fresh fruit except for the fish, which comes with broccoli.
I always pack water, but since the weather was gray I let Foodie Baby have a treat of unwatered down orange juice, which he drank voraciously. the IHOP cups are disposable and thin, so keep a close eye on it or hold it for a messier kid.
An orange juice is also the same charge as an adult one.
I usually have decent service here- it doesn't change on how busy the restaurant is, just which waitress I get. (I am horrible at names, so I can't name any.)
I have horrible luck with highchairs here. Whether I get to check it or not, I've only had a working one once. Thankfully, the strap was long enough this last weekend I just tied Foodie Baby in loosely.
NOTE: I could have asked for a new one, just didn't, and the waitress asked if it was OK, I just didn't see the missing piece until after I sat him down and she was gone.
IHOP is, on my kid list, definitely a sometimes place to eat for Foodie Baby.
He adores the bowl of fruit, which you can order on its own. That plus a few bites from your pancakes and eggs can be a good meal for a little one. Or get five little pancakes with egg and bacon (perhaps grabbing the bacon for yourself, we let Foodie Baby have a couple of bites but not a whole strip.).
Otherwise, Foodie Baby goes for the (usually a good choice) grilled cheese for a late breakfast (we rarely roll into there before 10 a.m.).
For healthier options, IHOP offers 'egg substitute' and other options with their 'Simple and Fit' options, which is anything under 600 calories.
Note that every kid's meal is considered 'Simple and Fit' by these standards. However, the Simple and Fit guidelines can be good for a mommy that can resist the Nutella crepes. (I however avoided both and got the cheapest all-you-can-eat pancake meal for $5.)
I would leave the stroller at home for here- there are a minimal number of tables here, mostly booths.

A couple of deals now for those of us looking for a cheap meal occasionally-
register for their 'Pancake Revolution' mailing list and get two free meals a year!
March 1st is their fundraiser for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Here is a snippet from a press release-
On National Pancake Day, Tuesday, March 1, 2011, IHOP will give guests one free short stack of its signature buttermilk pancakes from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. at more than 1,500 restaurants throughout the United States. In return, IHOP will ask guests to make a voluntary donation to support Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and other local charities. Additionally, Children's Miracle Network Hospitals' "Miracle Balloons" will be sold for $1 and $5 each and will be personalized and displayed at participating IHOP restaurants from February 1 through March 1, 2011.

That free stack of pancakes might make a hungry little one very excited for dinner! Add a bowl of fruit to that and there is a cheap, big, special treat.

Changing table available
Mostly booths, few tables- difficult to accommodate stroller
Plastic molded highchairs available- check straps first!
Kid's Meals available
Kid's drinks available- soda, milk, hot chocolate, chocolate milk, orange juice...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

How I got sold on a big plastic place mat


I've talked about place mats very quickly before- with Chick-fil-A's disposable ones that lay on a basket in our local store.
I decided in all fairness, since several of Foodie baby's little friends have a reusable place mat in their bags with them, that I would try it out.
I got the Kidoppotamus Tiny Diner place mat, emblazoned with nursery rhyme images like the cow and the moon.
After being able to tuck a small disposable mat in my bag at all times without it taking up much space (and therefore making me forget to use it a lot) a green roll of plastic roughly the size of a sugar cookie tube made a big dent in my already packed diaper bag.
The first trial was at Benjarong, where Foodie Baby didn't quite have the table space needed to keep a place mat.

OK, so not the best picture- we actually used the rubber suction thingies to go under the table, and the little food catcher worked somewhat- dinner was very messy. It was soon covered with crab rice and curry, so Foodie Baby thought the place mat worked just fine.
This is Foodie Baby scarfing down a gigantic kids plate (of course he didn't touch his vegetables) at Koko Beach in Oceanside, CA.
A couple things are really great about this place mat. First, it helps make a plate (that is a real plate, and a heavy one at that) harder to slip off a table for a little one- plates kind of 'stick' to it just enough.
And that little food catcher thingy? Not only does it catch some of the food that falls (the closer your little one is to the table, the better) but you fold the mat in and roll it up and tuck it in the food catcher and it's self-contained and ready to shove in the bag.
Negatively, not only does it need to be cleaned after each use, it takes up space in a diaper bag.
Also, The mat itself is a lot thicker than a disposable mat- therefore, it takes up more table space.
So there you have it, a new staple in my diaper bag for when we go out (and always there just in case we do!).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Benjarong Thai Cuisine in Redlands

Foodie Baby

There are fish on the wall here that I like to look at here. Last time we ate here was with my Uncle Patrick and Auntie Nicole. I wore my tuxedo for the special occasion (OK, it was a one piece onesie outfit thing but anyway, I decided to dress up for the occasion) and got bites of everything. Usually a lot of rice falls on the floor here! They are very nice about the mess I leave behind. I'm hooked on Thai tea now because Daddy gave me a sip last time.


