Restaurants go all out to woo little ones

The Bank Bar & Bistro. -- PHOTO: THE BANK BAR & BISTRO
The Bank Bar & Bistro. -- PHOTO: THE BANK BAR & BISTRO
Fanny Ice Cream. -- PHOTO: FANNY ICE CREAM SINGAPORE
Fanny Ice Cream. -- PHOTO: FANNY ICE CREAM SINGAPORE
Aha! Drop-In. -- PHOTO: AHA! DROP-IN CAFE
Aha! Drop-In. -- PHOTO: AHA! DROP-IN CAFE
A special kids’ buffet section is part of The Terrace’s spread for adults. -- PHOTO: THE SENTOSA RESORT & SPA SINGAPORE
A special kids’ buffet section is part of The Terrace’s spread for adults. -- PHOTO: THE SENTOSA RESORT & SPA SINGAPORE
Choc-O-Pancake with mini cheese sausages. -- PHOTO: THE MANHATTAN FISH COMPANY
Choc-O-Pancake with mini cheese sausages. -- PHOTO: THE MANHATTAN FISH COMPANY
Mini sliders (above), which are chicken and beef burgers served with baked crinkle-cut fries. -- PHOTO: JAMIE’S ITALIAN KITCHEN
Mini sliders (above), which are chicken and beef burgers served with baked crinkle-cut fries. -- PHOTO: JAMIE’S ITALIAN KITCHEN
Children’s buffet. -- PHOTO: SHANGRI-LA RASA SENTOSA
Children’s buffet. -- PHOTO: SHANGRI-LA RASA SENTOSA
Chunky Monkey French Toast With Bananas And Orange Honey. -- PHOTO: SKINNY PIZZA
Chunky Monkey French Toast With Bananas And Orange Honey. -- PHOTO: SKINNY PIZZA

More restaurants are catering to the young with special menus, activities and facilities

On weekdays, The Bank Bar & Bistro in Shenton Way is a popular watering hole for working professionals in the Central Business District.

But on weekends, the restaurant-bar sheds its corporate image for a family-friendly one, complete with a mini slide, ball pit, cartoons and colouring sheets.

Ms Evangeline Chai, its head of marketing, events and brand leadership, says of the restaurant's weekend makeover: "There is definitely demand for more family-style dining, especially on weekends. And, on weekends, there is less human traffic here. Usually, family-style dining places are located at shopping malls which are crowded."

With parents looking to occupy their kids during mealtimes, hotels, restaurants and cafes are finding that it makes good business sense to cater to children. More are introducing kid-friendly facilities and kids' menus.

The Singapore Resort & Spa Sentosa's Sparkling Sundays @ The Terrace brunch is normally fully booked during festive periods and is at least 90 per cent sold out most weeks. Its Corner includes toys and drawing, while the kids' buffet has everything from pizzas to finger food to a popcorn trolley.

The Manhattan Fish Market chain of casual restaurants recently launched a new Manhattan Junior Menu which caters to kids.

A spokesman for the restaurant chain says: "We noticed that children are now the 'decision makers' when it comes to selecting dining destinations.

"It is very important for us to have a kids' menu, as children make up a significant portion of our customers and we want to be able to offer something for every family member.

"We noticed that children between six and 12 years old are getting more educated and gaining more exposure to new things. They like to be served and their taste buds have evolved as well."

And it's not just the usual pasta and fried finger food on the menus. Many restaurants are also jazzing up children's meals as well as using organic and sustainable produce.

Jamie's Italian Singapore at VivoCity reflects celebrity chef-owner Jamie Oliver's mission to get children eating healthy meals and enjoying mealtime too.

The restaurant's head chef, Alex Barman, says: "If you give kids a bit of ownership over their food, they'll really embrace it, so he (Jamie Oliver) created the 'shake me' salads. The kids get to mix the dressing themselves by shaking the plastic jars and they have a small, fun role in putting it together.

