Monday, April 21, 2008

restaurant recommendation

Ok, anyone who has a child and likes good food - you have to go to Cafe Brio. A couple years ago I went there and found the food not fabulous, portions too huge, overpriced, etc. But when my mom was last visiting about a month ago we were looking for a place to go and discovered they had an early dinner special, and when I called for reservations they didn't freak out when I said "two adults and a small child", they just asked if I needed a high chair.

Well, it turned out to be one of the best restaurant experiences I've had with a child. The food was *fantastic* - the early dinner special was well worth the $28 for 3 courses - and they were great with Rowan, even bringing her the extra dill pickle she asked for. The children's pasta we ordered was bucatini - fun - LOADED with butter and parmesan, and there was enough that Stirling ate the leftovers for his dinner later on. But Rowan isn't that super-keen on pasta, especially when there's pate and steak.

So we went back when my mom visited this month, with Stirling this time, and we had another fantastic meal, quite similar to the previous early dinner special, but with a different kind of steak, different veg, and different dessert. All of it still super-tasty, and we all just contributed to Rowan's meal instead of ordering her pasta she wasn't going to eat. In retrospect, we probably could have ordered her a whole meal and taken the leftovers home, because Stirling and I both lost about half our steaks to her. But again, wonderful service, especially with Rowan - no raised eyebrows at her spooning her ice onto her bread plate and munching it, and none of the other diners seemed to mind her loud proclamations of "YUM YUM YUM" as she hoovered in the steak. At the end of the meal, she got stickers.

I have to say I am just super-impressed by this restaurant. They serve great food, they do all their charcuterie, their pickles, and some of their cheese in-house, they source locally as much as possible, the service is outstanding and they do a great job of balancing family-friendliness with upscale dining. And it is great to have restaurants to go to like this, so that Stirling and I actually feel treated (as opposed to "family" places like White Spot or whatever, where I know I can cook everything on the menu better than they can), but where Rowan is welcomed and can learn restaurant manners without us being all stressy about it.


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