Chocolate - a constant in most mother's diets. I believe it's part of the holy trinity of motherhood survival - Coffee, Wine and Chocolate. And for one delicious weekend you will be able to find all three at the smooth Festival of Chocolate. And the best bit for Team Little Munch is that this year the festival has a brand new location. It will now be held at the Sydney Showground in Sydney Olympic Park, which is much closer to home!
For the last few years the festival was held at First Fleet Park at Circular Quay. Whilst the location was spectacular, the space wasn't especially if you had kids in tow. It was soooo crowded which made me nervous when I had the little lads with me. So I believe the move to the showground is a God send as there will be loads more exhibitors, heaps of space for kids to wander around, and the best bit - a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Ferris Wheel! Well the boys and the hubster will love that, I prefer my feet to be firmly on the ground, preferably with a vino in one hand and some chocolate in the other - so you'll find me in the Hope Estate Garden Bar instead!
Some of Little Munch's favourite exhibitors that you can check out at the festival are:
There are heaps of other incredible chocolatiers already signed up to show off their masterful creations and each week more exhibitors are being added to the list, so keep an eye on their website to see who will be there.
To keep our offspring occupied at the festival there will be a special smooth kids area where they can have their face painted; participate in a hands on kids cooking class by Baked by Andres and N2 Extreme Gelato; meet their favourite characters from the small/big screen; the ferris wheel, plus much, much more! All of this is free with the entry price.
COST: Single Day - $55 for 2 adults and up to 3 kids; or $23/adult & $17/kid - kids under 5 are FREE. You also receive a FREE Lindt ball as soon as you walk through the gate! Also for every ticket sold, two meals will be donated to Ozharvest.
GETTING THERE: We suggest taking public transport to the festival. The Olympic Park Train Station is close by and buses let off close by too. Otherwise if you drive the Sydney Olympic carpark costs $5/hour up to a maximum of $25 per day.
MORE INFO: www.smoothfestivalofchocolate.com.au - facebook.com/smoothfestivalofchocolate
Keep an eye on the Little Munch Facebook page as we will be giving away a FAMILY PASS closer to the festival date!
If you have been following along on the Little Munch journey for a while, you will know that we parentals enjoy a drinkie poo! And we love a long lazy Sunday lunch too. One of our favourite venues to do this in the city is at Bungalow 8 down by the harbour at King Street Wharf.
We love this bar/restaurant because it's easy to access via public transport; there's a great space dedicated for kidlets to play in every Sunday (until 3pm); their food is top notch; their wine list is to our liking; they make great cocktails; and the staff are super friendly and efficient.
Bungalow 8 is a large tropical styled space which is very easy to access with your prams - so you can get the whole breeding crew together for a lunch date and there will be ample room to park all of your buggies. It may be a smart idea to book ahead and request a table near the kids play area so that your offspring of an older age can play there whilst you enjoy your meal.
The kids play area has a grafitti wall where kids can let their inner Pro Hart out and make as much painty mess as possible. There's also a colouring table for more sedate illustrations. Active kids will love the bowling green and the giant jenga game to muck around with. Even the kid's menu doubles as a colouring sheet, so the kids can even be kept occupied when sitting with you whilst eating lunch.
The kids menu has 3 choices and is available for kids under the age of 12 years. The options are the usual suspects that most kids eat - Fish & Chips; Schnitty & Chips; and a Cheeseburger & Chips - the portion sizes are decent and they cost $12 each.
If your kids eat all their lunch and you want to treat them to dessert, there's an awesome Ice Cream Sundae for $13 which they can easily share. The bar at Bungalow 8 has a full range of soft drinks and juices for kids as well as water - and kid's drinks are served in mealmine cups which gets a big tick from the Little Munch crew!
The menu for adults at Bungalow 8 covers all of your favourites with a some seriously good salads available for those of you who prefer to get their calories on a Sunday from champagne rather than carbs. The Cold Snapper Salad with coconut, chilli, lime and coriander will have your taste buds tingling and the Squid Salad is full of perfectly cooked salt and pepper squid rocket, cherry tomatoes and lemon - enjoy with a crisp glass of Chandon and your lunch is perfect!
If you need some animal protein in your belly there are Steaks, Burgers, Parmigianas and even a Master Stock Braised Pork Hock with pancakes to share with your swine loving mates. Or you can go all out and order the delish Seafood Platter that is full of mud crab, scallops, oysters, prawnies, mussels, bugs, squid, cured salmon and of course hot chippies!
To get to Bugalow 8 we recommend catching public transport (especially if you are enjoying a few alcoholic beverages). A ferry stop is close by and it's also easy to walk there from the CBD transport hub. If you drive the best spot to park on weekends is at the Secure Parking Allianz Centre Car Park. There's a flat fee of $15 here on weekends and it only takes about 5 minutes to walk to Bungalow 8.
Bungalow 8 have a special deal at the moment to celebrate Sydney's awesome VIVID festival. Kids eat for FREE with any main meal purchased upon presentation of your Vivid Cruise tickets! And their Sunday kids corner is available from 12pm - 3pm each Sunday throughout the year - for more info click here.
King Street Wharf, 3 Lime Street Sydney
02 8322 2006
Open from 12pm, 7 days a week
Many thanks to Bungalow 8 for inviting us to lunch!
A long time Little Munch favourite, this trendy bar is offering a KIDS EAT FREE deal for everyone heading out onto the Harbour on a cruise. Just show the staff your tix and the kids eat for nix! They also have a fab play space for kids with a giant jenga game and graffiti wall to keep the them entertained whilst you enjoy a bevvie or two.
You will receive one kids meal for FREE with every adult meal ordered at this beer lovers paradise and they even have special Glitter Beer to get you in the Vivid spirit.
The Governor's Kitchen at the Museum of Sydney
On Friday and Saturday evening your offspring will receive a kids main course for FREE when their parentals purchase a main meal. There's also a special adults meal deal of 2 courses and a glass of vino for $40.00 as well. Kitchen opens at 5.00pm.
Urban Orchard - Gateway Building
Here's another KIDS EAT FREE venue! This is a wholefood eatery - so you won't find any deep fried nuggets and chips here. They are open Thursday - Sunday for dinner and apparently if you use the code "bright lights" your kids receive a special treat!
Schnitz - Gateway Building
Kidlets receive a free slider with every adult's meal ordered during Vivid - and they are open 7 days a week. And if a slider won't fill your little one's belly, they have Kids Packs starting at $7.90.
Hurricanes Grill - Gateway Building
A special Vivid kids menu has been created here that starts in price at $9.50 - not exactly cheap as chips, but a nice spot to escape the maddening crowd.
The Observer Hotel
Monday - Thursday kids eat for FREE with every adult meal purchased. Pop in between 5.00pm to 8.30pm and the kids can eat Mac n Cheese or Fish Fingers/Chicken Nuggets and Chips.
Opera House Concourse
A great spot to recharge your batteries, you can enjoy a Family Pack here which includes a Glowing Cocktail for Mumma, a Beer for Dad, 2 Mocktails for the offspring and a bowl of hot chips! Or just order Lamington Hot Chocolates - that should warm up your cockles.
This flashy food court opens late every Thursday-Saturday night during Vivid from 5pm-9pm. There are $10 kids meals which include food, a drink and a toy. Each night there will be live music, face painting and kids’ entertainment.
As we hear about more joints offering KIDS EAT FREE deals during Vivid we will update the list - and we would love to know if you have been to any other places too! Bec and the boys x
All images borrowed from VIVID SYDNEY
OVERVIEW: a very tasty Italian restaurant located on the outside of the North Kellyville Square. The restaurant is the perfect place for a family meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Service is friendly and accommodating. Bookings and walk ins welcome.
PARKING: - parking lot and street parking available
PRAM FRIENDLY: - yes
HIGH CHAIRS:- yes
KIDS MENU: - yes, for breakfast, lunch & dinner
BABYCINOS: - yes, $1.50
KIDS ACTIVITIES: - a cute little kids corner
TOILETS: - yes close by, including a baby change table
ADDRESS: 12/14 Withers Rd, Kellyville NSW
TELEPHONE: 0430 541 819
We've been visiting The Bells Road Social quite often over the last 6 months, making detours on the way to the boy's sporting commitments to grab a coffee or a tasty bite to eat. See, this cafe is probably the best cafe in the NW of Sydney at the moment - and that's a big call! The lovely owners have a strong cafe pedigree, previously owning Long Shot Cafe in Beecroft, and as they are young parents they know exactly the right formula to create the perfect stylish child friendly cafe.
The family friendly necessities are all covered at The Bells Road Social - open early, ample street parking, pram access, spotless high chairs, toilets with baby change facilities and super friendly and fast service. However it's the superior food and coffee that keeps us coming back. And the fact that The Bells Road Social is right across the road from a park, so the boys can run around like little monkeys there whilst we sit back and relax in the cafe. If you have smaller humans in your life you probably shouldn't do this, as the park isn't fenced and there is a laneway between the cafe and park. So your best bet is to grab a picnic rug from the cafe and order your food for take-away.
Now let's talk about the most important meal of the day - coffee! One of our favourite Western Sydney Roasters - Morgans Coffee from Emu Plains, is used at The Bells Road Social. This brew is fabulous. It has the right punch of caffeine needed to keep you going throughout the day, but it isn't so strong that your eyes will pop out. For the kidlets, babycinos and other kid size drinks like milkshakes and juices are available.
Make sure you sample some of The Bells Road Social's food too. The current menu is full of wintery goodness! From hearty pies and salads to the soup of the day, there's all sorts of deliciousness to warm your bellies with. The Grilled Chicken, Chorizo & Kumera Salad with toasted almonds and salad greens is a delight to eat. It's packed full of the 3 main ingredients, and then lighly dressed with an orange and coriander dressing. The Chunky Beef Pot Pie is full of old fashioned beef and veg cooked long and slow, so that it all melts in your mouth. On the side is something naughty and nice - spicy hot chips and a crisp salad. Another favourite of ours is the Lamb and Haloumi on Open Rye, and at breakfast time make sure you order either the Brekky Crumble or the Spinach and Ricotta Toast with bacon, rocket, haloumi & truffle aioli - pure gorgeousness!
On to the offspring. Our kids are very well catered for at both breakfast and lunch time, and we love that the menu includes loads of healthy options like a Fruit Plate and Eggs on Toast to kick the day off. A Grilled Chicken Wrap or Ham & Cheese Toasty with vegie sticks at lunch time will have both the kids and parentals smiling. There are also burgers and fish & chips on offer and the kitchen is happy to substitute vegie sticks for chips - can we please see more of this in Sydney cafes?!
If you are dining in with your kids, stop by the Helping Hands Street Library (outside near the park) on your way in, and borrow a book for the kids to read. Those smart Mummas at Parra Parents in conjunction with the The Bells Road Social have created this little gem and it would be wonderful to see more of them around our suburbs. After your meal there's also a bushwalk you can do as a family - the Vineyard Creek Walk is about 2.5km in length and takes about an hour (perhaps longer if your kids are quite young).
So what are you waiting for? Head to The Bells Road Social now to check out this awesome spot for yourselves. Who know's you'll probably see us there too ~ make sure you come up and say howdy if you do x
1 Bells Road, Oatlands NSW 2117
02 99684 6221
Tue - Fri: 7am - 3pm
Sat - Sun: 8am - 3pm
Many thanks to Mel from The Bells Road Social for inviting us to lunch on our most recent visit x
OVERVIEW: a delightful garden cafe from the team behind The Vintage Pantry in Pitt Town that welcomes families with open arms, serving up delicious (but a tad expensive) Mediterranean inspired food for the whole family.
PARKING: - parking lot and street parking available
PRAM FRIENDLY: - yes, especially outside
HIGH CHAIRS:- plenty available
KIDS MENU: - yes, for both breakfast, lunch & dinner
BABYCINOS: - yes, $1.00
KIDS ACTIVITIES: - lovely enclosed playground plus a menu that doubles as a colouring sheet
TOILETS: - yes, including a baby change table
ADDRESS: - 353 Galston Rd, Galston
TELEPHONE: - 02 9653 1500
WEBSITE: - www.thevintagepantry.com.au
FACEBOOK: - facebook.com/The-Vintage-Pantry-Secret-Garden
OVERVIEW: Neighbourhood gem in the brand new North Village Square, out in the new housing development in North Kellyville. This franchised cafe is a great spot for local families to hang out in, especially during the week when the cafe isn't too busy.
PARKING: - free undercover parking as well as street parking available.
PRAM FRIENDLY: - there is easy access into the cafe with your pram and a reasonable amount of room to park it near your table. Outside tables have more space for mulriple prams.
HIGH CHAIRS:- a few available (ask staff for them).
KIDS MENU: - yes for both breakfast and lunch.
BABYCINOS: - yes and they are FREE and come with a marshmallow and lots of froth.
KIDS ACTIVITIES: - colouring and play dough available.
TOILETS: - located close by in the shopping centre and they include a baby change table.
ADDRESS: Shop 1 , The North Village 133 - 149 Samantha Riley Drive, North Kellyville
TELEPHONE: 02 9006 9691
Hey Blacktown - what's going on? You're making a big spash into the foodie scene of late that's for sure, with funky new joints opening up left, right and centre! And the best bit is that they are all family friendly - so a big thank you from team Little Munch!
The latest family friendly venue that we've visited in the area is the Blacktown Bowling Club. It's just received a 1.6 million dollar spruce up and it's definitely a place you should have on your radar to visit some time soon with your fambam. The biggest drawcard is the 3 level kids playground. This under water themed space kept our 9 year old happily entertained during our visit, as he climed through the various levels making new friends as he went. So your babes this age and younger will no doubt love it too.
And the playground is right next to the Club's new restaurant - Terrazzo Verdi. So you can sit and watch your kidlets play whilst you enjoy a really tasty meal. Terrazzo Verdi as the name suggests is an Italian inspired restaurant and the meals that the kitchen pumps out include Italian classics as well as Club favourites like burgers, schnitzels and fish & chips.
The restaurant has plenty of high chairs and so much space to park your pram (or multiple prams) around the table. Little bowlers have their very own $10.00 kids menu which includes a bowl of ice cream. Choices are fairly standard - spaghetti bolognese, fish & chips or chicken schnitzel & chips and the portion sizes are ideal for small tummies. If you have kids with bigger appetites, there are heaps of options for them to eat on the main menu.
The adults in our group sampled the Classic Fish and Chips ($17.00) when we dined for lunch, which came with a decent sized crispy side salad. The flat head fillets were cooked perfectly and they went down a treat with an iced cold beer on a sunny Saturday. We actually ate our lunch on the new outdoor terrace at the Club which overlooks the bowling greens - it's the best space to sit if you want to escape noisy kids (oops did I just say that!). I should also mention here that you can play barefoot bowls at the Blacktown Bowling Club - if you haven't played before, give it a go. They are so much fun and you will have so many laughs with the whole family.
But back to the food - make sure you leave some room for dessert, as they are seriously good! We shared a Sticky Date Pudding, which is as delicious as any we've ever tasted. There was also a lush looking Lemon Meringue Pie available as well as some other sweet looking tarts. If you dine on Thursday nights all desserts are half price with any main meal ordered. There's a nice range of smaller Italian biscuits and cakes to go with your coffee as well.
The Blacktown Bowling Club is only open Wednesday through to Sunday - so don't rock up there at the beginning of the week. Instead get your Mum Squad together midweek or on the weekend and head there with all the kids, and let them have a tonne of fun in the playground. Then you can either enjoy coffee and cake from Terrazzo Verdi OR if you are in need of something a little "stronger" may we suggest that you order a delcious looking Antiapasto Platter and our favourite vino, La Boheme Rose from the bar - bliss!
You will find the Blacktown Bowling Club down near Blacktown Hospital - so if you need to de-stress after waiting in emergency there for some time head to the Club for a quick cuppa or vino! There's heaps of parking and very easy access into the Club with your pram.
So my dear Little Munchers - are you loving the revamping of local bowlos like the Blacktown Bowling Club as much as we are? And do you know of any other gems in Blacktown that should be on our radar?
15 Lismore St, Blacktown
02 9622 1589
Open Wed - Sun only
**If you live within a 6km radius of the Blacktown Bowling Club you need to sign up to be a member. Social Membership is available on the spot for $5.00 p.a.**
Well here's another local bowlo that's had a facelift! The NBC Sports Club on busy Windsor Rd in Northmead has had quite a few dollars spent on it recently and part of that upgrade has been the installation of a great outdoor play area suitable for both little and big kids.
The area is aptly called the Backyard and you can see it easily from the "verandah" out the back of the Club or from one of the many picnic tables within the yard. There's a small kids play area that has sun protection, and then there is Tiki Island - a massive jumping castle. There's also loads of space to run around , kick some balls and play bullrush or one of those other crazy games kids love to play.
On a recent visit our lads spent ages in Tiki Island whilst we enjoyed a drink watching a beautiful Western Sydney sunset (quite romantic really!). It's also the perfect spot to catch up with your mates with kids and enjoy a cooling beverage whilst the offspring have loads of fun in the Backyard. And just to let you know on Friday evenings they have $10.00 cocktails - cosmopolitans and mojitos included!
If you prefer to sit indoors, you can still see out to the play area through the large glass windows, but this is probably only suitable for those of you with older, well behaved kids. High chairs are available and the whole of the NBC Sports Club is pram friendly.
When your bellies begin to rumble, head up to the front counter to place your order. Maze Grill and Cafe is open 7 days. During the week you can have coffee & cake, lunch & dinner and on weekends they serve breakfast. We love that you can eat as early as 11.30am for lunch, and 5.30pm for dinner - perfect for those of you with younger kids.
The kids menu is fairly typical of what you find in most clubs and pubs. There are 4 simple choices and a popper is included in the price. It would have been awesome to see some "greens" available on the menu - whether it was some salad vegies or steamed beans etc. as a choice instead of fries.
