Baltimore Restaurant Week is back! Before you book the sitter and book a table for two, consider taking the kids with you. (Say what?!?) Trust us. Restaurant Week is a great time to plan a family foodie adventure.
Not familiar with Restaurant Week? Let us bring you up to speed. Through January 20, participating restaurants in Baltimore City are offering two-course brunch and lunch menus range from $12-20, and three-course dinner menus range from $20-$35. Reservations are not required to get the deals, but recommended.
Kids love exploring, so it’s a perfect opportunity to introduce them to a new-to-you restaurant or even a new cuisine while being easy on the wallet. (And hey — no dishes is a bonus!)
One of this year’s participating restaurants is Chez Hugo Bistro. Located downtown, Chez Hugo Bistro is a seasonally inspired, farm-driven French bistro featuring a contemporary approach to the traditional countryside cuisine of Chef Steve Monnier. The restaurant was designed around the concept of a casual French bistro, where everyone is gathers and breaks bread together. The open kitchen allows everyone in the restaurant to watch their food being prepared, which will certainly delight curious petit chefs!
Coincidentally, the restaurant is named after Chef Steve’s son, Hugo. Like many young kids, Hugo is not an adventurous eater by nature. So Chef Steve gave us some tips!
Chatting with Chef Steve Monnier, Chez Hugo Bistro
If you’re introducing your child to French cuisine for the first time, what dish do you suggest parents start with and why?
It is always difficult to introduce children to different foods, especially if you have a child that is not an adventurous eater, like Hugo, my son. What I try to do is to have him try everything and make his own decisions on what he likes. Where I would start in the French traditions of food is a cauliflower gratin. It has a good texture and plenty of flavor with the cheese sauce. I would also suggest a carrot rapée (like a carrot spaghetti with a lemon vinaigrette). Desserts are also a great way to go… any dessert, especially the Paris-Brest, créme brûlée, and all the viennoiseries (croissant, pain au chocolat, pain au raisin).
Pain au chocolat is how I introduced by four year old to French cuisine! If your son was coming to the restaurant, what would he order? Why?
Hugo would order a cassoulet, croque monsieur, a burger (no onions), cheeses and bread, and would finish with a créme brûlée. Hugo loves cheese and carbs so he can stay energized for his soccer games.
There is no kids’ menu at Chez Hugo per se, which might make parents think it’s not a “kid-friendly” restaurant. I know that’s because the restaurant is inspired by the concept of a French Bistro, which is everyone eating together — including kids! What makes the restaurant kid-friendly?
Since opening, we have not had a huge calling for children-specific foods, but we try to offer a couple of dishes that always appear on our menu that are designed for sharing. Our concept has always been to offer dishes that can be shared between friends and families that highlight tasty meat proteins and the best vegetables that our partnering farmers have available throughout the seasons. When in doubt, we try to accommodate our customers, large and petit, the best we can and do have our burger, pommes frites, and small steak frites available.
Are there particular times that are better to bring kids or other family tips? For example, when is the best time to score a table in front of the open kitchen so they can watch their food being prepared?
Of course everyone is welcome at any time, but for a more interactive chance to see the kitchen and speak to our team, earlier reservations are recommended (between 5 and 6:30 PM). There is always the Chesapeake Shakespeare Theater to consider bringing the kids out to (just around the corner) which has shows in the evening as well. It is a great night out when they run children-friendly shows such as their most recent holiday production of A Christmas Carol that just finished.
Of course, you guys are known for your farm-to-table offerings and sweets! What is your favorite dessert (and is it on the Restaurant Week menu?)
Our pastry chef Theresa maintains a fantastic and imaginative take on our favorite desserts but we’d have to say that the Paris-Brest is our most well ordered and beloved dessert. A close second would be our Profiteroles, which appear for special events and will be on our Restaurant Week menu this winter, served with chocolate sauce and a house-made vanilla ice cream (parfait pour les enfants).
Parking tips if you have kids?
We have a great relationship with the Arrow parking garage located at 204 E Lombard St. (1 block from the restaurant on Calvert St.) through which we offer complimentary SELF-PARKING with validation from our greeting team at the restaurant. This parking option is available starting at 5pm, Tuesday – Saturday.
ABOUT OUR SPONSOR: BALTIMORE RESTAURANT WEEK
Baltimore Winter Restaurant Week runs through January 20, 2019. Baltimore is a delicious city. Try somewhere new, grab lunch instead of eating at your desk, have a date night (or three). Restaurants aren’t skimping on the food, instead they are showcasing their chefs and menus in hopes of luring you back as a forever customer. Two-course brunch and lunch menus range from $12-20. Three-course dinner menus range from $20-$35. Search below all of the dining destinations and make your reservations now. Reservations are not required to get the deals, but recommended.
All photos by Laura Black.