Develop a gourmet kids menu that keeps families coming back

Develop a gourmet kids menu that keeps families coming back

Apr 7, 2021

Over our 20 plus years in the food service industry, supplying the finest gourmet ingredients to some of Australia’s best restaurants, we’ve noticed several trends. One of the more recent developments has been in the area of kids menus and how they’re evolving.

Kids’ palates are expanding. Chicken nuggets, chips and margherita pizzas are still common on the kids menus of even the most upscale restaurants. However, many modern establishments are responding to growing demands for healthier and more mature menu items from both open-minded kids and sophisticated parents. 

One of the best ways to make your restaurant more ‘family friendly’ – especially for younger parents who are meticulous about what their children eat – is to reexamine your kids menu and give it a gourmet update.

Girl enjoying Italian gourmet food

Kids menus – What’s driving the change?

Children today are exposed to a greater number of cuisines and flavours than ever before, especially in the cultural melting pot that is Australia. They’ve grown up with sushi, quinoa and even vegan alternatives, where most of us and our parents didn’t. That makes their food comfort zone larger than what ours was. 

Millennial parents are one of the primary drivers in this demand for more exciting food for kids. They’re conscious about nutrition and love exotic flavours – traits that they’re keen to pass onto their children. Responding to their desires by offering a more thoughtful kids menu can be a powerful unique point of difference for your restaurant.

Father and daughter eating Italian gourmet food

Kids menus – What you can do to adapt

The Escoffier School of Culinary Arts suggests considering how, as a chef, you can “make your own favourite dishes palatable for young customers”. Look at your current adult menu and see what you can tweak to the taste, texture and portions of some of your most popular items to be suitable for kids. 

While you may never win some children over on grilled squid, mushroom risotto or stuffed capsicums, you can easily adapt plenty of pasta, beef or chicken dishes. To accommodate both adventurous and unadventurous kids, use what most of them should already be familiar with as a foundation to build upon. 

Once you’ve found a suitable adult menu item:

  1. Reduce your portion sizes
  2. Lower the amount of spices and/or seasoning
  3. Substitute potentially problematic tastes and textures
  4. Deconstruct the meal where possible, with the ‘unusual’ components on the side
  5. Run a taste testing session with a diverse group of kids

For example, take an adult menu item like linguine with prawn and chilli pesto, and:

  1. Remove the chilli
  2. Swap the prawns for chicken
  3. Replace the linguine with farfalle (a perpetual kids’ favourite)
  4. Place the pesto and parmigiano in smaller dishes, separate from the pasta

This process gives all kids the option to gradually add new tastes to their fork. 

Alternatively, add a single kids menu item with a small selection of food and let them choose what they’d prefer to eat. You can do this with bento-style boxes or grazing platters filled with different flavours of arancini balls or croquettes, alongside an assortment of pasta types with a few dipping sauces. Gourmet pizzas with customisable ingredients can also go down a treat! 

Looking for the finest ingredients to update your kids menu? Get in touch with Visco today.