BY ERICA SAGON
Pasta, chicken fingers, and burgers are still mainstays on children’s menus, but in our roundup of dishes for the 12-and-under crowd in Bloomington, we’ve uncovered a few surprises.
Some restaurants have upped their game with mini-versions of dishes from the adult menu. Finch’s Brasserie is among restaurants serving the same macaroni and cheese to kids and adults. Upland Brewery has a Fischer Farms pulled-pork barbecue sandwich for you and a smaller size for your kids—same with sirloins at Janko’s Little Zagreb.
Other places are going a little more exotic. At FARMbloomington, kids can choose grilled chicken fingers with plum sauce, and hummus with veggies for dipping.
“We wanted to offer healthy options for families,” says Chef Daniel Orr. FARM has ten children’s dishes at $6 each, including a burger made with the same grass-fed beef as the adult version. The restaurant also offers kids’ drinks, like the Wooly Ewe (ginger ale, cola, and bitters) and Swine Wine (cranberry juice and Sprite).
For value, you can’t beat Malibu Grill’s wallet-friendly spaghetti, hamburger, and grilled cheese—they’re $3.50 each, and the price includes a drink and ice cream.
Restaurants without dedicated children’s menus, including ethnic- and fine-dining places, are usually willing to whip up kid-friendly dishes, especially if you call ahead.
Here is a sampling of children’s menus around town:
Lennie’s menu has a handful of $5-7 dishes, including grilled-turkey-and-cheese sandwich (with chips or cucumber slaw), cheese quesadilla, and spaghetti with marinara, garlic cream, or butter.
Little amigos at La Charreada can pick from chimichangas, tacos, and nachos, all served with rice and beans, $3.50-5.50.
Carnivores-in-training can sink their teeth into an 8-ounce sirloin, grilled hot dog, burger, chicken breast, or macaroni and cheese at Little Zagreb. Each dish runs $5-8 and includes a salad, baked potato, and roll.
Kids who treat pasta like a finger food will fit right in at the Uptown Café, which serves fried ravioli with marinara sauce for dipping. Other options are a chicken sandwich or junior cheeseburger (each served with fries) and macaroni and cheese, $5.95-7.95 each.
The wood-fired pizza oven at Finch’s Brasserie turns out kid-size pies, too, topped simply with cheese or pepperoni. Other options are macaroni and cheese with a five-cheese sauce and penne with butter or sausage. Dishes are $3-5.
At Upland Brewing Company’s Tap Room, kids can choose from a Fischer Farms pulled-pork barbecue sandwich, macaroni and cheese, grilled chicken-breast sandwich, and more, served with fries or fruit for about $5.50.
Scholars Inn Bakehouse offers familiar favorites for $3-4: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on challah, grilled cheese, and macaroni and cheese. Add grapes or Mandarin oranges and milk for $1.99 more.