Maze Grill and Cafe also offer quite a few special deals throughout the week. On Monday nights, kids eat FREE with every adult meal purchase, which will save you some coin. There are $11.00 lunch specials Monday - Friday, as well as some dinner specials on throughout the week, so check out their website to keep up to date with what is going on. We love the sound of the Family Roast Chook on Thursday night with vegies, salad and rice for $30.00!
The big people's menu has some awesome choices available - your typical Club favourites plus a few fancier dishes like the Barramundi with Mango Salsa & Potato Rosti ($28) and a Seafood Pasta ($28). Burgers, Schnittys, Bangers & Mash are all on the menu for under the $20.00 mark.
We didn't sample dessert, but there's a sweet looking range of cakes and other treats at the front counter. They also do a mid week coffee & cake deal for $6.95 for those of you wishing to catch up with your mum squad.
If you get a chance to leave the kids at home, gather your favourite chicks and head to the NBC Sports Club for their "Girls on the Green" afternoon. For $20.00 per person you can have a laugh playing barefoot bowls, a glass of bubbles and some nibbles over a 2 hour period.
**Please note, if you live within 6km of the NBC Sports Club you must be a member to enter - social memberships are availbale on the spot for $5.50**
166 Windsor Rd, Northmead NSW 2152
02 9630 2875
That good old saying "don't judge a book by its cover" (or my preferred - a wine by it's label), is very apt when it comes to the brand new Bistro On The Greens in South Coogee. This delightful bistro occupies prime position overlooking the bowling greens at the South Coogee Bowlo. From the road however, the bowlo looks like a 60's brick veneer box, but once you swing open the doors of the Bistro you will find a verdant oasis!
The interior of Bistro on the Greens is a bit like Palm Springs meets Coogee. It's light, bright and breezy with greenery everywhere. If you haven't made a booking, just find a table that isn't reserved and have a squizz at the awesome menu. If you're dining with little peeps under the age of 5years, plonk them in the cute kids play area that has a chalk board, some toys and a TV to watch. And yes the whole space is totally pram friendly!
When you have decided what you'd like to eat head up to the counter and place your order with one of the lovely staff. For drinkie poos you need to go into the bar in the room next door - unless you are after a caffeine fix, which you can get at the bistro. Whilst you are waiting for your meals you can check out some of the action on the bowling greens, or even watch the chefs in action in the kitchen as it is all open plan.
Your little bowlers should be happy with the menu on offer. It includes pizza, pasta, chicken nuggets/schnitzel & chips as well as tempura fish & chips. Each meal costs between $10 - $12 and they are very decent size serves. Oh and if you need a high chair for your little one whilst they eat, there's a huge stack of them - just ask a member of staff to grab you one.
Our little chaps devoured the Margarita Pizza and the Spag Bol - bless their adventurous little souls! Anyway both were gobbled up within minutes and from the amount of red sauce residue around their little chops I presume they loved every single bit of their meals.
The menu for bigger people is simple Italian fare done incredibly well - pizza, pasta and salad all feature. There's also some classic Aussie favourites like burgers, nachos, bangers & mash and no doubt a firm favourite amongst the bowling crowd - the Bowlers Panini. You will also find loads of share plates - pefect for a long grazing lunch over the summer time.
We shared a beautifully fresh Caprese Salad with the signature Bistro On The Greens pizza. All the pizzas are cooked in the wood fired oven and our little beauty was topped with mozzarella, mushrooms, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, bocconcini, ricotta rocket and finished off with prosciutto.
For dessert the Gelato Bar seems to be the favourite. With about 20 different flavours on offer, you're spoilt for choice. And if gelato ain't your thing there is also pannacotta, cheesecake, canoli and of course tiramisu!
I'm thinking Bistro On The Greens is going to be the new hang this summer for Eastern Suburbs fambams - a fun idea would be to have a lovely long lunch in the Bistro followed by a friendly game of barefoot bowls afterwards!
South Coogee Bowling Club
Cnr of Henning Ave & Moverly Road, South Coogee, NSW, 2034
Phone: (02) 8075 8348
Mon: 5:30pm - 9pm
Tue to Thur, Sun: 12pm to 2:30pm & 5:30pm to 9pm
Fri & Sat: 12pm to 2:30pm & 5:30pm to 9:30pm
Thank you so much to Fiolmena from Bistro on the Greens for shouting us lunch!
One of the pitfalls of living out in the beautiful NW of Sydney is that when you need to attend a function in the city (and imbibe in one too many drinkie poos), the cost of an Uber/Taxi home plus all those pesky tolls, almost covers the cost of a hotel room for the night. So recently when we were in this situation we decided to spend our money on a hotel room at the Mercure Hotel near Central Station rather than on an Uber all the way home.
In other words, I just wanted a little city staycation to celebrate the beginning of the school holidays as there were a couple of places I needed to check out for Little Munch - one of which included the Four Elements Restaurant at the Mercure Hotel - but shoosh don't tell Mr Munch that!
aThe Mercure Sydney is a very smart travellers hotel which is ideal for families. There are about 500 rooms, a restaurant, bar as well as an indoor pool, gym and sauna. If you are the typical family of four like we are, you can easily book one of their rooms with 2 double beds. The rooms are tastefully furnished and include full bathroom facilities, mini bar and special little touches like bathrobes with a little sweet treat - we snagged an upgrade so the pic above is of a larger room.
The leisure facilties can be found on the roof top and are fully enclosed - which means you can swim all year round! The pool has great views over the city and it's fun to sit in it and spy on all the little ants (people) running to and fro below! This is the perfect way to chillax at the end of the day with the fambam before you head to dinner.
When it is time for dinner make sure you head to the Mercure's restaurant. It is called Four Elements and it offers Kids Eat Free Deals at both lunch and dinner throughout the school holidays. We enjoyed a really delightful dinner there on the evening we stayed. As soon as we were seated activity packs were placed on the table for the boys and the delightful waitress also showed the boys to the kids play room - something we weren't expecting! Basically they converted one of their meeting rooms into a kids haven - complete with toys, big screen movies and bean bags to watch them on. The boys made friends within minutes with kids from Townsville and Ontario and begrudgingly came back to the table to eat their meals.
I was delighted to see that the Kids Menu has both healthy and not so healthy options available and that your can choose a side of steamed vegies/garden salad over hot chips! The lads went with the Minute Steak and Veg and for 7 & 9 year old growing boys, these meals were the perfect size.
Dessert for kidlets include Fruit Salad for the healthy option or Over the Rainbow for the not so healthy option. And as it was a city staycation the boys obviously chose the later - vanilla ice cream comes in a choc waffle basket and rainbow sprinkles are all over the top.
The meals for parentals are superb. Four Elements advertise themselves as being "a little bit of the country in the city" and they are! Decent size servings full of loads of taste - not too fancy pants but seriously wholesome. We thoroughly recommend the Beef Cheeks and Barramundi when you go. And for those of you who enjoy a vino with your meal, the wine list also get a thumbs up as does the Raspberry Brulee for dessert!
Now the Mercure Sydney is within easy walking distance of both the City and Darling Harbour and obviously you have loads of public transport on your doorstep if you have too many little legs within your brood. I also thoroughly recommend that you check out Kensington Street whilst you are staying at the hotel - it's a 2 minute walk away! This super cool street is home to "Spice Alley" which to me is just like a little slice of Singapore in Sydders. There are delicious hawker style eateries and uber cool little spaces to eat at and explore, as well as some very yummy Western style cafes/restaurants. The Central Park shopping precinct is also right next door, and definitely worth checking out. There's a Woolies there in case you need any midnight emergency supplies.
So my dear Little Munchers I thoroughly recommend you all enjoy a city staycation some time soon and to help you make that decision a little bit easier, the Mercure Sydney would like to extend to Little Munch followers the below great offer for the NEXT school holidays:
*10% off our Best Available Rate of the day
*Receive complimentary parking, Breakfast for 2 adults (Kids Eat Free) daily, unlimited kids movies, *Kids Eat Free in Four Elements for Lunch and Dinner.
*This offer is only available for stays between 14th December 2017 and 28th January 2018 (excludes new year’s eve period 29 Dec 2017 – 2 Jan 2018)
*Kids Eat Free applies to kids aged between 4 – 12 years old and when ordering from the Kids menu
*Maximum 2 kids per booking when dining with a paying adult
*This exclusive Little Munch offer is only valid to be booked by 6th October 2017 and is subject to availability
To make a booking quote “Little Munch” when you call the hotel (02 9217 6666) or email H2073@accor.com to make a reservation.
How awesome is that Litle Munchers!! Book yourself in for the next school holidays - and enjoy a little city staycation just like we did.
818-820 George Street Ultimo NSW
T: 02 9217 6666
My first outing to the Pennant Hills Bowling Club was as a nervous first time Mum who had very little confidence in dining out with a newborn - and I hated every minute of it! And that had absolutely nothing to do with the Club...... it was just me and my insecurities at the time.
If you had told me then that in the not too distant future I was going to become a kids food reviewer, I would have given you the "rude finger" to quote my boys! 9 years on and hundreds of eateries later, my insecurities have disappeared and I hope through Little Munch I can help other Mums (and Dads) who may be nervous about dining out with kids, both young and old, that it can be easily done as long as you choose the right venue - like the Pennant Hills Bowling Club.
9 years ago, when we first dined there, the PHBC was your typical bowlo - definitely aimed at the bowling crowd and people seeking a cheap feed. Fast forward to 2017 and it has had a lovely make over and now it's definitely aimed at up and coming young families who live in the area, as well as the original bowling set.
The Club has been handsomely decorated offering different areas to relax in, depending on your dining needs. There's the lounge area near the bar which is perfect for a pre-dinner drinkie poo; the bistro area which over looks the bowling greens; and the family area downstairs which has a very cute play gym in it. You just order your drinks and meals up at the bistro and a member of the really friendly staff will deliver it down to you.
The bistro is called Turf Dining and their kiddies menu is fairly typical with nuggets, minute steak, fish and beef burgers with chippies and sauce. The kids meal cost $12.00 ($11 if you are a member) and include a juice popper. Oh and kids eat free every Monday and Tuesday evening!
The big people's menu features wood fired pizzas (both traditional and gourmet), fish, pasta, schnittys, salads, burgers and steaks. We actually sampled a couple of their "specials of the day" - fish cakes and ribs. Both came with salad and wedges and went down a treat with an ice cold beer! Now if you just want to catch up with your mum squad for coffee and cake they have a daily $6.95 special and they have heaps of space for prams, high chairs, baby change facilites and parking, so it's a top spot for a mums group meet up. Lunch and dinner are also served from the family friendly hours of 11.30am and 5.30pm too.
Now my dear Little Munchers I personally believe that you all need to eat out with your kids and not be afraid to do it. At first it can be so overwhelming but the more you do it, the more confident you will become - especially when you are by yourself. Trust me I've been there and totally worn out the t-shirt! The Pennant Hills Bowling Club is actually a fantastic spot to "do it" for the first time. The venue is completely welcoming and just a lovely space to hang out in. There's both caffeine and wine to help calm the nerves, the food is tasty and your little ones will love the play area.
52 Yarrara Rd, Pennant Hills
02 9484 2433
Open 7 days a week for lunch & dinner
There's ample parking available as well as plenty of street parking!
Ah Sam - you've done it again!
Sam is the owner of the very family friendly Groundskeeper Cafes in both Ryde and Blacktown Parks and he has now opened another gem in the beautifully restored George Street Gatehouse at the front of Parramatta Park. This lovely cafe offers up both indoor and outdoor seating and our little people are welcome with open arrms.
For those of you still with prams in your life, the outdoor area is the best spot to sit - it's easy to access and there is plenty of space to park prams of all shapes and sizes. High chairs are available and there's a toilet with a baby change table too. If you want to escape the elements then you can sit in the actual Gatehouse. The intimate interior has been tastefully restored but there is very little room for prams. If you have older kids like we do, they will happily run around on the beautiful grassy area opposite the cafe - I wouldn't advise letting little ones do this without parental supervision. A playground is close by but not visible from the cafe, unlike the other two Groundskeeper Cafes which are smack bang next to excellent play areas.
The extensive menu is the same at all three of the Grounds Keeper Cafes, serving up tasty breakfast and lunch dishes with a Middle Eastern influence. There are tagines, shakshoukas, fatouch and hearty mezze boards as well as cafe classics like granola, bacon & egg rolls and burgers. Little Groundskeepers will be well satisified with their menu - the breakfast pancakes ($9.50) are always a huge hit and look (and taste) totally delish! The kids menu costs between $6.50 for a basic ham & cheese toastie, up to $12.50 for a Wagyu cheese burger with fries. Babycinos and kid size drinks are available to quench the thirst of your offspring.
If you are just after coffee and cake or a sugar hit you are in for a real treat, as Sam and his team are master bakers. Each day freshly made cakes hit the shelves - their carrot cake is simply sublime and their cute cupcakes are always a hit with the kidlets. The Di Bella coffee is consistently well made, and if you are going to hit up the playgrounds in Parramatta Park afterwards, make sure you grab a takeaway!
Parramatta Park has two playgrounds. There is a small and dated one just behind the cafe which is better suited for little people, but everyone's favourite is the fabulous Domain Creek Playground in the middle of Parramatta Park. This is about a ten minute walk from the Grounds Keeper Cafe and is easily done with a stroller or pram. This modern playground has equipment suitable for most ages but it does lend itself more to school age kids.
Parking: there's plenty of parking within the Park but it is at a premium on weekends. All of the parking is timed, so make sure you take note of the signs as those pesky parking rangers are constantly patrolling. The closest parking is at the Macquarie St entrance to Parramatta Park - check out this PARK MAP for more details.
Cnr George & O'Connell Streets, Parramatta
02 9808 4696
Open 7 days for breakfast & lunch
There's a new crop of kid friendly cafes opening up in Sydney that realise that they not only need to welcome kidlets with open arms, but also need to keep them amused for a period of time so that their parents can either have some down time, or log on to work with a coffee in hand and not a child!
Kinder Cafe in Castle Hill is one such cafe. You will find this brand new gem hidden up in a business park on Salisbury Rd (just behind the Hills Lodge Hotel). From the outside the cafe looks a bit non descript, but when you enter a kid friendly nirvana awaits.
This spacious and pram friendly cafe has an area for parents to chillax in with comfy leather chairs; another area with booth seating (complete with felt stick ons on the wall to keep little ones amused); some more tables and chairs and then 2 small play areas for little people - one with a cubby house and toys, the other with a playpen!
Next to this is the soundproof classroom where your little ones can be occupied in classes like yoga, zumba, hoola hooping and cup cake decorating. They also host some adult classes as well (yoga is a current example). For those of you who either work or study from home, you'll be delighted to know that they have Creche Time where an early childhood teacher will look after your little ones whilst you escape upstairs and log on and do some work without interuption for once! All of these classes need to be booked in advance and a fee is involved. Check their website for more details.
When you need the bathroom you will find it near the front entrance of the cafe and it is complete with a baby change mat (I noticed there wasn't any hand wash, so make sure you have some hand sansitiser in your bag just in case it's missing when you visit too). There's also a special room where you can breastfeed if you aren't keen on doing it in public, complete with a comfy chair and a blanket to keep you warm.
When it comes to the all important tucker time, little people are well catered for. The babycino will delight fussy little ones as it comes with a tiny teddy submerged in a teaspoon of chocolate. And if that doesn't tickle their fancy, the kids milkshake certainly will as it is encrusted with 100s and 1000s.
The kids menu includes Pancakes, Hot Chips, Mini Croissants and Mini Bacon & Egg Rolls. They have also introduced a fabulous looking Kids Picnic Board since we dined. And for dessert there are ice cream scoops with sprinkles for $2.00.
There's a range of sweet treats on offer including cute looking biscuits, donuts, caramel tartlets, mini lamingtons and bliss balls that will match perfectly with the Will & Co Coffee on offer. To be honest my large skim flat white was a bit weak for my liking, so when I return I'll be asking for a double shot as I like my coffee strong. And for those of you who love the mega shake phenomenon they make an instagram worthy looking one here that will only set you back $5.50!
The parental's food menu is basic in comparison to some other local cafes, but all of your favourites are there inlcuding Avo Smash, Bacon & Egg Rolls, Pancakes, Waffles and Bircher Muesli at breakfast time. At lunch time there are Salads and Sandwiches as well as the Soup of the Day. I daresay the menu will evolve as time goes on and the bonus is that the majority of the menu items are reasonbly priced all coming in under $15.00.
Our Avo Smash with Fetta ($14) and Bacon & Egg Roll ($11.50) were quite tasty, however my dining companions would have liked a bit more sauce on ther BAEs as they were a tad dry, but other than that we were all happy little diners.
The Kinder Cafe is the creation of two Mummas who had a vision to create the perfect child friendly cafe. They are certainly well on their way to achieving that vision and when all of their plans are completed, it will not only be a child friendly nirvana but also a parent friendly nirvana too. I know that if this place was around when my lads were younger, life would have been so much easier and I would have been one of their most regular customers x
3/3 Salisbury Rd, Castle Hill
0412 821 269
Mon - Fri: 8.30am - 5.00pm
Sat: 8.30am - 3.00pm
Kid friendly cafes are being taken to a whole new level at the moment in Sydney! There's quite a few fabulous spots offering not only delicious food and perfectly brewed coffee, but also weekly activities to keep the kidlets occupied! Below is a list of the ones we know about, but as always if there are any little gems missing, please do let us know!
This cafe is brand spanking new! Two gorgeous Mummas saw the huge gap in the market for a truly kid friendly cafe in the flourishing Hills District and so created one! They offer calsses like Zumba, super hero training, hula hooping and more. And whilst your kids are busy doing a class you can hot desk with fellow working parents (why wasn't this available when my kids were younger!!). Or just enjoy a Will & Co coffee whilst your kids explore the indoor play area. These ladies have huge plans for their space, so make sure you follow along on their journey via social media!
Address: 3/3 Salisbury Rd, Castle Hill NSW
Telephone: 0412 821 269
Brendan and his young funky team have created a haven for Inner West parents at the Hide & Seek Cafe on the main drag of Leichhardt. The space is totally kid friendly with a great little play area, healthy kids meals, and there's well brewed 5 Senses coffee for the parentals.
Each week they hold classes to keep kids entertained, with examples being yoga, finger painting, messy play and winter crafts. They even offer "Business Time" for parents! For $28.00 your kids will be minded whilst you work in a special space at the cafe with free wifi and coffee and cake!! Your children must be aged between 18mths and 5 years (check their website for more details).
Address: 102 Norton St Leichhardt
Telephone: 02 9752 9673
The Baker & Builder Cafe - North Parramatta
The owner of the delicious Baker & Builder Cafe in North Parramatta recognised early on that lots of families were visitng her large cafe space and as a result she created weekly kids activities on a Saturday morning. The activities change each week and can be everything from a animal nursery, to face painting to Super Hero days. The cafe itself has a tasty kids menu, the most divine baked goodies, excellent coffee, heaps of room for prams, loads of high chairs and a great kids toy box.
Every Monday morning it is story time at Livvi's Cafe. This fabulous cafe is located next to an equally fabulous playground and it is the flagship venue for the fabulous Touched by Olivia Foundation who are on a mission to make all play spaces in Australia inclusive. They also have fairy time art and craft in the school holidays. They brew an excellent drop of Campos coffee at the socail enterprise cafe and all babycinos are free with a high five!
Livvi's Cafe in Elara also host story time as well.
Address: Henley Marine Drive, Five Dock NSW
Telephone: 0411 711 725
This pretty cafe is located inside a Flower Power Nursery and is a favourite amongst parentals living in the South West of Sydney. They host weekly playgroup sessions on Mondays and Thursdays as well as special events and classes like cupcake decorating, teddy bear picnics, Cinderella high teas and often have visits from Spiderman and other Super Heroes. Their food and coffee is top notch too! Check out their FB page for more information and details on how to book.
Address: 320 Narellan Rd, Mount Annan NSW
Telephone: 02 4647 4429
Barangaroo is the new dining hot spot of Sydney. There are cafes and restaurants galore swinging open their doors, and luckily for us most of them welcome kidlets! One of our favourites that we have visited so far is love.fish - a delicious seafood restaurant that has a philosophy of serving seafood in the "most sustainable and approachable way possible."
When you visit love.fish make sure you catch public transport (that way you can have a couple of Savvy Bs with your meal). Take a bus or train to Wynard and then walk to Barangaroo via the Wynard Walk. This walk is totally pram friendly as is the restaurant, so don't be afraid to bring your buggaboo along. love.fish has high chairs for your little ones and there are excellent toilet facilities that include a baby change table, so all of our Little Munch kid friendly boxes are ticked - including a kids menu and kids activities.
The 'Little Fish' menu is simple and perfectly formed. Kidlets can choose between salmon, whiting and steak as their protein, and then they have a choice of green beans or shoestring fries as the side. Whilst they are waiting for their meals to arrive kids can complete the fishy find a word of the back of the menu. And for a sweet treat at the end of their meal, there's ice cream - just ask the waitstaff for the flavours of the day.
With the spawn occupied it's time for the parentals to sit back and relax with a delicious glass of the aforementioned Savvy B, and to nibble on some of the best seafood you'll find in Sydders. We recommend that you start with the schoolies and oysters. The prawns are flash fried and perfectly crisp, and way too easy to devour. The oysters available include Sydney Rock or Pacific (we always go for the Sydney Rockies as they are smaller and sweeter, and glide down the gullet so easily).
For more substantial dishes we thoroughly recommend the Whole Trout with Salsa Verde - a truly sublime dish, and the W.A. Cone Barra Fillet was perfectly cooked. Make sure you order some sides to complement your meal - the Puy Lentils with Wild Mushrooms are delish with fish.
If you are a total carnivore and cannot dine without eating something from a paddock, there a couple of options on the menu for you too, such as Pork Neck Braised in Apple Cider or Eye Fillet with Urchin Butter. There is also a decent selection of "Garden" items that will satisfy vegetarians, so all members of your crew should be happy at love.fish.
We're very lucky that we are at that stage of life where our young lads can sit quite still at a restaurant for more than a couple of hours (as long as they are occupied), which means we can now indulge in long lunches with good mates. If you're not, never fear as the service at love.fish is top notch and they will endeavour to look after all your needs including accommodating a quick departure if needs be.
7/23 Barangaroo Ave
Barangaroo NSW 2000
02 8077 3700
Open 7 days for lunch & dinner
A fabulous new cafe seems to be opening up every week or so in Western Sydney at the moment! Our latest discovery is the delightful Corner Shop Cafe in Quakers Hill. It has a certain Donna Hay design element to it. With duck egg blue walls and bleached white furniture, a visit here will brighten up the gloomiest of days.
The Corner Shop Cafe occupies a corner position at the suburban Farnham Road Shops in Quakers Hill. There's plenty of parking and a couple of spots right in front of the cafe are designated for parents with prams. It's very easy to access the cafe with your pram and there's loads of space to park your pram(s) right next to your table, which is so rare these days when most cafes try to jam as many tables as they possibly can into their dining area.
On the morning we dined, we were greeted by a bunch of super friendly young staff. There's full table service (another bonus when dining out with kidlets) and as the cafe was fairly quiet we received our food and drinks quickly. The Corner Shop Cafe has a Kids Menu which consists of a Cheese Melt on Sourdough ($7), Nuggets & Chips ($8), as well as Fish Fingers & Chips ($8). They will also serve kids drinks such as hot chocolates, in takeaway cups if you ask them to.
The adult's food is seriously delish. The smashed avo ($16) and truffled mushrooms on toast ($16) are great choices to start the day. There's also the usual eggs benny, big brekkie etc. At lunch time the menu features different types of burgers, a steak sanger, a schnitty and a chicken salad for those of you who limit the calorie intake.
The cafe doesn't have toilets but I do believe they are located close by (just ask for the key). Also bring along some pencils and paper to keep the kidlets occupied whilst you dine - so that you can enjoy your caffeine fix in peace. And yes the coffee they serve is a very decent brew.
So Western Sydney, keep up the good work as we're thoroughly enjoying road testing all of these fabulous new cafes and thank you for welcoming families with open arms x
1/216 Farnham Road Quakers Hill, 2763 NSW
Mon - Fri: 7am - 2pm
Sat - Sun: 8am - 2pm
Once upon a time Circular Quay was a bit of a wasteland when it came to finding somewhere decent to dine with the fambam - there was Maccas or City Extra plus a pub or two where you could chow down. Then the Gateway Sydney building had a major upgrade to be one of the city's premium dining hubs and now we are spoilt for choice with venues to eat in. And our family's current favourite is Four Frogs Creperie!
Four Frogs is located at the front of the Gateway Building and it is easy to spot with its bright red bistro chairs and red & white tiling on the facade. Don't be alarmed if the place looks full as they also have quite a bit of seating out the back of the restaurant - and this is the best spot to sit if you have a pram, as the front section does not have enough room to park one near your table. Being pramless, we sat in the front section which provided great people watching of all the toursits wandering around outside, and also the cute chefs in the kitchen whipping up the crepes.
Most of the friendly staff are from teh home of the frogs legs and service was seriously quick! Being a creperie, only crepes are served at Four Frogs. The savoury crepes are called galettes and they hit the spot perfectly at lunch time. They come in simple flavours such as spinach and feta ($11), and can also be quite fancy with fillings such as smoked duck, shallots, swiss cheese and hoisin sauce ($20). Each galette comes with a little bowl of dressed green salad leaves. If you prefer sweet crepes then you will be spoilt for choice as there are about 20 different flavour combinations on offer. They can be as simple as lemon and sugar, or as calorific as chocolate, banana, coconut ice cream and rum (which is served on fire).
Our little lads favourite choice at Four Frogs is the kids size Nutella Crepe ($5.00). This plate of deliciousness keeps them quiet for quite a while! And yes it does get messy so make sure you have some baby wipes handy. Most of the other crepes on the menu can also come in a kids size according to our waitress, so if your kids have more adventurous taste buds then ours do, there are loads of different offerings available for them. In regards to beverages, our dudes just went with table water, but kids size milkshakes made from homemade syrups are available ($6.50) as are soft drinks and juices.
The last little kid friendly tidbits about Four Frogs are - high chairs are available, just ask the waitstaff; there is a parents room located on the ground floor of the building; and take some pencils with you (my kids played tic tac toe on the back of the paper menu). Lastly there is a Wilson Car Park under the building which you access off Reiby Place. On weekdays the rates are extortionate, but on weekends you can park for $20.00 all day. Bur hey why not catch the ferry/train/bus into the city as they all land right in front of the Gateway Building at Circular Quay!
Four Frogs also has Creperies in Randwick and Mosman. We've dined at their Randwick venue before and loved it. And now we love their Cirqular Quay venue too. And just to let you know if 'dining in' with your kids freaks you out, you can also order the galettes/crepes for takeaway. Just head out the back of the Gateway Building where you will find a nice grassy area where you can sit down and eat, whilst the kids run around.
1 Macquarie Place, Circular Quay
02 9241 2277
Open 7 days
Mon - Fri: 7am - late
Sat - Sun: 10am - late
I do love a hidden suburban gem. Those cafes that are not on the main drag or in a major shopping centre, but out in the local strip of shops that not many people know about. Cafes just like the funky Old Boy Espresso in the backs streets of Blacktown for example!
The Old Boy Espresso has been open for about a year and it has been fitted out in that trendy retro style that you find in so many inner west cafes these days, and now more and more in outer west cafes too. The friendly young staff are very welcoming and brew up a damn fine cup of coffee for you to enjoy whilst you peruse the menu.
The menu has a very brunch like feel to it and is full of current cafe classics. There isn't a specific menu for little people, but there are quite a few options that they could get their little choppers around - one of which would be the Nutella Burger! This sounds divine - nutella and vanilla icecream is seved on a toasted milk bun and comes with strawberries and crushed pistachio. There are also waffles, muesli, bacon & egg rolls and toasted banana bread that little ones could also eat.
If you are dining at lunch time (like we were), and don't really feel like a breakfast type of dish there are burgers and the like on the menu for you to munch on. It would have been great to have a healthier option like a salad to choose from although, especially when you are pretending to diet. Wanting to avoid the calorific burgers I chose the Avo Smash, which I ordered without properly reading what actually came with it. So when it was delivered to our table and I saw those evil little green balls called peas, my heart sank a wee bit as I can't stomach them (bad childhood memories). So they were quickly flicked off and over to the old boy that I was dining with (aka Mr Munch), for him to consume!
Now the Old Boy Espresso has a loo out the back (but it doesn't have a baby change table). I didn't spy any high chairs either, so your little one may have to sit in your stroller/pram. Access is very easy into the cafe with your buggy, and there is also some space to park it near you table whether you sit inside or out. There's also quite a lot of parking available both in front of the cafe and also in the surrounding streets. Bring some colouring in along to occupy your kidlets during your meal, then afterwards pop around the back of the shops and you'll find a small playground and quite a bit of space for the kidlets to burn off some energy.
24 Tallawong Ave, Blacktown NSW
Thu - Fri: 8.30am - 2.00pm
Sat - Sun: 9.00am - 2.00pm
I love Ikea, but golly gosh I dislike their coffee! The closest Ikea to Chez Little Munch is at Marsden Park and thankfully a cafe serving up an excellent brew of coffee has swung open its doors recently just across the road from it, so I can now enjoy my Ikea spree fully caffeinated. Little Munchers say a big hello to the Baristas' Shed!
Semi rural Marsden Park in North-West Sydney is booming at the moment. Brand new housing developments are popping up everywhere as are some major retailers (e.g. Costco). As a result a few different dining venues are also opening their doors to capitalise on this growth area. The Baristas' Shed is one such venue and it gets the Little Munch seal of approval. It is located within the Home Hub Centre at Marsden Park, which has heaps of free parking and toilets with a baby change table. From the carpark you can easily access the Baristas' Shed with a pram and choose to sit outside or inside which is nice and spacious.
Now the Baristas' Shed gets a big tick for brewing a perfect flat white. The handsome chap who owns this place knows how to do a good brew that's for sure. The beans are from Grand Cru who I'm unfamiliar with, but will be looking out for them from now on as the coffee was so good. Babycinos and yummy looking kid size shakes and orange juice are available for your little ones to sip on. And I spied some colouring in behind the counter if you need to keep little fingers entertained (apparently my lads are too cool for that these days!).
Moving on to the food offering at the Baritas' Shed - for kidlets there is a decent range of baked goods in the front counter that they will enjoy munching on at breakfast time as well as well as toast with spreads, banana bread and fruit loaf as well. The menu is served all day, so whilst the menu doesn't feature anything specifically for kids there are some options such as a chicken panini as well as a selection of sandwiches/wraps in the front counter that they many enjoy.
For bigger bellies I can thoroughly recommend the Breakie Bruschetta to kick start your day. Mushrooms cooked in Worcestershire Sauce are mixed with kale and haloumi and then served on top of sourdough, and a perfectly poached egg is the crowning glory. The Granola Bowl also looks amazing and will definitely be road tested on our next visit to Ikea!
Before you head across the road to Ikea you might want to check out the Baby and Toddler Town store which is nearby the Baristas' Shed. I had a quick look and it stocks a fairly decent range of all things baby goods. Oh and there's also the Lindt Factory Outlet close by too! And you can enjoy all of this shopping fully caffeinated thanks to the Baristas' Shed.
20/9 Hollingsworth Rd, Marsden Park NSW
Open 7.00am - 3.00pm daily
Welcome to our next instalment of Cafe Parents!
For our next Cafe Parent interview we are having a chat with Karyn from a great blog I've been following for a while now called Little Opinions. Karyn and her absolutely gorgeous daughters review all things kids, offering both the girl's perspective as well as Mums!
1. Tell us a little about yourself Karyn...
I have 2 daughters Ellie 10 & Alyssa 7 and we love adventures. We enjoy checking out new places, seeing live shows & movies and are always looking for something fun to do on the weekend. Together the three of us started up a blog called Little Opinions to share our thoughts and reviews on all things kids! When we are not on an adventure I work full time at a special needs school as a teacher aide it's very hard work and very rewarding.
2. Do you have a favourite neighbourhood gem that is kid friendly?
We recently found a great new cafe at Bella Vista called Salty Lip Cafe & Grill, I would highly recommend the burgers, my girls are very fussy eaters and they absolutely love them. They also make a great hot chocolate! The team there are very kid friendly especially when my 7 year old decides to break out into dance.
3. The witching hour & dinner time - do you have any tricks for surviving this period, especially when dining out?
I always pack pencils and paper, the girls love to draw. I also pack water for the girls & if we are eating later than usual I always take cucumber, tomatoes and carrot with me to hopefully help the 'I'm hungry' phase. If we are staying out I do let the girls take their iPads.
4. What would your ultimate kid friendly café provide to make dining out easier for parents?
I would like to see more room in cafes to enable the kids to walk around & be pram friendly without bumping into other customers. I would also love to see an old fashioned arcade corner for the kids to keep themselves entertained.
5. What has been your biggest parental fail when dining out with your kids?
Letting the kids indulge for far too long and on their iPads. One night my seven year old purchased $1000 worth of in app purchases for Star Wars Angry Birds! Luckily Apple also agreed that was ridiculous & refunded our money...
Thank you so much for chatting with us Karyn, you are one busy lady! We definitely need to check out Salty Lip Cafe & Grill and we also definitely need to go on a family holiday to Ayres Rock after seeing the above photo of your beautiful fambam!
So Little Munchers I thoroughly recommend that you follow Little Opinions so that you can follow their adventures and keep up to date on all of teh best things to do with kids in Sydney:
We visit Canberra an awful lot, due to many of our family and friends living down there. So we kinda know it inside out - well we think we do. But everytime we visit we always discover a new kid friendly gem! It's that sort of place, always evolving and always so much fun.
We also spend quite a bit of time eating out in Canberra because their foodie scene is particularly good, and as a result there sometimes isn't much coin left to do anything else. So we thought we'd put together our list of family friendly things to do that are FREE or very cheap! So here they are in no particular order:
THE POD PLAYGROUND and the NATIONAL ARBORETUM
WHAT: This is Canberra's coolest playground where you can spend a good few hours whilst your kids explore every square inch of it. The Visitor's Centre also has hands on activities for kids, and there are numerous walks throughout the Arboretum that the whole family will enjoy. Make sure you check out the Labrinth Garden and also the Children's Garden.
WHERE: Forest Drive, off Tuggeranong Parkway, Weston Creek
COST: Entry is FREE, however, paid parking applies from 9am until 4pm daily at the rate of $2.10/hr with a maximum of $7.80 for a day
CAFE: Yes - Sprout Cafe & Conservatory Restaurant
PRAM FRIENDLY: Yes, but might be easier to wear/carry your babe when doing the walks
COMMONWEALTH PARK and the TUNNEL PLAYGROUND
WHAT: This 34.5 ha park is home to interesting sculptures, hidden walks and ponds as well as lots of perfect picnic spots with some BBQ facilities available. It's also the home of Floriade in Spring. The "Tunnel Playground" is a like an underground playground, where kids can crawl through stone tunnels and also up and over them.
WHERE: Albert St, Parkes
CAFE: Yes - The Deck at Regatta Point
PRAM FRIENDLY: Yes
KINGS PARK and BOUNDLESS PLAYGROUND
WHAT: A lovely park that contains a fantastic fully enclosed and fully inclusive playground suitable for kids aged 10 years and under. There are lots of picnic spots available as well as great views of Lake Burley Griffin, the Carillion etc.
WHERE: Wendouree Drive, Parkes
PRAM FRIENDLY: Yes
NATIONAL MUSEUM of AUSTRALIA
WHAT: This stunning modern building is home to a collection of stories, artefacts and exhibitions that celebrates everything about Australia and its history. Children will love the "KSpace" where they can participate in hands on, interactive activities.
WHERE: Lawson Crescent, Acton
CAFE: Yes - Museum Cafe
PRAM FRIENDLY: Yes
MUSEUM OF AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRACY
WHAT: Located in Old Parliament House this fabulous hands on museum is great place to take the whole family. Parentals will love seeing all of the history of the different rooms of the house, and kidlets will love filling out the interactive booklets, dressing up in costumes and playing in "Play Up" - a kids only zone!
WHERE: 18 King George Terrace, Parkes
COST: $2.00/adults - $1.00/kids (kids under 5 are free) - $5.00/family
CAFE: Yes - Terrace Cafe & Hoi Polloi Restaurant
PRAM FRIENDLY: Yes
NATIONAL GALLERY of AUSTRALIA
WHAT: Australia's premier art gallery is very welcoming of families and they have a special space for kids called NGA Play. The outdoor sculpture garden is also another favourite spot for families to hang out whilst their kids explore all the nooks and crannies of the area, as well as the fascinating sculptures.
WHERE: Parkes Place, Parkes
COST: FREE! (except for major exhibitions)
CAFE: Yes - NGA Cafe & Street Cafe
PRAM FRIENDLY: Yes
THE AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL
WHAT: This is our National Memorial to fallen soldiers from every war that the Commonwealth of Australia has been active in. Even though the Memorial is quite sombre they actively encourage children of all ages to learn about our war history with a special Discovery Zone just for kids. Families will also love trying to find the names of family members who may have served our Country in the past on the beautiful poppy wall (Roll of Honour).
WHERE: Treloar Crescent, Campbell
CAFE: Yes - Poppy's Cafe
PRAM FRIENDLY: Yes
AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL BOTANIC GARDENS
WHAT: Full of striking native gardens, bushwalks and discovery trails for kids, this is a great place to get outdoors in Canberra. They also host fun night time adventures like the Dino Stampede! They have an indoor space at the Information Centre where kidlets can chill out and do some colouring in or reading.
WHERE: Clunies Ross St, Acton
CAFE: Yes - Pollen Cafe (it's stunning!)
PRAM FRIENDLY: Mostly
WHAT: The HQ of Australia, here you can explore all of the public areas of the house, go on a guided tour, and even sit in on the Senate or House of Reps, when they are in session. The gardens are also a great place to take the offspring for a massive run around.
WHERE: Parliament Drive, Canberra
CAFE: Yes - Queens Terrace Cafe
PRAM FRIENDLY: Yes - and you can even hire strollers and wheelchairs for free!
WALK/SCOOT/RIDE AROUND LAKE BURLEY GRIFFIN
WHAT: It costs absolutely nothing to walk around this impressive Lake. For little legs we recommend doing the Bridge to Bridge walk. It's about 5km long and if you time your walk to coincide with lunch you can enjoy the music of the National Carillon which is played from 12.30 to 1.20pm on Wednesdays and Sundays. Otherwise the Carillon chimes its 23 bells on the hour and half hour throughout the day.
WHERE: From Commonwealth Bridge to Kings Avenue Bridge
CAFE: Yes - several are located around the Lake
PRAM FRIENDLY: Yes
WALK UP MOUNT TAYLOR - OR ANOTHER MOUNTAIN
WHAT: If you love a good family bush walk there are loads in and around Canberra. We've walked up Mount Taylor, which is steep but worth the effort for the views, and also all of the kangaroos. Another good one is to walk from the Botanic Gardens up to Black Mountain Tower. Both take just over an hour to complete.
WHERE: Sulwood Drive, Kambah
PRAM FRIENDLY: No - you'll need to wear/carry your bub.
OTHER PLAYGROUNDS WORTH CHECKING OUT
*Kambah Adventure Playground
*Black Mountain Peninsular Playground
*John Knight Memorial Park
WHERE TO STAY
There are heaps of fancy hotels to stay in Canberra if you have a fair bit of cash in your wallet. If you don't, we suggest checking out these options where we normally lay our weary bodies down of a night:
* Alivio Tourist Park - cabin & camper trailer accommodation
* Abode Hotels - modern family friendly hotel rooms with locations in Woden, Narrabundah, Tuggeranong & Gungahlin
We also love this Nature Play Canberra website for more
FREE or CHEAP
things to do with kidlets in Canberra!
Westfield Miranda - Miranda
Date: Saturday April 8 to Thursday April 13
Time: 10.00am, 11.30am, 12.30pm, 2.00pm
Cost: Free (but must book in advance)
Address: 600 Kingsway, Miranda
Telephone: 02 9525 6344
Class details: Easter themed kids cooking classes, on level 2 in the Fresh Food area.
Castle Towers - Castle Hill
Date: April 8-9-13-15-20-23
Time: 10am or 12pm (2 hour casses)
Cost: $5.00 (must book online)
Address: 6-14 Castle St, Castle Hill
Telephone: 02 8858 9700
Class details: Kids in the Kitchen workshops with various classes including cookie decorating, Easter egg decorating, soft shell tacos, lunch box ideas and more. All classes are held at the Centre Court on level 2.
Decorati - Wetherill Park
Date: Monday April 10 & Tuesday 18 April
Time: 10.00am - 12.00pm
Address: The Home & Building Centre - Unit 21a/1345 The Horsley Drive, Wetherill Park
Telephone: 02 9609 4917
Class details: Hands on cooking class to grow healthy bodies and minds
Top Ryde Shopping Centre - Ryde
Date: Monday April 10 to Thursday April 13
Time: 11.00am - 1.00pm
Address: Cnr Devlin & Blaxland Rds, Ryde
Telephone: 02 9808 8888
Class details: Classes (catering for approximately 20 children) will run for approximately 15 minutes. Children will learn to make wide range of tasty treats. Suitable for primary school children aged 5-12 years. No bookings required, first in first served.
Brasserie Bread - Banksmeadow
Date: Monday April 10 - Friday April 21
Time: 10am & 1pm (1.5hrs long)
Cost: $40.00 - book online
Address: 1737 Botany Rd, Banksmeadow
Telephone: 1300 966 845
Class details: This Autumn, our school holiday program will send your children on a whirlwind experience, from FARM TO BAKERY! In fact, they will be growing their own DIY sprouted wheat grains that they will take home with them! They will develop an understanding about the cycle from the farmer to the miller to the bakery where they will shape their own loaves of bread using a dough with healthy sprouted wheat grains through it and learn about the oldest known ancient grain, Emmer, to make delicious mini banana bread tin loaves. Truly a session not to be missed!
Grano - Wetherill Park
Date: April 11 & 18 10.45am
Time: 10.45am (2 hour class)
Cost: $35.00 (bookings via phone only)
Address: 1009 Canley Vale Rd, Wetherill Park
Telephone: 02 97254274
Class Details: Kids receive their own chef hat and apron, then make pizzas and eat them for lunch. There is also cupcake decorating and unlimited drinks throughout the session. All equipment and ingredients are included in the price.
Westfield Penrith - Penrith
Date: April 11 & 12
Time: 11.00am - 2.00pm
Address: 585 High St, Penrith
Telephone: 02 4721 4354
Class details: Easter Egg & Easter Cookie decorating workshops held on level 1, in the Fresh Food Market. No booking required just go along and enjoy the fun!
Sparkle Cupcakery - Surry Hills
Date: Wednesday April 12
Time: 10.00am - 12.00pm
Address: 132 Foveaux St, Surry Hills
Telephone: 02 9361 0690
Class details: Kidz bake Pure Sparkle cupcakes under the watchful eye of our Pastry Chef. While cakes are baking, kidz take a refreshment break of cheese toasties, cookies and cordial. After re-fueling, the fun ramps up with cupcake decorating creating Summer Time cupcakes. Each little person can drizzle, pipe, sprinkle and cut to decorate their own 6 cupcakes to take home for sharing with friends and family. Aprons provided during the class.
bombini - Avoca Beach
Date: Thursday April 13 & 20
Time:10.30am - 12.30pm
Cost: $70.00 (inc. roast lunch, house made gelato, juice)
Address: 366 Avoca Dr, Kincumber
Telephone: 02 4381 1436
Class details: Mastering the art of the Sunday Roast...Book your junior cooks into bombini, for a hands-on morning with bombini chef, Cameron Cansdell, where they will learn about simple ingredients and how to prepare them into something tasty. The kids will prepare & roast chicken with all the trimmings, create the tastiest stuffing & learn how to re-create the magic at home with recipes to share with mum & dad.
Rhodes Waterside Shopping Centre - Rhodes
Date: Monday April 17 - Friday April 21
Time: 11.0am - 2.00pm
Cost: Free (no bookings required)
Address: 1 Rider Blvd, Rhodes
Telephone: 02 8754 1111
Class details: Easter Cookie Decorating on the Ground Floor near Target. Limited spots available.
Sydney Chocolate School - Mosman
Date: Tuesday April 18
Time: 10.30am - 12.00pm
Address: 21/1110 Middle Head Rd, Mosman
Telephone: 02 9960 5848
Class details: Children aged from 5 to 16 will have a great time making chocolate in the school holidays. Our chocolatier will create a fun environment for everyone to see chocolate being hand tempered on marble (screams of joy as chocolate is splashed all over the marble!) Everyone then gets involved in making chocolate freckles, bars, lollypops and other child-friendly chocolates. Includes a certificate for the fridge and goody bag to take home and show off!
