White and the Bear designs workshops to help children explore cooking as a fun, self-reflective and creative recreational activity.
Mitchelle D'Souza, Sub-editor/Reporter
With school season back in business and the summer break behind us, parents are predictably racking their brains in hope of churning out tasty yet healthy lunchbox fare.
But truth be told, striking the perfect balance between fun and nutrition in a child’s meal can seem daunting to even the most creative minds.
Addressing this very concern is the "world’s first children’s restaurant" White and the Bear, which has come up with a nifty solution — secretly sliding in nutritious ingredients in seemingly unhealthy food items such as burgers and nuggets.
Launched at the end of July this year by Hana Al Mulla in partnership with world renowned celebrity chef and leading children’s food expert Annabel Karmel, the Jumeirah eatery’s cornerstone is feeding children nutritious yet exciting grub.
The clean-eating attribute that the restaurant is centred on is reflected in its interiors as well — open, clean and minimalistic — encouraging children to be their most creative selves.
While the menu comprises an eclectic mix of healthy nosh, their signatures include Peckish Bear Sliders that come stuffed with apples and carrots to fool even the fussiest of eaters; the Krispie Chicken Nuggets, which are refreshingly non-greasy and coated with rice krispies; and the Super ‘5’ Bolognese amped up with five organic fruits and veggies, making for a cracker of a meal.
And whoever thought desserts are only meant to be sugar-saturated and calorie-packed, needs to have a go at their selection of ‘Nice Creams.’
White and the Bear gives ice creams the ‘nice’ treatment by way of using frozen fruits and super foods (think pitaya and spirulina) to churn out whimsical creations such as Ocean, Unicorn and Dino-mite Nice Creams.
And the best part is, the texture and taste isn’t compromised to achieve its healthy characteristics.
Perturbed by the fact that the UAE had no dedicated children’s restaurant, especially one doling out health fare, Hana took it upon herself to set a benchmark in the ever-growing restaurant industry by forming White and the Bear.
She stated: "I am very particular about giving my children healthy food, and it was frustrating for us as parents to go out and not be able to find a variety of healthy food choices.
"We always try to develop healthy eating habits for our children at home but there is very little we can control once we are out.
"White and the Bear is exactly the stress-free solution that so many parents in Dubai need. A place where your child will only be exposed to healthy, fun food choices.”
In addition to being the only exclusive children’s restaurant in the UAE, it is also a nut-free zone. So parents and their young one’s can saunter in without a worry.
"In early childhood eating habits and tastes are formed for life, this is the time to introduce an array of different flavours. The menu for White and the Bear promotes food exploration.
Further touching upon the concept of the diner, Annabel, who is known for authoring 50 cookbooks dedicated to babies, children and families, emphasised, "with White and the Bear, the promise begins with healthy, nutritious food that is fun for your children.
"In early childhood eating habits and tastes are formed for life, this is the time to introduce an array of different flavours.
"The menu for White and the Bear promotes food exploration. It offers a plethora of dishes taking cues from world cuisines, as well as healthy alternatives to fast food favourites.
"My specially designed meals are super-fun, yet healthy and perfectly balanced for young palates."
More than just food
While on the surface White and the Bear may seem like an out-and-out eatery, it goes the extra mile by retailing cutesy children’s clothing and accessories in their attached concept store.
They also house a workshop area where tiny tots can get their creative juices flowing with artistic and proactive classes.
Keeping in mind how exciting birthdays and other milestones can be for children, the joint houses a space for venues where the young guns can rejoice and create memories, in addition to a cosy reading nook where they can let their vivid imaginations blossom.
Giving us an insight into the workshops, Annabel states that "they will be designed to help every child explore cooking as a fun, self-reflective and creative recreational activity.”
In the offing is a workshop titled ‘Lunch Box Stuffers’ which will be conducted by culinary consultant Farah Sawaf on Sept.25.
Ocean and Dino-mite Nice Creams are fortified with frozen fruits and super foods such as pitaya and spirulina.
Priced at Dhs160, parents and their little one’s can witness demonstrations of easy-peasy recipes fit for school lunches.
Another highlight is the restaurant’s interactive menu, which allows children to be hands-on and actively involved in cooking (hopefully not a storm).
Some of the popular ones include ‘Squeeze your own orange juice,’ ‘Artist’s fruit palette’ and ‘Design White + Bear biscuits.’
Letting us in on White and the Bear’s upcoming plans Hana revealed: "We hope to introduce many more workshops in the near future, allowing children's knowledge to increase in all aspects whether it be cooking, reading, designing or creating.
"Investing in their interests from a young age is important as they grow and learn more. As and when the concept evolves further, I would love to take White and the Bear to other markets as well, to set global benchmarks for children’s dining out."
The world’s first children’s restaurant White and the Bear seeks to be a game changer in the UAE with its healthy food concept.
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