|Culinary Chiswick Through The Eyes of A Child|
We check out some local child friendly restaurants and their menus
Many restaurants in Chiswick claim to be child friendly - indeed I find some are far too child friendly if I'm not eating out with my precious darlings. Therefore I thought I would give some of them the ultimate challenge - pleasing my three children (that and we were at a loose end on certain days during the summer holidays!).
My three aged ten, eight and five are by no means picky eaters but they do insist on, and are used to eating, good quality food.
We began our challenge at Tootsies. Although a firm family favourite, we found standards had slipped prior to the refit but are happy report that things are now much improved. Very child friendly - highchairs abound, crayons, activity sheets the works. Foodie website Toptable says "There's not a yummy mummy in Chiswick that doesn't sing the praises of Tootsies. Its first class family-friendly credentials include patient staff, a junior menu with organic dishes, and ample buggy space inside the brasserie-style restaurant. By day, it's a hang out for local families and people watchers (there's a nice open frontage on Chiswick High Road); at night, more of a groovy burger bar frequented by couples."
Not sure I would categorise myself as a yummy mummy but would agree with everything else. My three had the children's menu which consisted of a glass of fruit juice each, one had a grilled chicken breast burger and the other two had burgers and chips. To finish they had ice cream which comes with a variety of shakers filled with hundreds and thousands, chocolate sprinkles, maple syrup etc. Great fun and good food all for £5.95 a head.
Our second port of call was Carluccio's. We have eaten here on a number of occasions at breakfast and lunch but this last visit was a bit of a disappointment. Whilst they are child friendly in terms of buggy space, high chairs, activity sheets, crayons etc. I find the waiting staff are less so, in fact our waiter on this occasion was verging on the hostile!
That aside I do like the children's menu here which kicks off with grissini ( Italian bread sticks) and a soft drink followed by a choice of pastas and sauces or chicken breast and rosemary potatoes. My children chose, lasagna, spaghetti with ragu and the chicken. All plates were cleared within moments. To finish they had a tub of Carluccio's Italian ice cream and all for £4.95 a head.
Third on our list was Pizza Express which we have invariably found welcoming regardless of how many children we have in tow. They don't provide any activities to entertain the children whilst they wait for their food, however, they now offer a children's menu or piccolo as they call it. So instead of the girls sharing their usual Margherita, they had dough balls with garlic butter to start followed by a mini Margherita accompanied with a complimentary side salad - cucumber, peppers and cherry tomatoes - and a Toffee Fudge Sundae each to finish all for £5.25. By this point in our investigations, my son declared he was getting 'too old' for all this children's menu nonsense and went for adult size portions which he couldn't manage to finish. I restrained myself from saying I told you so but did ask him to remember his folly - and his tummy ache - next time we ate out.
Which on this occasion was a celebration lunch at High Road Brasserie to mark the end of the holidays - and I use the term celebration for all of us as they were looking forward to going back to school as much as I was looking forward to taking them!
High Road Brasserie provides a 'Little People's Menu' which comes on an A3 photocopied sheet accompanied with colouring pencils (I found myself impressed that they were all neatly sharpened and in their own pencil case!) and costs £5.00.
The children loved the crisp linen napkins, the way they felt they were treated like "special guests" and the freshly squeezed apple juice even though "it's got funny bits in it!"
They all ordered burgers with potato wedges even though they had the choice of spaghetti, organic chicken & broccoli, mini cumberland sausage & mash or homemade fish fingers. Still, they enjoyed them and once again left three completely spotless plates. All three finished with banana splits.
Whilst they happily rubbed their tummies, I asked them which was their favourite children's menu and / or restaurant out of the four. "Oh I love Sam's the best!" says Ben, "Breakfast at Balans definitely, but has to come with us Daddy too." says Phoebe, "I don't really know," says Isobel "I think I like them all the same."
So there you have it, my children's views on where, what and when they like to eat in Chiswick.
September 5, 2007