Dining with Kids in Des Moines: The Cheese Bar
Once you become a parent, it seems like the opportunities for fun and cute lunch dates with your friends go by the way-side, doesn’t it? And if you do manage to magically align your schedules, you often find yourself either the mall or someplace with a play-area. And while that is fine, sometimes you really just need something better.
A few weeks ago an old friend came into town, and I went on the hunt to find a fun and delicious place for lunch that could handle 4 adults and 9 kids that wasn’t fast food. It was totally fated that not long after I set out on my mission than I scrolled past a photo on Instagram from The Cheese Bar announcing they changed up the menu – and had a fun kids menu, too! The Cheese Bar is the sister shop of The Cheese Shop and offers a cheese-centered menu for lunch and dinner.
- Restaurant Name: The Cheese Bar
- Cuisine Type: American
- Price: most meals $9-$15, fondue $35, meat and cheese trays $20, smorgasbord $35-$50, depending on how many people you are feeding, kids meals $5
- Neighborhood: Ingersoll
- Hours: They are open Tuesday – Saturday from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
- Other things you need to know: Tuesdays-Fridays they do “Bubbles and Bites” from 2pm-5pm. It includes a $5 glass of champagne and $5 appetizers!
- Note: There is a parking lot behind the building, so you don’t have to hunt for street-side parking or attempt to wrangle kids on the busy street.
The Cheese Bar offers a cute and friendly environment which is perfect for lunch dates. The tables were clean and not cluttered with things, although note that you do have a pretty (live) plant and a glass pitcher of water on the table, so watch little fingers there. We loved being able to refill our water as needed (for the adults), but we did eventually limit how much water the kids drank because they were about to swim away. The noise level is perfect, here, too. There was quiet music and talking, without it being overly loud. The kids talked and giggled away to their heart’s content without being a distraction to the other diners. Except maybe the man in the corner who was trying to read a book. Sorry, guy.
There is also a really cute play kitchen in the corner of the restaurant, so if you need to send the kiddos off to play while you wait for food, you can. They also have sidewalk chalk if you sit outside on the patio. Seriously, this is a brilliant move and perfect for families with littles.
The wait staff was amazing, here, and perfectly handled the fact that we brought 9 kids (including a baby, a toddler, a preschooler and 6 elementary-aged kids with us) to have lunch during lunch hours on a weekday. They were unfazed by spilled water, toddlers smearing macaroni and cheese in their hair, and all the requests we sent their way. They were knowledgeable about the menu and offered great suggestions, and were really helpful and kind.
The tables, high chairs, and boosters were all really clean and in great condition. The bathrooms, which were visited extensively with 9 kids in tow, were clean and great for visiting with kids. Overall, we were really pleased with the atmosphere of The Cheese Bar.
The Cheese Bar offers a really fun selection of different items, all centering around cheese! From amazing grilled cheese sandwiches to cheese boards, fondue, and smorgasbords, there is something for everyone here.
Initially, my intention was to get a smorgasbord, but the grilled cheese sandwich with gruyere and caramelized onions totally called my name. I paired it with a side of cast-iron mac and cheese with bacon (because more cheese is always a good choice!). Both were really good, and I don’t regret my decision for doubling down on the cheese at all. I also snuck a few bites of my friend’s tomato soup, which was creamy and velvety and delicious.
We were pleased with the kid’s menu and loved the fun coloring/activity sheets that were handed out. The kids enjoyed doing the activities and were easily able to pick their own food out. We did have a bit of a wait while they made our meals, but it wasn’t too long. The kids enjoyed their activity sheets so much that we didn’t make our way over to the play kitchen at all.
Kids meals are $5 and are mostly centered around cheese (obviously). You have the choices of a grilled cheese sandwich, macaroni and cheese, buttered noodles, almond butter and jam sandwiches, and a cheese and salami board. The kids grilled cheese was well received and the macaroni was homemade and had a really good flavor. My only complaint was that the kid’s meals were small. There were no side dishes offered, and both the 9-year-old girls pronounced that their macaroni and cheese was not going to be enough. However, the younger kids were perfectly satisfied with their portions. We ended up ordering several of the cheese and salami boards to go around, too. Those come with one kind of cheese, salami, and crackers. They were really good, but my girls are used to big charcuterie boards with all the trimmings (little foodies in the making, I know), so they were a little disappointed and claimed it “boring” (their words, not mine). The kid’s meals are good, but definitely on the lighter side. If you have big eaters, you might want to order from the adult menu or bring some fruit and veggies with you.
Depending on how much your kids eat, and what you order, I feel like you could easily bring toddlers, preschoolers, and older kids here for an enjoyable light meal. You could even bring a finger food eating older baby, but as sides are limited and the options are varied, its probably a good idea to bring some things from home, as well.
Overall, The Cheese Bar is a fun and delicious place to grab a lunch with friends, and bring your kids along, too!
Menu: ⭐⭐⭐ 3 stars (Good)
Service: ⭐⭐⭐ 3 Stars (Good)
Parental Stress: ⭐⭐⭐ 3 Stars (Good)
Overall: ⭐⭐⭐ A Solid 3 Stars (Good – a good meal, good service, and a fun lunch)
About the Author
Jenni Ward is a mom of three and owner of The Gingered Whisk. The Gingered Whisk is a recipe site designed to make the most out of your weeknight dinners. She creates quick meals that are infused with global flavor to help break you out of that boring chicken nugget rut.
She loves to help families create weeknight meals they love so they can spend less time focusing on how much food kids aren’t eating and more time connecting at the dinner table. She is all about fun adventurous ways to get kids interested in food, and firmly believe that kids can learn to love bold flavors, new ingredients, and trying new things! More than just fun and delicious recipes, she offers tons of tips, tricks, and support to help you every step of the journey.
Learn more about Jenni Ward on the Des Moines Parent Spotlight.