Modest but tasty portions are served at this restaurant near Grandview Heights

The Mom Says:

My kids love to create dishes. At our local pizza place, they order a crazy assortment of toppings that always seem to add up to a delicious pie. During a recent visit to a grilled cheese restaurant, the waiter complimented my oldest son for the tasty combination he made.

I figured they'd be equally intrigued by a restaurant that offers toppings for macaroni and cheese. Sweet Carrot near Grandview Heights invites diners to create their own meals by choosing a base and then adding a protein. Base options include mac 'n' cheese, a salad, sandwich or corn cake. The boys, of course, selected the first choice. The proteins are smoked brisket, pulled pork or turkey, chicken meatballs and fried artichokes.

I went with the turkey salad ($8.25), which was a baby kale blend with a dollop of cabbage slaw. I generally prefer my kale cooked, but the baby kale was tender and fresh. The turkey paired nicely with the homemade sweet and savory dressing.

My husband ordered brisket on a corn cake ($8.25). That ended up being my favorite dish. The meat was rich and flavorful, and the cake was an unusual, but delicious, way to serve it.

I was a little surprised by the portion sizes, which are not the heaping plates of food typically found at a barbecue place. However, the affordable prices make it possible for families to indulge in appetizers or desserts—or even order seconds. Also, it's a counter-service restaurant, which saves on gratuity.

The place has a great vibe, including lots of fun carrot- and rabbit-related décor. We also liked the cool lighting: single light bulbs hanging from orange and green cords. We snagged a round table by the glass garage door, which let in plenty of late-afternoon sunshine. All-in-all, Sweet Carrot is a great dining spot for families. —Melissa Kossler Dutton

The Kid (Age 12) Says:

I've always liked barbecue and smoked meats, so I was looking forward to eating at Sweet Carrot. However, when I got there I decided to try the fried artichokes on mac 'n' cheese ($7.50) because it was something new and different. I did not regret it. The dish was delicious. The artichoke hearts were really good. They had a light breading and weren't greasy. The mac 'n' cheese was rich and creamy—way different than the Kraft kind we make at home.

The one disappointment was the portion size. I was really hungry that night, and when my food came I thought it was really small. (My parents told me I could order seconds, and that wouldn't have been a problem because they have speedy service.) Luckily, I ordered a side of cheesy potatoes ($2.50), which tasted fine. They weren't a standout dish like many of the other things we tried, including the desserts.

My favorite was the carrot cake ($3), but the sugar cookie ($1.75) was a very close second. Ordering carrot cake is usually is a no-no for me because I have a nut allergy. However, Sweet Carrot is a nut-free facility. The cake was so moist. It just melted in my mouth and left me wanting more.

By the end of the meal, I was full. (In addition to my own dish and dessert, I ate some of my brother's food and sampled my dad's dish.) My dad ordered the corn cake, which was very flavorful, but I definitely liked the mac 'n' cheese better. —Nick Dutton

The Kid (Age 11) Says:

When I first heard about this restaurant, I was excited because I like macaroni and cheese. The restaurant was clean but not really, really fancy, which I liked. It felt casual.

I ordered the mac 'n' cheese ($7.50) topped with pulled pork because I've always been a fan of pulled pork, and putting it on top of mac 'n' cheese sounded like a delicious idea. And it was.

I loved the way the barbecue sauce tasted with the rich, cheesy macaroni and the pork. The sauce was tangy and sweet and had a lot of flavor. I also thought that the pulled pork was perfectly smoky. Its flavor mixed wonderfully with everything else.

Also, the drinks are AMAZING. In one area, there is homemade lemonade and iced tea ($1.75). The day we visited, it was strawberry basil green tea. The lemonade was a little too sour, but I loved the iced tea. They also have a self-serve machine featuring Boylan Bottling Co.'s hand-crafted sodas ($2). The black cherry soda was my favorite because it tasted very real—not artificial.

For dessert, I suggest the chocolate crinkle cookie ($1.75). It's chocolatey but not so much that you feel like you need a huge drink of water after every bite.

One more thing about the food: I liked the way they allow customers to mix and match. This is good for kids because, for example, sometimes there's a sandwich you want to order at a restaurant but you wish it were made with another meat. I'm not a big fan of chicken, but I love pulled pork. Letting people make their own combinations is a fun take on eating out.—Alex Dutton