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!
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
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
In case you have been hiding under a rock, Vivid is on in Sydney at the moment. This festival of light is a major attraction for families every year, and this year is the first time the Little Munch fambam have ventured in to see what all the fuss is about.
A few months ago I booked us a family pass on a Sydney Harbour Tall Ship via Cudo (one of those bargain websites). I paid $120 for our family of 4 and the apparent value was $243.00. The family pass was valid for 2 adults and 2 kids (aged 4 - 14 yrs). So yes kids under 4 years are free. The cruise voucher included a buffet dinner and unlimited drinks, so I thought this was a pretty good deal, as we would get to see Vivid, and also pretend to be pirates at the same time.
Our cruise departed from near Pier 2 (Hickson Rd), on the western side of the Harbour Bridge at 5.30pm. We had to be there 15 minutes before departure and the cruise was due to return at 7.30pm. When we boarded I was a little disappointed (and nervous) to see so many people crowded on to the ship. There were people of all ages, including families with strollers. The access for strollers isn't great when the ship is choc a block full, so I would advise that you wear your little people in some sort of carrier. This will also help little kids to be able to see the view from the ship and also prevent them from getting lost, as it is very dark (and slippery) on-board the ship. The parents with strollers were actually asked to fold them up and the crew stowed them away.
There is some bench like seating along each side of the ship, and this was all taken by the time we boarded the ship. So we manoeuvred ourselves right up to the front of the ship (the bow) and stayed there the whole cruise. The boys did have to stand on their tippy toes to see the lights, or we had to hold them up as well, so bear this in mind when booking tickets for the whole family. The other thing to bear in mind, is that it is freezing out on the Harbour! So rug up my friends - coats, beanies, gloves etc - you will all need them.
The staff on the Tall Ship were all super friendly. The majority are young backpackers who live on board! They bunker down with each other at the end of the night, which I'm sure is loads of fun when you are young and care free. An older chap ran the show and he was really helpful if you needed any assistance - like where to find the toilets for example!
Of course we had to use the latrine several times during the cruise - what is it with cold wind and boys?? They are to be found down in the hull, which means you have to navigate through the other passengers and go down some steep stairs to find them. There are 2 small loos on board. If you do need to change a nappy, you will find somewhere down stairs where you can lay your little one down to do it.
Now when I booked, I read on Cudo that the menu for night would consist of some starters (chorizo slices + cheese & spinach triangles) and then a buffet would follow. The buffet was to consist of a choice of hot pulled meats on bread rolls accompanied by a selection of yummy sounding salads. To finish off we were to be served chocolate brownies for dessert.
To me that sounded all quite delicious, and I knew that both the kids and us would be able to eat most of those things. Unfortunately on the evening quite a few of those dishes did not transpire. When we first departed, crew members wandered about with platters of the chorizo slices and also the triangles and they were yummy and warming on such a cold night. About half way into the cruise a call went out that the buffet was ready - we missed this call, as we were at the other end of the ship where it was hard to hear any of the announcements that were being made. So when I saw people returning with plates, I went and found the queue to join.
The buffet was being served on one side of the ship. And it wasn't really what I was expecting (perhaps I had been naive). There was a bowl of green salad, a bowl of overcooked vegetables and also a bowl of rice. So you helped yourself to those. Then you shuffled up to a chap who was in charge of dishing out the hot food from the bain marie. You had 3 choices - meatballs in tomato sauce, butter chicken or Asian pulled pork. And you only got a scoop from the dish that you chose. This was fine for the kids - but not for a ravenous adult male (or female for that matter) on a cold night. There weren't any bread rolls and there weren't any of the yummy salads that I was led to believe were going to be available.
The meal was tricky to eat, as we were all standing up. A warm roll full of meat would be a lot easier to chow down on, especially for little people on a moving boat. There was some seating downstairs, but that had been nabbed early on by the older generation on-board. Towards the end of the cruise the brownies were brought around and the boys gobbled quite a few of these up, so thankfully they had full bellies.
Whilst dinner was a little disappointing, I was actually impressed with the bar service. The bar was open the whole time and there was beer, wine, bubbles, soft drinks and water available. The crew weren't stingy with how many drinks you ordered, and you could keep going back as many times as you wanted. If you hadn't purchased the package deal like we had, all of the alcoholic drinks will cost you $6.00 each.
It was a wonderful experience being on board a Tall Ship. We were fascinated as the crew climbed up and down the masts to do their "stuff" with the sails etc. The cruise went down as far Garden Island and then came back up past Luna Park to Darling Harbour and back again. It was great to see all of the lights come on at the Opera House and the Bridge, but from a distance they don't look as amazing as they do up close and personal like you see in all of the photos buzzing around the internet at the moment. The boys were most thrilled with the lights of Luna park (but I think they are permanently on). The other passengers on-board were great fun too - it was a real party atmosphere, and it is probably one of the best family nights out we have ever had.
Just to let you know we stayed in a hotel for the night. I had read too many FB comments about how crazy the traffic, parking and public transport were, so I booked a room via Wotif for the night. We had walked to the cruise terminal from the hotel, and then at the end of the cruise we jumped into a taxi to get away from the maddening crowd! My advice is to do the same or go mid week (which is not always easy when you live out in the burbs) x
If you don't fancy doing a dinner cruise, check out our list of places to eat at during Vivid:
Vivid is beautiful and it is also manic! You will find most eateries full to the brim, especially on the weekends. So arrive early and perhaps check out one of these places for a family dinner before you brave the crowds, otherwise you may end up sitting in the gutter eating your Maccas!!
Circular Quay & surrounds
We had a quiet drink here before we boarded our Vivid Cruise. The outdoor area is perfect for families as there is the beautiful view to see, as well as space for kids to wander around. It is also enclosed, with a bouncer on the gate, so your little people do not have much chance of escaping. We were there from about 4pm - 5pm, and whilst it was busy it wasn't too crowded. There were quite a few families too. They have a menu for kids, just ask for it at the bar.
You will find this cafe on the top floor of the Museum of Contemporary Art. It has great views over the harbour and is very family friendly. During Vivid they will be open from Wednesday - Sunday evenings until 9.00pm. They have a kids menu, high chairs, space for prams and also excellent toilet facilities.
Always a reliable option, City Extra is open 24 hours, so therefore you can eat here whenever you want. However I did notice that when we walked past about 4pm on Saturday that they were getting busy, so get there early! They have high chairs, a kids menu and some room for prams as well as reasonably fast service. And the best bit is that you can book a table!!
So this dining precinct is relatively new and it is home to loads of great places to eat with kids! You can either do take away or dine in and our favourites are Four Frogs Creperie, Din Tai Fung, Schnitz and of course dessert is at Gelato Messina!
The Governors Table
Located in the front of the Museum of Sydney, this stylish restaurant is offering up a very well priced kids menu at night time for Vivid. For adults they have a fixed menu in place (main course + glass of wine $32.00). You can book a table online and there are fab loos here to!
There are quite a few of these around the place, especially near the Harbour Bridge. They offer all sorts of international cuisines, but the problem I find is that there is no where to sit and later in the evening the queues for food is huge. So be prepared to make friends with some cold concrete.
Ribs & Burgers
This is our go to place for a decent feed in a very comfortable environment when we are visiting The Rocks. They have a kids menu, high chairs, plenty of room for prams and the service is friendly and efficient. They are also open from 11am until late so you can have dinner at any time you choose!
Hidden up in The Rocks, this Italian restaurant has been dishing up pizza and pasta to tourists and locals alike for many, many years. You can book a table and as they are open from 11am each day, so you can have a family dinner as early as you like.
Pancakes On The Rocks
Always a good choice with little people, this family friendly restaurant serves up pancakes in all forms. They have a cute kids menu, high chairs and you can book a table! They also have a restaurant in Darling Harbour if you would prefer to eat on that side of the water.
Located at Barangaroo South, this dining precinct is home to quite a few eateries offering up all sorts of different cuisines. The Canteen will be open only on Friday and Saturday evenings from 5.00pm - 9.00pm. The space is laid back and pram friendly and a great place to keep warm. During Vivid there is live music, games for the kids and colouring-in to entertain them while you eat. Some great places to grab a bite to eat are:
Darling Harbour & surrounds
This Italian inspired restaurant is located right near the Darling Quarter playground. Their food is hearty and served fairly fast. They have a kids menu to satisfy the little bellies of your young folk and are fully licensed.
Pancakes on the Rocks - Darling Harbour
Located in the Harbourside Shopping Centre, this venue is always popular kids!
We are big fans of Bungalow 8 - they always have some sort of cool kids deal happening. And during Vivid, they are offering free kids meals for anyone going on a cruise from Darling Harbour! They have high chairs, a kids menu which doubles as an activity sheet, as well as loads of space for prams.
Martin Place Bar
This is normally the hang of fancy pants suit type of people, but during Vivid they are open from 5pm for an early dinner and are welcoming of families. There are couple of items on the menu that kids could share like Fish & Chips or the Schnitty & Chips.