Benjarong Thai Cuisine is the other Thai restaurant my family frequents on a regular basis. I've never eaten here for their lunch special, but several times for dinner served family style.
There is outdoor seating available (with heaters for the chillier weather right now, and I've seen live musicians on a weekend before playing) But I've always opted to sit indoors.
I would recommend calling ahead to accommodate a high chair- the last time we walked in and the hungry Foodie Baby was sequestered to a corner of the table besides Daddy (with just enough room for part of his mat to be laid on the table).
Again, since I am a yellow curry fan, Foodie baby has eaten that several times over rice. However, as he has grown, he has stepped up to have a variety of menu items on his plate crab fried rice, phad Thai, a nibble of panang, sweet and sour fish, cashew chicken or whatever else the group order.
It is always a carefully organized event to have all of us eating, since everyone orders a dish and then we all eat 'family style' sharing the platters while putting the servings on a plate in front of us. So we lose any storage space for the platters when Foodie Baby is there because anything he is not allowed to put his hands in cannot be put in front of him. So, an infant or toddler that is very grabby might not be a good addition to a family style meal.
As I've said before, Family style is a great way to expand a palate. I always pack a snack for Foodie Baby for after we sit down.
For an appetizer or a meal for a smaller kid, the peanut satay is good- chicken skewed and served with a peanut sauce to dip. For the less adventurous eaters, there is cashew chicken, beef broccoli, orange chicken- all delicious versions of take out Chinese staples, along with fried rice.
I've never tried ordering just steamed veggies here, since we have a variety of food at dinner time, but offering some veggies if you are eating a lunch or just a item or two could be very useful.
Phad Thai or phad see ewe are delicious noodle dishes I've eaten (although a glimpse on Yelp has someone recommending the drunken noodles).
And of course, a Thai tea and ice cream (again, I'm a huge purple yam fan, and so is Foodie Baby).
I've always had good service here too. When we ate here for my dad's birthday, the owner brought out a small dish of grapes for Foodie Baby to go along with his curry and sweet and sour fish (he had been charming her all night).
There are a couple fish aquariums on the wall, and a long glass wall aiming northward toward Redlands Blvd, so a seat by one of those might help entertain a wiggly toddler.
Seating is a mix of tables and booth seats on some walls.

No changing table
Stroller seating could be accommodated outside
Seating is mostly tables
Wooden high chairs available
No kid's menu
Milk, juice and sodas available

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mu in Redlands

Foodie Baby

I've been coming here as long as I can remember- over a year at least. I started off with puree Mommy brought and a stolen lick of coconut ice cream, nibbles of sticky rice and Cheerios, and on to yellow curry over rice, steamed bok choy and other veggies to dip in Mommy's salad dressing.
Not many mommies would let Thai restaurants be a habitual place to eat for a kid my age, but I'm sure glad! Especially because I can charm someone into purple yam ice cream for dessert and get to eat half of it.

To be perfectly honest and with full disclosure in mind I have been going to Mu for years- and before it was Mu, when the building housed Rama Garden. My grandparents know the owner well, and usually I am there as part of a family celebration or out to lunch with my grandmother.
And I've always loved it.
First, a note on eating Thai food. It's best served family style- pick multiple dishes (my family usually has everyone pick their own) with the big bowl of white rice (ask for brown if you want it) to go along with it. That way there is a variety of food on the table and everyone gets to try different things.
Feel free to ask questions about the menu- they're always prepared to answer questions from people that have no idea what certain dishes are, and when in doubt, just give them the number of the item you want (pronunciation is fun with Thai food).
For Foodie Baby, we haven't been to Mu for dinner since he has been eating solids for him to have a variety of their dishes. The last time we ate there was similar to most of our meals- a lunch out with Foodie Baby's great-grandma.
Foodie Baby got an order of steamed vegetables as soon as they took our drink order- I always have a Thai tea (which he gets sips of occasionally).
This is what you get when you ask for steamed veggies- it includes the bok choy, baby corn and other veggies. I didn't slice up Foodie Baby's veggies since he is getting very good with all of his 16 (!) teeth, but that is definitely an option.
Foodie Baby kept taking nibbles of the bok choy to decide if he liked it, and demolished the baby corn.
The sweet honey mustard dressing that is the house dressing is a new favorite of Foodie Baby's- broccoli disappears at a faster rate with it.
I didn't share my tom ka kai soup- it's a little too spicy in my mind for him when I'm already planning on sharing part of my lunch with him. It's usually with tofu, which makes the spiced coconut soup really good.
Foodie Baby has been eating yellow curry for months- it started with a tiny drizzle in his rice and ended with him shoving his fingers in my food and eating it that way (which I care not to repeat, it's pretty messy).
The yellow curry at Mu is very sweet- curry is a dish much like salsa at Mexican restaurants- I'd recommend trying it before sharing to check how spicy it is if you're not familiar with how that restaurant makes it.
I make a little pile of rice on his plate, drizzle some curry on that, and also slice up a couple pieces of chicken and potato (sometimes it's sweet potato) and let him have at it.
Purple yam (which really is a yam and not taro like often believed) ice cream sounds ridiculous but is really good. We asked for a scoop to share and it came out with three small spoons (perfect for a little one's mouth) and topped with several berries, all of which Foodie Baby devoured. It's a beautiful lavender color.

