When it comes to going out to eat with children, a lot of people default to chains. There’s safety in a chain. The knowledge, or rather hope, that the corporate behemoths have seen it all. Butter used as moisturiser. Screams so loud another table’s soup curdles. Teary conversations about the lives the eggs in this benedict could have had. At least the food is kind of edible, right?
You can do better than this though. There are plenty of great London restaurants who can handle a roaming child, and a lovely risotto. Each one of the restaurants in this guide is a place you and the kids can enjoy together.
If you can’t take your kids to eat what we reckon is probably the best pizza in London, then something is wrong with the world. Thankfully you can, so hold back on that Twitter rant please. Theo’s is an easy choice around Camberwell. The pizza is delicious, the atmosphere very relaxed, and the drinks menu suitably extensive.
Nando’s is one of those options that’s a given, but, ultimately, that self-serve fro-yo machine alongside a million hot sauces is a recipe for anger. Or tears. Go to Casa Do Frango, which is conveniently placed near London Bridge, instead. The piri piri chicken here is just that bit better. Not that the children will notice, but you’ll be able to enjoy it, alongside a glass or bottle of something proper whilst the small ones can still eat chicken and chips making all the noise they want.
Child in one arm, dog in the the other. If you have the look of someone who’s watched a human try to snort a Petit Filous in the hopes of a sugar high, that’s because you have. You glance into Bellanger, all glossy wood and gold detail. They’ll never take your sort. But, they will. Bellanger is a lovely brasserie in Islington that’s for everyone, eau de filous included. It’s classics like schnitzel or salmon and eggs here, and, really, it’s an ideal place to take your kids. Especially if you ask for a booth.
The good thing about taking children to Ottolenghi is that you can play our favourite game ‘Ingredient Or Infant?’. Are you ordering little gem, or is that him being asked to sit down? Is that labneh on your kofte, or is a bawling child shouting ‘lab-meh-alone’? It’s a really great game. Honest. Along with this place having all kinds of breads, and dips to eat, the Spitalfields one is nice and big as well.
The Good Egg’s original location is slap bang in the middle of north London’s most bougie playground, so it’s fitting that this Mediterranean all-day cafe is a good place to come with the kids. It’s excellent for sweet and savoury in the day, with everything from babka french toast to an egg and cheese bagel. They even do a special kids breakfast platter. Dinner is a little more adult, but all the kids around here grow up on pumpkin hummus, so they’re happy.
Taking your child to the pub is a pastime that we strongly approve of. It’s character building. Little scamps living off scampi fries is adorable, isn’t it? Well, The Coach isn’t really that sort of pub, but it suits much better. This Farringdon gastro-number serves all kind of child-friendly fare in a very nice airy, pub space. There are sausage rolls by the inch, plus possibly the best chips in London. And while you’ll obviously be snacking on these, there’s also a lovely menu of French bistro-fare to choose from.
One of the excellent things about Ozone is that there’s a lot going on. A big central kitchen where everything’s being made, people sitting at the bar around it, people sitting at tables, staff going to and from tables constantly. It’s buzzy and hectic. And it’s also very loud. It’s the perfect conditions for your precious little thing to do something absolutely heinous with a bit of banana bread, and for nobody to notice. Not that they’d mind here. The service is excellent, as is the huge and varied menu.
If you’ve spent the day dragging bodies up and down Portobello, then you’re probably all in dire need of a good meal. Andina is where you should head. This is the kind of restaurant that everybody needs in their back pocket. It’s cool but still casual enough for kids, and has a tonne of tasty and healthy-ish options, like carrot fritters, or a definitely not messy meatball sandwich.
Sure, you could go to any old pub, stick ’em in the corner with an iPad, some scratchings, and a few darts, but that’s not going to get you fed properly is it? Go to the Camberwell Arms instead. This place is part pub and part restaurant, but it still extends a welcome to everyone, even if you are partial to a dribble, and an emotional outburst (although they’re probably more forgiving of these if you’re under eighteen). If there’s a pie on, don’t miss out on it.
South Kensington has got a lot of chain options, but you’re trying to raise a kid with taste here, aren’t you? Fast forward the precocious process and take them to Ceru, a Levantine restaurant that’s got all kinds of good things about it. The atmosphere is fun and relaxed, plus there are enough colours on the wall to keep all of you distracted for a second or two. There are dips and calamari for the kids, and all kinds of meat and vegetable small plates for you.
At Greyhound Cafe they serve a dessert called ‘Happy Toast’. It’s a piece of toast that comes with a load of different squeezy custards to pour over. It costs over a fiver. Your kids are very much welcome here. We recommend sticking to the Thai side of the menu, as the fusion burgers and pastas are a bit odd. But if the little ones insist on having a soft shell crab burger with their happy toast, who are you to argue?
Lardo is an extremely inoffensive restaurant. Unless you’re not into Italian food, in which case you need to sort your life out. This Hackney restaurant has a choice of pizzas and pastas that will keep anyone of any age happy. There’s a load of outside seating for the summer, and a big inside where you can keep yourselves to yourselves while trying to keep the kids as far away from the pizza oven as possible.
Pizza. Tacos. Negroni on tap. Is there anything else you need when you’re taking kids out for a meal? Maybe. But also maybe not. Can restaurants sell valium? Regardless, Temper in Covent Garden will very much do the job. It’s a huge space full of comfy and hidden booths. The food is sometimes great, sometimes weird, but order safely (e.g. cheeseburger flavoured things) and everybody will be happy.