London’s jam-packed full of attractions for all the family– indeed, the Internet is teeming with a cornucopia of wonderful and weird tourist traps in the UK capital – but what about food? Where should you go to dine out with your little ones? Which restaurants, eateries or cafés in the Big Smoke are actually suitable, nay tailored to families? Fear not; they do exist – here are five fine candidates…
(Covent Garden: 66 Chandos Place WC2N 4HG/ Oxford Circus: 26-28 Great Portland Street W1W 8QT/ Soho: 80 Wardour Street W1F 0TF/ South Bank: Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road SE1 8XX)
If you and yours are fans of Mexican cuisine – or, at the very least, Central or South American food in general – then any of this mini-chain’s plethora of branches are a good bet for family sustenance while you’re sightseeing, shopping or out and about in the capital. Whether you’re hitting the stores in Westfield, on the South Bank or walking around the West End – you can bet your bottom dollar one’ll be near you. Dishes are described as delicious with the likes of tacos, empanadas, quesadillas and dips, while the kids’ menu offers smaller portions, cooler spices and extras like scoops of ice-cream. Mind you, shared dishes are a fine idea for families, which generally go for around £4 – five or six shared dishes might suffice for between two or three people.
Open: 12noon-11pm Monday-Saturday; 12noon-10.30pm Sunday
(Further locations in Brixton, Canary Wharf, Islington, Kentish Town, Liverpool Street, St. Paul’s, Stratford, Waterloo, White City and Wimbledon)
Cereal Killer Café
(Mezz 2, Stables Market, Camden NW1 8AH/ 139 Brick Lane E1 6SB)
Bright, colourful and silly, with more than a nod to the nostalgia of cherished British and US cereal brandsof yesteryear, this place serves a variety of cereals, milk, toppings, pop tarts and fruit. With locations in trendy Camden Lock (Stables Market) and the equally hip Brick Lane, its ‘cereal cocktails’ always go down well – bowls of different cereals with milk and toppings. For instance, how crazily wondrous does ‘Peanut Butter Jelly Time’ (peanut butter Cap’n Crunch cereal with Reese’s Chips and strawberry milk) sound?
Granted, with itsall old cereal merchandise dotted about, video games hugging the walls and actual beds as well as seats for customers to perch themselves on, it’s a hipster’s heaven, but young ones won’t care less and doubtless find it glorious fun.Meaning that Cereal Killer Café’s an unusual but unforgettable family-friendly London eating location.
Cereal prices vary depending on size and their country of origin – e.g. small US cereals are £3, medium sized ones £3.70 and large bowls £4.40. But the milk’s free and toppingsjust60p. Cereal cocktails are between £3.70 and£4.80.
Open: 9.30am-7pm daily
All Star Lanes
(Holborn: Victoria House, Bloomsbury Place WC1B 4DA/ Bayswater: 6 Porchester Gardens W2 4DB/ Brick Lane: 95 Brick Lane E1 6QL/ Westfield Stratford City: 2nd floor, Westfield Stratford City E20 1ET)
Strictly speaking, these establishments aren’t eateries at all, they’re tenpin bowling centres, and yet, no question, their excellent child-friendly food menus combined with the opportunity to sink a strike with each roll – if you’re good enough – is surely hard to resist for kidsof all ages. Every one of them (including the Bayswater version, not far at all from Shaftesbury Suites London Marble Arch, should that be where you’re staying) offer strong US diner-style menus featuring good, solid fare like burgers, fried chicken, ribs and steaks. Best of all though is that, while special smaller main meals for children are £5.50, a main dish, a side order, a drink, a dessert and a bowling game can be purchased together for just £15.
Open: around 12noon-11pm daily
(26 Noel Street W1F 8GY)
A haven of grilled cheese on the streets of Central London’s Soho, Melt Room is all about mouth-watering melted cheese sandwiches – and more mouth-watering melted cheese sandwiches. Ideal for a quick lunch in between busy sightseeing, the likes of a Portobello mushroom sandwich and the (non-sandwich) tuna bean salad are highly recommended, especially with added relish to dip them into.
As this venue’s geared as much for Soho trendsetters as it is for anyone else, the volume of the piped music may not be entirely as family-friendly as that of other eateries, but the grilled cheese does sound un-brie-lieavble. Sandwich prices range from £3.50 to £5.00.
Open: 8.30am-8pm Monday-Friday; 11am-7pm Saturday; 11am-6pm Sunday
Chin Chin Labs
(49-50 Camden Lock Place, Camden NW1 8AF)
Billed as ‘Europe’s only Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Parlour’, Chin Chin Labs is bound to enchant your tots as much its ice-cream willplacate their taste buds. Yes, because this grotto of gelato goodness doesn’t just allow customers to watch their desired delicacy be prepared before their eyes, it lets them watch as primed liquid ice-cream bases are instantly frozen via the addition of the liquid nitrogen.
As much a crazy storybook chemistry lab as a family eatery then (with clouds of steam billowing here, there and everywhere), the experience is likely to delight young ones and the finished results are purported to taste supreme. Chocolate and vanilla flavours are always a constant and are joined by an ever changing range– everything from fig jam doughnut to Christmas tree – as well as terrific toppings like grilled white chocolate. Ice-cream prices tend to be either £3.95 or £4.95; toppings are free.
Open: 12noon-7pm daily