Pamela Chan, BCFamily.ca
If you have young children, you might be wondering when you will be able to go out for a family meal at a restaurant that isn’t a step up from McDonalds. If your children are under 5 – as ours are – there is always that potential for a bit of a situation during the meal.
Recently we decided that for our wedding anniversary we would try out Daniel’s Mediterranean Taps and Grill, on Lougheed Highway near Coquitlam Centre. Last year we ordered White Spot takeout. You can see that we were ready for an upgrade. Since we moved to the Tri-Cities two years ago, we’ve been skirting around the reviews of this restaurant but ended up eating at large, corporate chain restaurants nearby. There’s a comfort to knowing there will be a system of booster chairs, colouring packs and kids menus that are offered.
Sunday Evening is Quiet
We decided to visit Daniel’s Restaurant on Sunday evening. It turns out that Sunday is one of their slower evenings. Perfect timing for a family with 3 1/2 year old twins. We went with two grandparents and had a large table at the front of the restaurant to ourselves. They have booth seating, which works well for children who don’t always need boosters and can reach the table top. There are also single tables that could accommodate a car bassinet or small stroller on the side.
If you’re looking for a livelier time, Friday and Saturday nights are popular. On those nights there is live jazz and Latin music.
As we entered the restaurant, two clients were leaving. They raved about the Mediterranean Chicken, which was on special for $15. Three of us decided to order this dish and were happy with our choice. It featured a pleasant mix of red and orange peppers, roasted potatoes, a delicious sauce and nicely prepared chicken stuffed with spinach, feta cheese and sun dried tomatoes. We also had an order of meatballs and linguini with tomato sauce, which we split for the children, and chicken korma, that featured a coconut, yogurt and curry sauce. For appetizers we added in pita bread and tzatziki, risotto balls with sauce and calamari. To finish off the meal we ordered rice pudding and chocolate lava cake with ice cream. An unexpected discovery was the Sadaf Special Blend tea with Earl Grey that they served. If you like black tea, do try this Sri Lankan blend. Except for the calamari – which was a bit on the crispy side – everything was delicious. The food was certainly as high quality as anything you can order at the many big chain restaurants that line Lougheed highway.
Since we weren’t at the restaurant on a busy night, we don’t know how fast the service would be then. If you want fast service, it’s probably a better idea to visit one of the chain restaurants across the way.
In addition to the $15 Dinner Specials, which includes Mediterranean Chicken, Lamb Shank, Butter Chicken and Seafood Curry, there is a lunch special for $8. This special includes Mediterranean Style Chicken Legs, Corned Beef Platter, Baked Lasagna, Baked Fettuccine Alfredo and Baked Linguini.
Neither the woman’s or larger washroom have a change table. An addition of a fold down table in the largest bathroom would be a good idea. You could push a stroller into the largest washroom and change your baby, if necessary. The owners were very welcoming of our children and gave us warm greetings and a send-off when we left. This is the kind of personal touch that reminds you that this is a local, family owned restaurant.
If you live in the Tri-Cities area, or you’re passing through, add Daniel’s Restaurant to your list of places to try. Reading online reviews of this restaurant can be confusing because the restaurant changed to a new management/owners team in October of 2012. So keep this in mind when you do your research.
Parking: There are a few spaces in front of the restaurant, and some unmarked stalls in front of the highway near the thrift store. They also have parking spots at the rear of the restaurant.
Booster seats: If you want to expand your dining options and move away from chain family restaurants, you might have to face the issue of booster seats. We like to travel with the Safety 1st boosters (leaving the tray at home). They fold up compactly and we can fit two easily in a large, Toys R Us reusable shopping bag. Practice a few times at home to figure out how to use it. There are many other companies that make this type of booster. As your children turn 3 1/2 and are in that in between size, you can leave the seats in the car and see if you can make out without them. Be careful about placing children in unsecured boosters on individual seats. The child and the booster can topple off of the chair. Large chain restaurants aren’t even allowed to offer this as an option and will only place boosters on bench seating.
Other issues: Restaurants that aren’t chain family restaurants won’t have colouring packs and plastic cups. We like to bring a set of plastic bowls, utensils, non-spout sipping cups, some paperback picture books and magic drawing boards (with slides that erase).