Best family-friendly restaurants in the UK
From Spanish tapas bars to Korean street-food restaurants and gastropubs with huge gardens, these are the UK’s best child-friendly venues (that just happen to be great for grown-ups, too)
Looking for places to eat with kids? Here's our pick of the best family restaurants in the country...
Child-friendly restaurants in London…
Tredwells, WC2 (Covent Garden)
As well as a Junior menu, Marcus Wareing’s restaurant offers a Culinary Kids tasting menu to encourage further exploration of food. The mini seven-course journey comes with recipe cards, so budding chefs can cook their favourite courses at home.
Tredwells has also joined forces with the RSC to form an exclusive partnership with Matilda the Musical at nearby Cambridge Theatre. The bespoke, child-friendly menu (“eggstra-ordinarily awesome” omelettes with “perky peas and bravo broccoli” and “magnificent” meatballs) inspired by the Roald Dahl classic is available throughout summer until 31 August.
The Duke of Richmond, E8 (Dalston)
There was a time when children weren’t even allowed in pubs, but The Duke of Richmond takes it to the other extreme by being so baby- and child-friendly. As well as a kids’ menu (they can eat for free every Friday afternoon), high chairs and baby-change facilities for both mums and dads, it runs a Tuesday and Thursday lunch club for parents between midday and 4pm.
The two-course lunch costs £15 (including a glass of wine or beer) and staff put down mats and toys for babies. Co-owner Meryl Fernandes says: “We encourage parents to bring their friends, National Childbirth Trust crews or just themselves. Being a new mum or dad can be lonely, so we really want to provide a weekly outlet for parents – somewhere to hang out and make new friends.”
Jinjuu, W1 (Soho)
This contemporary Korean street-food restaurant on Kingly Street offers a three-course children’s menu, including beef and pork steamed dumplings, mini bibimbap bowls, and sae-woo pops (fried prawn cakes with aïoli).
Child-friendly restaurants across the UK…
Felin Fach Griffin, Brecon, Powys
The Felin Fach Griffin restaurant-with-rooms encourages children to join their parents for dinner but younger visitors who need to eat early can have high tea at 5.30pm. Served at a table near the games box, it includes fresh fish fillet with chips, and spaghetti with meatballs. All children’s meals come with a complimentary glass of local apple juice from the Aber Valley.
As well as a large kitchen garden to explore, kids visiting Felin Fach Griffin are well catered for all year round, with Easter egg hunts, pumpkin carving and local competitions, including who can grow the tallest sunflower.
Mollie’s Diner, Buckland, Oxfordshire
Owned by Soho House, this retro 1950s-style diner in the heart of the Cotswolds has an impressive menu for smaller folk: cod goujons, mac ’n’ cheese, and avocado and sweetcorn salad, all at £6, including crinkle-cut fries and a drink. The activity sheets are excellent, too, with a food-related word-search, dot-to-dot, and a huge colouring sheet depicting burgers, milkshakes and classic Cadillacs.
Mitch Tonks has five grown-up children, but he still remembers how hard it was to find good-quality, child-friendly restaurants when they were growing up. “We wanted somewhere with really good food and wines, where younger members of the family were welcomed without it feeling like a soft-play area,” says Mitch, who runs a collection of Rockfish family seafood restaurants around the south coast.
“At Rockfish, we want to get everyone eating great seafood, whatever their age. So we have high chairs, of course, but also a great children’s menu.” As well as grilled local fish and retro ice-cream sundaes, Rockfish has designed Ocean Protector Packs so kids can learn about seafood and the environment while they eat.
It includes a beach-clean bag, a wooden dolphin jigsaw, word-searches and a card game (it’s like a fishy version of Old Maid, and the person left holding the plastic bottle card is the loser). Diners also get a stamp every time their child eats at Rockfish, and after five tokens they get an exclusive t-shirt. Mitch even encourages kids (and their parents) to draw on the paper tablecloths: the best doodles end up on the walls and website.
Southside Scran, Edinburgh
Tom Kitchin’s restaurant welcomes kids until 10pm, and serves an excellent menu for them (including mussels and fries). But it also offers half-size portions of adult dishes for those under-12s adventurous enough to try the likes of North Sea plaice wrapped in pancetta, for example.
The Elephant, Torquay
Stuffier Michelin-starred establishments might baulk at the thought of children in their restaurant but as a father of three, chef/owner Simon Hulstone positively encourages it. The Elephant is one of the few Michelin-starred restaurants with a separate kids’ menu for under-12s, at a reasonable £6.95 for main course, dessert and drink.
The choices include fish of the day with vegetables and potatoes, omelettes made with eggs from a local farm, and homemade ice cream. Simon says: “I’m constantly trying to get my children to eat new foods, as well as healthier alternatives. So we’ve devised a menu to incorporate fresh, seasonal and local produce, but still with an eye on pleasing our young diners.”
The Old Manse of Blair, Pitlochry, Perthshire
The Old Manse of Blair owners, Anne and Archie MacDonald, actively welcome families to their Cairngorms National Park hotel and its new restaurant, The Orangery. Head chef Jonathan Greer uses local Highlands ingredients (including venison from the local estates, Perthshire lamb and Arbroath smokies) in his new Inbetweeners menu for teenagers.
Anne says: “It was created following extensive research by our 11-year-old twins, who canvassed their school friends in several surveys.” The menu includes chicken fajita pizza with free-range chicken breast; sausages from the local butcher; and estate-reared Aberdeen Angus 4oz burgers with Orkney cheddar and triple-cooked chips from the family’s own potatoes. Anne says: “We want to produce a foodie experience that is as fresh and delicious as possible, with the aim of engaging young diners with their food.”
Zindiya is a contemporary Indian street-food restaurant run by Ajay and Shivani Kenth. Their concept was to create an immersive experience of India in a casual and fun environment. The children’s menu has been developed by the couple’s six-year-old daughter, Diya, who the restaurant is named after. The Little Zindiyans children’s menu includes Indian school lunchbox favourite, aloo paratha (flatbread filled with potatoes and served with yogurt), a fresh salad and chicken tikka wrap, and Indian-inspired fish ’n’ chips.
Dessert could be Indian rice pudding, or Zindiya’s take on gol gappe (crispy chocolate balls filled with strawberries and served with vanilla ice cream), which is a common street snack in India. The beautifully designed menu, also made by Diya (who is anti-phone/tablet at the dining table), features a word-search, colouring and facts about India.
B-Block Pizza, Keynsham, Bristol
In the former Cadbury’s chocolate factory between Bristol and Bath, this family-orientated pizza restaurant hosts free screenings of child-friendly films at its on-site cinema. The showings start mid-afternoon, followed by a pizza and drink deal (£15 for adults and £7.50 for children).
Bar 44, Cardiff
This buzzing tapas bar in central Cardiff encourages youngsters to eat well. The Ninos menu means kids can choose four, five or six plates for £4/£5/£6 per plate, with options such as patatas bravas, cured anchovies, crispy whole squid and jamón croquetas. There’s also a selection of kids’ mocktails to choose from.
Brassica, Beaminster, Dorset
Louise Chidgey and Cass Titcombe’s son, Jesse, was two years old when they opened Brassica in 2014, and he has since spent a lot of time in the restaurant. It’s perhaps why Brassica is so child-friendly, down to a toy box situated under a banquette, so accessible to small children. Brassica doesn’t have a huge children’s set menu, preferring to offer any dish on the menu at half size and half price, but it does list a simple pasta dish and a piece of grilled hake with fries, as well as ice cream with salted caramel to finish.
Louise says: “A lot of families opt for charcuterie and bread to start things off, as they’re popular with all ages. As are our trifles and sundaes, which can be smaller for children.” The couple stopped selling all commercially made fizzy drinks a year ago, and instead make three seasonal fruit purées which are mixed with sparkling mineral water.
Market House, Altrincham, Greater Manchester
Family is big at the award-winning Altrincham Market, not least because it’s run by Nick Johnson and Jenny Thompson, who have four children of their own. Particularly popular with kids are the freshly made sourdough pizzas at Honest Crust; delicious pancakes and galettes from Fold; and the moreish handmade cakes and buns from Wolfhouse. Market House Coffee always has a great selection of soft drinks and handmade cake pops in fun designs, too. Award-winning pie maker Great North Pie Co even makes pies with smiley faces.
The market itself is great for teaching little ones where their food comes from, as children can walk around the stalls and meet local producers. There are also lots of hot-food stalls, providing the opportunity to try new things, and dishes are often cooked in situ so kids can see how they’re made. The market features a different “easy peasy” recipe every week, encouraging kids (and adults) to buy the ingredients at the market, make it at home, and send in a photo of the results.
With four seating areas to choose from, there’s also plenty of room for buggies and a cosy play area for kids with a selection of books and toys.
Pip’s Lopen, Somerset
Occupying an 1850s railway carriage and an old double-decker bus with a marquee attached, Pip’s has communal tables where families chat over dishes created from organic food grown on the nearby farm. Outside, there are picnic benches for the summer months with a children’s mud kitchen, sandbox and plenty of grass to run around on.
The children’s menu costs £6 (including a drink) and might feature a mini picnic of cheddar toastie, pork pie and “farm” slaw; or flowerpot hummus and veggie “bugs”, such as celery stick “snails”.
The Pigs, Edgefield, Norfolk
Children visiting The Pigs get to pick from an extensive menu that includes smoked chicken and bacon salad, and fish fingers served with “what you want with it” (mash, chips, boiled carrots, buttered new potatoes, garden peas, sweetcorn, cucumber or baked beans). The pub-with-rooms has also created a mini version of the pub outside, including a treehouse and zip wire. If it’s raining, children can make use of the indoor play area with its Lego, Brio train track, kitchen, pool table and table football.
White Row Farm, Frome, Somerset
What makes White Row unique is that it doesn’t sell its produce to other businesses. So everything in the café, including the meat, is sourced directly from the farm. Since the early 1990s, the farm has reared its own pigs and all of the eggs used come from the 350 chickens in the fields surrounding the café.
White Row also has an award-winning fishmongers and fish ’n’ chip shop serving MSC-approved fish. Child-size fish ’n’ chips portions are part of the For the Kids menu, which also includes a mini ploughman’s. Little ones can run it all off in an outdoor play park, and also meet piglets, rabbits, hens and alpacas.
Words by Mark Taylor
Photographs by Steve Ryan, Paul Massey, Soho House, Marc Millar Photography
Tony Naylor's top kid-friendly restaurants in the UK
The Lord Nelson, Burton Joyce, Nottinghamshire
As well as serving cracking grub (say, fish pie or rare-breed pork belly from Whipling Vale Farm with seasonal greens and apple sauce), chef John Molnar’s Moleface pubs are embedded in their communities. All four run weekly coffee ‘n’ cake mornings for new and expectant mums and the Lord Nelson, in leafy Burton Joyce, is a real boon for parents.
Its sunny, south-facing garden includes a huge sandpit and an Astro-turfed five-a-side pitch for kids and, in summer, it has its own outdoor pizza kitchen and a vintage bicycle ice-cream stall. On rainy days, children are given Etch-A-Sketches to keep them happy as they await their freshly-cooked Mini Moles dishes (mains, £6). Mains from £12.50; molefacepubcompany.co.uk
WIFI | High chairs | Children's menu | At-table activities | Food from 5:30pm | Dogs welcome (bar only)
Calcot Manor, Tetbury, Gloucestershire
Set in 220 acres, historic Calcot is an imposing pile but the atmosphere is far from stuffy. There are two play-zones with entertainment for kids of all ages and outdoor activities from football to horse-riding, which those visiting to dine can tap-into like residents (rooms from £199). Most families eat in the Gumstool Inn, enjoying dishes such as local sausage ‘n’ mash with red onion jam and crispy shallots.
However, the Sunday lunch family feast served in the airy Conservatory restaurant (from £23pp) looks a winner, particularly for a special celebration. It might, for example, feature platters of langoustines and Iberico croquettes followed by roast organic beef from the Calcot estate. A separate children’s menu is served in both dining spaces (mains from £6). Gumstool mains from £12; calcotmanor.co.uk
WIFI | High chairs | Children's menu | At-table activities
Science Cream, Cardiff
Like Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck, Science Cream uses liquid nitrogen to instantly freeze its gelato. That process produces an incredibly dense, smooth scoop that, thanks to Science Cream’s use of all-natural ingredients, also has
a remarkable clarity of flavour.
Kids will love the science lab look of the place, all exhaust pipes and swirling nitrogen, while adults will adore the salted caramel with homemade honeycomb. Children can also play board games that Science Cream borrows from Cardiff shop, Rules Of Play, and visiting canines are treated to free doggucinnos (frothy milk). 12-6pm, daily. From £3.95; sciencecream.co.uk
WIFI | High chairs | Dogs welcome
Fat Loaf, Sale, Manchester
In a perfect world, every suburb would have a Fat Loaf, a casual modern restaurant which serves affordable food of surprising quality, where kids (look at the drawings that decorate the open-kitchen) are very much welcome. You regularly see the tables pushed together for big family parties here, at which the adults coo over dishes as diverse as sausage roll with pickled onion and quince chutney or an epic cheese and onion pie with buttered greens and mustard sauce. The children’s menu (mains £5) is crowned with DIY sundaes that allow the nippers to add sprinkles and jellies to local Dunham Massey Farm ice cream. Mains from £11.50; thefatloaf.co.uk
WIFI | HIgh chairs | Children's menu | At-table activities | Food from 5:30pm | Dogs weclome
Brandling Villa, Newcastle
Live gigs! Film nights! Video game tournaments! This South Gosforth pub is a hip place with a lot going on. Not least for dogs. Pampered pets can enjoy, not just water and Pedigree treats from the bar, but their own dog meals including a pig’s ear taco (£4.95). Kids big and small will love the Brandling’s NY-style deli ‘sammidges’ and its terrific burgers made using patties from Northumberland Sausage Company.
Board games such as Trivial Pursuit™ and Guess Who? provide further entertainment. If beaten by a 10-year-old, console yourself with one of the pub’s 10 crafty cask ales (pint from £3.30)
Mains from £7.95; brandlingvilla.co.uk
Cloud WIFI | High chairs | Children's menu | At-table activites | Food all day | Dogs welcome
La Favorita, Edinburgh
All kids love pizza but not every pizza restaurant will satisfy picky, foodie parents. La Favorita on Leith Walk is a slick, buzzy, family-friendly pizzeria (waiting staff are all smiles with the little ’uns, and come armed with crayons, pencils and menus to colour-in), that uses 48-hour, air-proved dough, quality Italian ingredients and a wood-fired oven to produce a cracking slice.
Expect thin and pliable, nicely charred bases, whether you go for classic margherita – the tomato sauce vibrant, the mozzarella creamy – or Napoletana finished with fiery Calabrian ’nduja sausage. Sensibly, it is not used on
the children’s menu (mains, £5). Pizza from £8.95; vittoriagroup.co.uk
WIFI | High chairs | Children's menu | At-table activities | Food all day
The Green Café, Ludlow, Shropshire
In theory, chef Clive Davis’ seriously foodie daytime café (with rustic seasonal dishes such as tagliatelle, baby chard, lemon and parmesan cream; or a warm salt beef brisket bap with piccalilli), sounds like a hard-sell to kids. But Clive will happily serve his gnocchi with a simple tomato sauce for toddlers, bakes ace cakes (children love his brownies), and he keeps a collection of retro board games and old Beano comics on-site.
And did we mention the location? The Green Café sits on a grassy common by a weir. Kids can run around and paddle in the River Teme. Lunch 12-2.30pm. Mains around £9; @greencafeludlow
High chairs | At-table activities | Dogs welcome
Porthminster Café, St Ives, Cornwall
Not only is Australian chef-owner Michael Smith’s pan-Asian fish cookery on-point (Nathan Outlaw is a fan), but the café’s terrace allows parents to kick-back and relax while their kids play nearby on this beautiful Blue Flag beach (terrace open all-year, enclosed/heated on colder days).
The children’s menu (mains around £5) generally features six dishes, which are often simplified, healthier versions of the adult mains, such as grilled or battered fish with chips, salad or potatoes. Discerning parents must try the crispy squid with citrus miso or Michael’s signature monkfish curry with jasmine rice and sweet chilli tamarind. Mains from £16; porthminstercafe.co.uk
WIFI | High chairs | Children's menu | At-table activities
The Allanton Inn, Allanton, Berwickshire
As parents themselves, the Allanton’s owners William and Katrina Reynolds know that, in order for mum and dad to enjoy their meal, the kids need entertaining. Chef Craig Rushton confidently deploys seasonal Borders produce, in everything from inventive scotch eggs to dishes such as hand-dived scallops and charred leeks in a bacon-onion broth, but one of the chief attractions at this spruce country inn is how well kitted-out it is for kids.
There are building games and craft kits in the dining room, outdoor toys in the enclosed beer garden and, at Easter, Katrina organises egg hunts for the children after they have tucked into homemade fish goujons or local sausages and mash (mains, £4.95). Mains from £12; allantoninn.co.uk
WIFI | High chairs | Children's menu | At-table activities
Words: Tony Naylor
Photographs: Owen Mathias, Andrew Irwin, Chris Humphreys, Bacononthebeech.com, Kiss Photography