If you've become accustomed to shredding, grating, or pureeing hidden veggies into your child's diet, you'll be happy to know that Bean Sprouts Café for kids is open. Instead of stealthily slipping spinach into tomato sauce, the new restaurant in the Seattle Center Armory creatively puts vibrant fruits and veggies on full display, turning olives into eyes and carrot sticks into legs.
Bean Sprouts was founded in 2007 by Kelly Parthen and Shannon Payette Seip. Both mothers, Parthen and Seip started the café concept after noticing that there weren't many restaurants that were both healthy for kids and appealing to adults. Within the past five years, the women have established cooking schools and restaurants in cities across the United States, including Milwaukee and Manhattan. They chose Seattle to launch their flagship café, which opened over Labor Day weekend during Bumbershoot.
Bean Sprouts shares space with local vendors like Bigfood and Pie. Common tables fill the center of the large room with plenty of places to park strollers and gear. Bean Sprouts' spring green walls and witty menu – try sandwiches named "Because I Said So" and "Playdate"– are posted on the wall as well as printed on a low counter that kids can see. The entire space is designed to be accessible to young customers, and the menu includes photos of food so children who can't read are able to point to what looks good.
According to the owners, the menu was designed for the earliest eaters up, with vividly colored organic baby food ($2) in flavors like roasted yam available to eat in or take home. Some organic basics appear on the rest of the menu, including milk and bread. While the owners say that rounding out the menu with organic produce would up menu prices, it's safe to say that most Seattle parents would be willing to pay a few more coins for pesticide-free greens.
Menu highlights include wazzles (pizzas on waffle crusts) and cute-as-a-button sandwiches in shapes of apples, piano keys, and flowers. Most kid-friendly meals are priced between $4-$7 and come with a side. Larger portions for adults are $6-$9; options include a slightly more sophisticated category of salads wrapped in multigrain tortilla cones, fruit smoothies, and bowls of edamame or fruity couscous.
There's a brand new Bean Sprouts play café inside the Seattle Children's Museum directly below the Armory. Cooking classes for children as young as age 2 (many traditional cooking classes start when kids are closer to Kindergarten age) and cooking-themed birthday party offerings are in the works, too.
IF YOU GO
Where: 305 Harrison St., Seattle.
When: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Contact: 206-428-6334; www.beansprouts.com.