Everyone is saying that Taronga Zoo is the best place to take kids this year to see Vivid. You do have to pay an entry fee and apparently the food is limited.The family behind Kid Bucket List have written an awesome review of it, so make sure you take a read before you go. Otherwise eat at home, or stop into somewhere along Military Road for a quick dinner. The Four Frogs Creperie would be a good choice. We have eaten at their Randwick restaurant, and they are so very welcoming of families.
This Italian restaurant has a great kids menu and is the perfect place to fill your belly before or after you see the lights as they open at 4.30pm for dinner. Make sure you book before you go.
This is our favourite burger chain in Sydney. The kids meals all come with a such a cool little kids pack here, and their burgers are brilliant!! They are fully licensed and service is normally very speedy, which makes this place an easy dining option for the family. You will find Grill'd at The Concourse on Victoria Ave.
Lid n Jar
Also located on Victoria Ave, this is a delightful cafe which is open until 10.00pm each day. They have kids meals, high chairs and friendly service, so fuel the body here before you fuel the mind at Vivid.
In an attempt to locate kid friendly cafes in the A-Z suburbs of Sydney, we needed to complete a U suburb. And Sydney only has one - Ultimo! Now Ultimo doesn't have many cafes that look family friendly, but after a bit of research we found a gorgeous and very trendy cafe that is across the road from a playground. So off we went to take a closer look, to see how many of the Little Munch boxes it ticked.
The Local Mbassy occupies a corner location on busy Wattle St in Ultimo. It's one seriously cool cafe, totally fitted out in the industrial chic style. There is both indoor and outdoor seating - those of you with prams are probably best to sit outside as there is more space, but there is still room inside to park one or two prams too. If you are dining with little sprinters, make sure you keep an eye on them as the cafe opens right onto the road - high chairs are available if you need to restrain them. There is a loo inside in case you need it, but it doesn't have a baby change table. And lastly the staff are brilliant - besides being very welcoming of families, they are also incredibly efficient and I'd go as far as to say, some of the best we have encountered in Sydney of late or to date!
The Local Mbassy is normally crowded with gorgeous young instagrammers who want to photograph some of the amazing delights that come out of the Local Mbassy's kitchen. However on the morning we dined they must have all still been tucked up in bed, as the place was fairly quiet. The cafe opens at 7am during the week and from 8am on weekends, so it's perfect for families who are up and at em early.
Now all of those instagrammers hang out at the Local Mbassy to snap pictures of their signature Red Velvet Pancakes - this is one very decadent looking breakfast/brunch dish that comes with berries, pistachios and cream. We didn't try these nor did we try their brand new Cherry Ripe Pancakes, even though the boys were begging us to let them munch them down! Instead we let them try out the freshly baked cronuts which were pretty darn fine. And the expert barista at Local Mbassy makes one very cute babycino too! So the boys scored very well for first thing in the morning.
Now whilst there isn't a specific kids menu, there are quite a few things available that will satisfy the rumbling bellies of little humans - e.g. fresh fruit salad, French toast and scrambled eggs. Some other interesting more adult like items on the brekkie menu are the Smashed Avo with Prawns with Poached Eggs & Cherry Toms (Mr Munch's choice); and the Toasted Muesli with Earl Grey Soaked Prunes that comes with yoghurt and coconut (my choice). Both dishes were freakin delicious, as was the Campos coffee!
After your visit to the Local Mbassy head across the road and check out the playground in Wentworth Park. It has very decent equipment for big and little people. It's not fenced, but it is set away from the road. There's a sun shade and the ground is nice and spongy. Or another fun thing to do, is to walk down the end of the street and visit the Sydney Fish Market. The boys love visiting there to check out out all of the weird looking fishies from the deep blue yonder!
Just to let you know, there is limited parking available on Wattle Street near the cafe, so I suggest you park in Wentworth Park Rd where you will find quite a few spots - it's an easy walk to the cafe from here. If you want to catch public transport, you can jump on a bus (M30, 436, 422), or if you are feeling fit you can walk down from Central Station (20 mins).
So my dear Little Munchers, I'm so very glad we checked out the scrumptious Local Mbassy for our Ultimo review. Whilst it doesn't tick every single kid friendly box, it more than makes up for it with the quality of the dining experience x
310 Wattle St, Ultimo NSW 2007
02 8084 3467
Mon - Fri: 7am - 4.30pm
Sat: 8am - 4.30pm
Sun: 8.30am - 4.30pm
Walking around Sydney on a very hot day is not my idea of fun when you have kidlets in tow. No matter how many promises you give them, there will always be complaints about the most trivial of things. So today when it peaked around 37 degrees in old Sydney town, my boys were particularly grizzly as we wandered around Darling Harbour after seeing an IMAX film. We opted for an early lunch hoping that some sustenance may appease them, but then it dawned on us that it was Valentines Day! All of the restaurants in the area were either fully booked with lovers, or were charging ridiculous prices. Then I remembered seeing some snaps of a cute cafe next to the Maritime Museum that Adventure Baby had taken, so off we went to find it.
Yots Waterside Cafe is located on the outside of the main entrance building to the National Maritime Museum. However you don't have to visit the museum to eat at the cafe. This pretty cafe has gorgeous views over the water to the city and offers both indoor and outdoor seating. We arrived at about 11.30am and hoped that they would be serving an early lunch - and indeedy do they were.
With it being so darn hot, we opted for an inside table. However sitting outside would be just lovely on a cooler day, as you can watch the world go by and kidlets can amuse themselves playing on the large connect four game that is near the entrance. For those of you with really little people in your life, there is plenty of space for prams and access is also easy for them. Excellent toilets can be found right next to the cafe and they contain a parents room with a baby change table!
Yots provides full table service and you can also reserve a table. They also provide food "to go" with the kids lunch box representing great value - $7.50 for a vegemite sandwich, Nudie popper, gold treasure (which I think is a chocolate coin) and a fruit cup! You are not going to find a better value kids meal than this in Darling Harbour that's for sure. Even the adult's fish and chips for $12.50 is good value as they use wild caught Barramundi and you also get a bottle of water included.
The interior of Yots obviously has a nautical theme. Loads of blues combine beautifully with wooden tables and brightly coloured chairs. If you need a high chair just ask one of the friendly members of staff for one, and they will bring it to your table. It was fairly quiet in the cafe when we arrived, but by the time we left most tables were full with mainly tourists - it was really nice eavesdropping on conversations in French, Italian, Japanese and American!
Whilst we waited for our drinks and meals to arrive, the boys played Connect Four and I watched the steady stream of customers stopping in for a takeaway coffee. It was too hot for me to imbibe caffeine (I went with a cooling lemon, lime & bitters instead) but I'm guessing with the number of coffees being brewed that they make a fairly decent one.
The kids menu at Yots has a pirate theme. It includes the usual suspects, just with cute names. The boys went with the Arrgh Mately Lunch ($12) but had a chicken burger instead of the fish/cheese burger. The meal included a juice or fresh fruity milkshake which comes in a plastic cup (big tick). There's a self help water station and babycinos are also available, but they are very expensive at $2.50! A gorgeous little girl on a date with her daddy at the table next to us, had one and it didn't even come with a marshmallow!!
The boy's chicken burger was like a mini slider. Once they dispensed with the lettuce on it (i.e. they threw it on my plate) they gobbled those burgers up and immediately they seem to be in a better mood. Now if you don't want your babes to eat fries, you can choose to have a side salad instead which is great to see. And I was pleased to see that the chicken on the burger was a piece of breast meat and not your typical deep fried patty.
Mr Munch and I had a panini each ($12), but there is so much more on offer. From gourmet salads and burgers to pastas and a shared Ploughman's board there are items for all tastes and diets. And they are fully licensed so you can have a beer, wine or cider to enjoy with your meal - and as a parent you most definitely deserve one, when dining out with grumpy kids!
Now team Little Munch has never visited the National Maritime Museum (which is a bit naughty of us considering that Grandpa Munch was a Commodore in the RAN!) but that will change later this year when a school excursion is taking place to visit there. Anyway if you have paid your entrance fee you can enjoy the Kids on Deck activities that are located in the room next to Yots. This space is fully air conditioned and includes games, art & craft etc. for little people.
So tell me my dear Little Munchers, where is your favourite place to dine at Darling Harbour?
Yots Cafe Website
2 Murray St, Darling Harbour
02 9298 3672
Open 7 days: 10am - 5pm
The boys are very early risers - I'm talking before 6am. Hence breakfast in our household happens early and as a result so does lunch and dinner. This is all well and good when you are at home, but when you are out and about like we are most weekends, it makes it a tad difficult trying to find places that serve lunch and dinner before the usual hours of 12pm (lunch) or 6pm (dinner). So if you find yourself in the same predicament and are in the city, I can recommend the very tasty Ribs & Burgers restaurant to you.
