I spent part of my Thanksgiving vacation in the Chicago suburbs visiting a good friend. On my first night there, we decided to go out to eat. We needed a place that would be tolerant of my one year old’s dining "abilities" and have good food to make me happy. I usually don’t like to go to chain restaurants, but she suggested one that was relatively new in the area called Claim Jumper.
It was Friday night and, although the place is ginormous, there was a wait for a table in the main dining room. So, we decided to eat at a table in the bar, which utilizes the full menu (so, one asks, what’s the difference?) And, they were willing to bring a high chair into the bar for my son. Which reminds me of that line in Sweet Home Alabama, "You have a baby . . . in a bar."
Anyway, the menu was huge and offered a lot of variety in American chain restaurant food. Steaks, pastas, chicken, some seafood, salads, and fried appetizers. They also have a kids’ menu but I don’t like to order off kids' menus in general because the food is all fried or covered with cheese sauce. So, I ordered a meal that I thought both my son and I could eat - homestyle pot roast. What we got was the largest plate of meat and potatoes I have ever seen.
The following was on my plate - a huge portion of meat, which melted in my mouth. Slow-cooked carrots, onions, yams, and potatoes. All of this was covered by a red-wine gravy, which was very tasty. All of that sat on top of a mound of mashed red skinned potatoes. Next to the meal was a biscuit that was at least four inches across.
I ate some of the yams, carrots, roasted potatoes, and meat. My son ate all of the mashed potatoes and cried when they were gone. He also ate a good portion of the meat. He loved it. And there was plenty left over for lunch the next day. The biscuit was nothing much to speak about, so I threw it away.
But here is the real reason I am writing this review. This restaurant had something that I had never seen before at any restaurant. When the waitress saw that we were there with a small child, she offered us the "Baby Plate." I have never heard of such a thing and said, "Sure!" I don’t know who thought up this thing, but it was genius.
Before our meals arrived, the Baby Plate came out to keep my son entertained. It had a small dish of mandarin oranges, a bowl of applesauce, two packages of saltine crackers, two slices of cheese, and a rolled up piece of turkey breast. This is exactly the type of kids meal I would offer if I ran a restaurant. It was perfect for my little guy. This restaurant really understands kids. Babies can’t (or shouldn’t) eat a lot of fried foods and most restaurant food is hard for kids with only a few teeth to eat. This is the type of food I feed him at home! Love it!!
The only questionable item on the Baby Plate was the sprig of parsley. Just for laughs, I gave it to my son to try. He made a wonderful gross out face! Maybe that is the parsley’s purpose on the Baby Plate - parental amusement. I'm all for that too.
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