The Short Course
To avoid wait: Head in before 6pm.
Noise level: Medium.
Bathroom amenities: Changing table.
High chairs? Yes.
Got milk? Yes.
Kids’ menu? Yes.
Anything healthy for kids? Yes.
Food allergy concerns? Happy to work with guests, but there is only one fryer available.
Our 5-year old was in awe when we entered the new Jolly Pumpkin Kitchen in Dexter and he caught a glimpse of the row of oversized half-circle booths. The adults were too! This is the kind of place a family can sprawl out. Diaper bag, coats, coloring books, our 3-year old’s shoes, and random things dotted half the booth and we still had plenty of room to seat our family of five.
Designed for families
While we waited, one parent ordered at the bar and the rest of us started to explore the large, unique space, which is situated in an industrial park just southeast of downtown Dexter. The kids were excited to discover a free pool table and shuffleboard game. Although still too young to play with the actual cues, they had a blast rolling the cue ball into the others and sinking as many as possible. This attracted several other kids and they all enjoyed playing together while waiting for dinner.
General Manager and Chef Maggie Long loves this type of impromptu gathering of kids and families. The slower pace and more casual atmosphere of the Dexter location fits with the surrounding community, an important goal for Jolly Pumpkin. Every Wednesday is Family Night and Long explained that she loves to see kids and their parents playing together and making new friends, all while kids eat free!
Balancing experimental and traditional flavors
Long shared that this location will maintain a smaller, frequently-changing menu with more experimental dishes served alongside well-known Jolly Pumpkin staples. This creativity was on display with the Collard Melt ($11)– a twist on a Reuben sandwich served with soft, rich collard greens covered with a light slaw and Swiss cheese. As delicious as it was messy, if you’re planning to hold a baby and one-hand this sammie, you may want to think twice.
We started with an order of the Edamame Hummus ($8) served with warm, salty homemade tortilla chips and Twice-Fried Chicken Drumsticks ($12). The adults enjoyed both. The hummus had just a touch too much spice for our little ones as did the gogijuang glaze on the drumsticks, however, with the coating removed our 3-year old dug into the moist chicken. From the kids menu, we ordered the Cheese Pizza ($7, enough for 2 kids to share) and the Kabbouleh Salad ($7).
The former was an obvious winner for our little ones and we had high hopes for the Kabbouleh Salad. With crispy brown rice as the base mixed with chopped kale, cauliflower, cucumbers and currants (similar to raisins) it was fresh, crunchy, and fun. Families may want to ask for the dressing to be served on the side.
A family-friendly hideaway
Another ten minutes of pool and table shuffleboard was just right to get the table cleared and dessert ordered. We went with two frozen custard sundaes: the Southern Lovin’ ($8) a mix of blondie crumble, pine nut brittle, bourbon vanilla jam, and the Miso Caramel ($7) with bit of white chocolate crunchy and KitKat bar. Rich, creamy and unique, both adults and kids enjoyed these creations. As Jolly Pumpkin Kitchen continues to experiment, families with little ones may need to similarly request more standard options. The good news is, they are happy to oblige!
We found the space and overall thoughtfulness put into the dining experience to be incredibly welcoming for families. That alone is enough to bring our family back. Paired with some excellent food and, of course, tasty craft beers, the new Jolly Pumpkin Kitchen in Dexter is a terrific option for families.
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales + Kitchen
2319 Bishop Circle East, Dexter, MI 48130
Tuesday – Saturday 4-10pm
Sunday and Monday – closed