We eat out quite frequently as a family and I'm always on the look out for exciting new menus with lots of variety and healthy options for the children - I like to ensure they consume their five a day, or at least get somewhere near it, even when away from home.
We have dined at Harvester restaurants a number of times over the years and we were pleased to be invited along to put the new kid's meals to the test. If it meant a night away from the oven and dishwasher then that's excuse enough for me but I was also eager to see the new look of the Grange Park branch after a refurbishment.
We were welcomed and seated by Claire who was really friendly and pleasant to chat with. She talked us through the menus, took our order and directed us to the drink dispenser where we could help ourselves to unlimited soft drinks and to the salad bar which again is unlimited.
One of the main things I like about Harvester restaurants is how you can help yourself in this way. It gives the Mini Mes a little responsibility and freedom and when they get involved it also encourages them to try new things. You can choose what drink you would like, how much ice you want to add if any and the touch buttons make it really easy to operate. Similarly with the salad you can use the tongs and scoops to stock up on carbs like potato salad and pasta or fill up on lettuce, peppers and cucumber, with your favourite dressings - it's totally up to you.
I was really impressed by the children's menu. Little ones can select a main and either 2 veg options or 1 veg with a side along with the salad bar for a set fee. There is 'Smaller Bites' option (£3.99) with a list of meals for those with tiny tummys (probably best suited for toddlers or pre-schoolers), 'Bigger Appetites' (£4.99) and then 'Harvester Recommends' (£5.99) which offers the larger meals more suited at older children.
Minxy opted for southern fried chicken bites which she teamed with cheese and tomato rice and fresh vegetable sticks, whereas Jamster selected Harvester's Famous Ribs which come with a wedge of grilled pineapple and he chose fries and baked beans to go with them. Both really liked that some of the meal was served in small 'plant pots' and they each told me that the protein selected was incredibly tasty and juicy.
On the reverse of the menu there is a list of desserts so while our empty plates were removed from the table the Mini Mes had a browse through the options while also taking a look through their activity packs which were provided upon arrival. These are a great way to keep kids entertained between courses with colouring pages, crayons and finger puppets being supplied and with each set coming in a brown paper bag you can easily collect the contents up at the end of your meal to take home - we used the cress seeds over the summer holiday.
For dessert both children chose the build your own chocolate cookie pizza as they sounded incredible! The cookies come topped in a thick chocolate sauce and with little containers of marshmallows, strawberries, toffee sauce and Cadbury chocolate buttons.
These not only tasted great (I did have a nibble) they encouraged creativity which I really like.
Kids love to have fun with food so these were a great idea.
As well as the Mini Mes enjoying their meals the Mr and I thought ours (breaded button mushrooms, mac and cheddar cheese bites, triple chicken, 7oz gammon steak, sticky toffee pudding and a sundae) were delicious and incredibly good value.
*We received a free meal and drinks for the purpose of this review. The opinions given are honest and our own*