The hardest challenge most families have when trying to take everyone out to dinner is finding the type of restaurant that everyone will enjoy. Many of the restaurants that claim to be family friendly in actuality are designed to cater to children and simply expect the parents to go along with it. Fortunately for parents who are tired of eating pizza while watching animatronic animals scare the daylights of their youngest kids, many casual fine dining restaurants have emerged across the country as a more than suitable alternative for the family meal.
It may seem disquieting to think of taking children to any restaurant that features the word "fine" in their description, but there is a world of difference between these restaurants and the white glove, linen table cloth and crystal glassware people think of when they hear fine dining. The atmosphere these restaurants seek to create is what makes it casual. Very often they tend to be warm and inviting, full of bright colors and a relaxed ambiance, so people do not feel like they have to worry about using the wrong fork.
The fine part of casual fine dining comes from the food they offer and the service they provide. Many of these restaurants are privately owned and chef driven, meaning that their primary focus is on the style of food they offer. While some seek to create a menu that offers something for everyone and others have a traditional focus towards pastas or sandwiches, there are plenty that choose something that is out of the ordinary. Many of the fusion menu restaurants that are becoming increasingly popular are built specifically for this market.
A fusion menu is one that combines traditional methods of preparing food and incorporating a very select paradigm of ingredients. Typically, the most common of these are ethnic based, with Latin fusion and Asian fusion being two of the most popular. The advantage of this for a family is that, unlike a strictly Latin restaurant where nothing might seem familiar to even the parents, much less the children, there are plenty of familiar looking, sounding and tasting menu items, perfect for placating even the pickiest of eaters.
Along with the stylized menu, many of these casual fine dining restaurants feature an extensive wine list and cocktail program, so parents are not stuck with a limited selection of beverages. Just as importantly, they design the menu program and the steps of service to facilitate a meal that takes place in just less than an hour. This way if the kids start to get antsy, even the parents know it won't be too long before the meal will be over.
Jack Terry is a freelance writer who has been covering the food and beverage industry for more than 20 years. http://www.osorioslatinfusion.com