Quite a few Ribs & Burgers joints have swung open their doors in Sydney of late and we checked out their Rocks location recently for lunch at the hour of 11am. The Rocks restaurant occupies an excellent position on the corner of George St and Hickson Rd. There are a few different spaces to eat in, and I suggest that you head out to the back area, as there are big windows that offer views of the Harbour Bridge!
The dining area of Ribs & Burgers is large and spacious. There is easy access for those of you who have prams and room to park them next to your table. They also have high chairs as well as toilet facilities, but I didn't spy a baby change table. There aren't any activities to occupy kidlets but the kitchen is open plan so my boys had great fun watching the staff set fire to things! And just to let you know you have to order and pay for your meal at the front counter and the staff will bring your meals out to your table.
Kidlets have their very own menu at Ribs & Burgers and it has 3 options on it. Junior pork riblets with chips ($14), a beef slider with chips or a chicken slider and chips both of which are $8.00. The portion sizes were perfect for our aged kids. To wash it down there are thickshakes, soft drinks and juices, as well as a self help water station.
Obviously carnivores are well looked after in a burger and rib joint, but they also cater for herbivores, pescatarians, and they even serve up naked burgers for paleo enthusiasts. Ribs come in various sizes and flavours as do burgers. For those on diets there is a decent selection of salads too. Prices range up to $30 for ribs and burgers hover around $10 - $16 and salads are all under $10.00.
We had the surprise of the month - a lamb burger with blue cheese and apple ($14.50). Gosh it was good. Lip smacking good. It's a flavour combination I have replicated at home again since dining - that's how much we enjoyed it. And as Ribs & Burgers are licensed we washed it down with a sneaky beer!
So my fellow parents, when life on the street becomes all too much for your little people, seek refuge from the maddening crowd in The Rocks, at Ribs & Burgers. The air con will be on, the food will be pumped out quickly and hopefully the batteries will be recharged before you head back out to tackle the hordes.
88 George St, The Rocks
02 9251 4488
Open 7 days from 11am
We've never taken the boys out for a proper high tea experience, basically we have just thought that they were a tad too feral! However when we were given a gift voucher recently for high tea for the whole family at the Tea Salon in the Westfield Pitt St, we put on our Sunday best and crossed our fingers that boys would be on the best behaviour.
Our gift voucher was for 2 adult sparkling high teas ($49.00) and 2 children's high teas ($19.95). We booked online in advance and I would suggest that you do the same as this one popular place, especially on weekends. The Tea Salon is located in the middle of the 4th level of the Westfield, surrounded by lovely high end shops. It is not exactly a huge space, so you cannot bring your pram into the dining area, however there is space to park the pram on the outskirts of the salon, and then you can place your little one in a high chair. If you need to make a dash to the loos, the toilet facilities are close by and they contain a baby change table.
We arrived at midday on a Sunday and our table was all set up for us. After we sat down the friendly waitress took our orders for drinks and explained how the high tea worked. The boys received a choice of milkshake, fruit nectar, iced tea or the Tea Salon's signature Anna Pavlova tea. The boys went with milkshakes and I was very pleased to see that they were served in a disposable coffee cup with a straw. The grown ups Sparkling High Tea included both a flute of the Tea Salon's sparkling wine, as well as a pot of tea. The tea selection is huge (as you would expect at a tea salon) and you basically get about 3 cups out of your pot.
The boy's tea treats arrived quite quickly - they included their choice of scone (they went with the choc chip which came with a little pot of melted chocolate instead of jam); a chicken and mayo sandwich; a summer berry crumble and a choc orange choc top. The choc chip scone and choc orange choc top were the clear winners as both were gobbled down quickly. The sandwich was the least favourite as it was a quite a chunky pinwheel type of sandwich which didn't look particularly appetizing and was oozing with too much mayo. I think a ribbon sandwich may have been more appealing for little mouths. Now the summer berry crumble was absolutely delicious, but it didn't appeal to the taste buds of my little men as it had quite a few tart summer berries in the mix (which was ok as we got to scoff them!).
If we were to go again to the Tea Salon, I actually wouldn't order the boys a Children's High Tea, instead I would get the Children's Lunch as it would be more to their liking, as well as better value. It includes grilled cheese fingers, banana cupcake with icing, a piece of fruit and a drink (nectar, milkshake, iced tea) for $11.95 - considering the venue's location in Sydney's most exclusive shopping centre, I think this is excellent value.
The adults high tea also came with a choice of scone (with jam & cream), a summer berry crumble, a mint choc mini éclair, a little butterscotch cake and a mix of ribbon sandwiches. I loved all of my selection and the flavour of my lemon, pistachio & currant scone was superb but it didn't taste particularly fresh - I'm thinking it had been made the day before. Mr Munch thought the same of his cinnamon & raisin scone. You don't just have to have High Tea at the Tea Salon. You can can have a full lunch with wine or just a Devonshire Tea if you would prefer.
The Tea Salon is most definitely a lovely spot to recharge the batteries after a hard day's shopping with kidlets, or for a special occasion afternoon tea. The décor is oh so pretty, with almost like an Alice in Wonderland type of atmosphere. Just a little word of warning although, if you are dining in Spring/Summer I would suggest that you don't wear too much clothing, as the air conditioning in the Westfield Shopping Centre is turned to quite warm (no doubt to encourage you to buy more bikinis). However I felt as though I was in the middle of a menopausal hot flush for most of our high tea and from the look of my 3 boys sweaty faces, they did too!
P.S. If there are any Kate Spade fans amongst you, her shop is really close to the Tea Salon. So if you are dining with another responsible adult ask them sweetly to take the kidlets to the loo, whilst you nip into the store and have a sticky beak x
Lvl 4, Westfield Sydney
Cnr Pitt St Mall & Market St
Open 7 days from 10.00am
Did you know that the Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafes that are located throughout the tourist belt of Sydney serve more than their signature seashell chocolate? Well I didn't - I thought it was the kind of place that you went to for a coffee and a sweet chocolatey treat. But boy was I wrong - they have a delicious savoury menu as well as a decadent sweet treat menu, and you can even get a glass of plonk to enjoy with it all! There are 3 Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafes located in Sydney and to be honest I have never set foot in any of them, however after our visit to their cafe in The Rocks last weekend, I think I might just become a regular (if I can afford it)!
We were in The Rocks at a ridiculously early hour on Sunday morning, on a secret mission (you will find out more about that in 2016). Anyway our bellies started to rumble at around 8am, so we went in search of breakfast. We were just about to walk past the Guylian Chocolate Cafe on the corner of George & Argyle Sts when I decided to have a peek at the menu on the wall, and that's when I discovered all of their savoury delights. So we stepped inside and immediately we were greeted by a charming member of the staff who showed us to a table. There are 3 seating areas at the cafe - outside which is perfect for people watching and those of you who have prams; inside on the ground floor (another place which can be accessed with a pram); or upstairs which has a spacious dining area. There are a few high chairs located on the ground floor if you need one.
The interior of the cafe is decked out in chocolate - either pictures or boxes of them are everywhere - so if you are on a diet I don't think this is the cafe for you! If you sit downstairs like we did, it may be a wise idea to bring some little activity to occupy your kidlets, otherwise they may spend the whole time drooling their slobber over the chocolate cabinet whilst they wait for their food and drinks to arrive. At 8am in the morning we didn't wait very long at all for our meals, as there were only a few other diners in the cafe. However I am sure at peak times the wait may be longer. If you need to use the facilities they are upstairs, but there isn't a baby change table (however across the road on the ground floor of the Museum of Contemporary Art you will find a decent parents room).
At Guylian, the coffee is superb and when I noticed the $5.00 price tag for a regular ($6/large) I just thought it was probably a typical charge for a cafe coffee in the tourist mecca of The Rocks. However you receive a Guylian truffle on the side....so the hit will be more on your hips than on the hip pocket. If you are just in need of a coffee and sweet treat, there is a magnificent display of dessert style sweets in the front counter that cost $16.50. There is everything from chocolate mousse, to cheesecakes to dacquoise. There are some cheaper options such as macarons, brownies, eclairs, friands and individual chocolates to indulge in.
There isn't a specific menu for kidlets, but there are quite a few menu items suitable for them. For breakfast our lads had their favourite pain au chocolat and all pastries come with a decadent little pot of chocolate sauce ($6.50). And just a word of advice - make sure you have the baby wipes with you, as you will need quite a few to clean up the chocolatey mess that this dish creates ( and perhaps don't let them wear white either)! Some other menu items that will appeal to little tummies are the Seasonal Fruit Bowl, Warm Toast served with Jam & Butter or a Ham & Cheese Croissant. Kid size milkshakes are $9.00 (!!) and juices that come in large glasses are $5.00.
Now let me tell you about the savoury items. My current breakfast favourite - the Avo Smash ($17.50), is on the menu and they make a great version of it at the Guylian Chocolate Cafe. Perfectly ripe cherry tomatoes and shredded basil are mixed with Persian fetta, and sit prettily on top of the smashed avo on toast. The Three Egg Omelette ($17.50) is also another delicious item - it is full of spinach, gruyere & cheddar cheese, and I love that it came with a side of real butter - Pepe Saya of course. At lunch time you can choose between freshly made baguettes, salads, quiche, savoury waffles or a cheese platter. The menu ranges in price from about $6.50 - $20.50 and there is a pesky 10% surcharge on Sundays.
