A long lazy Sunday lunch with kids. You're joking right?! No I'm not. Thanks to Fratelli Fresh in Crows Nest this is indeed possible.....
Fratelli Fresh have venues all over Sydney serving up delicious and fresh Italian cuisine that even Nonna would eat. Their Crows Nest location is super family friendly, welcoming kidlets with open arms and encourage the long Sunday family lunch.
You will find Fratelli Fresh located along the main dining drag of Willoughby Rd. There is plenty of (timed) street parking around the area, as well as a car park in nearby Holtermann St. The venue is easy to access with a pram and there is also some room to park it near your table (but I do recommend that you book ahead of time and advise them that you will have a pram). There are high chairs available and toilets on site that contain a baby change table. So all of the kid friendly dining boxes are getting big ticks so far.
To keep the kidlets occupied Fratelli Fresh provide an excellent kids menu that doubles as an activity sheet. And on the Sunday when we dined recently, there was the most awesome face painter! The lads have had their face painted quite a few times in their short lives, but the Joker face on my youngest is THE best I've seen. The face painter isn't a fixture every week, so perhaps confirm when you make your booking if she will be there, so that your kidlets aren't disappointed when they arrive.
On to the kids menu. It varies in price from $5.00 - $12.00 depending on the size of the dish ordered. Oh and every Sunday, Kids Eat Free (under 12yrs) with every adult meal purchased! The menu covers things as simple as a green salad with tomatoes and cucumbers, to pizza, spaghetti, ravioli, fish fingers and even a bowl of broccolini!! I love that there are loads of healthy items and also a few unhealthy ones thrown in for good measure.
The boys chose the Spaghetti Napolitana ($10.00) and the Chicken Scallopini Strips with Chips ($12.00). The chicken dish was huge and could easily be shared between two little people. The meals came out at the perfect temperature which meant that the boys could tuck in straight away.
The main menu at Fratelli Fresh covers all of your favourite Italian dishes but with some interesting twists. For example the Duck Pappardelle is served with chilli, bitter chocolate and orange. The dishes can be easily shared, and if you are dining with a group of people we would recommend that you take advantage of their Set Menu, where you receive 3 courses for $39.00!
They also do a range of wood fired pizzas and they are heavenly - one should not eat pizza unless it comes straight out of a wood fired oven is my mantra! Our Carciofi Pizza was topped with artichokes, pesto, onion, chilli, pine nuts and rocket. If you a glutton you can easily eat it all, or it is a decent size to share as well. The Scallop Risotto with Butternut Squash and Herbs was our other choice for lunch, and it is the epitome of comfort food. And yes the scallops were perfectly cooked so that they just melted in your mouth.
For a sweet treat, kidlets (and adults) can choose between different flavoured Gelato tubs for dessert ($6.00) and there is also a lovely selection of Dolce. Tiramisu is normally my go to dessert when we are chowing down in an Italian restaurant. However I deviated this time and tried the house speciality of the Banoffee Torta. This little slice of bliss had the most decadently rich caramel on top of a crunchy biscut base. It was crowned with fresh cream, banana and shaved chocolate. It was definitely naughty and definitely nice!
So my dear Little Munchers, next time you are looking for a venue for a family friendly lunch, make sure you consider Fratelli Fresh in Crowns Nest and remember chi mangia bene, vive bene!
AS PER USUAL WE PAID OUR OWN WAY WHEN WE VISITED FRATELLI FRESH!
118 Willoughby Rd, Crows Nest NSW
02 8099 7070
Open 7 days
It had been a long time between drinks when we visited the Woolwich Pier Hotel recently. Pre-kidlets this place was where we'd have an occasional long lunch with mates up on the top verandah of the pub. A time when we ate our meal whilst it was still warm, and a time when we definitely didn't have any concerns about our glass of Savvy B being bowled over for a duck, by a plastic ball.
Fast forward 8 odd years and we are back in our old stomping ground, but this time we are sitting downstairs and out the back in the "kids area," eating salad as we know it won't go cold, and holding onto our glass of vino for dear life, in case it gets knocked over by a random ball being kicked by an uncoordinated little person!
Every Saturday from 1pm - 3pm, the Woolwich Pier kindly provides kids entertainment to give parents a bit of a breather from parenting. The lawn area under the beautiful old fig tree in the beer garden area of the pub, is where it all happens. On the day we visited two lovely young lasses were in charge of the entertainment. They turned out some amazing face painting and tattoos, and also played a few games with the kids.
The soccer match was perhaps not the most brilliant idea although, as there were a few balls flying through the air which ocassionaly made a drink fly through the air too (or is this just a secret ploy of the pub to get you to buy more drinks!). It doesn't really matter, as the lads had a great time and only came back to our table when they were thirsty.
There's also a little TV area down here too, where kids can chill out and watch movies, whilst they wait for their meal to arrive. They can either eat their lunch/dinner on the tables provided, or back at your table. Just to let you know, tables can be a bit hard to come by at the Woolwich Pier on a Saturday because of the kids entertainment, so I would suggest that you arrive early to nab a decent spot, or leave it until after 2 pm to arrive - that way you won't have to queue too long for your Savvy B either!
The Kids Meals all cost $12.00 and are for kids aged under 12 years. The choices are:
The big human's menu covers all of your posh pub grub favourites. There are various flavours of Sliders and Tostadas, as well as Ponzu and Arancini. And of course there are Steaks in various forms. And for those of us who can't carnivore in the middle of the day, there are Salads. The Trout Salad, despite not presenting particularly well, was very tasty but perhaps a tad on the small side to line the belly adequately for those that can still imbibe in a few too many vinos in the middle of the day.
To finish up, let's talk about the nitty gritty. Yes - you can take your pram along as there is easy access into the Lawn area for it. However if you arrive when the place is heaving, you may find it difficult to park it near your table (mid week this won't be an issue). There are high chairs, and there are toilet facilites available (including a change table). Parking can be a challenge on weekends, but in saying that we scored one easily right in front of the pub!
So my dear parents, do you still frequent pubs with your progeny that you used to hang out in, back in your single as a pringle days?
2 Gale St, Woolwich NSW
02 9817 2204
Open 7 days for lunch & dinner
Welcome to the second instalment of Cafe Parents!
Today we are having a chat with such a wonderful Mumma - Seana Smith. Seana is in my opinion the original (and best) family blogger/writer in Sydney. Her website Hello Sydney Kids is such a brilliant resource about what to do in and around Sydney with kids, and she also gets away quite a bit with her "bairns" as you can see from the gorgeous pic below. And she is the Queen of playgrounds - if you are looking for a new one to explore check out Seana's excellent list here.
1. Hi Seana, tell us a little about yourself - what area of Sydney do you live in and what do you do?
Hello, I'm a professional writer and blogger at Hello Sydney Kids, plus the very unprofessional mum of four offspring who range from 10 - 19 years old.
Our family lives in the north of Sydney in the leafy Forest area. This is very close to Manly and the gorgeous Northern Beaches, to our great joy.
I love love love eating out, but my husband is never as keen as I am.... he's often worked away from Sydney so I've often taken the kids out to eat on my own... we've had a few catastrophes!
2. Where's your favourite neighbourhood gem/s that you regularly dine out at with your family?
We have a few favourites in our area, the Belrose Hotel, our local Thai is called Chilli House and it's great. We like The Old Civic at Forestway and the New Civic at Glenrose shopping centres too.
Up in Terrey Hills, there's Tastebuds and then Cafe Piemonte which has it's own playground - a lifesaver when the kids were younger.
But heading down to Dee Why beach and going to one of the many eateries there is also a big treat. It's a great place to swim and play and then choose a cafe to eat at with the family.
