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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Egg Harbor Cafe (Buckhead) & Le Petit Marche (Kirkwood)

Pancakes.  Warm, sweet, chewy, gooey circles of batter topped with any type of yummy goodness you can imagine.  What kid wouldn't like them?  We think even the pickiest eaters can get down with some fresh-off-the-griddle pancakes.  So, for our last post in this week's "Selective Eater Series," we decided to try a couple brunch spots that are known for their hotcakes.

Egg Harbor Café (Buckhead)

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Toddler Foodie Rating:  3.5 out of 5 Gummy Bears

:) = Convenient location on Peachtree Rd.  Free parking garage.  Multiple spacious dining areas.  Very kid-friendly and groups-with-kids-friendly.  Noise level is perfect for kids and large parties.  Staff seems accustomed to serving children.  Extensive menu featuring many variations of brunch staples (and pancakes), including gluten free and vegetarian options.  Fun kids menu that comes with crayons.  Tasty food.  Friendly, quick service.  Large, clean restrooms with changing tables and stools at the sink for little ones to wash their hands.

:( = Your entire party has to be present before they will seat you (although they may make an exception if you have little ones in tow).  The food is pretty standard - hardcore foodies shouldn't expect it to change their lives.  You have to pay the cashier at the front of the restaurant on your way out.  This is a bit challenging for a parent dining alone with a small child - even tougher for someone with multiple small children.

When Egg Harbor opened its Buckhead location, ITP parents jumped for joy.  Egg Harbor has established its reputation as a family-friendly brunch spot, thanks to its great service and kid-friendly food.  We decided to check it out one Saturday morning to see if it could withstand our stringent Gummy Bear analysis.  When we arrived, Mommy was delighted to find that parking was easy and free.  She also breathed a sigh of relief when she saw that the restaurant was packed with other kid-toting parents.  So far, so good.
We got a table pretty quickly, and our server came to take our drink order before we were even in our seats.  After we got our drinks, she was back at our side again to take our order.  Mommy got the Chicken Sausage & Goat Cheese Scrambler with cheese grits instead of Harbor Potatoes.  Off the Kids Menu, she ordered us the Rainbow Pancake - a buttermilk pancake with miniature M&Ms cooked inside - to share.
Chicken Sausage & Goat Cheese Scrambler
Served with cheese grits instead of potatoes & an English muffin

"Mommy always splits my pancakes in half. Sigh."
The pancakes were a little too doughy - we speculated that they were either undercooked or had too much butter.  But, aside from that, the food was fine.  We liked the fresh basil that accentuated the Chicken Sausage & Goat Cheese Scramble.  Mommy said the coffee was good, too (but, as usual, she bragged to us about it but wouldn't let us try it).  Someone in our party ordered the green tea, which came in this neat contraption:
Green tea thingamajigger.
Aside from the doughy pancakes, Mommy was not a fan of having to pay the cashier on her way out.  There was a line to pay and, even though it moved quickly, she struggled to keep us from running out the door as she fumbled with retrieving her credit card from her purse and signing the receipt.  
There are lots of breakfast/brunch spots in Atlanta, and, in our short existence, we have already chosen a few favorites.  We may not add Egg Harbor to that list for now, although we will definitely plan to come here - or to the sister locations in Sandy Springs and John's Creek - if (a) we just happen to be in the area at breakfast/brunch time and/or (b) we are part of a large group that includes other little ones. 

Le Petit Marche (Kirkwood)

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Toddler Foodie Rating:  3 out of 5 Gummy Bears

:) = Lots of free parking.  Diverse crowd and warm, comfy atmosphere.  Eclectic menu featuring many variations of brunch staples (and pancakes), including vegetarian and a kids menu.  Flavorful food with home-cooked appeal.  Friendly, attentive staff that seem comfortable with little ones.  Patio that allows for more dining space in warm weather.

