Dining out with the kids for the holidays? How to make it fun & stress-free, from pros at Four Seasons Austin

Dining out with the kids for the holidays? How to make it fun & stress-free, from pros at Four Seasons Austin

By on December 18th, 2012

Fine dining and kids: oil and water? Not necessarily. In fact, a fancy family holiday meal out can be special and memorable—for everyone—plus, no dishes or hours slaving in the kitchen.

We had that in mind when we put together our new KidsBites program at TRIO Restaurant, Four Seasons Hotel Austin, Texas. At lunch and dinner, we automatically bring kids two to nine years old complimentary bite-sized healthy snacks. That way parents get a few minutes of uninterrupted calm to peruse the menu and children don’t expire from hunger while waiting for the food to arrive. KidsBites come in eight versions: for example, the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” mini-pretzel roll sandwich with cucumber legs and googly cheese eyes or the “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”: three melon stars on a wooden spear with a cucumber base.

If you happen to be celebrating out on the town with the kids this holiday season, here are some tips on how to make it a success:

1. Choose the right venue. We like bustling restaurants with lots of buzz so if the kids squeal or squabble, no one is likely to be disturbed.

2. Reserve your table in advance. That way, you can sit down right away and cut waiting time substantially.

3. Avoid hunger meltdowns. Immediately after you are seated, order a few nibblies for the kids and ask the waiter to bring them right away. Kids with something in their tummies are happy kids.

4. Bring something new and interesting for the kids to do while they wait for their food: a crossword puzzle, coloring book, Wiki Sticks (colorful bendy “sticks” kids can mold into any shape); something  you know they’ll like and that will keep them occupied.

5. Take the extra hour or two you saved not preparing a feast and washing up, and use that for a relaxed family games afternoon in front of the fire before you dress up and head out for dinner.

6. Make it extra special: dress up. Pull out the tie and Mary Janes. Be Fancy Nancy for the night. Splurge on the kids’ favorite dish (mine was always a slab of prime rib with a giant, sour-cream laded baked potato on the side), a children’s “mocktail” or an over-the-top dessert.

7. Savor the moment. Relax! Share favorite memories. Tell a funny joke or the family yarn about the time Daddy fell into the giant puddle. Make it a night to remember.


Happy feasting!

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Post Author
Grant Macdonald

Father to three kids between six months and four years old, Grant Macdonald, TRIO Restaurant Chef at Four Seasons Hotel Austin, is very familiar with the trials and tribulations of dining out with children. Before taking on his greatest role as parent, Chef Grant spent many years as a chef at some of Canada’s best restaurants. In 2011, he and his family moved to Austin from Vancouver, BC, where he was restaurant chef at Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver’s YEW Restaurant. When not running the TRIO kitchen, he enjoys experiencing the beautiful Lone Star landscape with his family and sampling the local flavors found only in Texas.

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1 Response(s) to "Dining out with the kids for the holidays? How to make it fun & stress-free, from pros at Four Seasons Austin"
Linda Jawitz says:
December 19, 2012 at 1:08 am

Great ideas and the kids are so beautiful. I’m sending this to everyone I know that has kids. I may even keep the link with me so when I’m in a restaurant with bored and screaming kids nearby I will offer it to the parents and hope it helps them learn how to enjoy their meal with their children.

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