Getting kids interested in food seems to be a growing trend, with articles about parents taking their kids to fine dining restaurants or enrolling them in kids’ cooking classes popping up in publications right across North America, with opinion split on whether it’s a positive development.
But once kids hit their teenage years, dining out at restaurants is something that can not only be an enjoyable way to socialize, but a great way to learn about new foods and new cultures.
For the past few weeks, and continuing into early May, kids in grades 7 and 8 from Parkdale Public School have joined members of the arts collective Mammalian Diving Reflex for a series of dinners in restaurants in Parkdale and along Queen Street West called Eat the Street. Part performance art happening and part a lesson in food, culture and etiquette, the kids have the opportunity to act as restaurant reviewers, critiquing the food, service, and atmosphere of a space that is more than likely foreign to them. The idea is to watch how the kids interact with the restaurant and how the restaurant, including staff and other patrons, interact with them.
People don’t really think of Parkdale as being a foodie paradise. And yes, if you’re looking for high-end health food items, organic meat or artisanal bread or cheese, you’d be mostly out of luck. But as one of the most multi-cultural neighbours in one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world, we’ve got a lot of variety working in our favour.
Most folks tend to think of the ‘Dale as a low-end neighbourhood full of nothing but greasy spoons and burger joints. For sure, we’ve got two of the best. The Gate (1206 King Street West) sits at the corner of King and Dufferin and offers up filling breakfast, burgers and some damn fine fish and chips. Peggy, the waitress who’s been working the tables here since the late 60s when she came to Toronto to be a go-go dancer, tells regulars to help themselves to coffee. Further west along Queen, The Skyline (1402 Queen Street West) is about as retro as you can get in terms of diners, with that famous neon sign out front, and fast and efficient service inside from the flurry of activity that is Doris, once voted “best waitress in Toronto”. Other places that serve up a mean burger or all-day breakfast includes Harry’s Burgers (160 Springhurst Avenue) and Stavros (1530 Queen Street West).