London is a fantastic place to eat out with your kids, as long as you know where to look. Wander along the main tourist thoroughfares of Knightsbridge, Oxford Street and Regent Street and you could quickly enter panic mode as the time creeps nearer to dinner time, and the ‘I’m hungry’ whines turn to ‘I’m starving’ and you’re searching in vain for a decent restaurant.
The answer is normally to head down a side street, or alternatively, call up this blog on your smart phone. Here are my recommendations:
Peter Pan Tea at Lancaster Hotel
The Wells | Hampstead
You can’t come to London without visiting a pub and pubs across the Capital have been busy turning themselves into gastro dining rooms recently. One of my favourites is The Wells on the edge of the picturesque London village of Hampstead. Dishes like smoked ham hock terrine, Scottish Angus hamburger and Cumberland sausage are made to make your mouth water. Or visit on a Sunday for a typical British Sunday lunch of rib of beef and Yorkshire pudding. Children’s menu also available.
The Savoy Grill | The Strand
If you want one fancy meal in London, consider Gordon Ramsey’s Savoy Grill, in the newly refurbished Savoy Hotel. The three-course weekend menu is good value at £26 a head and the £7.50 children’s menu with it’s deep fried halibut, pea puree and chips is a great mini introduction to fine dining.
I’m told Nobu is also good for kids, but I’m too tight to explore that option!
Kids’ fish finger pizza at Fire and Stone
Fire and Stone | Spitalfields
Fire and Stone is the place to go for a fun take on pizza and a great kids menu, created by the British daddy cook of the moment Nick Coffer of the My Daddy Cooks video blog. Spitalfields Market is one of London’s buzziest food destinations and Fire and Stone is right in the heart of it. My kids loved the fish finger pizza and I enjoyed the Peking duck one, doesn’t sound like it should work, but it does. The Tiffin cake ice cream pudding is also worth leaving room for.
There is a Fire and Stone in Covent Garden and one in the Westfield Shopping centre too.
Lunch at tibits
tibits | Piccadilly
Most British restaurants now cater for vegetarians, but if you don’t want to always feel like the after thought, head for tibits, a stones throw from the fantastic Hamleys Toy Shop. Here you’ll find a delicious buffet of wonderfully fresh salads and hot daily specials. Eat downstairs where there is a specially designed kids area full of toys and games.
Peter Pan Afternoon Tea at The Lancaster Hotel | Hyde Park
You can’t come to London without sampling a typical British afternoon tea. The prices charged at some of London’s top hotels for enjoying this privilege, however, could quickly make you lose your appetite. Tea at the Ritz currently starts at £42.
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But, I recently discovered the hidden gem of the Peter Pan afternoon tea at the Lancaster Hotel. The hotel itself is housed in a dated skyscraper, well it’s tall to me, it’s probably a little house to my American audience, but don’t let this put you off.
Inside you’ll find a spacious lounge where kids can freely run around in between bites from a rather tasty afternoon tea, complete with Lost Boys cucumber sandwiches, Mrs Darlings scones with cream and jam and yummy patisseries. Tea is served with a map directing you to the Peter Pan Statue in Hyde Park just opposite and a fairy pouch filled with breadcrumbs to feed the ducks with when you get there.
Royal Garden Hotel London Kids Cookery School
Kids Foodie Hotel
Royal Garden Hotel | Kensington
During the school holidays, the Royal Garden Hotel runs special Junior Chef stays. Book a two-night package and your kids get to take part in the Kids Cookery School run by the hotel’s Executive Chef Steve Munkley. It’s aimed at introducing five to ten-year-olds to the kitchen in a fun way, whilst Mum and Dad take in the shops on Kensington High Street.
Ella and Lily came back to the room with boxes of scrummy cookies and truffles that they’d made, a cute little apron and chefs hat and some mini utensils to start them baking at home. As part of the package you also get to enter into a very high tech treasure hunt around adjacent Kensington Gardens, where you have to enter the answers by text. We never did find the final clue though, so we didn’t win the icecream sundaes!
In the last few years, London has cottoned on to the fact that parents actually enjoy eating out with their children, providing they are fully catered for and a number of upmarket chains now offer some great kids menus. Look out for:
This relative newcomer successfully achieves what many still only strive for: good, fresh, healthy, fast-food. We’re particular fans of the sweet potato falafel wraps and the meatballs. The kids menu comes with an activity pack.
We normally end up sharing out the plates from this scrummy world cuisine hangout. The menu is eclectic running from mezze to enchiladas but you can’t go wrong. They also have a kids menu and activity kit on offer and they will always find you a highchair.
The brainchild of celebrity Italian chef Antonio Carluccio, Carluccios restaurants can be found dotted across the city and offer a mouth-watering range of antipasti, pasta, secondis and dolcis. The kids menu is a miniature version of the adult menu and comes with crayons, puzzles and games.
For luscious pizzas and salads, you’re never far away from a Pizza Express and their set price Piccolo menu includes dough balls, side salad, pizza or pasta, icecream sundae and Bambinoccino.
Perfect for a warming bowl of Ramen and a smoothie, but you might find the communal tables a strain, especially if your toddler fancies a bite of whatever the stranger next to him has ordered.
Photo Credit: Lancaster Hotel, tibits, Fire and Stone, Anna Tobin
Ciao Bambino recommended family hotels London