It's our wedding anniversary today (the sixth which we've celebrated by buying a rocking-little cast-iron skillet - iron being the gift de ano for this occasion).
Rather than spend money on baby-sitters we decided to celebrate en famile masse at the Four Seasons, a little Korean restaurant close by.
Now dining out with kids is always a learning experience (not always good as I'm sure you know) but we really hit on something tonight.
First, let's revisit the ground rules:
- Arrive before 6.30pm ensuring an empty restaurant and kids still willing to contemplate food rather than sleep-deprived hysteria
- Bank on being in and out of the festivities in 90 minutes - tops! Any longer and your world will fall apart guaranteed.
Now the surprise: if the food is really tasty, your kids will sit still and eat. Not the whole time but long enough for you to pretend you can still be adults...even on your anniversary.
We sucked the little suckers in with Kimchi pancake, flavourful but not so spicy that it could derail the culinary experiment before it reached full speed.
Our 9 month old chewed bites of the fried pancake flavour while our toddler augmented the tastes with a dose of pickled beansprouts dunked in the traditional Korean, soy/mirin/sesame dipping sauce.
"This is tasty with the sauce", he opined beyond his years.
Next came hot pot beef Bib Bim Bap, vegetable potato noodle Jap Chae and a steamed Mackerel with roasted daikon radish in a mild chile sauce.
While my wife and I devoured the kimchi and Kaktugi (chile spiced radish squares) the kids embrace the rice hot pot, the noodles and large amounts of the delicious fresh mackerel.
Even better, they didn't try and move for the duration of the meal - so enrapted were they with the salty, smooth flavours on offer.
We didn't give the kids the hard core stuff - the cabbage kimchi or radish kaktugi. That would have qualified as "spicy" food to our toddler son and he would have instituted an immediate Korean boycott.
But by selling them on Kimchi pancake and wooing them with soy mackeral I feel we made real progress on the "improve your palette" front.
Even better, our waitress offered to hold the baby so we could have a few minutes of anniversary meal peace. That's what I call good eating.
Rating: 3 Gs
The Four Seasons Restaurant - 38 Corporation Rd , Cardiff, UK - 02920 644466
Kid favorites: jap chae, hot pot bibim bap, kimchi pancake, fresh melon dessert
Grownup favorites: all of the above plus steamed soy mackeral, squid and pork in spicy chile garlic sauce, plus drop dead great Kaktugi
Service: understated and family friendly
Kid tolerance: High