Child-friendly restaurants in London
Anna Zuchowski-Morrison has hand-selected the yummiest of mummy cafes and restaurants in London.
The prospect of a tantrum erupting over an uninspiring plate of food is enough to terrify any parent. Add to that scenario cramped eating quarters, staff with a disdain for children, lack of highchairs and no suitable baby-changing facilities and your dining experience could well turn into a nightmare. Thankfully, there are restaurants and cafes in the capital that have taken the time and effort to consider a parent’s needs and have successfully combined great ‘grown-up’ food with well-thought-out facilities and refreshing kids’ menus. Some have even gone as far as preoccupying the little scamps for a moment or two with activities, creating the perfect recipe for dining bliss. Here are some we like; let us know your favourites.
Rainforest Cafe is a living, breathing, tropical haven with waterfalls, rainforest storms and movable creatures which come to life. This wonderland will mesmerise the kids while parents tuck into attractive and tasty adult dishes such as ‘Aztec Chicken’ (chicken breast with goats cheese, herb mash and porcini mushroom sauce). Your children are invited to their table with the words ‘your journey has begun’ and are endlessly entertained. All children’s food is organic and ethically sourced, with healthy alternatives such as ‘Snappy Salmon Fishcakes’ (organic Scottish farmed salmon and potato wrapped in crunchy breadcrumbs) to balance the popular burger and chips option. Menus come with crayons and puzzles, there is a separate room to store buggies, highchairs are on tap and there are sufficient (although cramped) baby-changing facilities. A delightful place to escape from the bustle of the West End, the Rainforest Cafe is an exciting experience for the kids, and will bring out the child in you, too.
Where: 20 Shaftsbury Ave, Piccadilly Circus, W1D 4EU
How much: Children’s meals start at £11.50 for a two-course meal; adults from around £12
Tamarind Restaurant in Mayfair is hailed as the crème de la crème of child-friendly fine dining restaurants; the Michelin star restaurant with a heart doesn’t fail to impress with its welcoming ambience and fantastic menu. Perfect for a weekend treat and a way to introduce the kids to exciting flavours and culture, Tamarind has really put some thought into combining high-end eating with time with the children. Tamarind’s Sunday lunch children’s menu consists of a delicately flavoured and mildly spiced three-course feast, which changes every few months to keep it seasonal and fresh, and includes a choice of starters like ‘Pan fried cakes of sago crusted potato with ginger, toasted cumin, and a spinach stuffing’, mains such as ‘Chargrilled chicken in a sauce of creamed tomato with butter and ginger’, followed by a dessert of ice-cream topped with fresh berries. The parents haven’t been left out when it comes to an exceptional choice of food; there is a three-course Sunday lunch taster taster menu to match the kids, blending elegant starters of spiced fish and aromatic chicken and rich mains of tender lamb accompanied by ginger, cumin and chilli infused vegetable dishes. Babies are welcome and although there is no baby-changing facilities there are places to put your buggy and a quiet restroom with a chair, for you to feed and change your baby in peace. Kids under 10 are invited to eat for free on a Sunday (check website for details).
Where: 20 Queen St, Mayfair, W1J 5PR
How much: £14.50 for three-course kids lunch menu; adults at £28.95 for a three-course lunch
Mudchute Kitchen is a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. Set on a 32 acre farm, a stone’s throw from Canary Wharf, and decorated with a rustic feel, this cafe mixes a love for accommodating children with organic food and locally-sourced meat. The bread, jam, baked beans and cakes are all freshly made on the premises. Mudchute Kitchen homes all the essentials such as a buggy park, good baby-changing facilities and highchairs a-plenty. Children have their own menu including ‘Homemade beans on kitchen toast’ or ‘pasta with homemade tomato sauce, parmesan and basil’ but are also invited to order half portions of grown-up food. There is outside seating in summer and a cosy indoors for the colder months filled with toys, books and even a donated rocking horse to amuse the kids. Mudchute Kitchen is a rural sanctuary in an urban setting, a fun day out for the kids and perfect for parents wanting to deviate from processed food and satisfy their hungry brood with nutritious meals.
Where: Pier street, East London, E14 3HP
How much: Kids meals start at around £3.50; adults from £
Coffee and Crayons in Fulham has gone a long way to make sure the cafe and play centre amply provides for every stressed-out parent. It is a cosy, peaceful cafe serving quality food and drink, with supervised areas where children can play. The refuge of a cafe awaits parents and children alike – order a Fairtrade cappuccino for yourself, while children can sample a ‘babyccino’, (creamy milk foam sprinkled with chocolate). The cafe also offers organic soups, sandwiches and salads (with mini versions for the kids) and Truuuly Scrumptious and Ella’s Kitchen baby food. The beauty of Coffee and Crayons is the wonderful supervised play area, filled with books to read, toys to encourage imaginative play, blackboards and colouring books as well as easels for painting and a craft table. There is only a small charge for the supervised play area (£4 per child; £3.50 under 18 months) and the kids are welcome to stay as long as they like.
Where: 915 Fulham Road, SW6 5HU
How much: Kids meals start at £3; adults at around £
Schmidt’s cafe is situated in the so-called nappy valley area of Clapham, and is so child-friendly, the NCT are known to host its groups there. Families are guaranteed to feel right at home. There is a variety of tasty food, and kiddie portions of adult meals, such as mini full English breakfasts, scrambled eggs with herbs and mushrooms and organic bread, fruit salads, small pasta portions and delicious herb sausages. Kids can sup home-made lemonade or Babycinos from colourful beakers and dive into a range of books or play with finger puppets. The cafe also regularly offers face painting for children at the weekend so parents can enjoy their brunches in peace. Located in the park with plenty of outside space for kids to burn off their energy Schmidt’s provides fantastic facilities for children.
Where: 2 Rookery Rd, Clapham Common, SW4 9DD
How much: Kids meals start at £2.50; adults at around £3.50