Kids are the new adults.

Or should we say kids are the new customers. There was a time when parents made choices for their children and children would follow. Times have changed and the roles have been reversed. Today kids call the shots and parents follow.
Retail industry has been trying to lure kids for a decade now and restaurants have circled around this area without a lot of conviction or success. Kids menu feature on up-market restaurant’s menu as a half pager that mostly look like small portions of an adult meal.  Hence we haven’t seen many takers of it. This has been unchartered territory with no proven success record to speak of.
Smoke house deli has stepped into the arena with a big foot. The recently launched Children special menu unveiled on the occasion of children day boasts of a concept menu for kids that is more than just food. Chef Gristen speaks  passionately about making meals an occasion between the child and the parents to connect and interact. His vision of designing kids menu is around treating them as adults and let them make their choices while complementing it with nutrition.

While the face of the offer is ‘all kids eat free’ till 21st November, it’s the process of choosing the dishes that intrigued me. Every child is presented with a picture book and crayons. The book lets you design your own menu using the stickers of dishes provided on the pages. You can play around with the ingredients, choice of toppings, beverages etc. You can choose from range of salads, starters and mains or go for combo meals. The salad comes as deconstructed portion that the child can mix in a bowl and enjoy. Peanut butter jam sandwich comes as a caterpillar. Potato cheese popper comes as potato bombs. The combo offers fish and chips, brownie with a choice of shake all embellished with smileys made of black olives. Pasta comes in glass jar. Dessert offers jelly, custards and cut fruits. So far, full marks on presentation.

However, it doesn’t score very high on innovation or taste. After engaging the children by treating them as adults and letting them design their own menu, in return they essentially get  leafy salad with a bit of mayo or peanut butter sandwich or a thin crust pizza. Jelly and cut fruits, brownie and milk shake were innovative many years ago, not anymore. While the menu is designed beautifully and raises expectations, the actual food lets it down.
Today’s kids are informed and fed on tv shows like junior Masterchef. Their expectations are higher than this. Overall, it does say that restaurants are notching their game higher and targeting the real decision makers of the families.
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