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June 26, 2012 at 6:00 AM

A new guide to kid-friendly restaurants

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We dealt with kid-unfriendly restaurants, now it’s time for another round of the kid-friendliest places in Seattle. The folks behind Judy’s Book have launched a new service called Kidscore, rating the best places in Seattle for small fry. CEO (and dad) Ali Alami said restaurants are rated on factors like children’s menus, changing stations, on-site parking, play areas, wait time, organic/natural/healthy selections, and proximity to other kid-friendly places like parks.

“A big factor is also user sentiment feedback (reviews) and information from owners,” he said in an email.

Checking out the site, the current top kid-friendly places are reasonable picks: Twirl Cafe, Phinney Market, and Cafe Flora.

It also has many starting glitches, like many beta sites. I think it’ll be far more useful when it has a bigger load of data to work with.

I saw listings for several places that have closed, some of them years ago, like the quite family-friendly Hot Dish, rated “decent” for kids with a score of 36 out of 100, and Cremant, which rated an identical 36, though it was one of the noisiest and most adult restaurants I remember reviewing.

Oddly, the Northlake Tavern, which doesn’t allow patrons under 21, also came in at 36, virtually the default score of several pages of listings. The Old Spaghetti Factory came in at 36 too (I would have doubled that), as did El Gaucho, where I’d think once or twice or 30 times before taking my toddler for a tableside Caesar and porterhouse.

I had to ask Alami what the deal was with Red Mill burgers initially scoring a 14 at its Dravus Street location. To me, the only thing about Red Mill that isn’t family-friendly is when you’ve promised your kid a Trufflemint shake and then realize you don’t have any cash on hand. Alami filled me in.

Restaurants rated below 24 are flagged that the low score might be due to insufficient data, as this one evidently was. The Phinney location, where the site had gathered more information, came in at 52, a more realistic score, given its lack of amenities like play areas but its success on the kids-love-the-food scale.

“As we’re a new site, I’ve hired a researcher to hit some of the popular Seattle places to help speed up getting initial data on popular places …” Alami wrote.

They’re also debatng whether to keep showing scores for restaurants where they don’t have a lot of data. They may start marking those restaurants a different way, e.g. giving them a question mark instead.

Alami said the company is a nimble one, and that in the next month or so the Seattle site should be “rock solid.”

My guess is that the best way to make it more accurate and precise is to start submitting ratings of your own. Recommendations, anyone?

Photo: Twirl Cafe. The kid-friendliest eatery in Seattle? Photo courtesy of Rebecca Pelletier.

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