Do you have a preschooler who eats so little they seem to survive on air? Do you long to go out to lunch and have a civilized conversation? If you are the mother of small children, well then you might have to wait a few (a dozen) years for this, but thankfully, there may be some middle and higher ground.
The sum total of what my oldest daughter will eat comes to about a dozen items, but includes at least a few fruits, a couple vegetables and the processed and unprocessed cheese groups. Carbs are a completely different species and she will gladly inhale them all.
Going out to eat in Walnut Creek is never a problem when you are in the company of adults, but add a 4 year-old and twin babies to the mix and you’ve got a full-on smorgasbord of disaster possibilities.
- Allow chocolate milk. Yes, it’s sugar, but so is juice and the plus-side is that chocolate milk also contains, uh, milk.
- Bring fruits and veggies you know they’ll eat. I don’t think anybody is going to mind if you buy a meal or two and bring in ‘outside food’ as well, especially if it involves food for children. If they do mind, never, ever go there again, and tell all your friends.
- Make it quick. I have what modern psychologists have labeled a ‘spirited child’—she don’t sit around and mingle for nobody.
- Know where the bathroom is. For potty emergencies, for hand-washing, for disappearing into a semi-private place for parental enforcement issues.
The following places were put to the test with my preschooler a happy accomplice. Twice, we took the twins in their double-wide-size-of-a-Winnebago-stroller.
The food, as denoted by the word ‘diner,’ runs toward the greasy, and the lettuce lingers closer on the scale of greens towards iceberg, rather than field-y. My oldest was happy with her chocolate milk, nibbled at the plain pasta and filled out the fruit and vegetable requirement with a bit of ketchup on my fries. I was less than satisfied with the nutritional value of the meal, but the booth seating, the crayons and paper and the speedy waitressing were all a plus.
Brass Bear Deli
The sandwiches here are scrumptious and with a decent selection of meats and cheeses, it’s easy enough to have one custom-made. The beverage selection is staggering and if you and your children can’t resist the chip display, they’ve got those, too. I went once with the whole gang and Grandma, and between the two adults, we managed to squeeze the double-wide through the door without taking out any other customers. My preschooler ate two bites of the grilled cheese and drank some of the apple juice provided, though she refused to drink any more of it when I brought the bottle home. As is frequently the case with two babies, the adults spent most of their time holding, popping pacifiers or rocking one or both of them, and trying to eat their lunches at the same time. The four year-old did not topple the large stuffed bear on the stool, but tried her hardest and was at least successful in making the sales-girl (sandwich artist?) look nervous. Nutritionally, it was okay, but the set-up wasn’t great—the stroller took up close to half of their seating area. Getting a sandwich for take-out is the way to go on this one.
Cafe La Scala
This place was a near-perfect hit, mostly because of the courtyard, fenced in on three sides. It corrals the preschooler well, in addition to providing distraction in the form of a fountain. Bringing fruits and veggies here is a plus, as the menu is not particularly kid-friendly. Just add a glass of milk and a pastry (we opted for a plain croissant) and you have a decent meal. I realize there are no whole grains here or vitamin rich super-smoothies, but it provides enough nutrition for a four year-old, and I promise that we eat better at home. The fountain was nice, too, because as my babies screamed next to me, I could hardly hear them, which meant the other patrons weren’t likely bothered by their mewling. If you do try this one, note that the ‘chocolate milk’ is made by mixing powdered cocoa in cold milk, which results in a gritty drink. The downer here is that my little drama queen spit it back in the cup and down her shirt, and then declared that there was dirt in her chocolate milk. Oh, well.
1548 Bonanza Street Walnut Creek, CA 94596
Brass Bear Deli
1506 North Main Street Walnut Creek, CA 94596
Café La Scala
1655 North Main Street Walnut Creek, CA 94596
hot chocolate and croissant photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
When you’re done eating out, work out here: