Life
Neil Davey 27 Jul 2017 10:00am

Restaurants with big ideas for little eaters

Neil Davey explores the best places to eat that take a grown-up attitude to feeding the kids

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Caption: Neil Davey brings some of the best family-friendly eateries.

Albert’s Worsley

Manchester

albertsworsley.com

“All served with apple juice, orange juice or a miniccino.” While adults can enjoy a fine breakfast (on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays), the smaller members of the party have a short menu of classic dishes – waffle, maple syrup, bananas, the little full English, and scrambled egg on toast – that treats them as diners for the future. Staff are great with kids too. Bravo.

Giggling Squid

Various locations

gigglingsquid.com

The food is good, always reliable, and service is terrific. They also treat children like smaller adults with their “Little Tapas for Little People” menu. It’s two small dishes for £5.95, extras for £2 apiece, and the selection is impressive, with spring rolls, massaman curry, pad Thai and chicken satay. Spicing is light but flavoursome. Thumbs up.

Tredwell’s

Soho, London

tredwells.com

When is a children’s menu not a children’s menu? When Marcus Wareing gives it the once over.

To be fair, it’s not just Marcus Wareing. Many places are waking up to the fact that not all children want excessively-orange-breadcrumbed mystery chicken or fish pieces, chips and crayons. Some are more adventurous and can even handle cutlery.

And to be equally fair, it’s not just Marcus Wareing at Tredwell’s. Chantelle Nicholson is billed as the chef patron, so it’s in her general direction we tip our hats for the various child friendly options here. The less adventurous can still have (very good) pizza, roast beef, etc, but those with, let’s say, a more European attitude can enjoy some much bolder fare.

Parsnip soup is a pretty safe bet for all but the most veg-averse, given a twist with the addition of a parsnip bhaji. It’s a little cracker, basically, all healthy sweetness, great textures and that delicate earthiness underscoring it all. It’s a shame that some would just be put off by the presence of the “p” word but that’s a subject for debate elsewhere. And, probably, a series of gently-outraged features.

Similarly, harissa-glazed aubergine, coconut and coriander is a combination of big flavours and a hugely successful dish – well, unless you’re one of those genetically-disposed to loathe coriander, of course. Still, the rare roast beef salad, with pickled mushroom, sesame and rocket is also a fine twist on recognisable ingredients, and the crispy buttermilk chicken does exactly what it says on the menu.

Desserts are crowd-pleasers but proof that children and quality ingredients needn’t be strangers. The Valrhona Caraïbe chocolate, blood orange, Earl Grey cream could sit happily on any modern menu – seriously, just imagine those flavours rolling around your tongue. While even the soft serve ice cream gets a kick into “proper” eating with the addition of salted caramel.

That sense of familiarity may be this menu’s finest achievement. It’s “culinary” enough to pass itself off as a tasting menu but, with a little persuasion, there’s surely something here for even the fussiest, most unadventurous of offspring. However you look at it, this is a good value, highly enjoyable few courses.

Packing a punch

Harissa-glazed aubergine, coconut and coriander – a mighty big-flavoured dish