3. Now that your kids are getting older is it getting easier to dine out as a family?
Well, it is yes as the kids behave better... but it's also FAR more expensive! Even the twins, who are now 10, are getting too old for kids meals. And we buy a beer for our eldest!
Mind you, the two teenagers often don't want to go out with us as they have their own plans. Plus we are deathly uncool and they are not often keen to be seen with us.
4. When you do dine out, do your kids still order off the kids menu or do they prefer to choose from the main menu?
It's getting to be the main menu more and more. And that suits me as there are only a few places that do have good food for kids. The Belrose Hotel does, which is good.
5. Any tips for newbie parents on surviving the pitfalls of dining out with kids?
Go early and ONLY go to family-friendly places. The going early is vital as the kids are more likely to behave if they are not tired plus places will not be so busy.
We used to go to the Gourmet Pizza Kitchen in Chatswood a fair bit when we lived near there. Before 6pm it was fantastic and we always had a great time. The kids loved the pieces of dough they got to play with and the colouring in. But after 6.30-7pm it turned into a nightmare as it got so busy and SO NOISY! We couldn't bear it.
There's a list on the blog of cafes by the beach on the Northern Beaches and I'd recommend ALL of those for families.
Thank you so much Seana. Team Little Munch doesn't get up to the Northern Beaches often enough, so it's great to hear from a local, all of the awesome places to eat out at up there. So if you are a parent in Sydney why not pop over to Seana's website and social media accounts and follow her? She has such a wealth of knowledge of things to do with kidlets in Sydney!
The Blu Water Grill has been operating in Hornsby for many years now, and it's been a favourite pit stop of ours when we are in the area to do a spot of shopping, or have medical appointments to attend. You'll find this beaut cafe on the outside of the Westfield Shopping Centre - directly opposite the fabulous Water Clock fountain in the pedestrian mall.
Blu Water Grill is large and is always full of families eating at breakfast, lunch and dinner! They open at 7.30am every day, so during the week there is a steady stream of commuters popping in for a takeaway coffee as well as bleary eyed parents in desperate need of a caffeine fix. There is parking in the Westfield, so you can bring your pram along if you need to. There is pram access and also some room to park near your table, but when this place is full (which it is quite often) it may be difficult to manoeurve it around. There are plenty of high chairs available if you would prefer to restrain your little one that way. Blu Water has its own loo and there are also family rooms with baby change tables just over in the Westfield.
There is full table service at Blu Water Grill and as soon as we were seated by a super friendly member of the staff, an activity sheet which doubles as a menu, was presented to each of my lads (as was a tub of crayons). The activity sheet has colouring in and find a words on it. The boys were occupied for our entire lunch, which meant I have a rather delightful and stress free lunch for once! And their Ice Cream Spider (which came in a disposable cup), probably helped to keep them distracted as well.
Now the kids menu is impressive. It covers breakfast, lunch and dinner. To kick start the day the kids can have a bowl of cereal (such as Coco Pops, Rice Bubbles or Cornflakes), toast, fruit salad, porridge, pancakes and the list goes on! They can even just have a hash brown if they so choose.
For lunch and dinner they can have something simple like a vegemite sandwich or a cheese and tomato sandwich. And there are more substantial items like spaghetti bolognaise or a beef burger with a choice of curly fries or salad. This my friends is why there are always so many families in Blu Water Grill, and because they are also reasonably priced. The kids menu costs between $2.50 - $9.00, depending on how hungry your little tackers are.
.The big people's menu is mouth watering and huge. At breakfast time all of your cafe favourites feature and then at lunch time you can have a delicious and healthy salad, or pasta or burgers or panino and even tapas! The dinner menu is similar to the lunch time one, and as Blu Water is fully licensed you can enjoy a vino too. I didn't sample the coffee, but they brew Will & Toby beans and their toddlercino will set you back $1.50. Tea lovers will be impressed with the selction of T2 teas on offer, and one of those would be perfect after one of Blu Water's mouthwatering desserts - Eton Mess and Lemon Sorbet with limoncello would be my choices.
So my dear Little Munchers, if you find yourself in Hornsby, and need a peaceful lunch (or breakfast or dinner), then pop into the Blu Water Grill where they will look after you and your babes all day long.
Shop B22, Hornsby Westfield
Ground lvl, opposite water fountain
02 9482 2888
Open 7 days from 7.30am - late
The Hornsby Shire is quite extensive! It basically extends from Wiseman's Ferry in the north down to North Epping, and out as far as Dangar Island! Now we haven't bee to every suburb in the Shire (like Fiddletown for example), but we have visited quite a few. So here are our favourites in alphabetical order:
We still have a couple of places on our "to review list" in this area:
What else should be on the list?
I just love how Sydney has embraced its history and converted so many unused historical spaces into cafes. The Incinerator in Willoughby is one such example. Once upon a time it was the place where things went up in smoke and also a sewerage plant. Its design was very modern thanks to the creative nous of Walter Burley Griffin, who tried to disguise the fact from local residents that they had an unsavoury (but necessary) industrial unit in their neighbourhood. Luckily these days nothing is going up in smoke, perhaps except the occasional piece of toast, as the building is now a very good cafe and also an exhibition space.
At The Incinerator, sitting outside is the most popular spot for those of us who have sprogs. There are tables on either side of the cafe under picnic umbrellas. There is loads of space for kidlets to run around, but please make sure you keep a close eye on little sprinters, as the road is close by and loads of big suburban tractors (ie 4wds) are cruising along the street. The morning we dined, we decided to sit inside as the summer rays were pounding down - I also wanted to check out the kitchen in action, so I just pulled out the electronic devices to keep the boys happy.
The open plan interior of the cafe is industrial yet modern. All tables have a perfect view of the kitchen and coffee machine, so you can keep an eye on your breakfast and lunch being whipped up. Access is very easy for prams (I saw a gorgeous Mumma wheel her twin double pram from one side of the cafe to the other, picking up a takeaway coffee en route without any dramas). Most of the tables are pretty close together however, so there isn't a load of space to park your pram inside. If you are dining with fellow breeders, either get there early to score an outside spot, or leave the pram in the car and plonk your offspring in a high chair.
Loads of gorgeous young things are on hand to serve you at The Incinerator and they are pretty darn friendly. Meals are pumped out of the kitchen fairly quickly, considering how busy this place gets, which is brilliant when dining with little people. The baristas have their craft down to a fine art, brewing up perfect coffees using The Grounds beans. And the best bit is that babycinos are free with every coffee purchase.
If your kids are over the babycino stage they can have a kids size milkshakes and smoothies ($4.50). Their bellies can be filled with toast & vegemite ($5); cheese on toast ($6); kids eggs with toast ($7.50); bacon sandwich ($7.50); or a kids pancake at breakfast time. Our little dudes road tested the bacon sanger which was the perfect size for little tummies, and also a freshly baked muffin (flavours change daily).
There is also a lunch and dinner menu for children at The Incinerator too. Lunch includes cheese on toast ($6) or a chicken sandwich, or fish & chips for $9. At din dins there are sliders, bangers and mash as well as fish & chips and they all cost $9.00. And for dessert they serve up ice cream with sprinkles for $5.00. Dinner is served from the very family friendly hour of 5.00pm, Thursday - Saturday evening and they are licensed just in case you need a vino or three to get you through the witching hour with your babes!
Adults should be fairly impressed with the menu items for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Our choices of poached eggs and smashed avocado ($14), as well as the bacon and egg roll ($12.50) hit the spot and if you are dining at lunch time I think you will enjoy with the gourmets salads, sandwiches and burgers on offer ($15 - $24).
