When my kids are misbehaving, I sometimes give them a time out. When they are really good, I offer to take them to Time Out.
The Eagan sports bar is the perfect place for families who like to share large portions, catch the latest game and relax in an informal setting. While sports bars aren't for everyone — the TVs are large and loud and alcohol deals play prominently in the decor — we love the kid-friendly menu and budget-conscious specials. Our kids love the free cotton candy.
The handsome restaurant with big windows and dark wood is in a newer development with the typical sub and coffee shops surrounded by commercial businesses near Interstate 494 and Minnesota 55.
Inside, there's a large center bar popular with singles and couples. A separate raised dining area is where families tend to sit. Our family was seated in a booth under a large television set (and directly under the speakers). Loud '80s music from Prince, Madonna and Guns N' Roses blared until "Monday Night Football" started up and management switched over to the game. It was noisy, but it allowed my kids to be kids without disturbing other diners.
My budget-conscious 7-year-old pointed out to the server that the menu says kids eat free on Mondays. "Really?" our server asked. "I just started two weeks ago and didn't realize that."
But she was more than happy to oblige my kids and their requests, offering to "surprise" my son when he couldn't choose between regular or waffle fries with his burger. (She picked waffle fries.) She also delighted my daughter with a complimentary order of waffle fries since they weren't included with her spaghetti.
I picked the blander (but healthier) sweet potato fries to go with my gyro sandwich, and my husband ordered the Jamaican jerk chicken pizza. It wasn't exactly traditional jerk flavor, but the thin crust and toppings reminded him of one of his favorite pizza places growing up, so he was happy. We also split an order of 14 chicken wings as an appetizer and ended up going home with three takeout boxes among the four of us.
Yet, with the kids' meal deal that night, our bill was only $40, including drinks. Later, I noticed I could have saved even more when I found a $5 off with $30 purchase coupon on the restaurant's Web site.
As we were packing up all the leftovers, our server sidled up and quietly asked if it would be OK to give the kids a treat. Unlike the typical ice cream or cookies, she surprised them with free cotton candy that she spun fresh from a machine as they watched. It was the highlight of the night. Next time we're looking for a night out, we're going back to Time Out.
Kids' Cuisine is a one-time take on how restaurants handle kid customers. It's written by a rotation of Pioneer Press staffers with children — the real experts for this column.
Address: 2864 Minnesota 55, Eagan (also locations at 10400 Baltimore St., Blaine, and 19232 Evans St., Elk River)
Prices: Entrees range from $7.49 to $19.99; kids' meals $4.99