We took Nana & Pop to Cafe Nola in Schenectady for dinner last night. W & I had been wanting to try it, and for some reason M voted for it over basic Italian–I suspect that she wanted to try the alligator.
As soon as we arrived, the server set us up with crayons and Sponge Bob coloring pages, so the girls were completely happy. This restaurant is a good bet for the fussiest eaters, because even though there’s not a children’s menu, they do offer what I’d consider to be the kid’s menu trifecta: chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks, and hamburgers.
However, Cafe Nola was a surprisingly good choice for the slightly-more-adventurous kid eater as well. First, remember the alligator? It honestly does taste like chicken. Dark meat chicken, I’ll grant you, but I think that, if you were the deceptive type, you could introduce the Alligator Bites appetizer as perhaps chicken, and your child might be just fine with them. And then, once they’ve polished them off, you can hit them with the truth and hope that they’ll feel proud and exultant instead of nauseated. (Remember, this is coming from a woman who sneaks spinach into smoothies and recently watched her innocent, unknowing children eat beet cupcakes until W outed dessert prematurely).
Beyond the appetizers, they made a big deal about how Cajun doesn’t just mean spicy. You guessed it: the Red Beans and Rice and even the Gumbo was mild enough for my 8-year-old. That left some us adults tossing in Tabasco and salt, but I’d rather have that flexibility than limit the choices for the kiddos, anyway.
Finally, at some point during the meal, J pointed out that we were eating food from The Princess and the Frog. Well. . . duh. I didn’t see this one (the kids went with their in-laws), but if you want to work up some enthusiasm for eating out, this seems like a terrific opportunity. I heard about how Tiana was perfecting a gumbo recipe and putting powdered sugar on beignets, and both are on the menu. So are hush puppies, etouffee, and pecan pralines, which are all mentioned in the film. So if you wanted to do a little themed project for your own kids or as a get-together, it sounds like a perfect opportunity.
Oh, and I almost forgot! The girls’ hands-down favorite part of the meal was the raspberry sauce. They went nuts for it. At one point I asked for two more little containers and they were supplied graciously. Both of my girls would have continued to eat any sauce that came their way and possibly bathed in it if they had been permitted to do so. As it was, I had a Laundry Emergency with J’s white cardigan (thank you, Oxiclean!) They were a little bit out of control. But I couldn’t bring myself to crack the etiquette whip as hard as I might, normally, because when your kids politely sit through a meal at a new restaurant and try more than one wholly unfamiliar item, you can’t help but rejoice that they’ve been rewarded with yummaliciousness. The beignets were also received with Deep Kid Appreciation.