After your visit to the Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe, you may need to burn off some of the chocolate you have just inhaled. So you can go for a wander around The markets which are next to the cafe (on weekends). If this is too much for kidlets and the other half, why not pop in to the Museum of Contemporary Art which is across the road - entry is free! Now there are parking stations close by, but I really do recommend you use public transport to get to the Guylian Cafe in The Rocks. If however you feel more comfortable having your car close by at all times, click here for the closest place to park.
Where's you favourite spot to eat as a family in The Rocks Little Munchers?
91 George St, The Rocks
02 8274 7500
Open 7 days from 8am - late
The Australian Museum has had a facelift! Well its entrance way has, and this has meant that the Museum's previous cafe has had to move upstairs, to allow for a fancy new Crystal Hall that you now walk through to enter the Museum (it's our answer to the Louvre); and also to make way for the seriously impressive Wild Planet exhibition. As a result, the cafe has caught the lift up to the fourth floor and been re-branded the Rooftop Cafe. And let me tell you, if you are after a cafe with a view in Sydney to take visitors to, this is it my friends!
On the day we visited recently, the new entrance/exhibition was 2 days away from being completed. This was actually ideal, as it meant that we didn't have to share the Museum with too many other pesky tourists. On arrival, we paid our entrance fee (and remember kids under the age of 16 are now FREE for general entry, but still have to pay for major exhibitions) and headed straight up to the cafe via the lifts, for a spot of lunch. The Rooftop Cafe is so spacious and THOSE views over Centrepoint Tower, St Marys Cathedral, the Domain and the city are just fabulous. The cafe has a wee bit of an unfinished feel to it, but there are loads of tables and chairs as well as some booth seating available. There is plenty of access for those of you who have prams, and quite a few high chairs have been provided. Toilets can also be found on this level, and if you need a baby change table they are in toilets lower down in the Museum.
At the Rooftop Cafe, you order and pay for your meals at the cash register and your meals are then brought to your table. On the day we dined, the cafe was relatively quiet and our meals arrived quickly. This is perhaps because it was during the school term. Our only dining companions were quite a few young gents from the school next door (Sydney Grammar), who were monopolising quite a few tables and also the lifts. And between you and me, their manners could do with a wee bit of refining. On weekends and school holidays I don't think you will find them lurking in the cafe, however I'm sure the cafe would be very busy with other paying Museum visitors.
The menu at the Rooftop Cafe is small, but there are choices to suit most dietary requirements. The choices for kidlets are the chicken strips & chips, a sauso roll, a pie, hot chips or the Dinosaur Lunch Box. The lunch box costs $8.00 and includes a pre-made cheese sandwich, Whole Kids juice popper and a freddo frog. The kids can then take the box home as a souvenir if they want. The cake cabinet also has some yummy sweet treats if you are stopping by mid morning/afternoon, including Frogs in the Pond, and Whole Kids Frooshies. There is also a fridge full of Ben & Jerry ice creams if your babes need cooling down.
The adults in our group taste tested the Angus beef burger & chips, the beef & brisket pie as well as the fish and chips. All meals received the thumbs up, especially as they were served so quickly, which was handy when we had two very anxious children wanting to explore the museum below! If nothing on the menu appeals to you, make sure you check out the cake cabinet as there are sandwiches and other light snacks for sale. We only had table water with our meals to drink, which we poured for ourselves from the self help water station up near the cash register. The Museum's website claims that they make an awesome brew of coffee, so I'll just have to take their word for it, until next time I visit when I can sample it for y'all.
After we finished our lunch and soaked up the last of the view, we headed downstairs to check out the Museum floor by floor. The Australian Museum is so child friendly and hands on for little kids. There is a permanent dinosaur exhibition which is my boys current favourite, as well as so many other exhibits on Australian flora, fauna, minerals etc. Your kids can check out specimens under microscopes, pretend they are archaeologists and have a little dig and basically touch everything they can see - it's all hands on at the Australian Museum.
The only hands on activity that is discouraged is knocking on the glass cabinets that are home to live creatures. There are baby crocs, blue tongue lizards and Jurassic looking insects, to name but a few, living at the Museum (hence why it is known as a living museum). If you see a care taker wandering around feeding any of the local residents, make sure you have a chat to them as they have a wealth of knowledge and are very patient with kids.
Now if your kids are a bit over looking at dinosaurs and stuffed animals, take them for some time out in the brilliant Kids Space. This area is a fully secure space dedicated for kids 5 years and under and their siblings. In here you can change you babe's nappy, you can secure your little crawlers in their own padded space, you can read your kids a book, let them dress up or just let them do their own thing. There are staff on hand to answer questions and to get the little ones involved in activities such as the x-ray machine, colouring in etc.
During the year the kids space offers special activities for little explorers. They have singing and dancing for tiny tots, as well as science explorations for mini explorers aged 3-5 years old - there are fees involved so check the Museum's website for details. You can even take your kids to Dinosnore sleepovers - it will cost you a bit of coin but hey, how often can you have your very own Night at the Museum, just like the movie?
The motto of the Australian Museum is to "feed those hungry young minds with creative Museum fun" and they do this very well, and thanks to the Rooftop Cafe you can also feed their little bellies quite well too!
1 William St, Sydney
02 9320 6000
Open 7 days 9.30am - 4.30pm
Closest Parking: Domain Car Park
I think we all know how fabulous the Darling Quarter Playground is, and if you don't, make it a priority next weekend to take your kids into the city to check it out. Whilst you are there you will of course need a coffee or perhaps even a meal, and a great place to get both of these is Vesta Cafe Ristorante - because it is a hop, skip and jump away from in the playground - not right in front, but very close by.
Vesta is obviously an Italian cafe/restaurant. And it is one of many eateries located in the dining strip at Darling Quarter. What I like most about Vesta is that they serve a really good coffee and they open early (6.30am Mon- Fri & 8am on weekends) and then stay open until late most days. So you can eat there basically at any time of day. They are also reasonably priced considering their location in one of the busiest tourist centres of Sydney.
Access to Vesta is very easy. The closest parking station is at the Wilson Darling Quarter car park, which costs $16.00 on the weekend if you book online (during the week it can be quite exxy). You park way underground and catch the lift back up to Earth. When you come out of the lifts there are toilets which have a baby change table in it - these toilets have always been spotlessly clean when I have visited. So I advise getting everyone to do their business here, as the public loos out in the dining strip and playground are used heavily on weekends and can be a tad foul. From here walk a minute or so up to Vesta and if you have a pram with you the access is really easy.
Whilst you settle down on one of the tables at Vesta, your older kids can happily muck around in the grassy area out the front of the cafe. Just a warning although, during peak periods there is a lot of human traffic around the area, so your kids can easily get lost in the crowd. If you need to restrain younger ones, high chairs are available. When we were there it was quite chilly and windy, so in the cooler months you will need warm jackets for everyone.
A lot of families dine in the area so you don't have to worry about kids who make too much noise or who have melt downs - everyone is in the same boat and I think the staff are used them to! The staff were super friendly during our breakfast there on a Saturday morning and we were served super quickly, which was handy as the boys had the playground in their sights the whole time and were hankering to get over there.
There is a kids menu available at lunch time which costs $10.00 and includes pizza, pasta and chicken/fish & chips. At breakfast time there are quite a few things on the main menu that children can eat such as toast, porridge and hotcakes. The boys had toast with peanut butter ($5) and they washed these down with babycinos ($1). Hot chocolates, smoothies and fresh juices are also available. There is also a self help water station on the front counter if the kidlets just need some h2o.
The adults in our group all went for the Avocado Toasted Sourdough ($14). The toasted sourdough was topped with smashed avo, house marinated fetta, diced tomato and two perfectly poached eggs. A balsamic reduction was then drizzled over it. I loved that the eggs were included in the price and that you didn't have to pay extra for them like you do in so many cafes out in the burbs these days. If this dish isn't substantial enough for you then perhaps try the Breakfast Tasting Plate ($20). This includes eggs benedict with smoked salmon, bircher muesli and hot cakes with a strawberry & rhubarb compote!
If you dine at lunch/dinner time, the Vesta menu is all about communal dining. There are loads of divine sounding salads, pastas and pizzas available and they all seem to be under the $20.00 mark. If you're not a sharer, they also have burgers, paninis for $16 -$18 available. The 12 hour lamb panini sounds perfect - it has the slow roasted lamb shoulder with tomato, lettuce, haloumi and tzatziki stuffed in it!
I'm sure you won't linger very long over your meal at Vesta because that playground is just too tempting for kids. Make sure you grab a takeaway coffee before you leave as I guarantee you that it won't be a quick visit as there is loads of equipment for the kids to play on. Vesta is also the perfect spot to grab a bite to eat if you are attending any of the fantastic Monkey Baa performances at the Darling Quarter Theatre.
The Witches (by Roald Dahl) is showing at the Lend Lease Darling Quarter Theatre in the July School holidays. If you would like to win a family pass for the performance on Tuesday 30 June at 1pm, all you have to do is answer the question below by 12.06.015 and the winner will be picked at random from the responses. The pass is valid for either 2 adults & 2 kids or 1 adult & 3 kids - valued at $90.00!
Have you been to the Darling Quarter Playground Little Munchers? If so where did you take your little ones to eat?
1-25 Harbour St, Darling Quarter, Sydney
Mon - Wed: 6.30am - 5pm
Thu - Fri: 6.30am - late
Sat: 8am - late
Sun: 8am - 4pm
I recently wrote an article on where to go for High Tea with Children in Sydney. We haven't really taken the boys out for high tea, simply because they just don't do posh very well. They also cannot sit still for much longer than 20 minutes. As I thought it was important for the article that I had actually been with my kids for a high tea I decided that it was probably sensible to sample one that didn't cost much, in case we had to make a quick evacuation because they had knocked their tea stand over or spilt their pink lemonade over some very expensive carpet.
That is why I chose The House Eatery by George. The kids afternoon tea only costs $7, and it also owned by the former rugby star George Gregan. As the three males in my life are all a bit rugby mad this made it the perfect choice. However the boys were a tad disappointed when they realised that George himself wouldn't be serving us that day. Just like they were disappointed the time we ate at Jamie's Italian last year, and Jamie Oliver didn't cook their dinner! Ah the glorious naivety of children.
The House Eatery occupies a picture perfect location right under the Opera House. Apparently it is only a "pop up" restaurant, however it has been popped up for quite a while now. It is located on the western boardwalk of the Opera House, just outside the Drama Theatre. So it is the ideal spot to visit before or after you take the kidlets to see the Baby Proms or any of the other productions offered by Kids at the House. We visited on a Sunday and made the most of the cheap transport deal with Family Funday Sunday. However if you're not keen on navigating Sydney's transport system with all of your brood, you can also park at the Opera House. Parking here can be quite expensive, however sometimes they have special deals - click here for more information.
Whilst there aren't any activities to occupy kidlets at The House Eatery, there is plenty of space for them to roam around and you can always give them a little task of counting how many ferries zoom by - otherwise BYO colouring in. Because of all the space, it is also easy to park your pram right next to your table or you can just pop your little one in one of the high chairs available. The toilet facilities are just inside near the Drama Theatre and there is a baby change table in the handicapped toilet.
Now you don't have to worry about your children knocking over their dainty high tea stand at The House Eatery, as the kids afternoon tea is served on a very sensible and very unbreakable wooden board. The $7 cost includes 2 ribbon sandwiches, strawberries, a mini biscuit (a baby melting moment on the day we dined), a sultana scone and a pot of jam and cream. Also included in the price is a babycino. The babycino was more like a mini hot chocolate and it came in a small glass and was topped with grated milk chocolate. I personally think this is brilliant value especially considering the location.
This meal filled the boy's bellies perfectly. They devoured everything except the scone (it perhaps needed nuking in the microwave to freshen it up a bit). If you dine at lunch time, you can also order this afternoon tea board or there is a dedicated kids menu for $15.00 a meal. The tasty meals include a soft drink/apple juice as well as a scoop of ice cream. The choices are Lamb Pappardelle; Crumbed Chicken Strips with mashed potato, peas & gravy; Roast Butternut Ravioli; and Assorted Finger Sandwiches. At dinner the menu is a little bit different and the choices are Lamb Pappardelle; Sausages & Mash; Spaghettini with cherry tomato sauce; or Assorted Finger Sandwiches. Once again they cost $15 and include a drink and scoop of ice cream.
With the boys happily occupied eating their afternoon tea and counting ferries, Mr Munch and I settled in for an afternoon of people watching over a bottle of wine. As we weren't really in the mood for high tea we decided on sharing a George Board - sliced prosciutto, triple cream brie, watercress, fennel & radish salad, pickles & fresh baguette ($24). If you would like to take tea, the high tea stand is $33 per person and it is for a minimum of 2 people. You receive a 3 tier stand with ribbon sandwiches, a selection of sweets and home made scones, served with a GG Espresso coffee or T2 tea. If you like bubbles with your high tea add an extra $9 for Chandon or $15 for Moet.
Our afternoon at The House Eatery by George was an ideal way for us to initiate the boys into their first proper afternoon tea experience. I thoroughly recommend that if you love to do high tea but have children that don't do posh, then you should book yourself and your brood in for the experience at The House Eatery.
So tell me Little Munchers - do you take your kidlets out for High Tea, or are they like my boys and not do posh very well?
Western Broadwalk, outside the Drama Theatre
Sydney Opera House
Sydney, NSW 2000
Ph: (02) 9250 7432
Open 7 days 11am - late
Oh Jamie I love you so. I love the style of food you cook on your TV shows; I love how you are trying to make the school children of the world eat healthier with your global food campaign; I love how my 4 year old knows exactly who you are, and gets so excited every time he sees you on telly or sees your mug shot in Woolies, he even built one of your hothouses at Preschool; I love your gorgeous wife Jools, and your divine little brood with kooky names; BUT Jamie what I don't love is the restaurant on Pitt Street in Sydney that has your name on it.
I so wanted to love your restaurant - Jamie's Italian, so much so that I booked a table 6 weeks in advance for the family friendly hour of 5pm on a Saturday evening. The online booking process was oh so easy and we were all very excited about dining out at night time and my boys kept asking if they would be able to meet you. I told the boys that you were the head of a global organisation and that it was unlikely that you would be there on the evening. I also told them that we would be able to check out their menu on a Viewfinder which sounded oh so very cool, and made them clap their little hands with excitement.
We wandered down Pitt St in plenty of time for our booking but we actually couldn't find your restaurant Jamie! Then we realised that the place that had a growing line of people out the front was it but as the queue was standing in front of the only sign for the restaurant it was a wee bit tricky to see. As we had a booking we politely squeezed our way to the top of that queue only to be told that that we had to go the back of the queue and wait behind all of the "walk ins". So we waited in the queue as you do, whilst all of the walk ins were processed and told to hang fire because there was up to an hour wait for a table.
Whilst waiting in the queue I noticed that there was a Secure Car Park right next door, so that is handy for people that need to park close by ($20 flat rate on Saturday evenings). I could see that there was a bar inside where a lot of the walk ins had congregated waiting vainly for a table making it very difficult for anyone to squeeze past. There was also a pasta bar where you made all of the pasta for the restaurant which is a lovely thing to see but I couldn't help but think Jamie, that maybe this was a bit of a waste of space. See Jamie, people who have bookings don't like to be kept waiting for too long and may be this space could have been used for the walk ins to put their names down and that way people with bookings could be greeted and treated with some respect as they did book quite a long time ago.
When we finally made it to the front of the queue we were warmly greeted by the gorgeous looking English backpacker wait staff but there was no apology for us having to wait so long, oh well they were under the pump after all. We were shown up stairs to our table and as we had a stroller with us, this was kindly stored downstairs. We took in the industrial chic surrounds and our charming waitress placed the menus in front of us, including a kids menu. When I inquired what happened to the Viewfinders, I was advised that they had all been stolen and some more were on order from HQ in the UK. Obviously we Aussies are still holding onto our convict ways! Oh well crayons and colouring sheets were quickly placed in front of the 3 kidlets so that kept them occupied for quite a while.
I have to say your kids menu is very impressive Jamie. I liked that were were loads of options, that it was healthy and that it as reasonably priced - $9.50 including either an apple or orange juice and I loved that the waitress bought the kids juices straight away. The kidlets ordered the Spaghetti Bolognese, Curly Wurly Tomato Pasta Bake and the Puppy Dog. Someone obviously let the dogs out cause you had run out of Puppy Dogs so we changed the order to the Chicken Lollipops.
Two of the meals came reasonably fast considering how busy you guys were - the spag bol was devoured quickly as were the 3 widdle chicken lollipops and all the while the third little tacker kept waiting for his dinner and turned into Captain Cranky Pants. I think his meal got dropped as the poor waitress was coming upstairs (Jamie, those trendy wooden boards that your food is served on can be a bit tricky to carry when laden with food). Finally the Curly Wurly Tomato Paste Bake arrived and when we inquired if it was hot we were told no - but it bloody well was.
The meals sizes were adequate for smaller kids but I think kidlets from about the age of 8 may need to order off the adults menu as their little bellies may still be rumbling. The 'shake me salads' were MIA, we probably should have said something at the time but alas we didn't. And I think the crunchy bread crumbs were also MIA from the top of the Curly Wurly Tomato Pasta Bake, but don't worry the little tacker wasn't too fazed by this. (My apologies for the poor quality photos it was difficult to take decent photos in the dim lighting).
I did love your kids fruit boards for dessert Jamie. I wish so many more places did this and at $2.50 they represent excellent value. The cute cartoon paper was also a neat idea and kept the boys entertained for a little while whilst their parents ate.
