Laurelwood Pizza Company (and thoughts on kid-friendly places)

Close followers of our blog know that your humble authors are all laden with at least a kid each. Friends of the blog might know that I was blessed with a second child in October.

What this means is that we're always keyed-in to whether a place is good for family. Though we don't set out specifically to find family-friendly locales most of the time, they do need to be (at least) family-tolerant, and where we have kids that don't seem well attended-to, we're sure to take notice in these pseudo-pages. In fact, I've thought of creating a family-friendly tag, but we're over 100 posts now, and I don't feel like taking the time to go back through everything.

If you've got a kid, shoot us an e-mail and we'll let you know if any given restaurant will be good for you.

We've actually caught some guff in prior comments from folks who didn't seem interested in our thoughts on family-friendliness. Most restaurant blogs in town seem concerned with the aesthetics of their objects without addressing the dirty business of how places accomodate family units. And, for some, that's what they're looking for. We, though, are a breeder-friendly experience, and we refuse to apologize for pointing out when a place that is open to all isn't conducive to the messiness that is a family meal.

I digress. Sort of.

Last weekend, the Missus and I decided we wanted to go to a family-friendly place with some friends of ours who are also doubly-blessed with offspring. It fell on me to pick a location.

I racked my brain. I knew that I wanted somewhere that had something for the kids to do, because that would allow for conversation with our friends. My wife suggested Out of This World Pizza in Hillsboro, but I really didn't have the energy to go there and chase my 3 year-old around, nor did I want to sacrifice good food. And, frankly, living in SE Portland makes Hillsboro less-than-ideal for me.

I thought about Laurelwood Public House on Sandy. I love the place as a concept -- they make good beer and their food is decent, and they have a small play area for kids. But they're always too packed and I wanted pizza, after my wife had planted the pie idea in my head with the afore-mentioned Out of This World.

How about I split the baby, I thought? There's a Laurelwood on 40th, just off of NE Sandy, that serves pizza instead of burgers-and-such. And so we ended up going to the Laurelwood Pizza Company.

Pleasant surprise: We didn't have to wait for seating. Which was a shock. Here we were at 6:30 on a Saturday, and there was no wait to seat a party of 4 adults and 3.5 kids (I never count babies as a full person since they can sit in a lap or be set on a floor in their carrier if needed). Service was prompt and attentive and between order and food delivery, we only waited about 15 minutes (though the tater tot appetizer came within 10).

During that time, our kids were able to enjoy themselves in the kids play area, which is stocked with toys and carpeted for a moderate amount of safety. There were several unsupervised kids there who seemed hell-bent on finding ways to maim themselves, but the area is set up so that attentive parents can still monitor it from their table.

The menu is typical Italian joint. Salads, pastas, stromboli sandwiches, etc. The food, though, is quite good.

Our friends ordered the Big Island, which is a fancified name for the Hawaiian. Not special at all, but for a fine beer-batter dough and a good sauce. My wife and I are generally a little more adventerous, so she selected the Tuscany: roasted garlic infused olive oil, mozzarella, prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, goat cheese & balsamic reduction. It was an impressive pie, so much so that my wife declared it her second-favorite in town (the first being the Stevie's Wonder at Caro Amico).

I give bonus points to brewpubs. I like beer. And I like places that are able to show off the fact that they make their own. And Laurelwood does this, in spades, with a brewroom that is prominently displayed through some windows in their restaurant.

Perhaps the biggest seal of approval was from our friends, who are difficult to dine with. They don't really like anything, and I wasn't sure how the night would turn out. The wife, at least, loved the place, and demanded we let them know when we were heading back (which should be soon).

What did we end up spending? Well, I picked up the tater tots for the table. Two beers, two glasses of wine for my wife, a kids meal for my daughter (crappy mac-and-cheese, but she seemed to enjoy it) and our large $20 pie all for about $50. Not cheap, but we didn't really attempt to hold the tab down. A normal dinner for three of pizza and a couple of sodas (and water for the kid) could easily have been done for $30 with tip, so the place can be friendly to your wallet as well as to your kids.

Add this place to our list of faves. The food is more-than-decent and it works for real people in many ways.

1 comment:

Elijah said...

I'm happy that you wrote this! I live blocks from there but was never a fan of the food when it was the main pub. Consequently, we've been nervous to go there since the change, but we need another close place for kids aside from Pizzicato, so we'll definitely give it a go. Keep it up!