At dinner time the menu encourages you to share, with some tasty sounding dishes such as pancetta & sage stuffed pork belly, calamari fritti with zucchini & mint, as well as wood roasted market fish with eggplant salad to name but a few. The prices range from $22 - $38 depending on how extravagant your taste buds are. And as I mentioned before they are licensed - their booze list is small but perfectly formed.
After your meal at The Incinerator, you can burn off some energy in Halstrom Park which is a hop, skip and couple of jumps from the cafe - please note the playground is not visible from The Incinerator. The playground is spread out in a bushland setting and should impress kids of all ages. Apparently it was designed to reflect the layout of Taronga Zoo. There are loads of things to climb and slide on as well some pretty cool stone carvings of wild animals.
You can also go for a family walk like we did after our breakfast to burn off some extra energy (highlighted in blue below). We did part of the Flat Rock Gully walking track which would be suitable for those of you with small kids and even prams. You walk pass Henry Lawson's man cave (a place where he went to chill out after life got too much for him!) as well as some interesting artwork that has an Indigenous theme. The walk will take you less that 30 minutes and should be enough to tire little legs out. And if you need a pit stop before the trip home there are toilet facilities available back in the park.
Just to let you know parking can be an issue around here as the cafe and playground are very popular, especially on weekends. A lot of sport is also played close by, which adds to the problem. So you may find yourself having to park in a street nearby or there is also the Willoughby Leisure Centre close by that has a fairly decent size car park.
2 Small St, Willoughby NSW
Open 7 days 7am - 4pm
Dinner Thu - Sat nights from 5pm
There are loads of cafes located along Military Road, but trying to find a park anywhere along this seriously busy road is a nightmare - especially if you have to unload yourself, the kidlets and a pram.
However if you go one street back in Cremorne, you will find much easier street parking as well as a council car park. And there is a decent cafe called Siborg right there for you to have your daily caffeine fix in. This cafe has loads of outdoor seating as well as space for you and your mates to park your prams - in other words it is an ideal hang for Mothers groups. Indoor seating is also available in case the weather turns foul.
There is also a lot of room for kids to wander around outside at Siborg Cafe. You will of course have to keep a close eye on wandering toddlers as this cafe is obviously located on a street. If you are struggling to control your little people, perhaps either put them in a high chair or move inside where you will find comfy lounges to sit on. There is also a handicapped toilet located out the back door of the cafe in case you need to take your pram and other kids all at once.
When we dined at breakfast time, our lads happily played tag around the garden beds next to where we sat, whilst we inhaled our morning cup of joe. The coffee is nice and strong at Siborg, I'm sure it will give you all the buzz that you need to survive the day with active kidlets. There is also a decent selection of tea choices available for non coffee drinkers, as well as hot chocolates, fresh juices, frappes, smoothies and shakes. There are self help water stations located both inside and outside the cafe.
The menu at Siborg covers all of your cafe favourites perfectly. And the best bit is that nothing costs north of $18.00, which is a rarity in this part of Sydney. Breakfast is served all day and lunch is from 11am, so you can enjoy an early lunch with your babes before their middle of the day nap. I love the excellent selection of healthy salads on the lunch time menu - I wish more cafes committed themselves to the salad cause!
Whilst there isn't a kids menu at Siborg, there are a couple of things little humans will like to eat off the main menu, as well as a range of yummy baked goodies and fruit salad in the front counter. Our boys had freshly baked choc chip muffins for breakfast - there aren't any reheated day old muffins at this cafe. Some other options might include sharing the pancakes or scrambled eggs on toast at breakfast time. And for lunch they could perhaps share a burger or a risotto.
Our scrambled eggs on very well cooked toast ($11.00) were light and fluffy, and the side of bacon that came with one of the serves was very generous, which made up for the smaller serve of eggs.
I need to comment on the service at Siborg - it was brilliant. From the moment we sat down to the moment we left, we received fast and friendly service which is exactly what you need when dining out with children. The cafe was fairly quiet when we dined early on a Sunday morning, so our meals came out quickly from the kitchen too. And Siborg opens really early in the morning so it is the perfect spot to drop by for brekkie when your kidlets wake at the crack of dawn.
Siborg Cafe is located just around the corner from the Cremorne Orpheum Cinema and they regularly host Mums & Bubs movie sessions - so why not grab your friends and have a movie/coffee date some time soon!
2 Langley Ave, Cremorne NSW
02 9908 8011
Mon - Sat: 6am - 4pm
Sun: 7am - 4pm
I think nearly every nursery that I have been to has a kid friendly cafe attached to it, and the Flower Power in Warriewood has a delightful one called the Sanctuary Cafe. This hidden gem of a cafe, is located within the grounds of the pretty nursery and offers excellent Campos coffee, delicious food, brilliant service and an enclosed playground to keep the kidlets safe and occupied!
As soon as we arrived at Flower Power and parked the family planner in their spacious car park, the boys (with their CSI vision turned on) spotted the playground. So as we walked into the cafe the boys scampered off and let themselves into the fully fenced playground while we took a seat in the al fresco seating area. From our table (and also from quite a few of the outside tables in the cafe) we had a reasonable view of the boys. And if we couldn't see them, we most certainly could hear them.
The Sanctuary Cafe has a shabby chic feel to it. Being in a nursery there are loads of plants all around, including pots of herbs and gorgeous bougainvilleas that are growing through the trellis and recycled timber shutters that are overhead. I should mention here that pram access into the cafe is very easy and there is a reasonable amount of space to park your pram next to your table - they also have high chairs available. Toilet facilities can be found at the end of the cafe and the excellent accessible loo has a baby change table in it - which is brilliant, but seems to be oh so rare nowadays.
There is also indoor seating at the Sanctuary Cafe, which would be perfect if the weather is a bit foul. However I think if you have kids, you need to be outside because they will no doubt want to be hanging in the playground instead of hanging with their folks.
I didn't spy a kids menu but that doesn't really matter as there are quite a few options on the breakfast and lunch menus that I believe most kidlets would enjoy. For example the pancakes. These perfectly cooked little beauties can come plain with maple syrup (8.90); or with nutella & caramelised bananas (12.50); or with ricotta & berries (12.50). The boys shared the plain pancakes and the serve is ample enough to feed two kids. And at lunch time there are ham, cheese & tomato sandwiches as well as ham & cheese croissants available.
The breakfast menu covers all of the standard cafe dishes perfectly and has a definite fresh health element to it. Take for example our Australian organic granola that was served with yoghurt and orange, and then topped with organic chocolate buckinis (they are activated buckweat, cocoa, dried coconut, goji berry). Now it's the first time I have eaten anything that has been "activated" and the buckinis were really good! Supposedly its good for you in that it increases the level of nutrients and helps aid digestion, but lets just say I'm neither a nutritionist, nor a dietician.
At lunch time two salads feature on the menu, either a Thai or Mediterranean version and then you can add your protein of choice - smoked salmon, grilled prawns, smoked duck breast, grilled chicken or avocado. If you need something more substantial there are also a couple of burgers, fish & chips, quiche of the day available.
Now after your visit to the Sanctuary Cafe if you and the kidlets need to burn off the calories that you just absorbed, I thoroughly recommend that you go for a walk around the nearby Warriewood Wetlands. I found out about this lovely walk after reading about it on Hello Sydney Kids. On your walk you wander along both bush-like settings and boardwalks. It is an easy and flat walk, so it is ideal for all members of the family and you can even take the pram. Along your walk you will discover loads of different birds and it should take you between 30 - 60 minutes depending on how fast you all trot. As I have little gallopers, we did it in half an hour, with a few forced stops to check out the local water hens and bush turkeys. There is even another fully fenced play ground for the kids to muck around in at the start/end of the walk!
