Some suggestions on the best destinations when dining out with the young ones in tow. This Month: Split Rail Tavern
Story & Photo: Nick Vecchio
Regardless of all the obstacles, my little family attempts to dine out at least once a week. My wife Shannon and I believe that learning how to behave in different situations is important for kids—it improves their confidence and helps them develop social skills—and proper restaurant behavior got our 3 1/2 year old Olivia off to a great start. Since my wife Shannon and I recently welcomed our little boy Zachary Michael Vecchio to the world, we’ve needed to be even more strategic about getting out of the house.
One of the most important things we have to consider now when venturing out for a meal is space, and Split Rail has plenty of it. With a stroller, car seat, diaper bag, Olivia’s bag of distractions and whatever else we decide to bring that day, we need as much room as possible. Time is another matter we always consider before going out to eat. We have found 5:30pm dinner also means staying on track with evening routines. Plus, early-bird-special hours means fewer people — we now refer to these as the kid-friendly hours.
Split Rail Tavern is definitely one of the coolest looking bars in WC with the wood finishes and lighting. It’s crazy to think you’re standing in the same building that used to be 15 North and Alibis, where… let’s just say there’s a lot of memories that I do not remember. The menu here is on the smaller side but everything is delicious and unique. Add to that an amazing beer list and some of the best craft cocktails in town, plus an awesome, friendly staff who genuinely enjoy Olivia and engage with her, and you’ve got one of our favorite spots in town.
All of the food is made from scratch at Split Rail, and you can tell by its freshness. I always have to order their wings. I find myself craving them sometimes on Sunday mornings (hello, brunch). The wings start with a Cajun dry rub, and while the sauce recipe is a secret, it’s Buffalo style made with a combination of hot sauces, chiles and butter. It pairs perfectly with a hoppy IPA.
Shannon’s go-to is the Commonwealth Burger. Cooked to perfection every time, it comes with Bibb Lettuce, tomato, red onion, choice of cheese and is served on a Marty’s sesame seed bun with Russian dressing on the side. Pro Tip: be like Shannon and add bacon.
Olivia may only be three, but she knows what she wants, and that’s chicken fingers… every time. The kids’ menu also includes some classics like grilled cheese, pasta and pizza, and I have a feeling she will dabble into something new sometime soon. For now we’re sticking with what we know works.
Overall, our experience was what we expected…fantastic. Not only did our little girl get to fill up on one of her favorite meals, but Daddy got to indulge in one of his favorite cocktails, the Rye Rye Birdie. There is plenty of space, especially in the booth areas. No one around us cared that they were next to children. In fact, Zac is so darn cute people were actually coming over to see him like he was a celebrity. If we needed even more room, there’s always upstairs.
Spending time with our kids is a priority, and when we can do that at a place like Split Rail — one with great food and drinks that’s also welcoming of our family and helps make space available for all of us and all of our things — it makes those memories all the sweeter.