Family-friendly restaurants were once few and far between and often disappointing in terms of children’s menus and overall food quality. These days, however, dining out with the kids is easy and it’s far more common too.
Over the years, the tide has slowly turned. Restaurants have realised the desire for an eatery with a relaxed, child-friendly atmosphere and a wonderful menu to boot is something a great many people want and are willing to embrace whole-heartedly.
The idea that dining out with children isn't the done thing, or that the sight of a child in a restaurant means you're likely to be subjected to sixty minutes of whining and bawling, died with the Devilled Egg.
Some of the UK’s best restaurants have now begun to adapt to the requirements of a new target market – one that consists of parents and grandparents who want better quality food, organic produce where possible, an overall greater choice on the menu for everyone, and a family-friendly ambience.
Dining out with the kids no longer needs to be an issue for foodies. With just a little planning to identify the best options in your locale, you’ll find places hidden around every corner that will satisfy even the fussiest of palettes (we’re talking to you now, parent!). Here are a few fantastic options (some with chains throughout the UK) to get you started…
Not the spooky bookshop, no. A Marcus Wareing restaurant. Yes, it’s true – you can dine under the care of a Michelin starred chef with kids in tow. And children aren’t merely tolerated, their welcomed with great enthusiasm! The menu comes kitted out with exceptional ‘junior’ and ‘culinary kids’ sections, which offer very special menus for young, discerning palettes.
While you’re tucking into the very best in British seasonal produce developed by Chef Patron, Chantelle Nicholson, children can choose from the classics they know and love. But done really, really well. ‘Magnificent Meatballs’, Awesome Omelet and Crazy Cornish Potatoes sit alongside wonderful junior cocktails and desserts. For the more adventurous, there’s even a (beautifully illustrated) 7-course meal menu specially created for children, including Brandade, smoked pea, and broad bean and marinated pineapple, passion fruit and coconut mousse.
Bookings and Info: www.tredwells.com
If excellent Japanese food is your thing, you’ll love the London chain Roka. Kids are welcomed with open arms, which you’ll know right from the get-go when they’re given their own free Bento box and drink (for children age 10 and under) when adults eat too. Not only that, but you’ll have a bit of peace and quiet to enjoy your sushi alone, as they have a fantastic time playing in the very well kitted out the play area.
Bookings and Info: www.rokarestaurant.com
Wahaca is reviewed by many parents as the best place to eat out with kids, up and down the UK. Mexican cuisine might not be your usual go-to when you think 'child-friendly', but the build-your-own tacos and tasty churros seem to go down a treat!
It’s bright, it’s colourful, it’s non-judgemental and the food is not only delicious but nutritious too. Packed with veggies and fun!
And it’s not just the kids who love it – it’s great for grown-ups too. Although it’s not fine dining, not all great food has to be. It’s authentic, flavoursome Mexican street food but with the added bonus of being very accommodating for dietary requirements. A full (and extensive) allergen chart is available online and there are multiple vegan options too.
Bookings and Info: www.wahaca.co.uk
Hard Rock Cafe
When it comes to family dining, very few establishments come close to capturing the imaginations of children of all ages in the way that this iconic chain does, day-in-day-out. Whether you're in sunny Florida or up north in funky, metropolitan Manchester, Hard Rock plunges you into a world of musical magic and memorabilia. For those of you yet to walk through the doors of any of their 124 cafes around the world, expect to find stage props, clothing, lyrics and instruments used by your favourite music icons, from Madonna and Michael Jackson to the Rolling Stones, Prince and Elvis...
It's seen of its fair share of imitators over the years, but the Hard Rock continues to draw the crowds. Now under the ownership of the Seminole Tribe in Florida, the music-inspired franchise, which began in London in 1971, shows no signs of turning down the amps.
Bookings and info: www.hardrock.com
This may not sound like the kind of place you want to rock up to with the kids in-tow, but trust us, this place is awesome.
Meat Liquor currently has 12 restaurants in the UK, including Brighton, Leeds and a chain of 10 London eateries.
Each branch offers a mildly different experience, but all guarantee an evening of fun. Alongside the hip and rustic decor, the bustling tables and bars, you'll find table football, darts, the 'Chili Challenge', games arcades, photo booths and more... But the Bayswater London branch is our favourite. This one comes with its very own bowling alley and roller skating rink!
Bookings and Info: www.meatliquor.com
If your children are anything like we used to be at that age, then you might want to bypass the fish and veggies and go straight to the sweet course.
It feels as though Creams has just sprung up out of nowhere; appearing on every street corner with branches from London to the Midlands to Newcastle, Cardiff and Glasgow. And when you see their menu, it's no wonder.
Alongside the classics, like Crepes, Sundaes and Knickerbocker Glories, you'll discover Bubble Pop Waffles and a mouth-watering menu of Cookie Doughs and traditional puddings with a unique 'Creams' twist.
Whilst some prefer to order online, not all items are available for delivery – and nothing quite beats the smell of fresh waffles and staring in through the glass as you try to choose all your favourite ice-cream flavours…
Find your nearest Creams: www.creamscafe.com
This summer, say goodbye to the choice between lacklustre, poor quality food and the fear of embarrassment because your kids might behave like – well, kids! With a little forward planning eating out together can be the perfect treat to end a day out together, or just a perfect treat on its own, parents, grandparents and children alike.