"The little ones also love dipping their chicken lollipops and fish fingers in the lemony yoghurt sauce."

Barman notes that last month alone, the restaurant sold more than 1,180 kids' meals, including fish fingers and fries that are baked and not fried.

The Skinny Pizza chain has kids' menus at its outlets at Great World City and Westgate, a response to requests from customers.

Its spokesman says: "The kids' menu is very well received and on average, we see that 70 per cent of families order something from it.

"Our menu creation is based on ensuring that the dishes are nutritious yet attractive to kids' palates. We aim to ensure that there is some form of fruit and vegetable worked into the dishes, as well as a balance of protein and carbohydrates."

Others establishments are also bumping up their offerings.

The Prive Group, which has kids' menus at Prive Cafe, Roadhouse and The Green Door, is looking to introduce more kids' entertainment at its upcoming outlet in Chijmes.

Currently, it has a magician and balloon sculptor who entertains children every first Sunday of the month at Prive Cafe.

Over at Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa's Sunday Garden Party, selected Sundays feature special themes such as World Cup and F1, to tie in with the sporting events.

Also mixing dining with playtime are some children's centres that have cafes.

Cool De Sac, a children's playcentre in Suntec City which opened in March, has Bistro Cool, which offers dining options for both adults and children.

The franchise from America houses an indoor playground as well, and its kids' menu includes housemade purees for babies.

Its spokesman says that Singapore is a young, growing nation with many young parents. The aim is to offer full-dining facilities for them while also allowing their to use its educational play stations.

At Aha! Drop-In Cafe, which is part of an after-school student care centre, students get to dine with their friends at the cafe. There are books and games for the children, and programmes for them to take part in.

Parents tell SundayLife! that they are constantly on the lookout for kid-friendly eateries, preferably with healthier menu options.

Housewife Jaime Tan, 35, who is a mother of a three-year-old son and two-month-old daughter, says: "I find a lot of kids' menus have unhealthy things like fried nuggets and fish and chips. Once in a while, this is okay, but I prefer my son to eat food that is healthier.

"If I order from the kids' menus, I would pick pasta or pizza. I would love to find a restaurant that serves good food and provides a play area for kids, as opposed to a kids' playground with a cafe attached to it. I feel food at the latter tends to be more average as it is not their core business.

"But I am looking to try Cool De Sac and The Bank Bar & Bistro as I've heard their play areas are fantastic."

While editorial specialist Deborah Giam, 34, is not particular about eating at a kid-friendly location, she would pick one over a "normal" restaurant if she has a choice.

The mother of a four-year-old girl says: "It doesn't need to be something as big as a play area or hiring someone to do activities with the kids. Things like activity books or small toys to keep the kids occupied are always great.

"What I also look out for are service staff that are pro-active - not putting piping hot dishes in front of my kid or serving hot food over my child's head.

"I'd love to see a restaurant put more effort in the presentation of food for the kids - fun plates or different shapes and faces, just so the kids themselves can also enjoy the meals."

euniceq@sph.com.sg


SKINNY PIZZA

What: Popular items on Skinny Pizza kids’ menu include Fish And Chips Sliders ($14) with two mini fish burgers with Emmental cheese served with French fries; and Chunky Monkey French Toast With Bananas And Orange Honey ($14), which is pan-fried homemade brioche slathered with Nutella. Each order comes with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.

Where: Available only at Great World City, 1 Kim Seng Promenade, 03-31/32; and Westgate, 3 Gateway Drive, 01-03

When: Great World City, 11.30am to 10pm (Monday to Thursday), 11am to 10pm (Friday to Sunday); Westgate, 11am to 10pm daily

Info: Call 6235-0644 (Great World City) or 6465-9908 (Westgate)

SHANGRI-LA’S RASA SENTOSA RESORT & SPA

What: At the resort’s Silver Shell Cafe, there is a dedicated children’s buffet, where counters are 65cm high to cater to little ones. Dishes available include pasta, grilled fish, butter chicken, fried rice, grilled vegetables and tomato beef balls. Desserts include cupcakes and marshmallows. It costs $39++ for an adult, one child under 12 years old dines free with an accompanying adult, $18++ for each additional child.