The Warriewood Wetlands are about a 5 minute drive from the Sanctuary Cafe. I recommend that you park in Katoa Close near the Katoa Reserve playground. And that way you can start and finish the walk in the one spot.....happy trotting!
20 Macpherson St, Warriewood NSW
Open 7 days 8am - 4.30pm
We've discovered a beautiful little spot just north out of Sydney that is home to a restaurant with a stellar view. This restaurant is perfect for those of you have well behaved offspring who can cope with dining at white table cloth type of places. And for those of you who have little darlings who may be a bit on the unruly or feral side, don't worry you don't have to miss out, as they have a kiosk where you can purchase coffee and snacks and then you can sit outside and soak up the amazing view!
Estuary Restaurant is located right on the Hawkesbury River at Brooklyn. It's on your left hand side just before the village of Brooklyn (take the Kangaroo Point turn off). There is a decent amount of parking and if you have a pram, access is very easy for you. You can choose to purchase a snack from the kiosk and sit outside or for a more formal experience, you can sit inside the lovely restaurant.
We shall start inside the restaurant as our little ferals for once were behaving themselves and we very bravely decided to eat inside for a weekend breakfast. Estuary is only open for breakfast on the weekend, from the family friendly hour of 7.30am. They serve lunch from Wednesday to Sunday and dinner Thursday to Saturday.
All of the tables at Estuary have a lovely view over the water, however if you want a table with the best view (i.e. the one where no other big backed diners will be impairing your view), I suggest you ring ahead and book one. On the morning we dined there were only a couple of other tables occupied and we were very lucky to be shown to the perfect table on the verandah which just happened to have a magic view by our tall bearded waiter (who by the way is the best waiter that we have encountered in a very long time).
Now because it is a white tablecloth restaurant you receive all of those "fine dining" touches - such as a complimentary nibble (otherwise known as an amusee bouche) at the beginning of your meal - in this instance parmesan and poppy seed twists. These were easily devoured by the boys whilst we waited for our drinks - hot chocolates for them and caffeine fixes for us.
The hot chocolates were a tad too hot for little hands, especially as they came in a glass - my fault for not asking them to be served warm (and I thought since we were in a upmarket restaurant it wasn't appropriate to ask for them to be served in take away cups). The coffees were brilliant - Withams beans are used, and they came with a little piece of delicious chocolate fudge. Now because we were dining in a white table cloth restaurant our coffees cost a bit more than usual - $5.00 to be exact! But don't worry the kiosk's coffees aren't that dear.
Everything on the breakfast menu sounded so good at Estuary, but nothing appealed to my little tackers - it was a tad too posh for them. So I asked if they could have a freshly baked muffin from the kiosk and they obliged once the Manager said it was ok. The kitchen whips up a batch of freshly baked muffins each day and on the day we dined they were blueberry. The muffins were very moist and the perfect size to fill little bellies.
From the expensive breakfast menu we sampled the free range poached eggs on avocado & ciabatta, with trussed tomatoes seasoned with zaatar ($19); and the free range eggs with double smoked bacon, trussed tomatoes and house made ciabatta ($16). Both meals were perfectly cooked and delicious. Some other interesting options are the crab omelette with nettle pesto ($26); and the house made French toast with maple syrup & berry compote ($22).
The a la carte menu for lunch and dinner has options for both herbivores and carnivores - seafood does feature of course. And the desserts sound amazing (eg. rosewater pavlova with Persian ferry floss, Turkish delight & strawberry sorbet). They don't have a kids menu but depending on how developed your little one's palates are, there some options that they may be able to share. The fish and chips could be a good option and they also serve up bowls of hand cut chips if all else fails. Once again, the menu is quite expensive - no doubt they are capitalising on their amazing views.
Now its time to chat about the kiosk. Basically it is a hole in the wall of the restaurant where you can purchase coffee, drinks, freshly baked muffins and other little treats as well as a basic breakfast and lunch offering. The kiosk is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 7am in the morning and closes about 3.00pm in the afternoon. So it's an ideal place to stop for a quick caffeine fix when heading north out of Sydney for a weekend away. At breakfast time you can fill your bellies with egg & bacon ciabattas ($9.50), toasted breads ($4.00) as well as the baked goods on display at the kiosk.
At lunch time simple seafood features on the kiosk's menu - expensive fish and chips ($20); freshly shucked oysters ($26/doz); salt & pepper squid ($16); rocket salad ($7.50); and hot chippies ($6.50) - I think a good idea would be to grab a selection and share amongst the whole family. There is a full range of soft drinks, milkshakes, tea and of course their excellent coffee ($3.50) are all available to have with your food.
Once you have your meal you can go and sit at the tables and chairs outside where you can soak in the view, or you can go and sit on the lovely grassy area and have a picnic. There's plenty of space for kids to run and cause chaos with the local bird life, but please be aware, there is a drive away so keep an eye on them at all times. Just to let you know, the toilet facilities are located just around the corner from the kiosk and they contain a baby change table.
So Little Munchers, do you take your kidlets to white table cloth restaurants? Or are you more a kiosk type of family?
1420 Pacific Highway, Brooklyn (Kangaroo Point)
Kiosk open Wed - Sun: 7am - 3pm
Wed: 12pm - 3.30pm
Thu - Fri: 12pm - 10pm
Sat: 7.30am - 10pm
Sun: 7.30am - 4pm
I have a dilemma - my boys are over going to cafes! When we get up on Saturday morning and I tell them to get dressed because we are going out for breakfast, I get every excuse under the sun as to why they possibly couldn't face another cafe so early in the morning. I only really have one trick up my sleeve to get them out of the house, dressed and into the car - nutella. See we don't have nutella in our house (as you would probably find me in the pantry inhaling spoonfuls of it), so if I say they can have nutella when we go out, they begrudgingly agree to come along with me.
Last Saturday morning, yet again I struggled to convince the boys to get dressed and out of the house - but then I showed them a photo on Instagram of the Nutella Bear from Vertical Espresso in South Turramurra - their little faces lit up and they were dressed and into the car in no time!
Vertical Espresso is a funky cafe located in the suburban shops on Kissing Point Road. There is a decent amount of parking right in front of the cafe and access into the cafe with a pram is easy. Seating is available both inside and out the back in a courtyard and it was one of those cafes where you grab a menu and go up and order at the counter. There are a number of high chairs available and there are toilets on site at the back of the cafe, but they don't contain a baby change table.
The nutella bear (actually according to the menu it is a rabbit) is not the only cool kid friendly aspect of Vertical Espresso - they are also located next to a pretty cool playground! Balmaringa Reserve is across a lane way from the back of the cafe. There is excellent play equipment, swings and slippery slides within the bush like reserve, as well as a bike path. Now if you have older kids, you can sit at one of the outdoor tables in the back court yard and your kids can happily play in the playground - we were happy to let our boys do this as they were the only kids in the park at 8am in the morning!
But my dear parents, I must warn you of two things - the one-way only lane way is used by vehicles (a garbage truck drove by whilst we were eating our breakfast), so please do not let your kids wander across to the playground by themselves. Secondly the gates to access the fully fenced playground are not directly opposite the cafe - one of them is on the opposite side of the playground, and the other is around the other side which cannot be seen when sitting down at the tables out the back of the cafe. If you have little kids you can always grab takeaway and sit in the park on one of the park benches whilst your kidlets play.
The seating area out the back of Vertical Espresso is enclosed by a wee picket fence. The tables are old cable wheels and the seating is on milk crates - luckily there are cushions on top of the crates, as my mum bum doesn't sit too well on these! There are pots of herbs (make sure your kids don't pick the chillies) and other cute knick knacks around the place, giving it an industrial yet rustic feel.
