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Where to eat with kids this Easter break

Eating out with children needn’t be a hold-your-nerve experience. Restaurants across the spectrum, from high-end establishments to neighbourhood gems, are catering for young appetites, and that doesn’t mean ketchup with everything.

 

For some parents – especially those in charge of fussy eaters – the predictability of the ubiquitous children’s menu at high-street chain restaurants may come as a welcome balm. But all too often, that means it’s the grown-ups who get a raw deal, eating in places they wouldn’t have looked at twice pre-kids.

Luckily, some of the country’s top restaurants are rising to the challenge of keeping the whole family well fed, offering simple (but not dull) dishes for children, or smaller portions from the carte. We’ve sought out the best of the bunch this Easter, so you can sit back and relish eating together, rather than begging for the bill before you’ve even picked up your fork.

 

Gourmet gang

At the high end, dining with young children may feel like an impossible dream but don’t lose heart.

The Elephant in Torquay, run by parents-of-three Simon and Katy Hulstone, has a seaside vista overlooking the harbour and a kid’s menu of fresh, healthy dishes guaranteed to please the most particular of palates – catch of the day, perhaps, with vegetables and potatoes, or an omelette or pasta bolognese.

In London’s Fitzrovia, the plush Berners Tavern supplements its all-day fare with a ‘Little People’ menu featuring fresh pasta, burgers and grilled fish. At Thompson St Albans, the kitchen pushes the boat out for parents with children in tow both at lunch and dinner.

At Tredwells in London’s Covent Garden, Chantelle Nicholson and Marcus Wareing were among the first to create menus for ‘discerning young palates’ – their kids’ tasting menu and simpler junior menu both include appealing fruit ‘cocktails’. Fancy drinks are also on the menu at Loft in St Albans' Cathedral Quarter. Back in Covent Garden, children at Angela Hartnett’s Café Murano can choose from chicken Milanese with potato fritti or handmade pasta with a choice of sauces, followed by ice cream or fruit salad.

 

Kids eat free

The Galvin brothers, Jeff and Chris, chef-patrons of several family-run Gallic restaurants, are offering free meals for kids this Easter (6-22 April), at Galvin La Chapelle and Galvin Hop (both in Spitalfields, London).

 

Pub love

Relaxed boozers are often ideal places to feed a family. The Duck Inn in Norfolk offers a Little Ducklings menu and at Parlour in Kensal Green, the ‘Something for the Little Uns’ menu is no afterthought: popcorn chicken, mac ‘n’ cheese with broccoli trees, or baby burger, might be followed by arctic rolls or a toasted marshmallow wagon wheel. Even better, food is served all day, while at The Felin Fach Griffin near Brecon, young kids can have high tea in the bar at 5.30. 

 

A pizza the action

Of course, you can’t go wrong with pizza. Flour and Ash pizzeria in Bristol, GB Pizza in Margate and Hackney’s Lardo are all contenders for the crown when it comes to the UK’s ‘best slice’, and go out of their way to welcome younger diners.

 

The chain gang

Restaurant groups worth noting for their child appeal include Dishoom (London, Edinburgh and Manchester), styled after Bombay’s Irani cafes, and London’s upmarket Yauatcha for dim sum (children love attempting to master – okay, weaponise – the chopsticks, and the little steamed packages are perfect for small mouths). At Hawksmoor steak house (London, Edinburgh and Manchester), there’s no dedicated children’s menu, but the burgers and mac ‘n’ cheese are a big hit with small humans. At Brigadiers, an Indian barbecue-style restaurant in the City and part of the JKS Group (Gymkhana, Trishna, Hoppers), young diners can choose from masala omelette or Malai chicken tikka breast followed by soft-serve ice creams.

 

Easter days out

Treat yourself £££

Simpsons, Birmingham
Grown-ups and kids alike will be hard-pressed to find something they don’t love at Simpsons. The kitchen goes out of its way to excite young palates: on their three-course menu, crispy squid shares the billing with familiar fish, chips and peas and pudding might be a playfully presented brownie sundae or Eton mess. Birmingham’s Botanical Gardens are a 10-minute walk away and this Easter there’s an outdoor Ice Age experience, featuring animated life-sized beasts – a guaranteed way to work up an appetite.

Spring, London
The quiet elegance of Skye Gyngell’s beautiful restaurant in the New Wing of Somerset House implies it’s a no-child zone, but the kitchen strives to reach out to all generations with its Mediterranean-inflected food. The children’s menu offers seasonal juice, freshly made tagliolini with a choice of sauces, and a scoop of superb ice cream. You’re a short stroll from the South Bank and on warm days the courtyard’s water jets are a kids’ paradise.

 

Great value ££

Cinnamon Kitchen, London The Battersea branch of Vivek Singh’s contemporary Indian offers a tantalising ‘junior menu’ of peshwari naan and daal, herbed chicken skewer with roti or pan-fried pollock, with homemade ice cream to finish. Over Easter, a mobile farm is coming to the Power Station; children can hold farmyard creatures then go on an egg hunt (19-21 April – it’s free, but do book ahead).

The Creameries, Greater Manchester
This former Edwardian dairy in Chorlton, now run as a family-friendly deli and kitchen by chef Mary-Ellen McTague, strives to be ‘a place where parents and children can eat together happily’. Children can order small portions of anything from the adult menu while the kids’ menu ventures beyond the obvious fare: split pea chips with mushroom ketchup (a triumph if your little ones are otherwise less than keen on funghi), or perhaps fish or vegetable pie with seasonal greens.

 

Budget £

The Oyster Shack, Devon
This colourful and easy-going Local Gem near Bigbury-on-Sea boasts a passionate commitment to ethical sourcing. It’s an ideal place to introduce children to seafood they’re not yet familiar with. Those with an adventurous palate might dive into a half-pint of shell-on prawns or traditional mussels with crusty bread, while those who prefer something simpler won’t miss out – there’s plain or tomato pasta and ice cream, too.

The Victoria, Greater London
This buzzy local boozer in East Sheen near Richmond is a boon for families. From the kitchen come belt-busting breakfasts and classic pub food – perhaps Cumberland sausage and mash, or ale-battered fish and chips – but there’s lighter, more contemporary stuff too, and keenly priced child-sized dishes, with homemade smoothies. With an enclosed playground at the back (so you can finish your pud in peace), and Richmond Park just a five-minute stroll, you’re sorted for a post-meal runabout.

 

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