On Sundays, indulge in a buffet by the sea at the hotel’s Sunday Garden Party ($128 for adults, one child below 12 years dines free with every paying adult, $28 for additional children).

For kids, there are magic performances and balloon sculpting activities. After the meal, diners enjoy complimentary access to the resort’s pool, children’s water slides and splash pad.

Where: Sunday Garden Party at Atmosphere by the sea; Silver Shell Cafe, Level 3, 101 Siloso Road, Sentosa

When: Noon to 3pm (Sunday Garden Party); noon to 2.30pm, 6 to 10pm daily (buffet at Silver Shell Cafe)

Info: Call 6371-1966 or e-mail fbreservation.sen@shangri-la.com

BISTRO COOL BY COOL DE SAC

What: This is the first Asian franchise for children entertainment playcentre Cool De Sac from Miami in the United States.

Besides an indoor playground, there are also fun activities for children. These include arts and craft, dressing up and interactive console games.

The attached cafe Bistro Cool caters to both adults and children.

For those aged six to 18 months, homemade purees (from $2 for a 113g serving) are available.

Other kids’ menu items include roasted chicken with a sweet purple potato puree ($6); and Mac & Cheese with butternut pumpkin and cheddar cheese sauce ($6).

The adult menu features salads, pizzas, pastas and burgers, as well as desserts such as baked churros ($6) and brownies sundae with homemade brownies.

Where: Suntec City, 3 Temasek Boulevard, 02-379/380/384/385

When: 10am to 10pm (weekdays), 8.30am to 10pm (weekends)

Info: Call 6337-0734 or go to www.cooldesac.com.sg

JAMIE’S ITALIAN SINGAPORE

What: The kids’ menu at celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s restaurant here reflects his push to get children eating well. Dishes include fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as sustainable and homemade produce. Popular items include spaghetti bolognese with house-made spaghetti; mini sliders, which are chicken and beef burgers served with baked crinkle-cut fries; and Happy Fishfingers, which uses sustainably-sourced fish fillets that are baked, not fried. The kids menu is presented through retro ViewMasters and children receive colouring sheets, badges and stickers.

Where: VivoCity, 1 HarbourFront Walk, 01-165/166/167

When: Noon to 10pm (Sunday to Thursday), noon to 11pm (Friday and Saturday)

Info: Reserve online at www.jamieoliver.com/italian/singapore

PRIVE CAFE

What: Highlights from the kids’ menu at Prive Cafe include Under The Sea ($12) with sustainably-sourced white fish fillets served with lime mayonnaise and straight-cut fries; Three Little Pigs Spaghetti ($13) with pork sausage ragu; and Cheezy Weezy Grilled Cheese Toasties served with a Granny Smith apple slaw ($12).

On the first Sunday of every month, Mr Egg entertains with magic tricks and balloon sculpting.

The cafe also has a playground in its alfresco area and colouring activities for children.

Where: 2 Keppel Bay Vista

When: Every first Sunday of the month, Mr Egg’s appearance from 1 to 3pm

Info: www.theprivegroup.com.sg

THE MANHATTAN FISH MARKET

What: Six new dishes feature on The Manhattan Fish Market’s Manhattan Junior Menu, all creatively plated. Menu highlights include Crabby Fishy Burger with fried fish and cranberry coleslaw between oregano buns and served with fries, Japanese cucumber and carrots; Pirates Surf N Turf with fish fillet, fried mushrooms, nuggets and fries; and Choc-O-Pancake with mini cheese sausages. Each meal is priced at $7.95 and comes with a drink.