Now back to the kids food - obviously the nutella bear is darn cute. It comes on a melamine plate and to give it a "healthy" touch, it is meant to come on wholemeal bread. If your kids aren't fans of nutella they also serve a peanut butter version which comes with banana and honey - both of these options are $4.00. If you would prefer your little munchers eat something more wholesome, they also have a soft boiled egg on wholemeal toast available for $6.90. The kids menu is available all day and a couple of more lunch time like options are Hawaiian pizza toasted sourdough with grilled cheese, ham & pineapple ($8.50); or quesadillas with either grilled cheese & avocado or ham & cheese that come with cucumber and strawberry ($8.50).
I think the kids menu is excellent - not a chip or nugget to be seen. It's not really that hard to put together a reasonably healthy kids menu is it? I didn't order the boys anything to drink - I just grabbed them some tap water from the self help water station within the cafe. However kid size milkshakes are available for $4.00 and come in a cute teddy bear glass and standard babycinos are also served. Fruit juice, smoothies, lush hot chocolates as well as Salty Dog sparkling soft drinks are also on the drinks menu.
They brew Gabrielle Coffee at Vertical Espresso and geez it's good. Perfectly brewed and presented, it's most definitely the sort of coffee you can have more than one of. If you are in the hood at either morning or afternoon tea time it would go perfectly with one of the decadent looking sweet treats that are in the cake cabinet inside the cafe. For those of you who do not require a caffeine fix to get yourself through the day, Vertical Espresso have an intriguing tea list - flavours such as spring green and honeydew green sit alongside your staples of English breakfast and earl grey.
They serve an all day adults menu at Vertical Espresso. You too can indulge in nutella (on wholemeal crumpets) or in healthy breakfast bowls, tarts, sandwiches and salads. I loved that the menu is reasonably priced (most items are less than $15.00) and I loved the cafe's version of avo smash that I chose for breakfast! It's a bit different from other avo on toast that I have sampled, in that the toasted sourdough was smeared with basil pesto and there was a good size wedge of grilled haloumi on each slice - haloumi and avocado are definitely a marriage made in heaven. Mr Munch's scrambled eggs with a side of bacon was one very large serve and the bacon was just a bit too well done for his liking.
As we left I was going to grab a takeaway coffee to enjoy in the park whilst the boys had one last play BUT the queue was huge! So here is a little tip - arrive early if you plan to have breakfast on the weekend. Vertical Espresso swing open their doors at the family friendly hour of 7am, so get the brood up and ready early (promise them a good dose of nutella if that helps) and check out how darn kid friendly Vertical Espresso is for yourself some time soon.
Do you have nutella in your house Little Munchers? What are your tips to get the kids out of the house first thing in the morning on weekends?
217 Kissing Point Rd, South Turramurra
Open 7 days 7am - 4pm
I think parents would agree with me, that it is very difficult to coast through like when you have kids! And likewise when you dine out with them, it is even more difficult to coast - we don't want to end up in a social media storm because some restaurant owner disagrees with how we are parenting! Anyway, the lovely Shores restaurant in Hornsby is making the dining out experience a lot easier for us, so perhaps for once, we can end up coasting through a meal.
So how are Shores doing this? With a little kids TV room that's how! Oh, and with a kids menu that doubles as a colouring sheet and includes vegetables; and with excellent toilet facilities that contain a baby change table; and with the all important good old fashioned service! And the best bit is, that Shores isn't some sort of daggy family restaurant, it is chic and beautifully styled, so it makes for the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely breakfast or lunch as well as a special family dinner.
Shores only swung open its doors earlier this year. It is located on the outside of the Westfield Shopping Centre in Hornsby, just up from the big Water Clock. We rocked up to Shores for a late lunch on a Sunday. We didn't have a booking but luckily we didn't have to wait too long for a table. I do however advise that you ring ahead and make a booking for Saturday and Sunday lunch as this is one popular restaurant.
A huge wall of water greets you when you first enter Shores. We sat on lounges next to this whilst we waited for our table and of course the boys made every effort to try and work out how to get through the wall (you can't but they didn't know that). After a short while we were shown to our table and the colouring menu with a pencil case of crayons was immediately placed in front of the boys. We were also lucky enough to score the table right in front of the TV room (otherwise known as the TV pod), which meant that the boys hardly touched the colouring in. The TV pod is a small space towards the back of the cafe, there is bean bag type seating for kids to sit on and coloured in kids menus adorn the walls. A cartoon type of movie played for the entire time.
The kids menu is a tad on the expensive side and divided into Kids Favourites and Gourmet Kids. The boys went for their usual favourites of nuggets and chips, as well as the penne pasta. I loved how the nuggets and chips were served on plastic plates and I suggest if your kids want ice cream after their meal, that you have it at Shores, and not go to a certain ice creamery around the corner afterwards like we did, as you will be paying triple the price! If you dine at Shores at the beginning of the day there are two options for little ones to eat and they are both $8 - Little Nippers (a kids size bacon & egg muffin) or Little Farmers (boiled free range egg & toast). The boys were happy with table water when we dined, so we didn't sample anything off the drinks menu for them, however I have seen on ShoresFB page that they do one very cute babycino!
Mr Munch and I ate two completely different meals for lunch. He went for the very blokey Raging Bull burger ($20). This big boy was full of a 200g waygu beef pattie, melted swiss cheese, grilled bacon, lettuce & bbq sauce. It was crowned with battered onion rings and a then served with a big handful of beer battered chips - yep I heard his arteries creaking! I on the other hand went for the very lady like soup of the day. It was a carrot soup and came with a dollop of crème fraiche and a large side of toasted sourdough and golly gosh it was delicious, and perfectly warming on a cold winter's day. If neither of these options tickle your fancy they also serve salads, gourmet pizza, freshly made pasta with various sauces as well as quite a few steak and rib options from the grill.
Just to let you know a few other tid bits to make your dining experience at Shores a little bit easier - the best place to park is in the Westfield Parking, this is free for 3 hours; there is easy access for prams into the restaurant and I did see some diners have them parked right at their table, however it may be wise to ring ahead and advise the staff that you will have a pram with you; in warmer weather it would be great to sit on an outside table and then there would be loads of space for you and your pram; and lastly high chairs are also available.
Shores is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week. They are an excellent option for each of these meals and if your kids can be happily entertained in the TV pod, you will perhaps be able to coast through your meal for once in relative peace!
236 Pacific Hwy, Hornsby NSW 2077
Open 7 days
Before kids we were serious bush walkers - actually let me correct that, Mr Munch was, and I just tagged along to annoy him (you know, map reader extraordinaire n' all). Anyway we are slowly getting back into it and dragging the boys along, because not only is it great exercise, but it is also fascinating watching your kids discover the magic of the bush. Last weekend we did some of the walking tracks around West Head in Sydney. If you are keen to bush walk with your children, I can thoroughly recommend these walks, as they are relatively easy (although the ones we did were not exactly pram friendly) and the views are spectacular - over to the land of Home & Away at Barrenjoey Lighthouse. You might even see some Aboriginal rock art along the way!
Bush walking does work up a big appetite and we were all ravenous by the time we finished walking. On our drive up to West Head we had passed beautiful Akuna Bay where I had seen a sign for the Driftwood Cafe so we headed back there for some lunch. The cafe is located right on the marina at Akuna Bay. The marina is full of very expensive looking boats, and on a sunny day you will wish that you could hijack one and just sail away to the horizon. If you aren't into hijacking, then just grab a table at Driftwood that looks over the marina and dream about winning Lotto or Powerball - which if you're lucky might even buy you a share in one of these luxury water cruisers.
