Saturday, June 18, 2011

Kid Eats at Sable Kitchen and Bar

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A restaurant question frequently posed to me is where can a family find a sustainably sourced meal and still feel welcome? Unfortunately, far too often, so called “family-friendly” restaurants serve produce drenched in pesticides and meat from animals hopped up on antibiotics to keep them “healthy” in wretched confined feeding operations. And I won’t even bring up the quality of offerings on the kids’ menu, often fried and always dumbed down.

Late last year, we took a family trip to London and I was amazed how much better the restaurants there were in welcoming families. Bumpkin, our favorite London place, didn’t have a kids’ menu, but instead told us that they could make a smaller version of any menu item. Zaika, a tony Indian restaurant in Kensington, “washed” Thor’s chicken before putting into the curry sauce so that its spice level would be acceptable to a younger palate.

Here in the states, it’s not as easy for families. But, I’m here to help. My family likes to eat out, but we’re also very conscious about the quality of food that we eat. As a result, I’ve done a lot of homework on restaurants that we’ll feel comfortable at but still serve the quality of ingredients that we enjoy at home. In this new series, I’ll share some of our favorite spots that treat and feed us well. One caveat, if you think it’s okay to let your child jump on the banquette seats (as three little girls did last week at Perennial Virant) or screech at the top his or her lungs through a meal (a delight we witnessed at Big Jones), stick with Chucky Cheese.

It was my birthday on Monday. To celebrate, we visited Sable Kitchen and Bar. As a hotel restaurant, Sable has an obligatory kids’ menu, but it’s not necessary. Sable’s menu is stocked with delicious small plates, creative reinterpretations of bar food. There’s the pretzel, paired with salty, smoky cheese sauce, and the fried cheese curds hot and ready to dip in slightly spicy house made ketchup. I love the Reuben rolls, phyllo wrapped around all the traditional fillings. The kitchen makes several varieties of flatbreads, including one topped with tomato and mozzarella, flavors meant to appeal to big and little kids. The little Locathor, however, prefers the grass-fed Dietzler Farm burger, a producer using sound methods to raise its livestock. The bar’s got a diverse cocktail list and will happily make a Shirley Temple without the artificially colored grenadine, prettied up with last year’s preserved cherries.

Sable’s chef Heather Terhune and her staff welcomed us all graciously. Heather and I are Facebook friends and I had let her know we’d been in. She stopped by our table and Thor was delighted that she remembered a few things about him including his love of music. And so, we had a wonderful family celebration only enhanced by our parting gift. On birthdays, Sable gives the guest of honor a gift: a cupcake kit: cake mix, maple sugar, and a recipe for Maple-Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting, a delightfully adult way to celebrate.

Maple-Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting
Enough to frost 12 cupcakes

Recipe Credit, Chef Heather Terhune, Sable Kitchen and Bar

5 ½ ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon bourbon
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in sugar, maple syrup, bourbon, and salt. Beat until smooth. Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with maple sugar.

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