Out And About: The Fishery
With four kids and two food discerning adults, it can be difficult to find restaurants that please everyone's palate. Because I am happiest in my own kitchen, and because (in my own humble opinion) I have developed into a rather decent cook, I flat out refuse to go to a restaurant that serves food that I can make equally as well (if not better) at home. When I go out, I want to eat something that I can't, or don't often, make in my own kitchen.
Thankfully, because I made all of my own babyfood (x4), my kids are not adverse to real food or trying new flavors, nor do they shy away from typically proffered "adult" dishes. Well, to be honest, three of them are like that. The fourth-- who's favorite food is quinoa, and prefers his meat on the medium-rare side-- tends to prefer typical kid menu fare when we are out and about town.
It's not just about the food though. Taking four kids to dinner has it's own challenges. During the first three years of having twins, I think we took them out to eat... once? In case you were curious, twin toddlers do NOT make excellent dinner companions. When you show up with four, four and under, you get some mighty fine looks. In fact, we still gets some doozies, even now when the kids range from 6 to 10.
Finding the perfect balance between good food and kid friendly is really, really hard. This gets even more dicey when you consider the fact that we do not bring electronics to entertain the kids. No bag of toys for distractions, no snacks. We want dinner out to be a family affair where we encourage manners, kind interaction with whatever poor soul draws the short stick to serve us, and dinner table conversation. Occasionally, when trying a new restaurant we may bring extra paper and crayons, "just in case" there is no kids' menu, or moods are dicey. And along the way, we've made a few adjustments. We never go to a restaurant later than 5:00pm. We stick with the restaurants who's food quality we know, and who's staff knows us. We try to stay local as much as possible.
By far, our favorite local hotspot is The Fishery in Pacific Beach. It's about five minutes from home, is owned by locals who happen to be friends with my mom, and it has a "secret" kids menu for my pickiest child. We are on a first name basis with most of the staff, they know our favorite tucked away table, my mom's tartar sauce obsession, and, I am convinced, they send their newest hires to wait on us on purpose. Both, because we have a lot of kids who are super comfortable there, and because they know that 3/4 of the kids order and eat raw fish, and the shocked looks on newbies faces is priceless.
One of our kids loves oysters. He never fails to ask the oyster of the day, and then discuss his favorite types (Cora Mandels, Kushi, Kumimoto, and Kumi). Which is both amusing, and a bonus, because even if my husband doesn't want to eat them, I never have to eat an entire 1/2 dozen by myself... unless I want to.
Three of the four will on occasion order the Ahi Poke. It's a staple if we are there for lunch or grab food to go, since sushi rolls aren't an option at any time other than dinner.
One of my twins always, and I do mean always, orders the spicy tuna roll. He is absolutely beside himself when we go for lunch... because they don't serve sushi at lunch. But that's where the ahi poke above comes in. Lifesaver!
My other twin loves, and I do mean loves, to order the sexy roll (or Hamachi). We're convinced it's because he get's to say "sexy" and smirk every time he places his order. He is ten, after all.
My daughter on the other hand, just wants the fish. No rice to get in the way, just plain raw fish. Bonus if it's Hamachi. She's a fiend for Hamachi, even taking it so far as to "suggest" that we might want some for an appetizer, just so the little stinker can eat all of it. I consider myself lucky to score a single stray pomegranate seed!
And then there's our contrary "middle" child. The child who loves quinoa and kale chips, yet refuses to eat fries (unless they are sweet potato), fish, or pizza. The child who will only order off a kids menu, secret or otherwise and prefers his restaurant food to be any shade of beige. His favorite choice? Pasta. With butter and Parmesan. Lots of Parmesan, because although he doesn't like nuts, he loves the nutty flavor that parmesan brings to pasta. Contrary, I tell you.
All in all, I can't complain. And neither does anyone, when we suggest going there for dinner. And that fact alone makes it a parenting food win.