When we arrived at midday we were the only diners at Driftwood so we had the pick of tables - but within 30 minutes every table was taken, so plan to arrive early. The cafe is beautifully styled with a gorgeous old wooden boat dominating the ceiling. You order and pay at the front counter and sit back and enjoy the view whilst you wait for your meal. There is easy access for prams into the cafe and a reasonable amount of space to park one near your table. High chairs are available, and if you need the loos they are just along from the cafe. They are pram friendly but they do not contain a baby change table.
Little Munchers have their own menu for breakfast and lunch. To start the day they can have an egg on toast ($6.50) or add some bacon and it will cost you $9.50. At lunch time they have the choice between a cheeseburger, nuggets, fish and calamari all served with chips or if you don't want your kids having anything out of a deep fryer, they can have either nachos or spaghetti bolognaise - the kids meals are all under $9.50. To quench their thirst after their walk the boys just had table water, however kids size milkshakes, babycinos, soft drinks and juices are all available.
The adults menu at lunch time covers all of your cafe favourites such as soup, fish & chips, steak sandwiches, Caesar salads, burgers etc. The prices are a bit on the expensive side but the portion sizes are definitely on the larger side so it somewhat compensates. The calamari and chips ($20) was a huge serve and came with a lovely and very healthy side salad. The chicken schnitzel burger was choc full of filling and came with a side of crunchy beer battered fries.
At breakfast time you can have everything from bircher museli ($10.50) up to the Akuna's biggest breakfast ($21.50) which has everything imaginable on it! They serve Whithams coffee and as I didn't sample it I can't comment on how well they make a brew. And if you just pop in for a spot of afternoon tea, the cake cabinet is also full of very sweet looking morsels to go with your coffee!
Whilst there aren't any activities to occupy your kids within the cafe (beside counting luxury boats) there is a huge chess set just where you walk into the marina. So you could order your food as takeaway and sit down here whilst your kids pretend to be Bobby Fischer or Garry Kasparov. Or you can go wandering down here once you finish lunch and have a play (with a sneaky ice cream from the cafe of course!).
So tell me my dear parents, do you enjoy going for family bush walks? Do you have a favourite you would like to share (hopefully with a child friendly place to eat close by!)?
D'Albora Marina, Librator General San Martin Drive
Ku-Ring-Gai Chase, NSW
Mon - Fri: 9am - 3pm
Sat - Sun; 8am - 4pm
The lawns in Lane Cove Plaza are always jam packed full of mums and bubs catching some rays, having a chat and indulging in some eats from one of the yummy cafes that surround it. For team Little Munch there is one cafe that stands out from the crowd - The Cake Man. The Cake Man creates obscenely delicious looking cakes. The cakes (and tarts, flans, puddings, slices, pastries), are truly divine - just take a look at the pictures below:
No matter what type of sweet treat takes your fancy, you will find a masterpiece at The Cakeman. From luscious lemon tarts to sticky sweet flourless orange cakes you are spoilt for choice - luckily cakes come in different sizes so if you can't make your mind up, you can purchase a few of the smaller ones to enjoy. Birthday cakes are another speciality of The Cake Man - from an angry bird to a ballerina this guy will make the most stunning cake for your little person on their special day. Even though the sweet stuff is mind blowing, the savoury items are also pretty darn amazing too at The Cake Man. From melt in the mouth quiches to perfectly flaky lamb shank pies, you will find something perfect for lunch or dinner for the whole family that you can either eat in or takeaway to have at home.
There are a few different spaces to eat in at The Cake Man. The actual "cake" shop is at the back of the arcade. If you park in Rosenthal Ave car park, you can walk in the back door so to speak. There is loads of seating down here and a great spot to sit if you just want coffee and cake. Kidlets have their very own little table, however there is not much room for prams to park, once all the tables are full. So if you do have a pram head up towards the front of the arcade. As you walk up, make sure you look into the glass fronted bakery on the side of the arcade, as you will see the cake man and his associates in action creating their masterpieces (and hopefully not licking the bowl!).
There are some tables and chairs along the arcade which are ideal for couples (and a pram/kid), however if you have a pram and a few kids that like to move around, I suggest that you take a seat in The Cake Man's under cover seating area out the front of the arcade. There is plenty of room to park your pram and the kids can muck around right next to this area with all the other kids who will no doubt be here too. This area is heated in winter and it's a great spot to sit and people watch the local Lane Covians as they go about their daily business. And this is exactly where we sat, when we dined at The Cake Man for lunch recently, during the school holidays.
Once you are seated, the delightful staff come out and take your order. They serve both breakfast and lunch as well as dinner on some evenings at The Cake Man. They also have a wine bar upstairs called the Den, which looks like a great spot to have a date night (note to self).
At The Cake Man they serve coffee from The Wood Roaster. It's the first time I've seen these beans in Sydney but apparently their roastery is in Marrickville. The coffee was brilliant and what was even more brilliant was that it was served in an insulated mug. I wish more cafes would use these, because on a cold winter's day, your coffee remains warm, and as a parent you will know how many times you have to leave your coffee to wrangle the kids, and then you end up with a cold brew! For kidlets, milkshakes, soft drinks and babycinos are all available.
There are two items on the lunch menu for children - penne bolognaise or calamari & chips. They both cost $8.00 and my big boy had the penne which was a decent size serve and apparently a lot better than what I make at home! There is also a ham, cheddar and tomato toastie ($10) on the main menu which I'm sure most kidlets would love too. My younger son is being a bit finicky (insert - pain in the butt) with his food choices at the moment, so he was just happy to peck away at the chips and salad that accompanied my meal.
Mr Munch and I sampled the two burgers that are on the menu - I chose Mary, and he chose Sam. The Mary burger has 8hr slow cooked lamb shoulder, pickled red cabbage slaw & Yaya's tzatziki in it. The Sam was a grilled beef patty, seeded mustard aioli, a runny egg, lettuce & bacon jam. Both burgers were seriously tasty and the bun was awesome - almost like a damper. Shoestring fries and an undressed salad accompanied the burgers and they both cost $14.00. It's rare that Mr Munch walks away with such a smile on his face - he thought the Sam Burger was THE BOMB.
Some other options on the menu include prawn linguine, Singapore noodles and grilled souvlaki which is served with grilled flat bread, lettuce, tomato and some of Yaya's delicious tzatziki. The most expensive item on the menu is $16.00, and just to let you know that you can get all meals to take away just in case you want to eat picnic style on the lawn with the other mums. Our lunch was really good and we are keen to go back and try out both breakfast and dinner. On the breakfast menu you will find bacon & eggs burgers, bircher muesli, and many variations on the egg theme. At night time the menu changes regularly and there is always a couple of option for the kiddos. And if you can get away from the kids they even serve tapas up in the Den!
Now just to cover off a few other kid friendly aspects to The Cake Man - high chairs are available and if you need the loos, there are public toilets in the car park behind The Cake Man (according to a local, "you couldn't pay her to use them", but if you have little boys who are desperate to pee (like mine were) they are perfectly acceptable. Otherwise there are full toilet facilities in the arcade across the plaza from The Cake Man. The Rosenthal car park is most definitely the easiest one to park in for access to the cafe, but it is also the most popular, and in the middle of the day it can be tricky trying to score a spot. (This car park has time limits so make sure you check them). As the car park was full when we arrived, we ended up finding a space further up Burns Bay Rd and we just walked down. Lastly, the staff are super friendly to kids and I'm sure if you needed a bottle heated up or have some other request the staff wouldn't hesitate to help you.
So my fellow cake lovers, I thoroughly recommend that you stop by The Cake Man some time soon. Whether it be for a luscious cake, an excellent coffee, a juicy burger or all three I guarantee you that you won't be disappointed x
Shop 5A, 23-25 Burns Bay Rd, Lane Cove NSW
Open 7 days from early
I dare say every parent in the northern beaches has probably visited the Flying Fox Cafe in Mona Vale more than once since they've had kids - it seems to be a bit of an institution! However, if you're not a local resident this is a great place to visit with the kids, because not only is it one child friendly cafe but it is also right next to an awesome enclosed playground and it's also close by a lovely little beach - so it makes for the perfect family day out.
