We were invited to check out the ASK Italian restaurant chain’s new children’s offering Amici Kids – as part of a family meal on them, at our nearest restaurant (conveniently just a few minutes walk away).
Italian restaurants have a reputation for being child friendly, and even a casual dining chain like this is no exception. The new kid’s offering is called Amici Kids, and as well as food it also encompasses a child friendly attitude – the kid’s meal is served first, on cool plates, with small cutlery, plus colouring and other activities as part of their table setting.
Overall, this offering will suit many families. Many restaurants claim to be child friendly, but this is often not reflected in the venue itself. That was not the case here. The manager and waiting staff were very friendly and welcoming. While we have moved beyond that stage, there are change facilities in a unisex bathroom.
But of course, the main aspect of a good dining out experience has to be the food.
Kids Menus at Restaurants
We don’t normally restrict our daughter to order off the kids menu when eating out. One thing I like about dining out is the chance to experience new dishes and flavours, and we encourage the same in our daughter . But kids menus are often far from exciting in their range of dishes.
With Amici Kids the child gets a soft drink, starter, main, dessert, and babycino for a very competitively at £6.95, so it is great value for money. But it only offers a limited series of safe options of the dishes.
Amici Kids has one starter – veg sticks (carrot and cucumber) with thousand island dressing and garlic bread. No complaints, but very little to single out for being more than adequate.
We grown ups had an excellent calamari, and a less successful Bruschetta (ice cold tomatoes).
The main dishes on the Amici Kids menu include a range of basic pizza and pasta dishes. Unfortunately, none of these enticed our daughter. She wanted seafood (there is no seafood on the kids menu) so preferred to eat off the main menu and I wasn’t going to stop her. She ordered a delicious Linguini Frutti Di Mare. ASK have an option to downsize mains to a half portion with the addition of a salad, which is what we did.
Our mains were sadly not as well realised as her dish. My Lobster & King prawn tagliatelle was pretty tasty – but the promised “hint of chilli” was in fact very strong, and overpowered the dish (I have a pretty high tolerance to chilli).
My wife’s Mushroom linguine was ok, lacking a little flavour punch – until she bit into a porcini mushroom that hadn’t been soaked enough. I’m afraid these taste disgusting.
It’s a shame – both these dishes were let down by execution on the day rather than concept.
I asked the waitress to choose a white wine to go with my main, and her selection was perfect. My wife also had a tasty Aperol Sprtiz (Aperol, Prosecco, soda and ice). Our daughter had an apple juice, included in the Amici Kids price.
Ice cream dominated our desserts. Our daughter had the Amici Kids dessert of ice cream with a selection of toppings, I had 2 scoops of ice cream, and my wife went for a gooey chocolate cake also with ice cream – all of which went down well.
The ASK Italian / Amici Kids offering
While it’s unfortunate our meal was let down by some cooking errors, Amici Kids offers great value for money and a restaurant embracing children to join the dining out experience is welcome for any family.
But I remain of the opinion that we need to be more ambitious in terms of the food and flavours we offer our children, and the selection of dishes on the Amici Kids errs too far on the side of caution.
I know many families struggle with fussy eaters, but that’s not all kids – and eating out should be an adventure, not just relying on the familiar.
Disclosure: This family dining experience was provided free of charge by ASK Italian.