Why is it that once we have children we tend to think that we should stop doing certain things that we love? Many people believe that travelling with young children is demented and should be avoided as much as possible (those who only have one kid might be a little braver and more adventurous than the rest of us). Then, there’s this trend that dictates that if we were to go to the restaurant, we should stick to the basics: McD’s, St-Hubert (here in Quebec) or whatever would offer extremely kid friendly environments (and food).
This past weekend, we were lucky enough, my little family and I, to head to Toronto for the weekend, by train! We were very lucky because this trip was pretty much all paid for as I won the trip this past Christmas at the Maison des femmes sourdes de Montréal. The whole idea was to go and visit the Canadian Deaf Culture Centre as one of our children is deaf, which was really cool! Because we didn’t have to pay much for the trip, I sort of went a little out of the way for my restaurant picking… And picked 2 restaurants that I had heard of, and had dreamt of trying. I chose them according to 2 main tings: first, they were a walking distance from our hotel. Second, they both served food that could, without a doubt, please our children yet totally satisfy my urge to discover amazing food places. I picked Buca, an Italian restaurant where they serve (in a pretty fancy setting) amazing pizzas and pastas, and Momofuku Noodle Bar, one of David Chang’s famous restaurants, which I never got a chance to try in New York City.
Our experience at Buca was exactly as you would expect with 3 young children super tired after a 5-hour train ride. All 3 of them had their moment of delirium/ crisis/cataclysm. The margherita pizza we ordered for them did not please their eyes at first but thank god, once they tasted it they absolutely loved it! My daughter was a little more adventurous and tried the amazing Bigoli pasta, a duck egg pasta with duck offal ragu, Venetian spices, mascarpone and basil. My husband and I got to share and incredible Pizze Bianca, the Funghi with wild sauteed mushrooms, mascarpone, gorgonzola and marjoram, most probably one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten in my entire life! I would go back to that restaurant just for that!!! We also shared a plate of Salmi di Buca (cured meats) and Formaggi (cheeses), pretty interesting but way overpriced for our taste. In the end we had a great time and just laughed at the fact that our children totally disturbed our table neighbors (who looked like they were on a first date!).
The second night went a little better, which could be explained by the fact that we had a dinner reservation at 5 pm and that the kids were not as tired as the night before. The service at Momofuku was absolutely impeccable. Right when we got there, the waiter came up to us to discuss food allergies (I’m allergic to peanuts and my daughter to shrimps and sesame). He told us exactly what we could and could not order and made sure to tell us that food allergies were taken very seriously at Momofuku (a rarity if you ask me). So we ordered a simple ramen soup for the kids along with the famous pork buns, the Momofuku Ramen and the Fat noodle soup (with loads of crab!). The food was sumptuous, perfectly seasoned and absolutely comforting. The kids loved eating their ramen with chopsticks and we were super impressed to see our 2 year old devour the Fat noodle soup (which was a little spicy)! Our kids made us proud, being so nice in a restaurant that I had dreamed of going to for many, many years, but had restrained from visiting because I thought my kids could not handle fine dining.
In the end we had the most amazing weekend! Of course, much of what we did evolved around the kids. But going to these 2 restaurants was really for me and to have them along with us made it that much more fun and interesting. I didn’t think I could take my kids to these foodie places but come to think of it, I think we restrain ourselves way too much and should learn to trust our little ones and we should make an effort to take them along with us in our food discovery ride. Cheers to that!