This very common child dining concept has never worked for us. You sit down, flip open the menu to the children's section, quickly choose something from the limited and predictable options, close the menu and order for the children. You entertain them for the few precious minutes it takes to warm up some frozen chicken parts and then sit back and enjoy your time while they devour their meal. And then they are ready to go, because they are finished eating, just as your food arrives. I can't blame them; unless I am left with a lovely Pinot Noir and the company of wonderful friends, I am generally ready to leave the restaurant once I've finished eating.
Because our idea of eating out with the children has always been to actually eat with them, we learned early on to decline the invitation to order their food immediately. We sit down, we talk about the restaurant, we talk about the kind of food we think they might serve. We look at the menu. Even now, with two reading seven year old girls, often we must request menus for them because many places seat us with only two menus. They read their own menu now, and we discuss their choices. When it is time to order they do so for themselves, even when the server looks directly at me and says "and what are they having?". We wait. We talk about the day, or the weather, school, upcoming vacations, places we'd like to visit, favorite places to eat guacamole, and who needs new sandals for summer. The food arrives and we eat it, together. And when we are all finished we leave.
View more of my food related ranting here, at Chicago Now.