365 Restaurants, 2 Kids, 1 Giant Fiasco
Team Phipps ate together for lunch today since Mina didn’t have school. We were a little worried about how we would swing the family meal today since Ogre and I have a date tonight with the Gipsy Kings. Luckily, Mina is out of school today. We decide on Chaat Cafe, a restaurant recommended to me by my good friend, Dr. Wincy Peveto Tomecko.
Mina wants to take in her Barbie and Ballerina Bear. Normally, she is not allowed to take toys into restaurants because they get dirty and/or lost, but since we know that there won’t be any kids’ activities for her, we tell her that it’s okay. When you walk in to this cafe, you might think you’ve walked into a Bollywood nightclub. The music is loud and has a great dance beat to it. Mina and Benjamin both love it. We eat here sometimes when I am on call and I’m always embarrased to answer the phone in the restaurant because someone might think that I’m actually clubbing somewhere!
Ogre walks up to the counter to order and pay for our lunch. The menu is absolutely expansive. If it’s your first time, grab a menu and sit down to peruse the offerings. We know what we want when we come. Ogre doesn’t even have to ask me. We sit down and continue dancing to the music at our table. Ogre walks up with our drinks. For some reason he chose the styrofoam coffee cups for the kids’ water (they have normal sized cups and lids), which is begging for a disaster. Benjamin points at our drinks and says which one is for whom. I’ve been going over this with him to get him to stop crying out for my drink and his Papa’s drink. Seems to be working. He gets his disaster cup and is immediately confused about where to put the straw. Ogre pops the sippy part of the lid to show him where the straw goes. Benji is still confused.
Mina and I play with her bear and Barbie. Shortly thereafter, the Mango Lassi arrives. This is a pureed mango and yogurt drink. Benjamin points to it and says “Mama” knowing that is the drink I typically get. Ogre offers some to Benjamin, who after a nice long drink, looks at me, smiles and says “Goo.” Yes, Benji, it is good! Mina sees this and wants some, too. So the drink gets passed to her. She promises to eat all her veggies if she can have it. I give in.
Next comes the Garlic Naan. Not for the faint of heart. This has some serious coarsely chopped garlic on it. Good thing we’re family because I’m sure you could smell us a mile away! Benji is very excited and, of course, wants to dip-dip in the yogurt sauce. I have our waiter, Ogre, grab a bowl for him. We munch on our garlic naan while waiting for our entrees. Mina’s chicken strips (already cut up for her) and fries come out next, followed by my and Ogre’s entrees. I was hoping for the curried vegetables, but today it’s creamed spinach with cheese cubes. Mina has to have spinach. Well, actually, our entrees also come with lentils, but when I let her try the lentils, she chose the spinach even though it has a little spice to it. My Lamb Korma is tasty as ever and I am eating more of Mina’s french fries than she and Benjamin. They have THE best french fries here! I think it’s the oil that has been frying all the other yummy food that makes it so good.
I am watching Benjamin put rice into his styrofoam cup, as well as his fork. He is putting more food in his cup than in his mouth. He then knocks the cup over and spills water all over himself. Ogre cleans it up. Benjamin doesn’t seem to care that he is covered in water. Next, Benjamin takes his styrofoam bowl of yogurt and flings it towards Ogre. Doh! Ogre is not pleased. He gives Benji stinkeye and I try not to laugh. Ogre moves himself and his food over to where Benjamin is not within reach. Ogre makes some comment about how it’s a good thing he eats fast. I know that it’s because he’s had to act as our server throughout our whole meal and take Mina to the bathroom and scoot Mina up in her chair when I ask him and clean up after Benjamin. But wait, Benjamin is not done making a mess. He starts to fling rice all over the place. Here is where I have to be stern, so I tell him “NO.” My mini-me beside me is also telling him “No.” I tell her to stop because I’m trying to get Benjamin to realize what he is doing is bad. He keeps doing it so I stare at him sternly and repeat “No.” Benjamin can get touchy feely and starts saying “Mama” in a vain attempt to get me to stop being mean to him. Once he stops flinging the rice, my face settles to normal. Eventually, I smile at him and tell him that I love him. Ogre mutters how if that had been Mina he’d be in time out by now. Which is not true, Mina was not getting put in time out at this age.
