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Eating out with kids and a couple of our favorite restaurants

Happy Friday everyone!!  I’ve had a busy week with work, parent-teacher conferences, appointments, etc. – I’m sure you all have been busy as well.  Its just that time of year when it seems like everything gets a little crazy and we are certainly ready for the weekend!

Last weekend, we went to two of our favorite restaurants for dinner Friday and Saturday night.  We don’t normally go out to eat both nights of a weekend, but our boys’ school was offering “Parents’ Night Out” one of the nights as a fundraiser so we were able to justify it 🙂

When we had our oldest son, my husband and I decided that we would start taking our kids out to eat early on in their lives so that they would {hopefully} not be out of control in restaurants when they are older.  We also didn’t want to let having kids hold us back from trying new restaurants (or going out in public in general ha) because, as I’ve mentioned in prior posts, we don’t have family in town for free babysitting and paying for sitters can sometimes cost as much as the date itself (especially with more than one child)! That might sound crazy, but ask any parent of toddlers where going to a restaurant with his/her kids ranks on his/her list of fun activities 😆 It can be very stressful with the tantrums and loud voices and food “displacement”.  I’m not saying my kids are angels in restaurants (because they are not), but the mix of them recognizing that they are out to eat where other people are trying to enjoy a meal and us having practiced good manners and respect at restaurants from as early as they can remember makes the experience much more enjoyable. That being said, we don’t typically take them to white tablecloth establishments (but will as soon as we feel like we won’t be buying lots of replacement china ha). Another added benefit is that eating out exposing our kids to different foods all the time so I think it helps them be more adventurous eaters (see my comment on oysters below).  My 3 year old will also order for himself at some restaurants and I love seeing the pride in his face when he does these independent “big boy” things.

If you are wondering how to start eating out with kids, I’d recommend starting off slow with fast food restaurants where you can make a quick escape if needed and work your way up to more casual sit-down restaurants if/when you are more comfortable. For new parents – take that baby out (unless your pediatrician has said not to – please don’t ever take medical advice from me)! He/she will likely sleep most of the time you are out. If you need to feed or diaper the baby you can bring a bottle to feed them and change them in the bathroom if they have changing stations. We’ve changed diapers in the car, in the booth at the restaurant and in one of our laps when space is really limited (trying to cover up as much as possible for other diners’ sakes). Same with nursing. I’m the most modest person, however with each child I have that modesty level drops dramatically haha. I used to nurse in the car, but now, with a good nursing cover (or not, if that’s how you roll, more power to you!) you can nurse at the table or find a quiet corner somewhere. We didn’t take our oldest out as much as a baby, but baby #2 was out to eat with us within a week! They aren’t getting any restaurant “training”, but it’s so important for the parents to get out of the house and I didn’t realize the first time around how easy it was with a baby (bc everything is scary with a new baby I totally get it!)  With a toddler, set your expectations realistically and give yourselves and your toddler some grace and patience. Explain where you are going and how you expect them to behave and make it fun! We don’t pull out an iPad or iphone to let him watch something, but instead I keep a couple small, non-noisy toys in our diaper bag to entertain while we wait for food.  They will not be perfect and if they are, call me and give me all your secrets please!

So back to our nights out- Friday night, we took the boys to one of our favorite restaurants, Bowens Island. Bowens Island is a super laid back seafood restaurant with a view that is unmatched by any other restaurant in Charleston (see pictures below).  They are known for their oysters (in the months that it is appropriate of course), but I also love their fried fish, shrimp and crab cakes.  Our 3 year old was introduced to oysters early on and will eat them faster than my hubby can shuck them for him!  It is very family friendly and casual and serves up some delicious seafood.

Older pic, but one of my favorite family pictures at Bowens Island

 

Saturday night was “Parents Night Out” at school so Derek and I went to another one of our favorite restaurants, Xiao Bao Biscuit (Pronounced: See Ou! / Baow / Biskit).  They describe themselves as “Asian Soul Food” serving up dishes from China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam in a family style.  If you don’t like spicy food, this might not be the restaurant for you.  There are dishes that aren’t as spicy, but for the most part, everything has a “kick” to it (in a great way!).  The mix of flavors you get in each and every one of XBB’s dishes is phenomenal.  We ordered almost everything on the menu this time and like to try new things each time we go.  We started with Chao Shou which was pork dumplings in toasted chili broth.  We get these almost every time we go, and it seems they get better each time we get them!  We want to lick the sauce out of the bowl when the dumplings are gone.

Chao Shou – Pork Dumplings

We tried the Shaking Beef (stir fried brisket, radish, chili peanuts, fried onions and pickled veggies) and Chaat (cauliflower, tamarind chutney, labneh and crispy potato) which were both delicious.  They have such unique and complimentary flavors – you can’t let the ingredients intimidate you here.  It all works together so well!

Shaking Beef

Chaat – Cauliflower

By far, our favorite dish at XBB is the Okonomiyaki, however I never attempt to say it when I order it haha.  The first time we ate at XBB we came with a friend who said we HAD to try this dish.  When you read what it is you’ll see why we hesitated, but it is AMAZING and every single person we have convinced to try it since, has loved it.  The Okonomiyaki is a cabbage pancake and you can add on top bacon, a farm egg, pork candy or katsuobushi (dried, smoked tuna).  We normally add everything but the katsuobushi – I think it is a new addition. You can see my husband’s fork in the picture below – I barely had time to snap a picture of it!

Okonomiyaki

If you live in Charleston (or are visiting) and like spicy, Asian food, you have to try Xiao Bao Biscuit.  We seriously bring all of our out of town guests here atleast once.

After XBB, we had about an hour before it was time to pick up the boys from school for “Parent’s Night Out” so we hopped over to the brand new Edmund’s Oast Brewing Company for a quick beer for Derek and a few more minutes of adult conversation!  As much as I love being around my kids, I firmly believe in date nights with my hubby for us to tak about things other than work and logistics and kids (although it’s hard to not talk about some of that!). Edmund’s Oast Brewing Company is located on King Street Extension, right beside The Workshop – which is an “exploratory food court” {More on that in a separate post.  We walked around to read the menus and I came back a different day to try food}  Edmund’s Oast Brewing Company is a 20,000 square foot brewery with a wide variety of beers in cans, bottles and kegs and will ultimately serve over a dozen of the Edmund’s Oast Brewing Company’s beers on tap.  The executive chef from Edmund’s Oast Restaurant is overseeing the kitchen at the Brewing Company so you know it is good!  We didn’t eat there since we had just eaten at XBB, but it looks like the food will be more casual (I.e. pizza) than Edmund’s Oast Restaurant.  I’m sure I’ll have a whole separate post on Edmund’s Oast Restaurant as it is another one of our favorites and one we recommend to out of town guests, especially if they like good beer/wine/food (but that’s everyone, right?!)  Edmund’s Oast Brewing Company and The Workshop share this awesome courtyard with lots of seating and space for kids to run around.  I can definitely see us bringing the boys back for some pizza and beers!

That was most of what we fit into that 48 hour weekend!  We are off this weekend for some football, friends and chaos as we will be in a house with 5 boys under the age of 4 (wish us luck!)  Hope everyone has a great weekend and if you are in town, please stop by one of the restaurants mentioned above and let me know what you think!

Erin

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