Going out to dinner with children can be taxing — there’s no two ways about it. Many children simply have too much energy to sit still for an entire meal in a restaurant. And often, restaurants that cater to children serve food that is unhealthy and — for adult palates — unappetizing.
Enter Clementine, the Hamilton restaurant specializing in high-quality, locally sourced comfort food with a side of kid-friendliness. Owners Winston Blick and Cristin Dadant are Hamilton residents and parents to Zeke, a 9-year old boy (who can often be spied hanging out in the restaurant). They’ve designed Clementine to be the kind of place where they want their son to eat — and where they want to eat, too.
That means super-creamy mac and cheese made with real milk and cheese, gorgeous grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade cakes and cookies that will have kids powering through veggies in excitement for dessert. But it doesn’t mean a “children’s menu.”
“Get kids away from the kids’ menu,” says Blick. “It’s dumbed-down food. You know they’re not making those mini pizzas back in the kitchen.” At Clementine, the focus is on whole foods, antibiotic- and hormone-free meat, and close relationships with farmers. Blick and Dadant like knowing the people who raise their food.
Restaurants aren’t just about the food, of course. They’re about the overall dining experience. Clementine’s space includes two separate rooms. In one, a bar sits prominently at the front; this is the grown-up space.
In the other, a play area well stocked with books, toys and a comfortable sofa beckons to restless children. The play area is easy to watch from most tables, so kids get a bit of supervised playtime – and parents have an opportunity to sit at a table and actually talk to each other.
And that is a feat that’s definitely worth a second slice of peanut butter chocolate layer cake.