My husband and I were foodies before the term became as over-baked as it is these days. I always just considered us food snobs. We know what quality tastes like and we seek it out. Then we feed it to our kids. Because really, one cannot live on Kraft Mac-n-Cheese for life. Oh, okay maybe one of my redneck cousins could, but not me.
So we pack up the brood – currently comprised of our 15, 9 and 7 year old offspring – and head out on culinary walkabouts. Our tasty travels have taken us to tables near and far. One of our most recent jaunts was just down the road in Federal Hill, of all places. Proving you can find great stuff close to home.
The Metropolitan Coffee House & Wine Bar isn’t the stereotypical kid haven. (You know, a pizza joint with a rodent of unreal proportions pushing games and hoarding tickets) Does that make it family-unfriendly? No. In fact, other families were there and it was evident that they were neighborhood regulars, on a first name basis with the staff.
Are you going to find a kid’s menu featuring the usual suspects. No. There wasn’t even a separate menu. That said, there were still lots of kid-friendly options. Pizza, fries, hand-cut onion rings, and chicken on a stick. The menu of appetizers is extensive and mouthwatering, with portions nearly big enough for a meal.
Vegetarian Scotch Eggs? I’ll admit to being a bit hesitant here. Back when I used to eat meat, a Scotch Egg was sausage-enrobed-deep-fried-awesome. Could could this guilty pleasure be repeated with chickpeas? Yes! And I dare say it was better than it’s meaty namesake. The best part? My kids agreed. Meatless Monday here they come.
In the entree department the Smoked Duck and Shrimp pasta was a sweet and smokey treat my husband insists I learn to make at home. Our teen noshed on Portobello ravioli in rosé cream sauce topped with fresh Mozzarella – – and since she was busy eating, she wasn’t serving up snark – – hello, that was my dessert!
The most surprising plates, were those that our picky eater Peter gobbled down with blissful abandon. Deep fried goat cheese balls topped with crispy shoestring potatoes and a balsamic reduction. Yes, he ate that!
Artisan cocktails, craft beers and a binder’s worth of a wine list, round out the grown-up experience with panache.
If you’re looking for a place to start weaning your family from common eateries, this is a good start.
Metropolitan Coffeehouse & Wine Bar, Federal Hill
902 S. Charles Street
Hours: Mon-Wed 7am-10pm; Thu-Fri 7am-11pm; Sat 8am-11pm; Sun 8am-10pm
GETTING THERE: Parking is rough. Because, Federal Hill ya’ll. There is metered street parking along Charles and a few public parking lots in the area. The upside is, if you have to park further away, the walk is packed with kitschy shops, boutiques and even an actual record store worthy of dusting off that turntable in the basement for.
COST: This isn’t a place that’s going to offer a “Kids Eat Free Tuesday.” That said, for elevated pub grub the price is right. A Kobe Beef French dip will set a meat lover back $14, but it comes with a side of scrumptious slaw and shoestring fries. The appetizers are nearly big enough to make a meal and priced as low as $5 for crab deviled eggs. Two of my kids split the caramelized onion and goat cheese pizza at $7.50, and there was still enough pizza for dad to have nibbles.
FAMILY ACCESSIBILITY: Small space – and I can imagine it gets packed for brunch and late dinner service. We went early on a Friday evening (5:30 p.m.) and there were at least two other families with kids there. Seating is available both up and down stairs, with regular and pub tables. I wouldn’t suggest tall pub chairs for little foodies.
KEEP ‘EM HAPPY: Other than the TV above the bar, there isn’t anything for kids. This isn’t a place set up for kid entertainment, but it isn’t snobby “who brings a kid to dinner?” dinning either. For us it was the perfect atmosphere for our kids to feel comfy and test drive their grown-up manners. The other families there at the time brought along iPads and coloring books.