We went to Applebee’s last night for the first time since kidlet started eating Big People food. We were rather shocked that the “children’s menu” was printed in black on white paper, with no logo or anything to indicate it was an official Applebee’s menu. Just the words “Kid’s Menu,” a list of items and prices (no description, even, of what comes with each item), and a vector-art smiley face.
The items themselves were the usual fare, and nothing we felt he was in the mood for. Our attempts to avoid introducing him to the cliché that are chicken fingers sometimes get in the way. Once we eliminated those and the foods we didn’t think he’d be up for the challenge of, that left mac and cheese and a grilled cheese sandwich, the latter of which is what we usually get him.
Our back-up strategy when the kid’s menu fails is the appetizer menu, but Applebee’s appetizers are misnomered in that they’re really more designed to be things to be shared by a table full of people enjoying their drinks, not for single people seeking a small something before getting their meal. As such, they’re big, and nearly as expensive as entrées.
My wife and I struck upon the solution at about the same time: Sliders! They’re small enough for each one to be a meal for the kidlet. Applebee’s in particular has more slider options than other places I’ve seen; in addition to burgers, they offer pulled pork and French dip sliders.
We got him the French dip sliders, which were nice and cheesy. He’s not a fan of hamburger, but he loved all three components of these sliders: The bread, the cheese, and the meat. He also liked it dipped in the juice. He ate a little over half of one, which is a reasonable accomplishment.
The other advantage to the sliders over the kid’s menu is that our experience with the quality of the food on children’s menus has been very mixed. Some places offer quality that’s comparable to the adult items, just scaled down; other places offer whatever they feel like slapping together for the tykes. We try to sample everything we feed the child.
That said, getting a menu at a national chain that looked like it had been run off on the franchise manager’s personal computer and copied at Kinko’s didn’t fill us with confidence.
This way, with ordering off the menu, we were confident that the food would be comparable in quality to our own. I did try the slider, eating the leftovers of the sandwich we gave him (he got a total of three, so he’ll get two lunches out of it), and it was really good, albeit lacking in vegetables, as sliders usually are. We can be comfortable getting him those again in the future.