Bitter and Better: I’ll Have What They’re Having  

I don’t kid around when it comes to the kids menu  

Greta Kooy, Columnist // Illustration by Andrea Alcaraz

I may be 25, but my palate suggests otherwise. When it comes to food, I really do enjoy the simpler things: chicken fingers, pizza, mac ‘n’ cheese. Some might say that this is a product of my upbringing, that my parents never introduced me to more complicated dishes and that they robbed me of a finer taste for foods. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. 

Both of my parents love to cook, my dad especially. If he isn’t working or playing golf you can usually find him in the kitchen or pouring over one of the thousands of cook books he has in his library. When I was younger, he always encouraged me to try new foods, at times even bribing me with pennies and dimes if I was being stubborn. Maybe not the best parenting method, but it always worked. He was always trying something new in the kitchen, every dish more complicated than the last. Family dinners were a feast of sorts and my dad the ultimate host. That was just at home. Travelling with him means finding all the best restaurants the Globe and Mail has raved about and going into every local grocery store in search of some new, exciting foreign food product. My point here is that I was never robbed of any experience when it came to food, nor were my parents shielding me from experiencing the cuisine of other cultures and the intricacies of fine dining. 

Despite my parents’ efforts at expanding my culinary horizons, I like chicken fingers and fries and have no shame in asking for them. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy “grownup” meals, because I definitely do. A staple and personal favourite of mine being marinated lamb chops with a side of cooked vegetables and garlic and rosemary roasted potatoes. It’s just that sometimes all I want is a grilled cheese and some apple slices on the side, and the Kid’s Menu is almost always the treasure trove I’m looking for. 

Unfortunately for me, that holy grail of simple menu offerings is usually reserved for patrons 12 and younger. Of course I don’t always try and order off of the kid’s menu, but when my appetite is small, or when my longing for something simple with cheese on it kicks in that’s where I’ll look. Coyly I’ll ask if it’s alright for me to order something off the kid’s menu, and more often than not I’m met with a smile and a “sure.” I don’t always get so lucky. 

Sometimes the responses I get for asking are pretty damn condescending, and they haunt me for the rest of the dining experience. I’ll get that one salty server who points out that those options are kids-only in a snarky “What? You don’t want to pay for a regular meal? You cheap ass” tone. And it’s not about the money. I’m perfectly happy to pay an upcharge on a kid’s menu item if that means I can get a grilled cheese. I already had two pints of a $9 beer and I’m going to tip just the same as I always would, so what’s the problem?  

I understand full and well that restaurants have specific operating costs, and if they were constantly dishing out $6 mini cheeseburgers and nothing else they’d go out of business. Dining wise, we have it especially good in Vancouver. We have an incredible amount of choices when it comes to food, and we’re spoiled when it comes to pricing – If you don’t believe me just ask any one of your friends working in the local restaurant business. 

It’s because of this that I understand my desire to order off of the kid’s menu isn’t necessarily good for restaurants. If every adult were choosing food off of their sons and daughters’ menus, I would accept the rejection of a grilled cheese and move on, but it’s hardly an epidemic. If it’s on the menu I should be able to order it. So what if I’m not under the age of 12, isn’t that ageism?  

At this point, my parents, friends and boyfriend have all accepted, and love poking fun at, my eating habits. The Courier office especially will never let it go. All I’m asking is that if you catch me out in public ordering off the kid’s menu, just let me eat my chicken fingers and fries in peace. Please and thank you.  

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