:( = The restaurant's setup is bit challenging if you're dining with mobile small children.  Prepare yourself by reviewing the details and tips below.  Also, the tables are small and have a lot of items on them (sauces, flowers in vases, keepsakes and other knickknacks) - be ready to move them away from grabby toddler hands.  


We've been wanting to try Le Petit Marche, the acclaimed breakfast/lunch spot in Kirkwood, for some time now.  When we arrived, we were happy to see that parking was plentiful.  However, we were a little disheartened when we got inside.  The restaurant has a non-traditional setup that goes a little something like this:  you walk in the front door, stand in a line (that can spill out the door and onto the sidewalk during peak hours), then order and pay for your food at the counter.   We hadn't done enough research before our visit, so we had no idea what we wanted to order when we arrived.  The line behind us was already pretty long, so we felt rushed to make a decision.  On a whim, we ordered the Olvera Street Tacos (breakfast tacos filled with eggs, chorizo, & other goodies), Griddle Cakes (pancakes served with eggs and your choice of meat - we chose chicken sausage), and a side of cheese grits.

Olvera Street Tacos featuring Spotted Trotter chorizo.

Griddle cakes served with chicken sausage & scrambled eggs
And on the side... Bananas, chocolate, & sweet cream.  Yum.

Tip #1:  If you're visiting Le Petit Marche with your small, active/mobile children (ages 1-3 - you know, the ages when mommies and daddies have the least control), review the menu before you get there so you know what you want to order. 

Once your order and pay for your food, the cashier gives you a number, then you go to the back of the restaurant where you wait for your number to be called.  The waiting area is in a narrow corridor near the restrooms.  Mommy and Daddy had a difficult time keeping us out of trouble and out of other people's way in such a confined space, which we think gave them a little bit of pre-breakfast (and pre-coffee) stress.

Tip #2:  Have a small, easy to access distraction on-hand to make this line a little more bearable for your little ones (and yourself).

We stood in the waiting area line for about 10 minutes before we got a table.  Once we were at the table, Mommy and Daddy realized that they had to get up and get our utensils, water, coffee, napkins, and juice at the front of the restaurant.  So one of them stayed with us at the table while the other took care of that task.  The food arrived in the meantime. 

"Daddy forgot to get me a fork, so I might as well start eating
with my hands. Can't let these griddle cakes get cold!"
Tip #3:  Grab your utensils and napkins (and water/coffee/juice) when you first arrive and order your food - especially if you're a lone parent dining with your little ones.  Be prepared to make multiple trips to the front if you have your hands full of toddlers and miscellaneous toddler baggage. 

All the logistical challenges aside, we thought the food was good.  It tasted like it was made with a lot of love and fresh ingredients, like something Mommy would make for us at home.  The griddle cakes were perfect - fluffy, well-cooked, and just sweet enough to allow us to top them off with a little syrup and the bananas with sweet cream & chocolate that was served alongside our tacos.  Daddy really liked the fresh pico de gallo in the tacos, and Mommy raved over the chorizo.  We'll come back to Le Petit Marche to try some of their other dishes, but we'll probably avoid peak hours - and make sure we are better prepared.

And while you're in Kirkwood...
We highly recommend checking out Taproom Coffee.  This hip spot features premium quality coffee and espresso drinks (including lattes adorned with frothy designs), craft beer, and more.  It's a chill, zen-like space that appears to be a popular study spot.  
Mommy's oh, so pretty vanilla latte.
Mommy and Taproom's owner, Jonathan, have known each other since they were both toddlers, so we're not going to subject Taproom to the full-on Gummy Bear test.  If you really want to know what we think, check out Taproom's awesome reviews on Yelp.  The good reviews pretty much echo our feelings about this place.
"Do you think Mommy will buy all of these for us?"

Well, that's all for this week, folks.  We hope you've found some useful dining-out tips in this week's "Selective Eater Series."  And remember:  picky eaters can be foodies, too!     

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