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Minnesota's First Vermouth
By: Jason DeRusha | Posted: 04/21/2014
Mac & Cheese. Cheeseburger. Chicken Fingers. Cheese Pizza.
I’m over it. And most of the time, so are my kids.
If you’ve seen me on WCCO’s Morning News (weekdays from 4:30 a.m.-7 a.m.!) or on my TV food segments, you’ve heard me talk about my kids. Seth is 8, going on 18, and always wants to order off the adult menu because he "doesn’t act like a kid." Sammy is 6, and like most 6-year-olds, he’d eat pizza every day if he could.
I know a lot of parents are in a similar situation: we don’t want to hire a babysitter every time we have a nice meal out, and we want our kids to try new foods. I’m going to share my efforts (the ups and downs) in ordering food off (as in "not on") the kids' menu here at mspmag.com.
Our first stop: Saffron.
We have a couple rules to eating at nice restaurants with our younger kids:
- We go early (5 or 5:30 p.m. if possible)
- We order quickly
- We let the kids pick some things
We also have a drink. Let's be serious, Saffron has an excellent cocktail program. We enjoy the perfect Haus Negroni ($10) and the sexy Heart Beets ($11) with dry gin, red beet essence, lemon, orange curaçao, and absinthe.
Saffron has lots of small plates, which is perfect for kids because you can order a bunch of things and see how it goes. They inhaled the Giant Beans ($7), which is one of our favorites, too. Very simple: beans tossed in lemon, olive oil, and dill. They're light, yet dense, really great. Sammy wanted the kofta meatballs ($8) and I don't think Alyssa and I even got a bite of them. The spice mix in those meatballs—with a hint of char from the grill—makes them awesome.
Our kids love octopus. I bet yours will too. Kids are too young to know that octopus is something "weird." It's easy to eat, it's cool looking, and the Saffron version is amazing ("a la Plancha" for $8). The paprika and sherry seasoning coupled with the toasted garlic—just wonderful. Perhaps most exciting for the kids was the seafood tagine ($24). There's something thrilling about the theatre of lifting the tagine lid to reveal the aromatic, steamy tagine. The mix of seafood changes, but when we were there it included mussels, crab, and whitefish. Chef Sameh Wadi is a master of spice, and that really comes through in his traditional tagine.
This turned out to be a fairly affordable dinner, too. We added in some potato chips ($5) and grilled haloumi cheese ($6). That's $58 on food for four of us, at one of the top restaurants in the Twin Cities.
Don't be afraid! Get the kids to Saffron!
Saffron Restaurant & Lounge, 123 N. 3rd St., Mpls., 612-746-5533, saffronmpls.com
Jason DeRusha anchors WCCO-TV’s morning and noon news. His column "DeRusha Eats" appears in Mpls.St.Paul Magazine monthly. See bio
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