And enuogh about lunch- now more about the restaurant!

Timing- if you plan on being adventurous and eating out for Thai food for lunch, I recommend going early- Mu opens at 11 a.m. and by 12 or 12:30 there are business lunchers and other adults in the restaurant that may not be expecting the noise that comes with little ones eating out.
However, I have never had a problem with people in the quieter lunch spot- they often have a sense of humor about someone's loud appreciation for a good meal. 
For dinner- I'd say call ahead to shorten the wait time if they need to accommodate several people or high chairs, which are simple wood ones with a bar high enough for Foodie Baby to rest his feet.
The wait staff are almost over-accommodating- water glasses filled, dishes cleared away away from little hands and, in my experience, quick service.
Eating family style, if you have a crowded table, can be difficult if you have to keep a place setting completely clear for a toddler's eager hands, so I wouldn't suggest ordering for every person at the table to help keep room for an empty spot- family style is delicious but gets a table crowded fast.
There is no changing table in the bathroom, so be prepared for a trip out to the car. I wouldn't even bring s stroller in the front door, but a nice day could accommodate one outside with the patio seating.
There is no kids menu specifically - I don't even remember steamed veggies being on the menu but they were easily ordered. I would advice planning ahead to see what younger diners would accept- for someone who has never had Thai food, I would recommend the curry (if you like a little kick) or the pad thai. Ko-see-mee and fried rice can help make a meal for more picky eater.
For small ones that haven't had a large variety of food or spices I would recommend bringing along a banana or part of a meal to help keep them full and happy.
The lunch menu has a couple more mainstream options, including chicken piccata pasta and teriyaki chicken as well.

Stroller could be accomodated with outside seating
No changing table
High chairs available- mixture of chairs and booth seats
No kids menu
Beverages include thai tea and other specialties, water and sodas

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Eating out with large group of children

This last weekend, I got to eat out at Cheesecake Factory (this one here) in Rancho Cucamonga.
A mom called ahead, and every few minutes a mom carrying a bag and a toddler appeared, a snack plate landing on the table before anyone could make a hungry sound.
Six of us successfully ate there on a Sunday! it was a blast and afterwards we played at the playground and rode the train, trickling away as nap times and other factors weighed in.
I had the quesadilla off of the breakfast menu, wanting to save my sweet tooth for cheesecake later. So Foodie Baby had his snack plate of bananas and bread (previously mentioned here) black beans, bites of tortillas, pico de gallo, and various nibbles from my breakfast.

There were several factors that led to the success of the brunch out...

*First, there was an adult for every kid. Seating was odd, since the Cheesecake Factory mostly has booth and benches- we were seated at a long table with half of it a bench seat, so the kids could only be in the aisle. To help condense the group, I actually sat across from Foodie Baby, and he with a mom on each side. I did a lot of the work, but the other two moms were very helpful to have there! If he hadn't of been a very good boy that day, the arrangement might not have worked.
I also played with another one who was on the bench seat by me while his mom talked and helped keep him from climbing the table.
*We ate early. Cheesecake Factory opens at 10 am on Sundays. That made it more of a snack for the little ones, but also put it far enough away from nap time there were no tired meltdowns. The restaurant was also quiet, so not only did we have a lot of waiter attention, but errant toys would not be an issue to neighboring diners. There were also less people to care is someone shouted in their high chair.
*Eating kids are happy kids. Entertained with bread from a bread basket, a packed snack, or ordering an appetizer as soon as possible for them to share... whatever works. The snack plates made some of them happy the entire time we ate.
*We had a good waitress. She made sure the snack plates were there when everyone was seated and helped clear plates as they were emptied or condensed them.
* We enjoy the adult and baby company. Foodie Baby happily got attention from other moms while I played with another one. If I had been there just to talk with the other moms (which is always nice as well, and we had some nice conversations) it wouldn't have worked as well.

It worked with these factors, but seating wise Cheesecake Factory is not the best option for a group with many high chairs with the many booths in the restaurant.

Any other tips for eating out with a bigger group and multiple kids? Any restaurants you find success with? Why?