I've been quite negative so far Jamie haven't I? Sadly, I've still got a few gripes left in me. But I will start with a positive - your tucker is tasty! The adults ordered the Italian Bread Selection and for $1.50 for the pot it was damn fine value - the focaccia was heavenly. We also ordered Crispy Prawns and Crispy Squid to share amongst 4 adults - so it kinda sucked when only 3 prawns and 3 pieces of squid arrived. Maybe our lovely waitress could have told us that when we ordered? We would have happily ordered more if we had known, as they all tasted oh so good.
We all liked our mains and chose similar dishes. The pasta of the day was spaghetti with house made salume and marscapone was yum as was the prawn linguine with garlicky prawns, tomatoes, chilli, rocket and fennel. Just to let you know Jamie, Aussie blokes are big eaters and are used to the traditional Italian restaurants that we have so many of down under, that serve big bowls of pasta, so maybe something to take into consideration. The other thing about us Aussies is that we like to drink. Your Italian wine list is great and we asked our lovely waitress to advise us which wine on the list was most like a sav blanc. She very kindly said that you had a wine from an old wine list that was similar and so we ordered it. What she didn't advise us was that the wine was not chilled. So we had to wait for that process to occur. Had we known this we would have chosen something from the list that was already chilled, cause you kind of need wine immediately when dining out with kids. Now Aussie blokes like a beer (just like you Pommy lads) and the wine list that we were given stated that you stocked a selection of local and imported beers but there were only two Italian beers available and apparently one of them was a wee bit shite.
Do you mind if I ask Jamie why your kitchen staff were continually coming upstairs, squeezing past diners and wait staff with big dirty trays, pots, dishes etc? Where were they off to? Is the person who washes your dishes (aka the dish pig) located upstairs somewhere? Not a great look I have to say. I find it weird that the kitchen would be downstairs and the wash up area to be upstairs. And because the kitchen is downstairs, all of the hot air it generates rises upstairs making it a tad warm on a balmy Sydney evening. I think if I was ever to come back I would most definitely request when I make my booking 6 weeks in advance that we need to be seated downstairs. But that's the question isn't it Jamie - would we ever go back? Maybe at lunch time the experience would be far superior? I don't think it was just a "once off" the bad experience we had in the evening. You guys have been operating for a few years now and quite a few reviews I have read online complain about the same issues.
By the way Jamie when we left the queue was bigger than ever. We had to barge our way out the door, with terrified little tackers in tow as those damn walk ins wouldn't move out of the way cause they seemed so desperate to snag a table in your restaurant. Is there anyway you can streamline this process do you think Jamie? One thing I suppose, is that the queues are testament to the fact that your restaurant is still very popular, just like celebrity chef restaurants normally are.
I honestly do love everything about you Jamie, you are a gorgeous bloke, and an honorary Aussie of sorts. I just don't think that your Jamie's Italian in down town Sydney is really that Pukka x
So tell my dear Little Munchers - have you been to Jamie's Italian? If so, did you have a positive experience? Please let me know as I really want to recommend Jamie's Italian but after the evening we had, I feel as though I shouldn't.
107 Pitt St Sydney, NSW 2000
02 8240 9000
Open 7 days 11.30am - late
I had a badly timed appointment in the city one day during these school holidays and it meant that number one son had to accompany me. As any "good" mother does, I bribed him with a visit to a toy store if he behaved for me whilst I was at my appointment. He held up his end of the bargain beautifully, so I had to hold up mine. The only toy store I could think of in the city was Hobby Co in the QVB, so we dodged all of the tourists and made our way up to level 2 of the building.
As we entered Hobby Co I clocked the cafe directly outside - Cellinis Bar Restaurant and promised myself a brew there once we had finished the visit to the toyshop. And let me tell you dear parents I thoroughly deserved my brew, because our visit verged on the excruciating, as No. 1 son touched every single toy/item/thing in that shop. Of course he also found out that the shop covers two levels so we had to explore both levels with him begging me to buy him something the whole time. Being the miser that I am, I scanned every single price on the back of each toy he fingered and as luck would have it, it was the very last toy we saw - a "surprise" hot wheels car. Now if you find yourself in the same predicament as I was, you will find this little surprise packet on the top floor of Hobby Co, on the front counter and it will set you back $2.25 - I seriously couldn't find anything cheaper than this in the whole store!
I swear we spent a good hour in that shop so I was hankering for my coffee. I sat down at a table right near the front window of Hobby Co and this is exactly where you should sit as well when you visit Cellinis Bar Restaurant. The reason is that there is a model train exhibition in the window of Hobby Co, complete with Thomas and all his friends. Your kids will glue themselves to the window and you can sit back and enjoy your well deserved coffee.
As soon as I sat down a waiter came and asked what we would like. Our orders were promptly (if not curtly) taken and within minutes our drinks arrived - cappuccino for me and a kids size milkshake (in a glass) for my boy. Both drinks were excellent and we had a cookie and slice of mass produced carrot cake as well for morning tea. Babycinos are available for $2.00, but my big boy just ain't into those any more, so I can't report if they were good value for money or not.
If you are dining at lunch or dinner, there is a kids menu, where your kidlets can have just a basic sandwich (peanut butter or vegemite) for $3.50 or you can go for your typical deep fried nuggets/fish/spring rolls with chips for $7.90. Spag Bol will set you back $8.90. So whilst the menu is fairly boring I am quite surprised that it was all under $10.00 considering you are dining right the heart of touristville.
Likewise the adults menu is surprisingly reasonable considering the location. You can have everything from a sandwich to soup to a baked potato to a risotto. The menu has something for all tastes and even a decent vegetarian selection. Most items on the menu cost between $10.00-$20.00. They are also licensed (obviously being a bar) so you can have sneaky glass with your lunch.
Cellinis has an indoor dining section which looks quite glamorous - think art deco marble and chandeliers. Their outside section (where we sat) has chairs and tables that are located around the balustrade of the 2nd floor (vertigo sufferers beware!). This makes the cafe really pram friendly, just make sure you use the lift to get up to level 2, because those escalators are really quite steep. There were plenty of high chairs available and if you need a baby change facility you unfortunately have to head right down to the bunker level of the QVB to find the parents room! (Not impressed QVB!).
Once we finished our morning tea we wandered down to have a look at the castle (the QVB's clock) and that is where we were delighted to find a Dr Seuss exhibition. Being in Kindy and learning to read, Dr Seuss is read an awful lot in our house - he is a big favourite with all of us. The exhibition is only small but it is so cute! I would have loved to buy a print for the boys room but the miser in me wouldn't part with $400!!
I haven't found many cafes in the CBD of Sydney that are child friendly, so it was a nice surprise to find that Cellinis Bar Restaurant is welcoming of families. The added entertainment bonus of Hobby Co's window and the Dr Seuss exhibition makes for a very pleasant interlude next time you find yourself in the city with your brood x
Lvl 2, Queen Victoria Building
455 George St Sydney NSW 2000
02 9264 4671
Open 7 days 9am - 10pm
School holidays, before this year they didn't faze me, I always heard other parents raving on about having to entertain their kids and I thought "whatever' I have to do that every day of the week. And then my eldest started school this year and I suddenly realised what all those complaining parents were on about. School kids get bored and bored very quickly when they are not at school - most especially during school holidays. So I have been proactive instead of reactive these school holidays and I have drawn up a list of activities for us to do every single day and those activities have mainly involved visiting kid friendly dining establishments.
Day 1 on my list involved a visit to the Hyde Park Barracks Museum and Cafe. We caught a bus into the city (which is a whole adventure in itself for boys from the burbs) and we made straight for Hyde Park. I let the boys run wild for a bit chasing all of those poor old ugly birds and then we headed over the road to the Museum. We made a collective decision to do the museum first and then have morning tea at the cafe.
Upon entering the museum, we were greeted by some overly friendly staff who told me I had to part with $20 to gain entrance. The boys received a Ratty booklet each - an activity book that they could complete as they went through the museum. They basically had to locate rat stickers throughout the museum and complete the required task. My boys are a bit too young yet to understand about convicts and they weren't very interested in partaking of any of my knowledge, they just wanted to find the rats.....so a rat hunting we went. We found all ten of them - plus loads and loads of dead ones in the exhibits - by the way if you suffer from musophobia this museum isn't the best place for you.
Depending on the age of your kidlets you may have to help them complete some of the tasks in the booklet. For once I actually had time to look at some of the exhibits whilst the boys attempted to fill out their books. The museum is really quite interesting especially if you love Australian history. It's located on 3 different levels, accessed by stairs - so if you have a bubba make sure you pop them in a carrier whist you are inside the museum (there is pram storage on the ground floor). It's most definitely a hands on museum which is perfect when you have little kids - the boys favourite spot was the hammock room. You are encouraged to lie in them and get a feel what it would have been like all those years ago when some of our ancestors arrived as convicts.
