Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 28 January 2020

The Dubai restaurant just for children: Annabel Karmel creates menu for White and the Bear

The children's food expert and nutritionist is the author of 'The Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner' among other books

Nuggets, fries and sugar-loaded milkshakes are typical fare on most children’s menus, an alarming fact that led Dubai resident Hana Al Mulla to create the “world’s first children’s restaurant”.

“It was frustrating for us as parents to go out and not be able to find a variety of healthy food choices for our children. White and the Bear is 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,” says Al Mulla.

The Jumeirah 2 eatery, which is meant to open at the end of July, has also partnered with children’s food expert and nutritionist Annabel Karmel, who co-created the innovative-looking and colourfully plated dishes.

Variety is key: Annabel Karmel

The UK-based Karmel is the author of more than 50 cookbooks, including Baby-Led Weaning and the now classic Complete Baby & Toddler Meal Planner. Her organic baby purees and sauces are widely available in Waitrose and Spinneys.

Annabel Karmel has been a pioneer in childhood nutrition for 25 years. Chris Whiteoak for The National
Annabel Karmel. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Sharing her tips on feeding fussy children with The National, Karmel says: “Making food fun helps; if food looks attractive, children are more likely to eat it. Offer plenty of variety, eat as a family when you can and give children small portions so they don't feel overloaded. Try to make sure meal times are happy times, rather than battle times.”

Karmel is also a big believer in getting children involved in the nutrition process. “From the age of three or four, encourage children to get involved in the kitchen and they will tend to eat better. Developing healthy eating habits from an early age will allow them to get creative with cooking as they grow up.”

At White and the Bear, for example, children will be given the independence of knowing what is in their food and then be allowed to choose the dish that resonates with their personality.

On the menu

The restaurant serves no-sugar energy balls made with dates, hamburgers created using carrots and apples and Bolognese pasta with hidden vegetables among other items. The menu is nut-free and allergy-aware, with multiple alternatives available.

Click through the gallery above to see the innovative dishes on offer.

"The menu for White and the Bear promotes food exploration, and offers a plethora of dishes taking cues from world cuisines, as well as healthy alternatives to fast-food favourites,” explains Karmel. “It’s important that children stay fuelled on the right foods throughout the day, and my specially designed meals are super-fun, yet healthy and perfectly balanced for young palates.”

A creative space

White, the rabbit, and Bear are the mascots of the restaurant. The calm and helpful Bear is the voice of reason for White’s excitable character. The two mascots represent the magic of storytelling as well as creating a space where every child will feel comfortable, says the founder. Accordingly, the restaurant has a reading nook and an interactive workshop zone.

White and the Bear also doubles as a retail store stocking children’s accessories and clothes.

Updated: July 23, 2019 04:26 PM