Where: All 16 outlets including Bugis+, Plaza Singapura, Suntec City and Bedok Point

When: 11am to 10pm daily at all outlets

Info: www.manhattanfishmarket.com/singapore.html

STARZ RESTAURANT

What: For family dining at Resorts World Sentosa, head to Starz Restaurant at the Hard Rock Hotel for a buffet lunch or dinner (from $19.50++ a child, from $39++ an adult). Dishes for children include mini burgers and chicken yakitori. There is also an a la carte kids’ menu ($10.50++ a child), with a choice of main course such as pasta, chicken nuggets or fish and chips, followed by chocolate or vanilla ice cream. There is a Kids Dine Free promotion where up to four kids aged four to 12 years old get to dine for free with every two paying guests at Starz.

From July onwards, Starz will be launching a new ‘Kids Crazy Sunday Brunch’ ($68++ adult, $28++ children aged four to 12) on every first Sunday of the month.

Where: Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, Lobby, Resorts World Sentosa

When: Noon to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm daily

Info: Call 6577-6688

SPARKLING SUNDAYS @ THE TERRACE

What: A special kids’ buffet section ($79++ for children aged five to 12, from $109++ for adults) is part of The Terrace’s spread for adults. For the kids, there is pizza, finger food as well as a popcorn trolley. To entertain the children, there is a Kids’ Corner with cartoon DVDs, a creative drawing section, Lego, building blocks, soft toys, toy music instruments and bean bags.

Where: The Sentosa Resort & Spa Singapore, 2 Bukit Manis Road, Sentosa

When: Noon to 3pm (Sundays only)

Info: www.singaporeresortsentosa.com

AHA! DROP-IN CAFE

What: The cafe is part of an after-school student care centre called Aha! Drop-In. Students not only spend their time participating in programmes, but they can also get freshly cooked meals too. Menu items include grilled chicken chop with mashed potatoes, carrots and broccoli ($6.50), grilled sambal fish with rice and mixed vegetables ($6.50), and waffle with ice cream ($3.50). The cafe serves children who are in its programmes and their parents.

Where: 91 Bukit Batok West Avenue 2, Bukit Batok Civil Service Club, 03-04

When: Noon to 6pm (weekdays), closed on weekends

Info: Call 6897-2770 or go to www.aha-dropin.com

FANNY ICE CREAM SINGAPORE

What: In addition to a wide variety of ice-cream flavours and desserts, this ice-cream parlour features a kids’ corner complete with a chalkboard wall, books (for children aged three to six), puzzles and plush toys. Single ice-cream scoops start at $4.

Where: 99 East Coast Road

When: 6 to 11pm (Monday and Tuesday), 1 to 11pm (Wednesday and Thursday), 1pm to midnight (Friday), 11am to midnight (Saturday), 11am to 11pm (Sunday)

Info: Call 8318-9228 or go to www.facebook.com/fannyicecreamsingapore

KU DE TA

What: The a la carte brunch menu for children includes mini sliders with wedges ($16), fish fingers with spicy mayonnaise ($16) and tomato pizza topped with mozzarella ($16). Each kids’ menu comes with crayons and a colouring page – princess for the girls and cars for the boys.

Where: SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands, Tower 3, 1 Bayfront Avenue

When: 11.30am to 3.30pm, weekend brunch only

Info: Call 6688-7688

THE BANK BAR & BISTRO

What: This weekday watering hole transforms into a family-friendly hotspot on weekends, when a playroom equipped with a ball pit, mini slide, Lego toys and a large-screen TV playing cartoons is set up. Kids dine for free with every order of a main course on weekends and public holidays from 9am to 6pm. Popular items include fish and chips and pancakes, on top of the usual breakfast fare and traditional weekend roasts. Children eating at the table with their parents get colouring sheets and colour pencils.

Where: One Shenton, 1 Shenton Way, 01-01

When: 9am to 6pm, Saturday and Sunday

Info: Call 6636-2188