Kid Friendly Restaurants in Columbus?

Kevin Joy from the Dispatch emailed me today asking about kid-friendly restaurants. Here's an excerpt:

Basically, I'm trying to find restaurants around town that either have:

a) more upscale children's menus
b) healthier children's menus
c) no kids meals at all, but do have, at times, a family clientele...such as the time I saw kids eating sushi at Haiku.

I'd be interested to hear any suggestions, if you've heard stories or had experiences with any of the above. Feel free to forward to anyone that might want to share their two cents.

[upscale children's menu? Hmmm, I'm thinking Kevin doesn't have children]
My general guidelines on dining with a wildly energetic kid are the following:

-Any restaurant that has crayons immediately available is good.
-We try desperately not to go to fast food because there's good stuff out there for just as cheap (still happens on occasion).
-I'm afraid we're destined for noisy places with the kids, because they just can't sit still longer than the time it takes to eat (about 15 minutes if you're lucky, my daughter's now 4).

Our family's picks so far:

1. Believe it or not, Hometown Buffet, is pretty good. It's a chain but their veggies are cooked well, they have an amazing variety of foods, our friends are vegetarians and love it there too, it's rowdy as hell so no one cares if the kid jumps up and runs around. Food is lightly flavored with just s&p (probably) and the kid only costs a dollar per year of age. Good food, cheap, loud, tolerant. Sorry it's not sexier.

2. Maybe not the healthiest fare, but kid-friendly is Pig Iron BBQ (N. High). Crayons at the ready, a nice selection on the kids menu (not just mac 'n cheese, etc.). Good for the adults too! And, they're very nice to kids.

3. Healthier. Whole World Bakery. It's a vegetarian/vegan place on N. High. My daughter loves the hummous platter (hummous and fresh veggies). And we like vegetarian fare too. Pretty cheap, very kid friendly, about $20 for all 3 of us.

4. Haiku (NOT kid-friendly). We ate at Haiku when my girl was about 18 months. We went early so it was ok. But all the hipsters who came in the door avoided our table like E. Coli. It's funny, young people are the least tolerant of children in a restaurant, whereas the older set often look at a screaming child and smirk (I suspect they're relfecting on their past).

5. Sher-E-Punjab we hear is excellent. Vegetarian buffet on Tuesday nights and our friends tell us it's kid-friendly. Haven't tried it yet. Definitely will soon!

6. Cafe Shish Kebab. We went there with another couple and their 4-year old. I hate to stereotype middle eastern-run restaurants, but I'll make an exception here. The waitstaff are always wonderful with children. I don't know why, but every restaurant we've tried is great, the former Turkish Cuisine when it was on High was great, Cafe Istanbul in Easton was kid-friendly (but food was mediocre at times). The cuisine in general is flavorful and beautifully spiced without being to much for the little guys and Frankie's a big meat eater (she eats lots of good food). At Cafe Shish Kebab she loved the donner kebab. Not bad price either.

Add your favorites in the comments or send them to Kevin Joy of the Dispatch (kjoy@dispatch.com).