Courtesy Carlile Room
It’s official: vegetables are now equal to protein on the dinner plate. Take one look at Tom Douglas’s menu at the Carlile Room and you may be surprised to see “Plants” as the entrees and meats as sides to “pair with a plant.” Yes, that’s right, you may now tell your server you’d like “a side of filet mignon.” The great thing about this vegetable revolution (health benefits aside) is that you need not seek out vegetarian restaurants to get superlative veggie dishes. And now, more than ever, you stand a better chance at getting your kids to try more vegetables — especially when they’re prepared as deliciously as these.
1. The Carlile Room, Seattle (downtown)
820 Pine St., Seattle • 206-946-9720
Tom Douglas’s The Carlile Room has more than a dozen “Plant” entrees, ranging from Jerusalem artichoke to chickpea fava fritters. But surprisingly, perhaps, it’s Brussels sprouts that steal the show, pan-roasted with apples and and oakdwood mushroom. Your kids may come away with a whole new appreciation for this humble veggie. The space, too, is full of fun: a 1970s ambience means eye-popping details like a huge Bob Dylan painting, retro lighting and bright orange tableware.
Happy-kid tip: Look for menus themed to shows playing at The Paramount Theatre across the street.
2. Stoneburner, Seattle (Ballard)
5214 Ballard Ave. N.W., Seattle • 206-695-2051
Jason Stoneburner has been dazzling us with delicious vegetable dishes for a few years now; and he even grows many of them at his own farm in Redmond. A lot of restaurants are doing roasted heirloom carrots lately, but Stoneburner led the way. The beautiful medley of colored carrots is flavored expertly with cardamom, “dilly” yogurt and hazelnuts. Big, bustling but comfortable, this Mediterranean spot in Ballard is fit for a bar crowd as well families, and boasts one of the best brunches in town to boot. (FYI: It was one of Ruth Reichl’s favorite restaurants when she visited on her book tour last fall.)
Happy-kid tip: Pop across the street to Hot Cakes for hot chocolate, a molten chocolate lava cake or s’mores.
3. Eve Fremont, Seattle (Fremont)
704 N. 34th St., Seattle • 206-900-7186
If you haven’t yet converted your kids to kale, then give Eve Fremont a go. Its shaved kale salad (a play on a Caesar salad) comes strewn with some hard cheese and olives, as well as sweet currants and a light, fruity citrus dressing. The salty/sweet profile is perfect, the kale crisp. Another great option is their “confit” butternut soup. Made with coconut oil, turmeric, garlic and lime yogurt, it’s a tad tangy and sweet and kids will appreciate its silky smoothness (no picking out chunks of this and that). As you wait for your food, your brood will have fun trying to make out the figure of a woman (Eve) from a few seemingly random large black brush strokes on the wall (it’s like an optical illusion).
Happy-kid tip: The restaurant is located right across from the Waiting for the Interurban sculpture in Fremont, near the bridge, so bring along some old clothes, hats or accessories and decorate it after dinner.
4. Soi/Lionhead, Seattle (Capitol Hill)
There's no better cuisine for turning kids on to veggies than Asian; and two newish spots in town are doing veggies just as well as you’d find them abroad. At Lionhead, Jerry Traunfeld (of Poppy) has taken on Sichuanese cuisine and his entrée-size vegetables are authentic and wonderful. Over at the northern Thai restaurant, Soi, also in Capitol Hill, water spinach is prepared with smashed garlic, fresh bird (Thai) chilies and soy and oyster sauce. It too is packed with flavor and cooked to al dente.
Happy-kid tip: If kids learn to eat veggies at Asian restaurants, they will never associate them with mushiness.
5. Nue, Seattle, Seattle (Capitol Hill)
1519 14th Ave., Seattle • 206-257-0312
Street food may seem like a stretch for kids, but at Nue, it means that your kids will get the opportunity to try some of the most flavorful food from around the world, vegetables included. The communal tables here get crowded, so come early (which you’d probably do with little ones anyway) and treat them to a Brussels sprouts dish that will forever change the way they think of this underrated veg. Fried crispy, the sprouts are served with a coconut and garlic chutney and a peanut satay and sweet chili dipping sauce.
Happy-kid tip: The interior gives kids lots to look at: like papier-mâché dragons, cans of Thai fruits and a large painted mural of a pig and a goat sharing a drink. Don't miss the liquid nitrogen ice cream, Nue's signature dessert.
6. Beardslee Public House, Bothell
19116 Beardslee Blvd., Bothell • 425-286-1001
John Howie (of John Howie Steak in Bellevue) started this brewpub in Bothell, offering plenty of good eats which, though designed to complement the beers, hold up just fine on their own. Hand-tossed pizzas and burgers are mainstays, but starters included a roasted veggie spread with crostini and soups and salads range from a Greek quinoa salad to a kale, red cabbage and carrot salad with sunflower, pumpkin and hemp seeds and a cider Dijon vinaigrette. Grown-ups may choose to end the meal with a sweet pizza or a bourbon butterscotch crème brulee while kids will go gaga for the fresh-baked cast-iron cookie with gooey chocolate chips and vanilla ice cream.
Happy-kid tip: Check out nearby Wilmot Gateway Park with its sculptures of local wildlife.
Note: This article was originally published in Jan. 2016, and updated in Jan. 2017.