Today I’d like to focus on our future, the children, with a final mention of my trip Stateside. Whilst in the US, I was staying friends. Therefore spending a lot of my time either playing taxi driver to and from the various sports events that their children participate. At the same time trying to find child-friendly pubs and restaurants to eat, drink and hang out.
I say “trying”; it was actually a breeze, with so many restaurants and cafes that we attended being well set up for families. I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the ways that pubs, bars and restaurants across the globe are making the effort to attract and placate children throughout the day.
One of my favourite activities for kids in a restaurant was Wikki Stix. They are bendy, pipe-cleaner-like sticks which can be made into anything. Including, as you can see here, glasses!
We also visited Blue Smoke in Battery Park, where kids are given raw cookie dough on entry which they shape, decorate and hand back to the waiting staff when their main meal arrives, who then cook it off and deliver back as a free desert- ticking so many boxes for a very small outlay of investment and time
And, staying on faraway shores, Toronto looks like the perfect place for adults who still like to eat and drink out even though they’ve settled into family life- I’m told there are many child-friendly pubs and restaurants offering everything from a kid’s entertainment truck at a food festival to a kid-friendly pollinator event (save the bees!). My personal favourite is the Craft Junction who did a pet photography day, flying in the face of the advice to never work with children or animals…
Moving across to Italy, my Stepmother (mother to my 9 year old brother, don’t ask, it’s complicated) has a great example. The Pizzeria Ristorante Il Mondo Degli Gnomi in Montespertoli. Ttry saying that after a few Limoncellos! This family friendly, traditional Italian restaurant has, in her words; “a massive playroom at the back of the restaurant. It has a glass wall separating the two areas so parents can see their kids and still enjoy eating out. So many local families went in there; they catered for everyone. I’ve never seen anything like it in the UK. Anything that’s come close to it is usually pretty scummy. I think there’s a gap in the market for eating out in the evening with your kids at a nice independent restaurant; we need to be more Italian in our approach to eating out with kids.”
And back in Blighty?
The following was sent by a friend in the industry. I’ll let him do the talking as I think he sums up what all families with kids want in reality from child-friendly pubs and restaurants!
“The Aeronaut in Acton. Burned down on New Year’s Eve 2 or 3 years ago, reborn from the ashes. Insane decor, circus big top, cabaret shows, VR games, sharing roasts on a Sunday. Showbizzy staff happy to burst into song for grown ups or kids, children’s menu and plenty of space. NOT ONCE have we felt that anyone was annoyed with howling babies or galloping toddlers. Plus they have crayons. And stuff for adults too. But it’s my secret, so shhhhhh…..”
Other examples I’ve found of child-friendly pubs and restaurants in the UK include;
The Fennbell Inn that has a small zoo attached
Mr Mulligans in Newcastle has a crazy golf course inside
Tredwell’s offers a children’s tasting menu with takeaway recipes to create at home
Nomadic beers hosts a ‘Hops ‘N Tots” beer and kids playtime meet up in Leeds
The Bedruthan Hotel in Cornwall offer ‘high tea’ for kids. All the children sit in the restaurant together between 5-6pm and all parents get free tea/coffee, but inevitably end up ordering drinks from bar. The set menu is £10 a head for kids – many parents will PAY for a quiet(er) life . They also have monitors in every room so parents can leave kids in hotel room in evening and dine in hotel restaurant ALONE.
I’m on day 2 of the 4 day Isle of Wight Festival today, so will be waking up in my yurt as you read this. I still love festivals, but I’m FAR too old to be camping in the traditional sense these days! I’m looking forward to seeing NGHFB’s, Biffy Clyro, Fatboy Slim, Richard Ashcroft, Keane, The Courteeners and more over the next 3 days.
Whatever you’re doing, pray for good weather for me please!
Enjoy your weekend