Once you have finished checking out the museum you head back downstairs to the information office and the staff have a quick squizz of the booklet and then give your kids a stamp on the back of it as well as on their hands as a small reward. During school holidays they host many paid activities for kids, such as Convict Pirates, click here for more information.
Now its time for your caffeine fix.
The Hyde Park Barracks Cafe is located across the courtyard from the museum. They have loads of seating outside which is the perfect spot to sit with kids as they can run around whilst you enjoy your cuppa. It was a particularly cold morning when we visited so I opted to sit inside as I could see a wood fire burning. Just to let you know both inside and out is pram friendly and there are also high chairs available.
Inside the cafe is warm and inviting - smartly attired staff showed us to a table near the wood fire. They also had seated us next to a table with other kids instead of near diners who were without kiddliwinks - a smart move I thought on behalf of our waiter. Table water was brought straight away as were our menus. Inside the cafe is the perfect spot for a "nice" lunch. By that I mean it is a bit more posh than the usual child friendly venues we dine at.
My boys have become pain au chocolate/chocolate croissant connoisseurs. They no longer want Vegemite toast or banana bread when they eat out and they have also become very confident in asking wait staff if they have them available - just like they did to our charming waiter at the Hyde Park Barracks Cafe. Luckily for the waiter the cafe does indeed serve chocolate croissants, and golly gosh they were fabulous. It is a freshly baked croissant that is served with a little pot of chocolate fudge sauce ($7)! So you rip off little pieces of the croissant and dip it in the oh so fabulous sauce. The boys thought this was the coolest thing ever and luckily for me I had a brand new packet of baby wipes, because I certainly needed a few to clean them up afterwards.
There is an excellent children's menu available for children 10 yrs and under. It includes items such as toasted sandwiches, home made fettuccine and gnocchi, a range of croissants, fish and chips as well as chicken schnitzel. For dessert there is gelato and for drinks there are juices, spiders and fire engines! The most expensive item on the menu is $9.90, which is quite good value considering that you are dining in the heart of Sydney.
Whilst the boys were munching on their croissants they got the giggles and started pointing and talking at the top of their voices, only like children can, asking me why those funny old men had those silly wigs on. When I turned around I saw them pointing at a bunch of silks...you know barristers....they clearly pop in for a coffee in between court appearances (Federal Court is just across the way). The men in wigs clearly not impressed at being laughed at by two minors, promptly made their way outside and enjoyed their caffeine fix out there.
Now the coffee is excellent and the perfect accompaniment to freshly baked scones ($9). There are also muffins and other decadent sounding cakes available for morning and afternoon tea as well as paninis, eggs benedict and antipasto. The Hyde Park Barracks Cafe is open for breakfast and lunch 7 days a week. The Breakfast menu is very good value for a cafe of this calibre and includes witty items such as the The Convict (eggs, spinach, tomato on ciabatta), The Barrister ( convict + bacon) and The Judge - basically the whole hog (not the whole pig, just a full on breakfast). At lunch time the menu gets a little more flash with prices heading north of $30.00. They are also licensed so you can have a tipple if you caught the bus in from the burbs, or if you are having a particularly bad day in court!
We thoroughly enjoyed our morning at the Hyde Park Barracks. If the museum is not your cup of tea you can just go and have a meal or a cuppa at the cafe. The cafe is open Mon - Fri from 8am - 3pm and on weekends from 9am - 3pm. It's the perfect spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. If you are travelling to the city by car I think the Domain carpark would be the closest for you to use.
Just to let you know the 4 lollipops were awarded by the boys purely based on the awesome croissant experience x
Queens Square, Macquarie Street Sydney NSW 2000
Cafe: 02 92221815
Museum: 02 82392311
The museum is open 10am - 5pm each day.
Sunday is my favourite day of the week. No school run, no Saturday morning sport, just some nice fun, family time. Thankfully the State Government also believe in fun family time as well - on Sundays we can all make the most of Family Funday Sunday and catch transport anywhere in this big beautiful city of ours for $2.50/adult and the kiddliwinks are free. We made the most of this last Sunday by catching the bus into the city and Rivercat home - kids love all modes of transport so it is such a great day to be out and about and of course you will need a child friendly cafe to stop in at! If you head to the city make sure you pop into the Tea Cosy in the Rocks. This little hidden gem is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the very busy Rocks area, especially on a weekend.
I was given a tip off from a fellow Mumma who told me that The Tea Cosy do a very gorgeous babycino so after a quick wander around the Rocks Markets (they are so NOT child friendly!) we headed into the little terrace that is home to The Tea Cosy. The Tea Cosy which also calls itself an Irish Tea Room, shares its terrace with the Celtic Shop. It is located in the Irish part of the Rocks - you know, up there next to the Mercantile Hotel. Now for those not in the know, my married surname is O'Farrell - very Irish indeed - and guess what name we found on the welcoming board outside of The Tea Cosy/Celtic Shop? The Celtic Gods were obviously conspiring for us to enter this little slice of Irish heaven.
Upon entering the terrace you walk down a narrow hallway (heavy duty prams will be an issue here, so take a stroller instead). The Celtic Shop will be on your right and at the end of the hallway you enter into what I suspect was once the original kitchen of the terrace. You will notice tea cosies everywhere. The very friendly staff greet you and let you know where the vacant tables are. You have a few choices - upstairs (think narrow stair case); out the front of the terrace (think very busy markets which are easy for kids to get lost in); inside or outside in the court yard. If you have the option - go the court yard, this is the best spot to sit with kids.
The courtyard is full of Irish sign posts, tea cosies (of course) and other cute knick knacks. There is a loo out here (no baby change table) and also the entrance to the kitchen. Let me tell you, the smell of freshly baked scones is absolutely heavenly, you could almost imagine that you were sitting right next to your Nanna's kitchen.
If your children are like mine they will have spotted the basket of toys sitting in an alcove when they first walked down the hall of The Tea Cosy. The little bulls absconded with the said basket and took it straight to our table, so my apologies if you were at the Tea Cosy last Sunday morning because we had all the toys!
Now as you would expect from a place called The Tea Cosy, they are into tea and of course scones - they are actually famous for their devonshire teas. For $12.50 you receive a scone basket with two of the best scones I've tasted in ages, your choice of jam, proper double thick cream and your choice of beverage. As it is The Tea Cosy may I suggest you choose tea as your tea pot will come in a very cute tea cosy of course (Irish breakfast was our choice) and you will also find the most eclectic assortment of teaspoons. Mine was quite sedate in that it was only a bunch of grapes from the Barossa, I heard the lady behind me say something about hers being a dunny from Dunedoo.
Now you don't have to have plain scones with your devonshire tea, there is a lovely variety available for you to choose from. Last Sunday's choices were currant, cheddar and herb, as well as cherry and almond. Likewise with the jam, there are about ten different ones to choose from. We decided on rhubarb and ginger as well as raspberry on plain scones and let me tell you they were both sublime.
Now they actually do serve more than scones at The Tea Cosy. There is a traditional ploughman's lunch, served with freshly baked scones as well as ribbon sandwiches available. You can also be very lady like and have the high tea. There is a fabulous assortment of Iced Teas available to quench your thirst, as sometimes it really is just too darn hot to drink tea.
Now back to that babycino - yes it is gorgeous! Served in a polka dot melamine cup and saucer, this perfect little babycino comes with full froth, 100s and 1000s sprinkled on top plus 2 marshmallows. If you order your kiddliwinks a children's devonshire tea, it comes included in the price. However if you have a non babycino drinker like my eldest little bull you can have a kids size milkshake instead which is adorned with a marshmallow as well.
The children's devonshire tea for $6.00 comprises of 1 plain scone, jam and cream. I think this was the first time our little bulls have had a devonshire tea, and they wolfed it down!
After our delicious morning tea, we bid Slán go fóill (see you later) to The Tea Cosy, knowing full well we will definitely be back. We then wandered down to the Quay to catch our cat back up the river.
So tell me dear parents, do you have any Irish blood pumping through your veins and do you make the most of Family Funday Sundays?
The Tea Cosy
33 George St
The Rocks Sydney NSW 2000
02 9247 4955
Thu - Sun from 10.00am
Last Sunday we wanted to be tourists for the day and have a little explore of the CBD of Sydney as I had read about some cool, free family events that were on. Of course we needed to eat as well but when it comes to child friendly cafes, the CBD of Sydney is a bit of a wasteland. This is fair enough because the city is basically a Monday - Friday kind of place where people in smart suits go around looking very important. There are a plethora of cafes in the CBD but most of them shut up shop on the weekend.
To try and find somewhere to eat, I did a search on my "go to" eating out website - Urbanspoon, searching for child friendly cafes in the CBD, in an attempt to find somewhere to go to for breakfast. Loads of places popped up but let me tell you, just cause a cafe has high chairs does not make that cafe child friendly! So I moved my search to the city fringe and that is how I found the Gardener's Lodge Cafe.
