Full Moon Restaurant: Perfect for Your Little WerewolvesSeptember 19, 2011
Today we’re talking family-friendly restaurants. There is usually an unfortunate disconnect in this country between restaurants of this kind and those that are also foodie-friendly; generally speaking, the quality of the food tends to decline the more kid-friendly a place is (read: Chuck E. Cheese). But a little place in Cambridge, MA called the Full Moon Restaurant has managed to create both an environment that caters to children, and a menu of creative and delicious food that parents will love.
Opened by two sisters in 1997 who, according to their web site, knew first-hand how hard it was to find a restaurant that appealed to the tastes and temperaments of both grown-ups and kids. But be warned – when they say this is a kid-friendly place, they mean it. If you’re looking for a quiet dinner out, do not come here. If you have kids but are looking for a little “adults only” time, do not come here. The small dining room was full of children at 6PM on a Saturday night, as is the case most weekends. If you do show up after 8, the noise level greatly decreases and you might be able to enjoy the food without the additional ambience. But for parents looking for good “grown-up” food and a place to bring the kids, Full Moon is spot on.
We waited about 30 minutes for our table, but our 4-year-old had plenty to do while we waited. Full Moon has a small play area adjacent to the dining room, complete with a train table, a faux kitchen, and tons of books and toys. Many parents were enjoying their food while keeping an eye on their kids. Plus each table is covered with paper to draw on, and kids get a bucket of toys to keep at their tables.
Another smart move on their part, in our opinion, was to acquire a liquor license – they feature a good number of wines and microbrews, any of which are a welcome sight when dealing with small children.
Full Moon’s small-ish menu changes seasonally and features an eclectic mix of dishes. Starters include items like gazpacho, a roasted beet salad, cod cakes, a grilled asparagus salad, and a couple of homemade soups. Entrees include delectable-sounding items like a Moroccan-spiced chicken tagine, mussels and chorizo, baked salmon, slow-roasted pork, pastas, and a tapas plate. The kids’ menu features familiar fare like hot dogs, mac n’ cheese, quesadilla, and chicken fingers, but all are served with fruit and veggies, not fries (which they will provide upon request). Plus the items are naturally made, not processed; very refreshing for a kids’ menu.
We tried the pasta puttanesca, the mussels and chorizo, and the kids’ quesadilla. The pasta featured roasted tomatoes, olives, capers, garlic, pepper flakes, & parmesan; it was good, though not above and beyond the same dish at other places. Eating the mussels and chorizo, however, brought me immense joy. I cannot even begin to describe the happiness I felt with each bite. First of all, the number of mussels was impressive – no less than 2 dozen of the mollusks adorned the large silver pot, and each one was cooked to perfection. Mussels are easy to mess up – they have to be cleaned thoroughly, otherwise sand gets in and we all know how enjoyable it is to have sand in your food. You can tell when they’re cooked enough because the shells open, but if you leave them cooking longer than that they get tough and chewy. These – all 24 or so of them – were simply perfect. The chorizo was tender and spicy, and the broth – well, let’s just say if I only had one broth to eat/drink for the rest of my life, this would be it. Smoky from the roasted tomatoes, aromatic from the cumin and other spices, it elevated the dish from great to divine. Each bite of the mussels, chorizo and broth together made my smile grow wider and wider (having a beer to go with it didn’t hurt either). It was topped with fries in a spicy mayo – I didn’t like the way it was served; it was cumbersome getting the mussels and such out from under the fries, but they were delicious – that spicy mayo had a great kick. The kids’ quesadilla was just fine, served with melon and carrots. Our little guy didn’t care for the fruit and so we asked for “a few more carrots.” After too long a wait, our server returned with a bowl of maybe a dozen carrots; way more than necessary.
Full Moon has some mouthwatering desserts, like their warm chocolate pudding cake among others. We shared one of their giant chocolate chip cookies, which was a little disappointing – it didn’t taste like it was homemade, though it seemed to be so.
The service at Full Moon was a little lacking, though it was very crowded and with little kids running all over, we were more tolerant of the service than had we been elsewhere. Prices are extremely reasonable; starters are $10 and under, with entrees ranging from $15-$20. The portion sizes are just about perfect, including the kids’ meal.
The Mouse House Kitchen gives Full Moon Restaurant 3.5 out of 5 stars!