Once was a time when children's menus at even the fanciest hotels were filled with bland items and basic ingredients. But now a new crop of kids raised with bold appetites are inspiring various properties to create artisanal eats for the under-12 set.
"Typically kids' menus cater to picky eaters and cover basics like chicken fingers and hamburgers, but kids with a healthy appetite and an adventurous palate shouldn't have to feel left out," said executive chef Keith Roberts at Ocean & Vine, the restaurant at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, which offers a half portion of its Tarragon Tiger Shrimp with Lobster Risotto as part of an upgraded children's food program called Precocious Plates.
Other signature restaurants across the Loews Hotels & Resorts group are also participating in the program, making mini versions of their most popular adult dishes.
At Café Adelaide inside the Loews New Orleans Hotel, the chef is serving up succotash with sautéed corn, Creole tomato, pearl barley and English peas with spicy roasted shellfish butter for little boys and girls. Meanwhile, at Maritana Grille inside Loews Don CeSar on Florida's Gulf Coast, kids can indulge in Kobe short rib with sunchoke, collards, crispy shallots and port jus.
InterContinental Hotels & Resorts will introduce its own updated children's menu this January. The meals were created by child food expert Annabel Karmel MBE and award-winning celebrity chef Theo Randall to educate children about exciting and different ingredients.
"Children are naturally inquisitive, and grown-ups are often surprised by the flavors they enjoy," said Karmel. "Sometimes it takes a little encouragement, and a holiday with the family can be a great opportunity to explore new foods."
Growing up, Chef Randall found that he learned quickest about different cultures and cities through the flavors of cuisines at each destination he visited.
"This is something I hope to bring to life for the children who visit InterContinental restaurants around the globe," he said.
In some cases, kids are even doing some of the prep work for their own foodie meals at hotel restaurants.
At Cascades restaurant inside the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, slow-food guru Alice Waters has curated a three-course children's menu focused on healthy, seasonal foods. But before children take their first bite, they will be brought a bowl of herbs to snip their own seasonings.