It should be considered a sin to go on a trip and not have a fine dining experience. And believe me, it can be done with small kids. Maybe not at a Michelin rated restaurant, but there is hope. All you need to enjoy a good dining experience is to take some time to search for the right restaurant.
Places to Eat in St. Augustine, Florida
I found Raintree Restaurant as I searched for top places to eat during our stay in St Augustine. It seemed to offer what I was looking for.
So, what are the important components that a restaurant should have to keep the kids happy while the parents enjoy a good time? (At least for my family)
1- Outdoor seating – This is very important for my family. My boys are very energetic and we don’t like to bring ipads to restaurants. We like to allow them to run and have fun. But in most places it can annoy other costumers and rushing through our food isn’t fun.
Luckily Raintree had a gorgeous courtyard with gazebos. This is my favorite way to eat, but the best part was that it had rained earlier that day and no one wanted to venture outside and my kids had the lay of the land.
2. Food – Of course this is crucial if you want a perfect dining experience. It is extremely important that they have a wide selection for the kids, as well. These two things go through my mind when researching. The options of dishes here is international with a strong focus on British food since the owners are originally for the UK. But they also had many other dishes that pleased us all.
After a bit of rain, it was nice and chilly outside. So ordering lobster bisque was the perfect way to start dinner and to warm up a little.
I ordered the Beef Wellington. It is a traditional English dish and one of their signature ones. I had never tasted it looked like an opportunity to try a tasty and different dish.
My husband was on a seafood kick – Especially mussels. They had a wonderful mussels pasta dish that he enjoyed a lot.
3. Dessert and Wine – This is usually the best part. I had my absolute favorite – creme brulee. Since I always order this dish, I have found excellent ones before and it’s hard to please me. But I have to say, this one was one of the best I have eaten (and I eat it a lot).
As a reward for my boys for being somewhat good was a huge chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. This is when the outdoor garden becomes even more important. The moment after dessert is when mama and papa can relax while the sugar pulses through the kids veins and they go completely nuts running around burning it off.
Raintree restaurant is also famous for having one of the best wine selections in the city. So we also were able to have a glass of wine while the boys were playing.
Check their website for the menus.
4. Backstory – Whenever I can I tend to choose to visit restaurants that have a story to tell. You can get food almost anywhere but it is way more fun to visit a restaurant that has an interesting story. It becomes a three dimensional experience for me.
The long story short – The MacDonald family sold off everything they had and boarded a 45 foot yacht in 1979 off of the Canary Islands heading to the US. 16 days later they arrived to the coast of Florida and eventually made their way to St. Augustine. In 1981 Raintree restaurant opened its doors.
5. Parking – There is something that everyone should know about St. Augustine before visiting it: It is extremely hard to park here. So always look for places with parking. Raintree is located very close to all the action of St. Augustine and has a huge parking lot so we didn’t have problems with that.
Final result – We ended up staying over two hours in the restaurant. It was a great place where kids can play and made our family night out a wonderful experience.