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Kids’ Restaurant Week Feature: Zola

There has been a recent insurgence of local DC area restaurants that are pulling out the stops in order to help cater to families, especially those with young children. DC’s participation in Cookie + Gourmet Magazine’s Kids’ Restaurant Week is an excellent example of the restaurant industry pining for a new angle in order to drum up business. Just the fact that some of the nicest more formal restaurants in town are participating and chefs taking the time to create a special kids-inspired menu says a lot.

Zola’s Executive Chef, Bryan Moscatello created a special kid-friendly menu for the week. The “snacks” as my five-year-old son Alex (see photo on right) called them or appetizers on the menu included a traditional kids’ favorite, Alphabet Soup with chicken clear broth, truffled chicken medallions, and seasonal vegetables.

Also on the menu is “Fried Rice” with creamy sausage risotto rolled in bread crumbs with tarragon dip, which resembles a Chinese eggroll (see photo on left). Alex thought he was ordering rice, which he will eat; however, even after the “eggroll” was cut open and the risotto was exposed, he still refused to try it. For kids that like “egg rolls” – they might very well enjoy this rendition. The Porcini Mushroom Ravioli with marsala sabayon, arugula, and parmesan was delicious. Porcini have a reputation for tasting quite intense; however the ravioli filling was delicate and the texture was very fine and smooth. The parmesan was fresh and delicious.

Main course options included the hand cut Semolina Noodles with three meat bolognese, including veal, pork, braised short ribs and preserved tomatoes, ricotta crema, parsley oil. The pasta was delicious. Alex didn’t try the dish – but I doubt most kids would be able to tell that the sauce included veal and pork. The roast chicken and vegetables (see photo on right) is tender and delicious. The presentation with the protruding chicken bone is a bit intimidating, especially for young children; however, If parents cut the chicken away from the bone, kids will be more receptive. My five-year-old son Alex loved this chicken – with a little bit of ketchup. Like most small children, unless they are exposed to sophisticated, adult fare often, they will be unwilling to try new things. The roasted chicken is a great option. The vegetables he didn’t touch.

Kids are offered a special placemat with DC inspired drawings of monuments to color and word find activities with crayons (see photo on left). A note of caution for parents with toddlers – in the center of the main dining room are displays of delicate glassware that could be knocked over and broken (see photo on bottom right). Trust me – I learned the hard way.

It’s not too late to enjoy Kids’ Restuarant week at Zola – or other participating restaurants. The 3 course meal for kids are priced according to the child’s age such as $5 for five year old guests. This offer applies to children 11 and under and adults can partake in this special priced menu for $29 per person exclusive of tax and gratuity. The promotion runs until this Sunday, June 21, 2009 and is served between 5 PM to 7 PM. A portion of the proceeds from the Kid’s Restaurant Week will go to restoring the historic Eastern Market on Capitol Hill and to Miriam’s Kitchen, which provides free, high quality meals and support services to more than 4,000 homeless men and women in Washington each year.

Zola is located at 800 F Street, NW, next to the DC Spy Museum in the vintage Le Droit building. Reservations can be made by (202) 654-0999.  Zola is one block from the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metrorail station, serviced by the red, yellow, and green lines.  Valet parking is available in the evening.


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