Lansdowne Resort Chef Marcus Repp may have faced his toughest critics yet Wednesday night: kids.
The pint-sized food critics were the guests of honor at the resort’s Coton & Rye restaurant, as they weighed in on a variety of food options Repp has rolled out for the resort’s new kid-friendly menu. It all came about thanks to a collaboration between Lansdowne Resort and Spa and Inova Loudoun Hospital in an effort to help curb childhood obesity by offering young ones healthy food options, often in the guise of their favorite indulgences. Inova Registered Dietitian Wendy Johnson collaborated with Repp on the stealthy-but-wholesome menu items.
Before the feast began, Repp offered his thanks to the children and their parents for participating in the taste test. He said in his three decades of being a chef, this was a first for him.
“In my 30 years [as a chef] I’ve never had a kids’ menu that was fun, delicious, and healthy,” he said. The end result, Repp added, “is a really interesting mix of food items that might seem familiar but have some twists to them.”
Sneaky sliders, for example, are just that. Grass-fed organic beef, parmesan cheese, and “saucy sauce” sandwiched between a bun. Side items served Wednesday included sweet potato fries, purple mashed potatoes and rice dream—a compilation of cauliflower, seitan tofu, zucchini, and red bell pepper sautéed and flavored enough to fool even the most discerning young palates.
The menu of course featured some timeless favorites, with a healthier twist. Sunny with a Chance of Meatballs included gluten-free spaghetti, local organic turkey, organic marinara sauce, pumpkin puree, fresh basil, and parmesan cheese. Old Dominion Dunkers are made of free-range chicken in suitable dipping portions, with a healthy “dunkin’” sauce that would make ketchup blush.
Breakfast items were also up for grabs and made even the most gourmet of items kid friendly. Crazy Crepes, Omelet Roll Ups, and Potomac Porridge, made breakfast-for-dinner good even one day removed from Fat Tuesday.
But the sweet tooths were not forgotten. Each young critic made sure to sample every item on the dessert menu. The iconic Worms In Dirt brought together organic Oreo cookies, Moorenko’s Vanilla Ice Cream, and even organic gummy worms. A Bear’s Favorite had this reporter’s threenager convinced she was eating ice cream, except it was in fact Greek yogurt, with mixed fruit, walnuts, and local honey, topped with a gluten-free cookie. The Orchard Jacks apple fritter featured Pink Lady apples, with dairy-free butter, and Moorenko’s Vanilla Ice Cream, and had everyone convinced they must be eating something totally gluttonous. And a rainbow smoothie, appropriately topped with sprinkles, gave kids a dose of essential vitamins with kale, raspberries, blueberries, rice milk, and coconut milk.
Each young one, sometimes with the assistance of their parents, were asked to rate each food item on a scale of 1—or “no, thank you”—to 5—“most deliciously amazing item ever.” At the end of the night it was clear the dessert items had all gotten high marks, as had the twists on spaghetti and meatballs, sweet potato fries, and chicken nuggets.