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Before we had kids, hubby and I loved eating out at restaurants. We still do. Only now we bring our kids, where it’s fitting of course but they are also getting older. We relish in the fact that we started taking them when they were within weeks old. I know what some of you are thinking..how can we do that a) to the kids b) to the other restaurant patrons. 
First off, we never took them to extremely high end restaurants…mainly because if we’re paying those prices I don’t want to be rushed. We like to savour and enjoy our food. Also, I was brought up in a culture where it’s accepted to take your children to restaurants. By the way, Chinese restaurants are the perfect training ground for families who enjoy eating out. It’s colourful, flavourful, and relaxing knowing that kids are welcomed.
I have to admit that my kids never, ever once screamed, cried or stammered off in restaurants in wild chases like you are imagining in your head. We don’t know how, or why, but they seem to be born foodies. They eat what we eat and rarely do we go to restaurants that have a “kid’s menu”. I guess we’ve exposed them young to different types of cuisine. But don’t get me wrong, they will head to McD’s if their friends suggest an outing for lunch on occasion…in turn we’ve also suggested to their friends an outing for dim sum, empanadas, or rotis. 
They are now 12 and 7 years old and both my boys would prefer octopus tentacles over kiddy meals anytime. Actually, for my older one, the weirder the better for him. Which completely freaks out Grandma (daddy’s side) and makes my side of the family smile from ear-to-ear. Seriously, many a jaw-drops we’ve seen from nearby tables when he  devours cow stomach lining steamed in ginger and green onions – a typical dish at dim sum. 

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Last weekend we took Grandpa for his birthday to FABRICCA, a wonderful rustic Italian restaurant owned by Mark McEwan located at the Shops at Don Mills. The kids ordered Fritti (smelt) as an appetizer. The conversation went like this…
Older Kid: “I love these..but daddy, can I have some of your octopus?”
Younger Kid: “Grandma, try these they are yummy!!”
Grandma: “Oh I love sweet potato fries”
Younger Kid: giggles “I won’t eat the eyeballs”
Grandma; “umm…these are not sweet potato fries?!”
Older Kid: “The eyeballs are the best Grandma..unless it’s a bigger fish then they are hard.”
Grandma: “More wine please!”
Summerlicious is on now in Toronto and if you want to experience some great restaurants, this is a great time to do so – if you and your kids are ready, of course! 

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What is Summerlicious, you ask? It’s a chance to try out a restaurant that you may have not had a chance to in the past (or return to one that is a favourite!). There are PRIX FIXE menus for lunch and dinner that includes an appetizer, entree, and dessert. Reservations are recommended and you should indicate that you are interested in the Summerlicious menu. Some of the more popular restaurants allocate a number of seatings specific for this promotion. The rest of the restaurant will accommodate regular patrons.
Here are some of our favourites that the kids have been to (and not just during Summerlicious)…
FABRICCA (49 Karl Fraser Road at The Shops at Don Mills) – unhurried, not fussy rustic Italian food. The kids love the pizzas there more Roman style than the chewy stuff from big pizza chains. Great service and quality of food. 
AMAYA BREAD BAR (3305 Yonge Street) – Indian but with a contemporary twist. For example the Butter Chicken Burger with masala fries is offered during Summerlicious! Great for those who like a little heat in their meals.
BANGKOK GARDEN (18 Elm Street) – Traditional Thai cuisine located downtown serves flavourful dishes. I have fond memories of their street noodle cart with the offerings of different spices. And yummy banana fritters!
EDO (484 Eglinton Ave. West) – Japanese resto located midtown. We love noodles. This is a great time of year to inhale cold buckwheat soba noodles. They are offering  sliced roasted Duck with Yuzu-Soba. And the sushi is fab!
FRANK (at the AGO) – contemporary and seasonally fresh ingredients are sourced locally. Unhurried and the food has always impressed our little foodies. A little fancier and pricier but a great way to enjoy a meal as a family after taking in the Picasso exhibition that is currently showing. They often tie in influences from the current running exhibition. Right now, you can find paella nights, ceviches and churros on the menu.
MoRoCo CHOCOLAT (99 Yorkville) – one of our favourite spots for brunch on the weekend. It’s a pretty spot tucked away inside the glitz and glamour of Yorkville. Make sure you take home some hand made chocolates or macarons. And if you’re off the Summerlicious menu, it’s great for table side S’mores! 
STARFISH (100 Adelaide St. East) – watch oyster shuckers in action. If your family loves fresh seafood this is one of the best spots to go to in the city. During the promo period there’s ShuckerPaddy’s L’il Seafood Tower that will change daily according to what’s freshly available.
I should also mention that we are aiming to try out EMBRUJO FLAMENCO (97 Danforth Ave.) during this time. We really enjoy Spanish tapas food and this one is on our radar.
So, whether you decide to take the kids or have a “date night”, there are 180 restaurants participating in Summerlicious 2012 across the city. Full lunch and dinner menu options and prices can be found on the official website. 
Please visit SUMMERLICIOUS for complete list and numbers to reserve.
Summerlicious runs until July 22nd.
Bon appetite! 
So, do you have kids who are foodies and adventurous eaters? What restaurants have they enjoyed?  
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  • Sonya

    Oh! Fabricca is great! One of our family favourites! If you eat meat..the paparadelle is reeeeaaaallllly good! The atmosphere is very easy and comfortable. Try to get a table near the open kitchen, your kids will be amazed at the giant pizza oven! Let me know how you like it!

  • Sonya

    Thanks Tracey, probably early exposure and setting expectations are key!
    We’ve always had a one-bite rule — you won’t know if you like it until you’ve tried it. And it’s ok if you don’t like something then because everyone’s tastes are different. But when they try something they don’t like we have a conversation…why? texture, is there a flavour? and to describe what it is. BTW, one thing we agreed that we all don’t like is chicken feet. In reverse they also tell when notice a flavour they like as well, “I can taste coconut”.
    Over the summer weeks I introduce them to different restaurants or foods. We like going to the market and finding unusual things. They love that! We ask the grocer what it is and how to eat it. Then we get home and try it out! I’m also going to take them for Ethiopian food soon. I love that communal experience and I know they will too..eating foods with flavours and with your hands! And that’s what eating should be ..an experience!

  • Tracey

    Nice pics, lady! We don’t eat out in restaurants very often (no reason why not – just haven’t done so) but our kids have been well-behaved when we have – maybe because we just expect them to? I don’t know. Anyway, I think early exposure has got to be the key to such things… it’s so great when kids try new things to eat without a struggle. ;)

  • Amreen

    Thanks for the great tips, Sonya! I’m a big fan of taking the kids out to eat too. Indian restaurants are also a great environment for kids because they are very welcoming to kids. I’ve been really wanting to try Fabbrica and now I’m going to try it with my kids!

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