Good quality food and freshly prepared meals are a weakness of mine when dining out. The older I get the more I appreciate finer food, long gone are the days of snacking on spam and tins of cold baked beans, I blame my mum, every Christmas, my recipe book collection grows rapidly as she gifts me the latest must have book and Jamie Oliver stands proud amongst them all.
So where am I going with all this? Well, with the regeneration of Exeter, my nearest home city, came a trendy and upcoming shopping precinct, Princess Hay along with a scattering of top-notch eateries one being Jamie’s Italian and the Toddler, Tween, Teenager and I, chaperoned by my own dear old Dad, were invited along to sample the kids menu. (When I say we, obs, I mean the younger 2 of our party.)
Waiting in the holding bay, where we stored our buggy and made our way to our table. Tween and Toddler were handed their menus and a cup full of crayons, always a welcome sight with little ones in tow and providing a distraction while I dissect the menu. Only today, Toddler was hungry and a little tired, and when toddler’s hungry, he gets mischievous so the crayons became great javelins as he lobbed them around the restaurant with great delight.
Luckily, with the restaurant a busy, bustling hive of activity, it wasn’t too much of a problem ( I think!) The activity packs come with the usual colouring pages and a spinner but the real novelty was the food menu on the vintage View Masters. While this was a great idea for older kids, I’m a sucker for quirky and unusual in a restaurant, it did mean I missed reading the menu in full.
Tween, however, loved it and after several clicks, decided on some mini organic burgers. Seeing that I was struggling to decide on something for the Toddler he kindly pulled the disc out to show me how it works. I resisted the urge to tell him it was a retro toy and was probably as old as me as I knew it would shatter the cool factor for him.
He’s suffering serial cases of eyes-bigger-than-his-belly at the moment and was a little concerned that the portions would be too small, but I bargained with him on the offering of pudding if he ate it all. They’re priced at £6.50 for little kids and £6.95 for big with a drink however, during our visit there was a kids eat free with a paying adult offer.
We weren’t asked who they were for when we ordered so I can’t really comment on the difference in portion sizes. In the chaos of entertaining a hungry toddler I lost the chance to study the menu properly and missed the finer details like this and that drinks were included, so not a bad price really for a fresh, healthy meal. (In hind sight, it would have been great if the waiter had pointed this out when we were ordering.)
Each meal also came with a mini side salad and dip which both boys devoured along with the main food. Tween tried to demonstrate eating the mini burgers in one bite, which are just the right size for little hands, in one bite and failed. He then skewered the potato hedgehogs kebab style and managed to make a little self entertainment in the process.
Testament to how tasty the Toddler was finding his food, he stopping throwing crayons and let me feed him some pasta. Sensing the possible carnage he could potentially cause by giving him free rein with a fork and bowl of food, I resorted to feeding him and taking quick bites of my vege burger. Once he’d had enough, I relaxed the rules a little and gave him the salad with chopped grapes. So great to see a restaurant thinking of all the safer points of dining with children like serving the enamel bowl in a protective tea towel and ceramic dish, so avoiding hot plate burns. Not having to risk asses the meal was a great help.
It was also handy to have the changing station located in the downstairs loo. It was large enough to do a quick nappy change and having the buggy in site in the waiting area meant we could leave all our coats and not worry. Days out with kids is rarely a travelling light affair, but not having things stored under tables and chairs meant we could relax (ish, remember there was a lively toddler at the party) sit on comfort and enjoy our food.
And did the Tween make it for pudding?
No, he finished everything on his plate and admitted that he’s still of an age for the kids menu (phew!)
As for the Toddler, well half a bowl of pasta, a few grapes, a couple of lettuce leaves, 3 slices of soft curling cucumber and a slice of lemon and he was done. Restored back to the manageable and less mischievous rascal we adore.
Oh and the big people’s grub wasn’t too bad either!
We were invited to try out the kids menu and compensated for our meal. All words, opinions and photographs are entirely my own.