Mina is trying desparately to eat the spicy spinach and since she has made a tremendous effort on her part, I tell her she can stop. She thanks me and tells me that she loves me and focuses on her chicken and mango lassi (Mina is not a huge french fry fan). Thank goodness for me, because at Chaat Cafe, I’m the biggest french fry fan!
Benji is starting to request “Dow, dow.” I get up to take him out of his chair just as Ogre is about to give him the last of the Lassi. Benjamin changes his mind and slurps down the last few drops of the mango drink and then he and I go outside to brush the rice off his clothes. Ogre cleans up what he can of Hurricane Benji.
For “fast food,” the food here is excellent! Their menu has something for everyone, including vegetarians, who often have sparse menu choices. Here, you have as many choices as the chicken or lamb lovers. They have very healthful choices, also. If you’ve never had Indian food, and are not accustomed to their spices, you still have some good choices. Wincy’s husband (who I would not describe as an adventuresome diner) loves the Butter Chicken here, which is boneless cubes of chicken served in a tomato cream sauce. They also have great wraps and kababs here, too.
I, myself, am not a fan of super-spicy food. I order the Lamb Korma, which is very mild. It has an aromatic flavor to it and the sauce is very creamy. The lamb is stewed in the sauce, so it is very tender. Ogre is on the other side of the spectrum -he loves spicy food. He likes the Chicken Tikka Masala, specified as “Extra Spicy.” He chooses this over the Chicken Vindaloo (“spiciest of all the curries”) because the Tikka Masala is a cream based tomato sauce whereas the vindaloo is just tomato based. Even though it is lunch time, we order the dinner portion because it comes with naan, lentils, and a veggie side. If you are lucky enough to get the curried vegetables, you will be dining on very tender, flavorful cauliflower and potatoes. Today the vegetable was creamed spinach, which was also very good -it did have a little bit of kick to it and there were these little cubes of cheese that just enhanced the flavor even more. The smaller portion comes with either rice OR naan.
The only self-proclaimed kids’ item on their menu is the Chicken Nuggets and Fries. Since this is such an exotic menu, I am happy that they have something familiar for children. “Chaat” apparently means “snack,” so if you wanted to avoid the chicken nuggets, you could certainly order off the chaat and appetizers menu for some great samosas, or order one of the wraps. I’m telling you, though, the fries rock the house!
Service for me was great (except for the stinkeye when the yogurt was flung)! Ogre kept my drink refilled, kept my kids happy, and cleaned up after us. Ogre felt a little used and abused. It’s probably good that we walk in other people’s shoes every once in awhile! In all seriousness, this is self serve for drinks. Their staff brings out the entrees when they are ready, but after ordering, that’s all the interaction you’re going to have with them.
It’s loud, has great music, and is very casual. This adds up to a great recipe for family friendly. They don’t go out of their way to entertain your kids, but it’s “fast” food, so I wouldn’t expect them to. This is a place where parents can go for a great tasting meal and have their kids in a place that feels comfortable and have a nice choice of food (from healthy to chicken nuggets for the less adventuresome a la Mina). Mina gives this place 50 to 100 stars, even after being forced to eat spicy spinach!
Total price: 37.61
After last night’s parental sacrificing, Ogre and I will get to experience “the great harvest.” We are going to see the Gipsy Kings after dining at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, and hopefully, having a drink at Stephan Pyles (where they serve some AWESOME Mojito!!) By the way, we highly, highly recommend Stephan Pyles for dining without the kids, we just happen to have a coupon for Ruth’s Chris. Here’s to eating and drinking without the munchkins!
Childsplate.com chronicles our journey to find the perfect family restaurant. We are looking for restaurants with excellent food and a great attitude towards kids, even the whiny, cranky ones! We will be headed out to a different restaurant every single day to provide ourselves (and you) with some entertainment and good information about DFW area restaurants. We hope you will visit frequently and use our experiences to create some fun dining experiences of your own! Watch out, DFW, the Phipps family is going out to eat!