The Flying Fox Cafe is located in Winnererremy Park and it truly is a cafe beside a playground! Your first challenge when you arrive will be to find a car space. Early in the morning we didn't have an issue, but by mid morning you might be doing the rounds for a while to score a spot close by. One of my lovely readers had given me some inside knowledge about the parking, and told me that the best spot was on the street, as you didn't have t pay for it. There is a car park within the park, but it is pay by the hour and those pesky rangers do wander around frequently - and trust me you will be spending quite a few hours here!
Before I tell you about the cafe, I'll have to start with a quick playground review, because you have to practically walk through it to get into the cafe. This playground is pretty darn amazing. It's fully enclosed, it's huge, quite a bit of it is shaded and there is equipment for young and old (more for older kids although). From swings to slides, to bouncy things and climbing frames, your kids will run around like little maniacs trying to test it all out. The ground is nice and spongy, so hopefully any little falls won't hurt too much. There is also one cool flying fox that is in constant use and I presume this is what the cafe is named after!
Just to let you know that you do have to keep an eye on your kids in the playground - especially younger ones, as there were some playground thugs lurking the morning we visited. These kids were about 10 years + and they were there without any adult supervision. I don't normally helicopter parent the boys in playgrounds but I did keep a close on eye them this time, because these kids had potty mouths and a bit too much testosterone surging for my liking. I'm presuming when it's not school holidays these kids are happily ensconced in the class room, so it won't be an issue for you and your little ones.
Because of these little thuggish chaps, I had to take my littler chaps into the Flying Fox Cafe with me to order our morning tea. My plan was to grab some morning tea and then sit on one of the picnic benches within the playground, whilst the boys continued to play. From inside the cafe you can actually see quite a bit of the playground, so if you have older independent kids you can probably leave them out there whilst you order your food. It's pretty much "self help" inside the cafe. You order and pay at the front counter and if you are sitting inside your order is brought to your table. If you are wanting takeaways for the playground, you get a buzzer which lets you know when your order is ready. The menus are on the table next to the front counter and you can also help yourself to table water here too.
Inside the cafe there is a little enclosed play area suited to preschool age kids. As no one was in there, I let the boys check out all of the well used toys. This is a good place to plonk your kids whilst you go up and order your food. It took me a while to get served, the young staff in their funny little hats all seemed busy doing other things. However once I handed over my money, our order did arrive at our table very quickly.
There are two seating areas for the cafe - one is undercover and the other is outside under a shade sail in a garden like setting. Both areas can be easily accessed with a pram and there is loads of room to park them, so it's the perfect mother's group hang out. There are tables of various sizes so families big and small are well catered for. High chairs are readily available and if you need to use the toilets, they are to the side of the cafe near the playground - and yes they do contain a baby change table.
The Flying Fox Cafe has a kids menu that covers both breakfast and lunch. For brekkie kids can have pancakes with fresh banana & maple syrup ($9.50) or bacon & egg with white bread ($12.50). There is also toast, banana bread, muffins etc from the main menu which I'm sure most kids would like. At lunch time, the usual deep fried suspects feature on the menu (nuggets & chips; fish & chips; schnitzel & chips; calamari & chips; melted cheese fingers & chips) and it ranges in price from $8.50 - $12.50.
The boys chose fruit drinks and cupcakes for their morning tea. There is a huge selection of sweet treats in the front cabinet as well as ice creams and lollies - typical kiosk type fare. So you don't have to come in for a meal you can just grab a snack to go. They also have kids size milkshakes ($3) and babycinos. I ordered a babycino just to see what it was like - and I was pleased to see that it was served in a takeaway cup with the marshmallow inside the warm froth, so no chance of any breakages.
The Danes coffee that they serve at the Flying Fox was very good indeed. To be honest, I didn't think it was going to be, as I saw quite a few parents in the playground bringing in coffees from other cafes. I thought that maybe the coffee at the cafe was not up to standard, but it passed my coffee snob test easily. I was a bit naughty with my morning tea choice - firstly it was full of calories and definitely not good for my waist line and secondly my boys hate lemon and therefore I knew that I wouldn't have to share a lemon meringue tart with them! The tart was perfect - crispy base, tangy curd and nicely browned meringue.
If you are dining at the Flying Fox for breakfast or lunch, the menu covers all of the standard cafe choices. At breakfast time you can have everything from toast ($4) to a big breakfast ($18.95) and at lunch time the menu includes burgers, fish & chips, club sandwiches, salads etc and most of the dishes cost under $20.00.
After our spot of morning tea I convinced the boys that the playground had become too busy and that we should go for a explore instead - so off we we trotted out the other side of the cafe and across a bridge and up some random path into the bush. Worried that we would get lost, we turned around and headed back to the cute little beach that is nestled along the foreshore of Winnererremy Park. The boys played happily in the sand whilst I did my best impression of parenting by catching up on my Instagram feed!
So Little Munchers, have you been to the Flying Fox Cafe? And how do you deal with little thugs in the playground?
2 Mona St, Mona Vale NSW
Mon - Sun 8.00am - 5.30pm
We obviously go to loads of cafes in an attempt to find you the best kid friendly cafes all over Sydney and beyond. But it's not very often that every member of team Little Munch walk away from our outing raving about how awesome our experience has been. However last Sunday we did. Because we have found one lovely cafe that is set in an absolutely perfect location - that you could quite easily spend quite a few hours exploring. Little Munchers, let me introduce you to the Coal Loader Cafe in the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability at Balls Head Reserve in Waverton!
The Coal Loader Cafe can be found in the grounds of the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability and its community garden. The centre is run by North Sydney Council and is open from Mon - Sat. The cafe is open Wed - Sun from 7am - 3pm. When you arrive you can either park on the street or in one of the small car parks located around the area. You can even walk there from Waverton Station if the whole family is feeling fit - it would take 10 minutes depending on how fast you can all trot! There is easy access for a pram to enter the cafe and also enough room to park it near your table. There is seating both inside and out - with the outside being a perfect spot for Mother's Groups to meet up for a coffee date on a fine day.
The outside seating is also the perfect spot to soak up the view! The area is surrounded by water and you are looking right across Balls Head Bay. The interior of the Coal Loader Cafe has a rustic design, with sandstone and corrugated walls - apparently the building it is housed in used to be the mechanics workshop back when the area actually was a coal loading facility. There isn't any heating in the Coal Loader Cafe, but there are plenty of blankets to wrap yourself in! When you arrive, grab yourself a seat and once you have checked out the menu, go up and order at the front counter. If you need a high chair for the little person in your life, there is a decent stack of them and the loos are very close by but do not contain a baby change table.
Whilst you are eating or reading the morning paper, the kids can be running around on the lovely patch of grass in front of the cafe or they can climb the jacaranda tree or stone blocks that are on the side of the grassed area. Be warned though - the tree is very slippery first thing in the morning, and can cause kids to have a mishap. Just like my eldest did when he fell out of the tree and landed heavily on the ground screaming that he had broken his arm - he had not. His dramatics although, startled quite a few diners and my sincere apologies if you were one of them!
At breakfast time there are quite a few things on the menu for kids to eat, such as toast, banana bread, porridge and freshly baked muffins. To be honest with you, I didn't get a chance to check out the lunch menu to see if it would be suitable for kids, as I was waylaid playing Nurse Betty to my son after his fall. But don't worry we will definitely be visiting the Coal Loader Cafe again soon, as we loved it so much there, and this time we will road test the lunch menu. There are babycinos (50c), hot chocolates, juices and kids size milkshakes for kids to slurp on. If you would prefer your kids to have water there is a self help water station at the front of the cafe with melamine cups.
