Seafood chains top list of healthful kid feeders

Seafood concepts scored highly in a new ranking by Child magazine of restaurant chains offering the most healthful children's menus.

Topping the list was Legal Sea Foods, the Boston-based concept that boasts fresh fish cut within its own facilities. The magazine noted that the group offered "the most extensive children's menu of our survey," with 12 entrees, most of which did not contain trans fats.

Finishing at No. 3 was Red Lobster, which was praised for its new policy of offering cucumbers and carrots in lieu of fries on its new kids menus. The seafood chain, a big fish within casual-dining, was also applauded for the addition of three "healthy and delicious choices," all of which feature a non-fried protein (mahi-mahi, chicken, and snow crab legs).

Between the two was Mimi's Cafe, a regional family chain. Last year, according to Child, the 80-unit brand added several health-oriented selections, including Half a Tooner (half of a tuna sandwich, made with whole-wheat bread), and a turkey platter called Gobble Gobble.

Rounding out the top 10, in the order of their ranking, were the Melting Pot, Old Spaghetti Factory, Benihana, Ruby Tuesday, Chili's, Elephant Bar, and, tied at No. 10, Bertucci's and Chevys.

The ranking was based on a two-tiered process, beginning with a review of children's menus from 125 full-service chains. "What we found was horrifying," the article accompanying the ranking note. The staff whittled the chains deserving further reviewing to a mere 20.

Menus from those brands were then given to five nutrition specialists for evaluation and scoring.

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