Kids’ menus sometimes get a bad rep for copping out with smaller versions of greasy, fried dishes from the regular menu, with little thought put into nutrition or presentation; that’s why Natalia Blanchfield, our models’ mom, usually avoids them.
When her family moved here from the US two years ago, Blanchfield started keeping a close eye on nutrition and pollution levels. Formerly vegan, she regularly makes smoothies, soups, and dips with a Vitamix – an American brand of high-powered blenders.
At Village Café, however, she was impressed by the care put into the dishes. “It’s so nice that you guys made an effort to make the food appealing to children,” she said to the chef.
Our models, 3-year-old Asha and 6-year-old Nolan, kept up a running commentary in Chinese as dish after dish were brought out: pumpkin soup with buttered toast soldiers, spaghetti with meatballs, honey soy chicken wings, a tuna and cheese sub, and more. Though originally from the US, the siblings have become fluent in Chinese since enrolling in local schools.
After they were given the green light, Nolan tucked into the ham, cheese and tomato melt on multigrain toast with gusto while Asha swirled around the smiley face cream in her pumpkin soup. “Slow down,” said the photographer to Nolan. “At this rate we won’t be able to get any pictures of you eating the toast!”
Village Café, the Opposite House’s casual dining restaurant, isn’t new to the Beijing dining scene; it already has a regular clientele for its weekend brunches and business lunches. The restaurant doesn’t use additives or preservatives in its internationally-inspired dishes.
However, the new dining promotion should persuade more families to try the restaurant. From now on, children under 10 will get a free kids’ meal for every main meal ordered on Mondays and Tuesdays between 5pm and 8pm. The kids’ menu is also available a la carte during the rest of the week. In addition, the restaurant has highchairs, kid-friendly cutlery and cups, and coloring sheets available.
There’s plenty for parents to like as well. The menu includes a variety of healthy salads, soups, burgers, sandwiches, mains, sides, and desserts. The portions are surprisingly large; the herb-crusted sea bass (RMB 88) featured a generous fillet with a heaping side of mashed sweet potatoes and cherry tomato confit.
We also got a beetroot, almond, and ricotta salad (RMB 28/48) to share. The beetroot was a bit too creamy, but the lemon vinaigrette provided a pleasant, tangy counterpoint. The large portion could serve as a light lunch for those with small appetites.
Be sure to check out the weekend brunch when you have a chance. It’s not the cheapest in the city – especially with the 15 percent service charge – but the freshness and variety of the dishes coupled with the hotel’s eclectic decor makes Village Café one of my go-to places for brunching with out-of-town visitors.
All prices subject to 15% service charge. Daily 6.30am-10.30pm. 1/F, The Opposite House, 11 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District (6410 5210, firstname.lastname@example.org) www.theoppositehouse.com 朝阳区三里屯路11号瑜舍1层