Tag Archives: SE1

Giraffe, South Bank, London

Being half–Italian and a (complete) foodie, I knew that when I had children I would want to instill in them a love of good food and the ritual of eating together.  Well, here I am with a 3 year old who loves olives, garlic, capers and salami.  Of course, he likes those Brit staples of chips and sausages too, but he has a well developed love of really flavoursome foods.

As soon as Jack showed interest in food when we started weaning I encouraged him to taste a bit of what we were eating too.  Eating out has been a big part of developing his love of food and sharing the pleasure of eating together with him.

On a recent day out with Jack and his grandparents we found ourselves on the South Bank at lunchtime.  It was school holiday time so there were queues for all the restaurants.  We plumped for the one for Giraffe.   What a mistake.

Now, I know that there is a place for restaurants which cater specifically for families – especially when you’ve got a gaggle of kids to feed.  But if you want to actually enjoy the experience of eating out together rather than use it purely as a refuelling stop, don’t do it.

The noise level is conversation-stifling.  If MacDonald’s did table service this is what it would be like.  There are baby changing facilities and there is plenty of room for buggy parking, but, frankly, why you would want to bring a baby here unless you had no other choice is beyond me.

If you’re in the area and need somewhere to eat you’d be much better off in Canteen or Wagamama’s.

Rating:

Stylishness: 0/5

Friendliness: 3/5

Feeding Facilities: 3/5

Changing Facilities: 4/5

Food: 2/5

Overall rating: 12/25   £

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Filed under £ - Cheap and cheerful, London, Restaurant

Village East, Bermondsey Street, London

The Saturday morning we were due to visit our friends in Bermondsey dawned as wet as a very wet thing. It was definitely a bad sign.

Bermondsey is home to a cool mixture of creative and NYLON types and sits cheek by jowl with Borough. The plan was to drop by and see our friends, exchange belated Christmas presents for their 4 month old and our 3 year old, then wander over to Roast in Borough Market for a nice lunch.

The rain put paid to the second half of the plan. Village East on Bermondsey Street was a mere stone’s throw away. That, and it’s claim to be in the style of New York warehouse dining, sealed the deal.

It certainly looks the part. We were seated in the ‘canteen’ area which was busy but not full. Jack, doing his best impression of mummy and daddy ordering from the menu, asked the waiter for chicken and chips. Both were on the menu but in separate dishes. The waiter: ‘er, I don’t know about that, not sure we can…‘ Me: ‘But you have chicken and you have chips?’ Waiter: ‘Yes. I will check with the kitchen.‘

He didn’t come back so we crossed our fingers and hoped that something approximating chicken and chips would appear. The relief was palpable when it did – particularly as Jack was approaching hunger meltdown by that point We had ordered from the brunch menu and it is fair to say it was all delicious. The waiter warmed slightly once he realised we were pleased with the food.

Another little group with a child, who could not have been more than two, arrived and a high chair appeared. They looked like they were having a good time and I started to think I might have judged the waiter too harshly.

Sadly, that was shortlived. There is barely enough room to get a toddler in the toilet cubicles, let alone find space to change a baby. On asking if they had a disabled toilet I was met with a very sheepish ‘um, yes, but we use it as our cloakroom…‘

As if that wasn’t enough, we got absolutely drenched walking back to the car and smelt like damp sheep all the way home.

Rating:

Stylishness: 3/5

Friendliness: 2/5

Feeding Facilities: 3/5

Changing Facilities: 0/5

Food: 3/5

Overall rating: 11/25   ££

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Filed under ££ - Mid price, London, Restaurant

Canteen, Royal Festival Hall, London

If you’re travelling to or from South London via Waterloo Station the revamped area around the Royal Festival Hall is a great place for a pit stop.  Canteen is located round the back of the Festival Hall away from the melee of the riverside, which is a relief if you’ve spent the last few hours fighting your way through crowded streets with a buggy.

I’ve been with Jack several times now, from just before he was  a year old onwards.  The food is always yummy and they will do starter size portions for children.  The vibe is distinctly not that of a children’s restaurant (unlike places like Giraffe, of which more in a later post) since you’re as likely to find trendy 30-somethings working over lunch as you are mums with toddlers.

The staff have always happily found space to park the buggy and magic up a highchair.  The toilets have loads of decent changing space as well as a dedicated disabled loo which has a changing table.

Whilst the service is generally pretty quick – always helpful when you have a hungry toddler –  on one recent occasion when they were, admittedly, very busy we had to ask after the food several times.  This produced an exasperated reaction from the waitress.   The result:  I went from one stressed mum who needed to feed her child to one very angry one.  Not good if you expect a tip.

Don’t let this put you off though, because overall it’s a great place to go with babies and toddlers if you want a more, pleasant, adult experience than you’ll get in a place dedicated solely to feeding kids.  They also have branches in Spitalfields, Baker Street and Canary Wharf

Rating:

Stylishness: 3/5

Friendliness: 4/5

Feeding Facilities: 3/5

Changing Facilities: 4/5

Food: 4/5

Overall rating: 18/25   ££

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Filed under ££ - Mid price, London, Restaurant