Kids under 10 eat for free every Tuesday at One Federal in St. Albans. Buy one adult entree, and you get one kid's meal on the house at this eclectic eatery, which touts its commitment to local agriculture. It's the perfect opportunity for a frugal single father, such as myself, to treat his daughter to a fine-dining experience.
It was easy to entice my 8-year-old, Bebo, to the restaurant on a recent Tuesday evening. She digs One Federal's popular Frickles — beer-battered fried pickles with ranch dipping sauce.
And the tasty fried appetizers aren't the only attraction; the kids' menu is also packed with healthy $7 meals — seven entrees (from chicken fingers to salmon) and a choice of seven sides (from salad to kettle chips). But the options aren't endless. When Bebo flipped the menu over, she said, "Dad, there's nothing on the back."
Bebo and I ordered, then chatted amiably while we waited for our food. Our server didn't offer us the usual activities or coloring books. Maybe she thought Bebo was too old for them. Or maybe she realized my girl's not at all the Tasmanian Devil-type. Bebo waited calmly and quietly.
At least until she realized: "We forgot the Frickles!"
We placed our frickle order, and our waitress immediately got it into the kitchen. We had planned to eat the fried pickles as an appetizer, but they arrived just moments before the main course — our fault, for ordering them late.
They were worth the wait, though. When they arrived, Bebo started singing Heart's 1985 hit "What About Love?" Then she looked down at all seven Frickles, her eyes wide with excitement, and announced, "You are about to be eaten by the monster that loves Frickles." (Yup, kids dig 'em.)
Our meals were fantastic — chicken Alfredo and a side salad for her, and for me, nachos loaded (loaded!) with "all the good stuff," as advertised on the menu.
We had plenty of food to bring home — including two Frickles. And, as promised, Bebo's meal was not listed on our more-than-reasonable bill. We were charged $1.25 for her beverage, though, which made me cringe a tad, considering her food was free. Why not the drink, too? Also, the Frickles weren't free.
Yes, I am frugal.
Honestly, I was a little worried we might be charged for the meal. I knew that Tuesdays were kids-eat-free nights, and I saw it on the menu, but during our visit, none of the waitstaff brought it up.
The word is out, though. As we were leaving, I noticed a party with three children under age 10, a couple with a toddler, and another couple near the entrance with two children about Bebo's age.
All of these children seemed remarkably civilized. Perhaps they were on their best behavior, in anticipation of the Frickles.