It is not easy to find a restaurant where you genuinely believe you could happily taken an extended family. But at Bullfinch's in Sudbury, the lovely atmosphere, the kind service, the incredibly diverse menu and the attention to children makes this a wonderful choice for large celebrations or a small dinner for four. The restaurant has a number of special touches that make it so flexible. First, they offer not only a regular menu, but a vegetarian and gluten-free one, too. In addition, children eat free on Sunday which means parents can have a nice meal and save quite a bit of money. Finally, even the regular menu offers the flexibility of two different portion sizes which makes it adaptable for many people.
From the moment we walked in, we appreciated that our children were treated so warmly. (We were treated by Bullfinchs to this meal.) They loved that they were given trinkets throughout the meal. This meant that our little guys were entertained, despite there not being a TV or games throughout the restaurant. Instead, they were content with wiki-sticks (a great wax-covered creative toy), books, a mini Etch-A-Sketch and a straw that lit up. The food also kept them busy-first we got a warm loaf of delicious bread, in addition to crackers for the kids. But the children's menu itself had just enough safe food (spaghetti), food that was a bit less familiar (pasta alfredo) and well made food (homemade chicken fingers) to keep all of us happy.
My sons enjoyed their meals. I was pleased that David ate as much of his grilled chicken as his fries, while Raphael was far more content to devour his "Smiley fries" than to eat his chicken tenders. Their meal came with ice cream which was brought while we were still eating our main dishes, giving us a few precious extra minutes to eat.
Our food was fine. Our salad consisted of a plate of greens, cold beets with toasted walnuts and shaved Parmesan. For a main dish my husband had short ribs with "tomato jam." While the ribs were tender, they were overshadowed by the fact that the dish was a bit too sweet. He enjoyed it more the next day with a side of mustard. However his "frites" were dark, fresh, and addictive.
My dish was good. In a riff on chowder, the dish consisted roasted salmon sitting on a creamy sauce laced with corn, potatoes, bacon and parsley. Though the salmon was just a bit overdone (the warm sauce continued to cook the fish), it was comforting food on a cold, rainy night. It was even good the next day.
By the time we finished eating the main dishes, Raphael was clearly ready to go, so we chose to take our desserts to go. While my husband enjoyed them, I found the chocolate mousse and the sorbets to be lacking a depth of flavor and really too sweet overall. Long story short-we will probably skip desserts next time, which isn't necessarily a bad thing for us!
And for us, there will be a next time. The restaurant was much closer than we thought-near Natick, Framingham, Wayland and Weston right on Route 20. More importantly, the flexibility and warmth make this a great alternative for those nights that cooking a meal (and doing the dishes!) is just too daunting.