Have you ever noticed that nearly every single restaurant, whether it be Chinese, Indian, Japanese or Mongolian, generally has a kids menu that consists of the following: Chicken Tenders, Hot Dog, Burger, Noodles and Mac & Cheese. Without fail. And since we really like to eat out with our kids, I’m going to occasionally review the places we eat in the hopes that you can benefit from good, and bad places to take your kids…

The Pantry of Rancho Santa Fe

Rancho Santa Fe doesn’t have much when it comes to much of anything. Our main street consists of an alarming number of Real Estate Agents’ offices (go figure), banks (yep), an exorbitant jewelry store where a lady suggested I might want to upgrade my wedding ring, and an equally expensive antique store that I have never entered. The only vaguely cute store, Plume, just closed its doors, all of the restaurants close at 3pm and in general the weekends feel as dead as the founding residents of the town. So, I was filled with a little trepidation when I heard that The Pantry, home to my favorite Chicken Bulgar salad (see blog mention here) had been taken over.

Turns out my trepidation wasn’t unfounded. Here’s why:

– We were told that the restaurant closed at 3pm and when we left at 3:30pm they were still seating people.  We felt hurried, and then a bit cheated, because we’re sensitive little nunus. Why not simply stay open later? There’s clearly a need!
chicken-nuggetsKids menu: you guessed it. But why, oh why, batter your chicken tenders with loads of Cayenne pepper? And does your chef not care to taste his batter? Especially after he obviously dropped the salt-cellar into it. Completely inedible. After the manager saw us attempting to scrape off the batter he did offer to remake it, and did give us some complimentary fries after we asked for more.
spilled-sodaWaitress was insipid, a little confused and quite inattentive. Milan spilled his drink. Nobody noticed. We cleaned it up and moved chairs around. Nobody noticed us heaving huge wicker chairs around. That’s ok. We’re strong. She also didn’t notice that the food she had delivered was wrong. So actually, the essential elements of her job were missing. Thank goodness she isn’t a brain surgeon.
– Which brings me to the saddest part: My beloved Chicken Bulgur salad: teaspoon of bulgur and at first came with no chicken. None at all. I know that there are more sad things in the world. But don’t ruin a great salad.

Hopefully The Pantry is just suffering from a change of ownership hiccup. And in the meantime, please could someone open a nice shop of some sort in town? Pretty please? I promise we’ll come and eat chicken tenders nearby.