This delightful cafe is situated in Victoria Park at Broadway. Now this part of Sydney is where I called home for quite a few years of my misspent youth. It is up near Sydney Uni and right opposite the Broadway Shopping Centre. I had walked past the building that houses the cafe so many times all those years ago, always thinking it would be the perfect spot for a cafe as the historic building is fabulous and Victoria Park is equally as fabulous. The building was originally the home of the groundskeeper for Sydney Uni. It has also been a public loo! But since last year it has been a cafe and lets hope it stays that way for ever more.
Gardener's Lodge Cafe is a feel good cafe, by that I mean when you dine there you are supporting a good cause. Sydney City Council owns the building, however it is run by an Aboriginal Elder called Aunty Beryl Van-Oploo. Aunty Beryl is one amazing woman. It seems she had a belief similar to me in that she knew that the Lodge would be a great space for a cafe - she wanted to convert the building into her "little house on the prairie." Aunty Beryl wished to open a bush tucker cafe, so that Sydneysiders could experience the beautiful flavours of bush tucker in beautiful food and she wanted a place for her Aboriginal and Torres Strait students from her Hospitality School that she also runs, to have a place where they could get paid work experience. So lucky for all of us that her wish came true!
Now back to this cafe being child friendly - like really child friendly - they have a dedicated children's menu ($7.50 -$9.50); they have high chairs; they served cheap babycinos ($1) which come with a marshmallow and are served at the perfect temperature; there is loads of room for prams; the staff are kid friendly and Victoria Park is huge so your kids can run free chasing birds, each other and uni students who will be sauntering by. There is also a delightful little lake that the cafe looks over so you can take some bread to feed the ducks, just keep an eye on the kiddliwinks as if they wander off, you may discover them about to duck in for a swim!
On to my favourite things - food and coffee. The Bacon and Egg Roll for $11.95 was huge and oozing with all sorts of goodness - egg, bacon, caramelised onion and rocket. The healthier Poached Eggs and Tomato on Sourdough ($12.50) were perfectly cooked. We only ordered the little bulls toast as we have found of late that when a park is near a cafe all they do is run around like feral animals and not eat, so we try not to waste our money on food that they waste. The sourdough toast with condiments for $5.95 was very crunchy, as was the toast served with the poached eggs and therefore it was a bit difficult to eat.
Lunch time is when most of the bush food flavours are used. Items such as a Kangaroo and Stout Pie with garlic mash and bush tomato sauce or a Seafood Linguine served with a rainforest lime confit are only a couple examples of the delicious sounding menu.
The coffee we had was brilliant. One of my favourite coffee houses in Sydney is Tobys Estate and they have a cool cafe just across the road from Gardener's Lodge Cafe. We skipped across the road after brekkie to do a comparison between the two and I have to say that Gardener's Lodge is definitely the winner in the caffeine stakes!
At the Lodge you can choose to sit outside in the sunshine or inside the lovely old building. Outside is probably best when dining with children as there is loads of room for them to run around, however on a really hot day or if it is raining, the light and bright interior space would be absolutely fine. Some fantastic Aboriginal art adorns the walls and you can watch the Barista in action (just remember to pack some paper and crayons to occupy the kids).
Just a little tip - the cafe is open from 8.00am - 4.00pm each day. If you are going for breakfast maybe leave your arrival until about 8.30am. We arrived bang on 8am and they were still setting the cafe up outside, so we were left twiddling our thumbs for a bit before we were served.
The best parking for the Gardener's Lodge is across the road in the Broadway Shopping Centre. They offer 3 hours of free parking every day, so make the most of the 3 hours and check out all of Victoria Park after you have dined. Besides all of the green space, there are beautiful gardens and the walk up to Sydney Uni is quite breathtaking. There is also a playground that I'm sure your kids would have spied. It is a fair distance from the cafe so I suggest you go up there after you have eaten as well, as it would be very hard to keep an eye on your kids from that distance. There is a great pool in Victoria Park which would be perfect to utilise on a hot day. They have both the 50m pool as well as a splash pool for toddlers - the pool costs $14.00 for a family to enter.
So there you have it. A child friendly Sydney "city" cafe in a perfect park setting, supporting a good cause - does it get any better? I'm sure there are other child friendly cafes in and around the Sydney CBD, so if you are in the know, please let me know!
Victoria Park, Cnr City Rd & Broadway
Camperdown NSW 2050
Open Daily - 8.00am - 4.00pm
** UPDATED: 18.09.14 ALL WAGAMAMA RESTAURANTS IN AUSTRALIA HAVE BEEN CLOSED! SUCH SAD NEWS - I BELIEVE IT IS A FRANCHISING ISSUE **
Many moons ago when I was a single gal, I lived the high life in London. Well let me correct that, I had champagne tastes but lived on a beer budget (to quote my father). I loved eating out even back then and my favourite place to eat was a trendy new chain of noodle houses called Wagamama. On my beer budget I could afford to eat out at a Wagamama restaurant at least once a week. Now let me tell you that Wagamama was so trendy that people queued for hours (even in deepest darkest winter) to nab a seat at a share table (a relatively new concept for London back then).
My antipodean besties and I would take it in turn waiting in the queue whilst the the rest of us would warm our cockles in the closest pub and then when we got the text from the poor sod in the queue we would make the mad dash up to Wagamama for some delicious hot noodles.
So almost 15 years on I'm still dining at Wagamama, but this time it is in Sydney with no besties in sight, instead Mr Munch and the little bulls, there was no queueing, we just walked straight in, and for some reason Wagamama's prices are starting to rise beyond those reasonable for a beer budget. But the noodles are still hot and delicious!
On Sundays we like to make the most of Family Funday Sunday. The little bulls love catching a train to somewhere new and different and of course I make sure there is food involved. So in the rain last Sunday we jumped aboard the city train - destination Town Hall. Our plan was to explore the Galeries Victoria and lunch at Wagamama. The brilliant thing is that when you disembark at Town Hall station you walk underground into the Galeries - so it is a perfect rainy day outing.
My favourite book shop is Kinokuniya on the top floor of the Galeries, it has a certain charm that most other book shops lack in this city. The staff don't seem to mind if you sit and read your children a book from the shelves (even if you aren't buying it). Their card and gift section is sublime and they have a cute little cafe. At the moment the Galeries have a Superman exhibition on. The Man of Steel costume is on display from the new movie, plus movie stills as well as a 3D flight simulator - very cool indeed.
Wagamama opens at 12.00pm for lunch every day. We were greeted warmly by the hostess and she seated us near the window so that from our perch we overlooked the Superman exhibition and simulator. And as you can see from the photos above it felt as though Superman was flying in to join us for lunch! This was very entertaining for the little bulls and also Wagamama supplies a colouring in menu with crayons for kids to complete and take home, so they certainly make an effort to make their restaurant child friendly.
The interior of Wagamama is like that of a funky, spacious Japanese noodle house. You can watch all of the chefs toss about your delicious meals from the open kitchen. There is plenty of room for prams and clip on high chairs can be provided for little bottoms. As I said before there is a share table concept in Wagamama but when we dined, we were the only customers on our long table. Every place setting had a paper place mat as well as napkins with chopsticks (don't worry they have loads of forks if you are chopstick challenged!).
The menu covers everything from nibbles to full on meals and they have a policy of serving everything as it is cooked, so don't expect your nibble to come out before your main. My favourite nibble are the little pillows of tastiness called gyoza and for main I always order Kare Lomen - it's a bit like a spicy laksa - perfect to warm your cockles on a cold rainy day. But Wagamama is famous for it Ramen, basially a big bowl of noodles in soup - a slurpers heaven.
Now the brilliant thing about Wagamama is that when you order an adult main you can receive a child's meal for FREE! So our little bulls ate for nix (that certainly put a smile on Mr Munch's dial). There are about 12 different meal options for kids on the mini noodlers menu and as long as your child is under 12yrs of age they can choose anything off this menu.
Basically the menu is a condensed version of the adults menu and guess what? There isn't a chicken nugget or chip in sight! It's all delicious stir fries, soups, rice and noodles. The portion size are huge. Also each meal comes with a free (plastic) glass of freshly squeezed apple or bottled orange juice. Our little bulls devoured their mini yakitori and chicken mini noodles. They even managed to use their chopsticks with varying degrees of success, and luckily for me I didn't have to clean up the mess!
The staff at Wagamama are very friendly and were always attentive to the needs of the little bulls. But be warned they are seriously into the upsell. So instead of "would you like fries with that madam" I got caught out with "would you like the large size madam" when I ordered a sneaky glass of wine. So instead of my wine costing $8.30 it ended up being $11.00 (and let me tell you my version of large and theirs differ a wee bit).
So dear parents if you need to get out of the house on a rainy Sunday may I suggest that you make the most of the cheap public transport and have some family fun at the very child friendly Wagamama. You have two to choose from in the CBD - Galeries Victoria on George St and another on Bridge St down near Circular Quay. I do believe that Wagamama is quite possibly the most child friendly restaurant in the CBD x
Lvl 1, 500 George Street, Sydney
Open: 12.00pm - 9.00pm daily
Tel - 02 92610292