Watsons Bay Hotel - Watsons Bay
Date: Wednesday April 19
Time: 12.00pm - 1.00pm
Cost: $15.00 (book online)
Address: 1 Military Rd, Watsons Bay
Telephone: 02 9337 5444
Class details: Kids aged 5 - 15 years will learn to make hot cross buns with all their favourite toppings with the hotel's chefs.
Flour Eggs Water - Tramsheds, Harold Park
Date: April 19 & 20
Time: 9.30am - 11.30am
Cost: $75.00 SOLD OUT!!!
Address: 1 Dalgal Way, Forest Lodge
Telephone: 02 9188 7438
Class details: KIDS HOLIDAY PASTA MAKING WORKSHOPS!!! We are so excited to announce our first 2 dates for your little budding chefs to roll up those sleeves, put on an apron and learn all the tricks of the trade with our very own pasta master Eugenio Maiale!Your bambinos will knead, roll and cut their way to Italian pasta heaven and the good thing is there wont be one easter egg or ipad involved! They will each take home their very own flour eggs water apron and get to sit down at the end of their session to enjoy a beautiful bowl of pasta and something sweet to ensure they skip home to start preparing dinner for you that night!
Australian Brewery - Rouse Hill
Date: Tuesday 11 April & Monday 24 April
Time: 12.00pm - 2.00pm
Cost: $5.00 (call to book)
Address: 350 Annangrove Rd, Rouse Hill
Telephone: 02 9679 4555
Class Details: Make your very own pizza & sundae then eat it!
If we've missed any please let us know!
A long lazy Sunday lunch with kids. You're joking right?! No I'm not. Thanks to Fratelli Fresh in Crows Nest this is indeed possible.....
Fratelli Fresh have venues all over Sydney serving up delicious and fresh Italian cuisine that even Nonna would eat. Their Crows Nest location is super family friendly, welcoming kidlets with open arms and encourage the long Sunday family lunch.
You will find Fratelli Fresh located along the main dining drag of Willoughby Rd. There is plenty of (timed) street parking around the area, as well as a car park in nearby Holtermann St. The venue is easy to access with a pram and there is also some room to park it near your table (but I do recommend that you book ahead of time and advise them that you will have a pram). There are high chairs available and toilets on site that contain a baby change table. So all of the kid friendly dining boxes are getting big ticks so far.
To keep the kidlets occupied Fratelli Fresh provide an excellent kids menu that doubles as an activity sheet. And on the Sunday when we dined recently, there was the most awesome face painter! The lads have had their face painted quite a few times in their short lives, but the Joker face on my youngest is THE best I've seen. The face painter isn't a fixture every week, so perhaps confirm when you make your booking if she will be there, so that your kidlets aren't disappointed when they arrive.
On to the kids menu. It varies in price from $5.00 - $12.00 depending on the size of the dish ordered. Oh and every Sunday, Kids Eat Free (under 12yrs) with every adult meal purchased! The menu covers things as simple as a green salad with tomatoes and cucumbers, to pizza, spaghetti, ravioli, fish fingers and even a bowl of broccolini!! I love that there are loads of healthy items and also a few unhealthy ones thrown in for good measure.
The boys chose the Spaghetti Napolitana ($10.00) and the Chicken Scallopini Strips with Chips ($12.00). The chicken dish was huge and could easily be shared between two little people. The meals came out at the perfect temperature which meant that the boys could tuck in straight away.
The main menu at Fratelli Fresh covers all of your favourite Italian dishes but with some interesting twists. For example the Duck Pappardelle is served with chilli, bitter chocolate and orange. The dishes can be easily shared, and if you are dining with a group of people we would recommend that you take advantage of their Set Menu, where you receive 3 courses for $39.00!
They also do a range of wood fired pizzas and they are heavenly - one should not eat pizza unless it comes straight out of a wood fired oven is my mantra! Our Carciofi Pizza was topped with artichokes, pesto, onion, chilli, pine nuts and rocket. If you a glutton you can easily eat it all, or it is a decent size to share as well. The Scallop Risotto with Butternut Squash and Herbs was our other choice for lunch, and it is the epitome of comfort food. And yes the scallops were perfectly cooked so that they just melted in your mouth.
For a sweet treat, kidlets (and adults) can choose between different flavoured Gelato tubs for dessert ($6.00) and there is also a lovely selection of Dolce. Tiramisu is normally my go to dessert when we are chowing down in an Italian restaurant. However I deviated this time and tried the house speciality of the Banoffee Torta. This little slice of bliss had the most decadently rich caramel on top of a crunchy biscut base. It was crowned with fresh cream, banana and shaved chocolate. It was definitely naughty and definitely nice!
So my dear Little Munchers, next time you are looking for a venue for a family friendly lunch, make sure you consider Fratelli Fresh in Crowns Nest and remember chi mangia bene, vive bene!
AS PER USUAL WE PAID OUR OWN WAY WHEN WE VISITED FRATELLI FRESH!
118 Willoughby Rd, Crows Nest NSW
02 8099 7070
Open 7 days
Trying to occupy kidlets in school holidays can be a real challenge. And as we are constantly told by the naysayers that we should not use elecronic devices to "babysit" our kids, I feel obliged to source activities outside the house to keep them (and me) occupied. So thankfully businesses like the delightful Grandma's at McEvoy in Alexandria, provide hands on cooking classes during school holidays to entertain kidlets, whilst their parents sit back and relax over a perfectly brewed coffee and some of the most delicious food you'll taste this side of the Middle East!
Grandma's at McEvoy is the flagship store/cafe of the the Grandma's group of cafes that include venues at Rosebery and also at the farm in Collector, in south west NSW. We're big fans of their Collector cafe, and visit it regularly en route to Canberra. And now we are massive fans of their McEvoy cafe after our visit there in the January school holidays.
You'll find this very family friendly cafe on busy McEvoy Street. The cafe ticks all of the kid friendly boxes, and is very popular with the gorgeous Mummas and Pappas of the inner city. They have a cute and well used kids play area, which is perfect to occupy little people whilst you sit back and enjoy one of the cafe's delicious meals. Or if one of their Cookie/Chocolate making workshops are on, your kids can do that too.
All of Grandma's classes need to be booked online in advance, as they are very popular! The lads participated in the chocolate making workshop, which was run by one of Grandma's young chefs. To start with the kids donned an apron and then were taken to wash their hands. From here they were given a quick lesson in where chocolate came from, and were encouraged to eat a cocoa bean (which of course was spat out quite quickly).
Then the real fun began as they were allowed to create their very own chocolates, with the help of the chef. Obviously this is not the sort of class kids with allergies could do, as there were nuts available to decorate chocolates with. Of course the chocolate buttons, mini M&Ms and 100s & 1000s were the most popular items to decorate with, and I'm sure I spied one or two of them being slyly snuck into a little mouth when chef wasn't watching!
At the conclusion of the class, all of the chocolates were placed in a take home bag. Then it was off to wash their hands and hand back their aprons. The lads loved their class and also made some new friends, so make sure you follow Grandma's facebook page so that you know when their next cooking classes are on for kids!
With the boys completely taken care of, we could sit back and relax over brunch for once. We didn't order a meal for them as they were too busy eating chocolate, however there is an excellent Grandkids Menu which we have sampled on many occasions when dining at Grandmas at the farm. The kids meals are hearty, healthy and all home made, with not a deep fried nugget or chip in sight!
Thirsty little people will love the Grandma's babycino ($1) which comes with a cookie on the side, and there are also kid size fresh juices and thick shakes available for $5.00.
Let's move on to the adults. There are so many delicious choices for big people to eat for both breakfast and lunch at Grandma's. Everything has a definite Middle Eastern influence, and it's all home made just like you'd expect to have at your Grandmother's house ( I suppose as long as she is a good cook!). For our brunch we enjoyed the homemade natural muesli with yoghurt, almonds and strawberries as well as the poached eggs with Grandma's special bread and a side of bacon. Both dishes looked bright and colourful and were full of loads of flavour.
Grandma's are also famous for their Shakshukas. They are served all day and come in loads of different flavours. Other homestyle dishes on the lunch menu include soup, casseroles and tasty looking fresh salads.
Grandmas also have loads of things for sale. From olives and olive oil direct from their Collector farm, to cookies, jams and kitchen objects, it's hard to go home empty handed. Their inhouse bakery also has loads of delicious goodies that you can take home as well (their chocolate croissants are quite heavenly).
The only hassle we had at Grandma's was finding a park. There are only a couple parking spots behind the cafe, and street parking is a bit of a nightmare. Then we discovered a Bunnings up the street on the corner of Euston Rd. So your best bet is to head straight up there. It's an easy walk back to the cafe, and of couse if your kids need to burn off any further energy, you can always take them to the playground in Bunnings before you head home!
So Little Munchers was your Grandma a good cook? And what do you do to occupy your kidlets in the school holidays?
140-142 McEvoy St, Alexandria
02 9669 1862
Open 7 days 7am - 4pm