Parents: here's what happens your first time dining at Full Moon. Walk in and you might spot the jubilant scrum of toddlers in the play area, one child fiddling with a toy train, another manning a replica kitchen or doodling away on poster board. How nice, you think to yourself with more than a trace of suspicion. But something’s amiss. And then it hits you: there’s no stench of fast food here, likewise no gaudy décor or costumed mascots. Instead, the aroma of lemongrass and coconut seafood stew or Moroccan chicken tagine consumes the art-filled dining room. A child guzzles juice from a sippy cup; beside him, his parents clink glasses of fine wine. In one ear you hear the laughter of children; in the other, the easy conversation of adults. Your inner skeptic struggles to resist, like Mary Poppins in a windstorm. Then the waiter delivers an adult-sized portion of pan-roasted salmon or a spread of mussels and Portuguese chorizo. And beside that—a child-sized plate of mac and cheese flanked by a side of fresh fruit. And slowly, your doubts fade away. And you think to yourself: Maybe it’s time to fire the babysitter. Welcome to Full Moon. In 1997 sisters Sarah and Cary Wheaton, both mothers to young children, set out to create an upscale alternative to the traditional family restaurant—a place where child and parent could enjoy quality food (and time) together in a tasteful setting. It seems they succeeded. As the Boston Globe remarked in a piece about the restaurant's 15th anniversary, despite all the toys, “It’s not just the children who are in heaven.” Indeed, parents relish the ability to dine on crab ravioli with chive cream sauce or grilled sirloin filets smothered in blue cheese, all with their children just an arm’s-length away. Their kids seem equally overjoyed. Kid-friendly entrees, such as quesadillas and chicken fingers, are made with seasonal ingredients and come with a side of fresh fruit. At the behest of the owners—all too familiar with children’s temperaments—chefs kick out the kid food quickly so the kids don’t get cranky and fill up on their own tears.
Crate Escape owes its existence to a 10-year-old jack russell terrier named Ernestine Hastings. Ernestine's owners, Bradley and Stephanie, loved their pooch so much that they decided to spread this affection to other dogs by opening a spacious boarding and grooming facility. Pet owners can drop off their furry friends for daycare or overnight boarding services, letting pups gambol about in a 17,000-square-foot play space. Groomers tackle matted fur and tails caked in cake by scrubbing coats with hypoallergenic shampoo.
Formaggio is a gourmand's paradise that was named Best Cheese Shop in 2009 by Boston magazine and Best Gourmet Food Shop in 2010 by the Improper Bostonian. Its California mono-varietal extra-virgin olive oil, which you will receive with this Groupon, is cookable, dippable, and nearly sippable. Though Formaggio offers a wide range of imported gourmet spices, pastas, and sauces, the delectable delicatessen is best known for its great cheese wall, which contains hundreds of gourmet artisan cheeses. An in-house belowground cheese cave keeps the entire cheese stock fresh while it is taught to read, write, and count cards. Savor a variety such as Boule de Quercy, a goat's milk cheese topped with a wild raspberry leaf (5 oz. $9.95), or the strong-flavored provolone vernengo ($16.48 per half-pound). Stock and pricing may vary.
A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, chef Wiechmann draws on his French culinary training to make the most of pure, simple ingredients. Humanely raised meats, local vegetables, and foraged mushrooms can be found across his menu, but not in expected combinations. Dishes such as squid-ink pasta express his indomitable creativity.
At House of Chang, you can just as easily find a happy family sitting at one of the restaurant’s cozy tables as you can find one on a plate. The Happy Family, of course, is one of House of Chang’s specialty dishes, a reunion of shrimp, beef, chicken, pork, and broccoli in brown sauce. It shares menu space with other house dishes, including plum duck and sesame chicken. The rest of the menu has everything from lo mein and chop suey to moo shi, which wraps mushrooms, scallions, eggs, and meat in a pancake, much like the severance package that an omelet gets after it leaves its kitchen job. A review of House of Chang in The Boston Phoenix lauded the eatery simply for its “swell food at moderate prices.”