It’s Tasty Tuesday, where we share with you our favorite ways to dine with the kids. But really, today’s Tasty Tuesday should really be a Tasty “Sunday” post. Let’s get to the important stuff immediately, and you’ll understand why.
What if I told you there was a restaurant where…
- You can eat lunch alone with the grown-ups while someone else supervises your children nearby.
- Kids can take a FREE class that teaches them to enjoy healthy eating.
- You can choose from a seasonal menu that has been sourced from local farms and purveyors that includes vegan/vegetarian and gluten-free options.
- The business is run in an ecologically sustainable way and has achieved a 3-Star Certified Green Restaurant rating.
- You can find a lengthy and well-curated selection of beer along with a full bar.
- You get a FREE children’s meal with the purchase of an adult entree.
It’s not too good to be true! This place exists! And every other SUNDAY, Duke’s Alehouse & Kitchen in Downtown Crystal Lake is officially your new fave. Which makes me your new best friend.
Anytime is a great time to visit Duke’s, especially for those who pay special attention to where your food comes from and appreciate a well-crafted beverage. You can find organic produce from Lagerwood Farms in Woodstock or grass-fed beef from family-owned Quarter Circle Seven Ranch in Marengo on your plate. Quench your thirst with an Orval Trappist Ale, a pint of Arrogant Bastard, or one of their featured cocktails. There’s water available too, I’m told.
Sundays are extra special at Duke’s for families. Every Sunday, they run a special for one FREE kid’s (12 and under) meal to purchase an adult entree. Kid’s meals include a beverage and dessert and are affordable even if you don’t come for the Sunday special.
Here’s the best part- every other Sunday, Duke’s hosts a FREE Kids Fruits and Veggies class facilitated by a local mom, Nina Vanderwiel, owner and operator of Fruits & Veggies to the Rescue. The class is for children ages 4-9 and starts at noon on alternating Sundays. You must visit their Eventbrite page to pre-register. It’s an interactive program that taps into children’s love of superheroes to inspire them to eat their fruits and veggies. During each class, children will help create and partake in a healthy snack while also doing games, crafts, and other fun activities. While the kids are in class, mom and dad can enjoy a kid-free lunch downstairs in Duke’s dining room.
Let me personally attest to the fact that my son had vehemently refused to try red bell peppers all his life. After his second Fruits & Veggies to the Rescue class, he came downstairs beaming and excitedly reported, “Mom! I tried red bell peppers! And I like them now!” 100% worth the price of admission… but oh wait, it was FREE! Even better!
Some days, the food they prepare in class is so substantial, you won’t even need to order your child a meal for when the class is over. Our first time there, my son made and ate pasta primavera with the class. The second time they did a crudités “sculpture,” so we did need to order him a meal. It’s worth asking the question of what will be prepared in class, just so if needs be, you can plan to have food ready and waiting for your child afterward. Remember, even if you have to order a kids’ meal, it will be FREE with your adult entree. What’s more, children receive tokens that they can redeem later for another free kids meal. Duke’s knows how to keep you coming back for more!
My only word of caution is for those of you who have children with separation anxiety. The class is held upstairs while the dining room is below. So if you don’t enjoy repeatedly going up and downstairs to comfort an anxious child, I suggest sitting in on the class with them instead. So maybe you won’t necessarily enjoy a kid-free meal, but if it encourages your child to make healthy choices, it’s worth it.
Let’s sum it up again; someone teaches your kids to eat their fruit and veggies for free while you enjoy adult conversation over a fine meal. Charlie Sheen couldn’t have come up with a better win-win situation.
When Loralie isn’t out exploring with her two pint-sized adventurers you’ll often find her in front of her computer plotting to take over the world (or at least Lake County.) She appreciates good friends, good food, expensive shoes and parents who make two lanes in the drop-off/pick-up line at school. Her spirit animal is The Hobbit. She invites you to join her on her quest for unique distractions, diversions and deliciousness in this county we call home.