Portage Bay Cafe Tricks Kids into Eating Ancient Grains

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Portage Bay Cafe
Some parents are so stealthy about hiding fruit, greens, and ancient grains in their kid's food that they might as well put on a creepy McDonald's Hamburglar mask and cape like this guy and tip toe around the kitchen. An ironic illustration, sure, but with research suggesting that sneaking pureed vegetables into children's diets lowers daily calorie counts while upping vitamin intake, it's no shocker that Seattle-area moms and dads get a little batty about making mealtime healthy.

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Other parents take an opposing stance, claiming that hiding whole foods in kid plates is deceptive and misses the point of the process. Kids will learn to eat well if the food tastes good, they say. The menu at brunch and lunch spot Portage Bay Café satisfies both camps.

The white bean garden burger is a hearty patty of veggies, emmer faro, and cannellini beans slid in between an innocuous brioche roll. Organic buckwheat pancakes are filled with extra protein and potassium, but when they're topped with copious amounts of fresh strawberries from the cafe's famed berry bar, kids won't think twice about eating a "weird sounding" flour.

While quality ingredients are consistent throughout the local, sustainable menu, Portage Bay's execution isn't always spot on. Cherry pecan pancakes made with organic whole wheat flour arrived in a blushing pile with a glob of melting butter overflowing in one corner of the plate. The pair of cakes clung to each other without any fluff or spring. Underneath syrup, blackberries, and butter, the batter itself tasted flat and badly needed salt. Carb lovers will do better with the French toast dotted with tart lemon curd, ripe blueberries, and whipped cream.

Portage Bay operates bustling cafes in Roosevelt, South Lake Union, and Ballard near the Locks. Adult-only eaters be forewarned: while all three locations are packed on weekends, the Ballard outpost is busting at the seams with child diners, making it almost impossible to avoid sitting near or hearing kids.

Even if its flavor profile is about as complex as an inchworm, the vat of Fonte coffee sitting by the door eases the Sunday morning wait and soothes background noise. That said, the high ceiling and big windows do little to insulate sound, so if you're looking for a quaint brunch you'll be better served at Tilth or Boat Street. But for parents counting on a certain level of background noise to dim the effects of child outbursts, Portage Bay is the way to roll.

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