Canberra’s clubs provide excellent value for dining, but sometimes as a mother, I feel resigned to the fact that I will end up feeding my kids cr@p. What a surprise it was for me to participate in a tasting of the new kids’ menu at the Valley Grill, Southern Cross Club Tuggeranong, which has been designed by nutritionist Kate Freeman to include healthy eating choices.
According to Executive Chef Anurag Gautam, the menu aims to show that healthy kids meals can be both delicious and economical. “You wouldn’t feed your kids unhealthy meals every night at home,” he said. “So why does a night out have to mean unhealthy foods? We aim to show that kids meals can be healthy and affordable. With the launch of our new kids’ menu, we have even decreased our price from $9.90 to $8.90.”
I have always secretly wondered why my kids will eat relatively adventurous foods (with vegetables!) at childcare, going back for seconds and thirds even, but will insist on processed food and chips when we eat out. Surely there is a way to make kids meals appetising yet not too unhealthy?
Southern Cross Club Tuggeranong has nailed it: getting a balance that is just right. But if you are expecting it to look like a visit to a trendy whole foods store you would be disappointed – this is not a ‘though shalt eat only boring heath foods’ strict approach. If your kids only eat chips and nuggets (or if that is what you have promised them as bribery to get them into the restaurant), then you can still order that. Half of the menu contains the new healthy menu while the other half is still more traditional. But even some of the more traditional choices are healthier, for example, you can choose a variety of sides that include vegetables. And the hamburgers are made with lean wagyu beef and have a decent, healthy salad. I would be more than happy to eat this as well – as a mother I often wind up mopping up leftovers – especially as the brioche bun hit the right note of being soft yet not overly sweet. I wish I was a kid and could order this for myself.
My kids loved the spag bol (yes it is called that on the menu). Both my kids devoured it with gusto, with my four-year-old eating so fast that he ended up with a clown-like circle of red sauce around his mouth (which I thought was ever so cute). Was that grated carrot I spied in the sauce? If I saw vegetables, they certainly didn’t, and I wasn’t going to enlighten them.
I liked the way that the menu naturally lent itself to meals that could be shared as a family, including two dishes that would make a nice entrée. First was the rice paper rolls (containing fresh avocado, salad, herbs and grilled Camden Valley chicken breast with a soy and lime dipping sauce). These were probably a bit too healthy for my kids, but if you are lucky to have kids that like rice rolls then this would be a winner. Then there was the whole food tasting plate, that contained char grilled Riverina beef slices, crispy whole grain chips with herby yoghurt dip and cubes of mature artisan cheddar cheese, cashew nuts and raw vegetable sticks. The presentation on this tasting plate was super stylish and cute, designed to tempt many kidlets into trying a few things new.
I thought the idea of making your own tacos was great and had the potential to bring a bit of family togetherness to the dinner table. There was everything you could need to do this as well, with the slightly spicy Mexican beef and beans sauce hitting the right note (the sauce can be substituted for spag bol if you have fussy kids like mine that don’t like spicy foods). As someone who watches their weight (and who is also frugal – did I mention I tend to finish off all my kid’s leftovers?), I was pleased with the grilled Camden Valley chicken breast kebabs. Grilled with cherry tomatoes, capsicum and zucchini these were colourful and fun.
The Southern Cross Club Tuggeranong will launch its new kid’s menu on Tuesday 23 May. The Valley Grill will pilot the menu before it is rolled out to other Southern Cross Venues.
Serina Huang (and her kids) participated in a taste testing of the menu at the invitation of the Southern Cross Club.
What: New kids’ menu
Where: The Valley Grill, Southern Cross Club Tuggeranong
When: Tuesday 23 May
What do your kids like to eat when you dine out? Do you think most kid-friendly restaurants should offer healthy menu choices?