The menu is simple and very reasonably priced. Smashed avo on toast, eggs on toast, BLTs, egg & bacon rolls and that sort of thing with all of these items being less than $13.00. However if you have a hankering for a big breakfast, that too is available for $20.00. As the cafe is located in a centre for sustainability they are very concerned about their green footprint, so they make a huge effort to source all of their produce locally, and they turn most of their kitchen waste, including their coffee grounds into compost! Oh and their Adore Estate coffee is brilliant and perfectly brewed by the perfectly charming barista - this guy was awesome! I think perhaps he was the owner/manager/Mr I'm In Charge, and he was super friendly, especially with the boys.
As per usual we had arrived at the Coal Loader cafe nice and early, and there were hardly any other diners. However by the time we left the place was packed with both diners and the take away coffee crowd. So I do highly recommend that you plan your arrival outside of peak times so that you can score a table and also receive timely service as they appeared to only have a small number of wait staff working the morning we visited.
After your meal you can choose to either check out the community garden and then go for a walk or vice versa. We chose the walk first, only because the boys had scampered off towards the direction of water and we had to try and catch them. There are loads of walking tracks around Balls Head Reserve, however we only did the walk that went down from the cafe and looped back to the community garden. This walk is not pram friendly - so pop bub into a baby carrier, as you won't want to miss out on the walk.
The walk is really fascinating - it meanders along the harbour's edge (not of all of which is fenced, so be careful with the kids) and passes by some really cool sculptures (the snake made out of streets signs was the boys favourite) and then you can wander through an old coal tunnel!
Now for a quick and very basic history lesson - from 1920 to 1992 this area was where large ships containing coal docked and dumped their load so that it could be picked up by smaller vessels. The coal was poured through the green holes in the photo above and landed in coal trailers (pictured below). The trailers then transported it by rail to the smaller boats. There are four tunnels and only one is open to the public. You can walk all the way through and when you come out on the other side you can continue on your merry little bush walk.
If you want to continue on to the end of Balls Head Reserve, it won't take you very long. Apparently there are caves and historical Aboriginal sites to be explored along the way. The views too would be superb. At the top of the head there are another set of toilets (with a baby change table), picnic and BBQ facilities, (no, there isn't a playground). We headed back to towards the community garden and the boys had great fun checking out spooky looking trees and other nooks and crannies in the bush.
From vegies to herbs and pretty flowering plants , this is one flourishing community garden. There is even a herb patch when you can pick herbs for free to take home. The garden is run by a group of volunteers and if you live in the local area you can donate your green fingers too. Whilst we were there, a lady was weeding and tidying up the vegie patches. We saw a sign for the chook pen so we went to find it. The hen house is located down the bottom of one set of very steep stairs! If you suffer from vertigo beware!
The chooks are so cute and so happy. Imogen, the Plymouth Rock (picture below) was my favourite and the most inquisitive. There was even an old chook named after me! But Becky the big black Australop was a bit moody and wouldn't pose for a photo (she probably just needed her morning caffeine fix). Whilst we were down there, the lovely lady working in the vegie patch up above, came with some food scraps for the chooks and asked the boys to feed them for her! I can't guarantee that this will happen for your kids, but maybe if you find someone working in the garden just ask them nicely if your kids can help feed the girls.
Besides the chooks there are so many other cool things to check out in the garden - the bee hive and insect hotel are great examples. The centre for sustainability run courses throughout the year as well as hosting artisans markets, if you like their facebook page you can keep up to date with all the cool things they do. Wouldn't it be awesome if all the councils throughout Sydney had a centre like this - with a kid friendly cafe of course!!
Can you see now why we loved our morning so much? The Coal Loader Cafe is just lovely, the surrounds are picture perfect, the garden and the chooks are so cute and the walks - well lets just say we all need to be out in nature much much more. So Little Munchers go and check it out next weekend!
2 Balls Head Dr, Waverton
Open Wed - Sun 7am - 3pm
On ANZAC Day this year we decided to take the boys for a wander around Middle Head to show them the old fortifications (and I also wanted to check out Frenchys cafe that was located in the same area). Frenchys (and yes it is a French cafe) is located in an old weatherboard house right next to the decent sized car park, just off Middle Head Rd. At Frenchys you can sit inside or outside in the sun and take in the lovely surrounds. There are some toys for kidlets to play with and plenty of green grass for them to run around on. However my advice is to grab a toy and sit inside so that the staff can see you, because in our experience, the staff are a little inexperienced.
We started off outside on a picnic table near the toys with all the other families. We wrapped ourselves in the blankets provided by the cafe. We weren't really sure how the ordering process worked so I asked another diner, who kindly gave us their menu and told us to go inside and order. Mr Munch set off with our brunch order and I didn't see him again for another 15 minutes. I thought he must have had a call of nature, but oh no there were issues with ordering and he advised that he had concerns with the service and it might be wiser if we sat inside so that we could be seen.
And he was right because, Mon Dieu, the service at Frenchys on the day we visited was bad. I'm hoping it was only because it was a public holiday and that the thoroughly disorganised staff were out of their depth, because I don't think a business could survive if this happened every day. The staff were friendly, French, quite young and there were loads of them. However there didn't seem to be anyone in charge and as result orders were lost, meals were delivered to incorrect tables, lattes were made instead of mochas and they had quite a few grumpy guests in a tizz! It was a smart move moving inside, because the staff could see that we had been waiting a tad too long for our coffees and also that Mr Munch's brunch was lost in translation!
The interior of Frenchys is small in size and decorated with pretty French curios and artworks and mismatched tables and chairs - it has a very homely feel to it. From our table we could see the petite kitchen, so this to may have had added to the delay in the orders hitting customer's tables. If you arrive at Frenchys with a pram you are best to sit outside where there is loads of space to manoeuvre and park it. If you need them, high chairs are readily available and toilets are also on site, so quite a few of teh Little Munch boxes are ticked.
Little Ones have their very own menu at Frenchys and luckily we ordered the boys something that didn't require any cooking in the cafe's kitchen - the chocolate croissant. They was delivered quickly as were their chocolate milkshakes that were served in disposable cups. Babycinos are also available, as are hot chocolates and loads of juices and soft drinks can be chosen from the drinks fridge. If you want table water, there is a self service water station just at the front entrance to the cafe.
I also ordered something that required very little preparation - the toasted muesli. It too was delivered quickly and it was delicious. A big bowl of crunchy muesli was smothered in natural yoghurt, honey and slow cooked apricots. However the order for Mr Munch's eggs benny didn't make the kitchen. Seeing my darling husband's displeasure after all our meals had been delivered, one of the staff bought him a complimentary croissant and politely inquired what it was that he actually ordered so that he could get the kitchen to whip it up tout suite!
When the benny finally arrived it was wolfed down so quickly that I din't get a chance to take a photo and it did get the lick of approval from Mr Munch. Other breakfast menu items include French favourites such ham & cheese croissants, tartines and crepes. Apparently the house speciality is the ham & cheese Napoleon - it's like a little baked nest of ham and eggs and they were selling like hotcakes on the morning we dined. At lunch time baguettes, croque monsieur, French onion soup, quiche and yummy sounding salads are all available and cost between $13 - $28.
After your meal go for a wander around the grounds. There are some great sculptures, as well as the fortifications to see. If you have no clue about the history check out this website for more information. There are some fantastic bushwalks around the head as well as very scenic lookouts, so if you combine all of this with a visit to Frenchys, you can spend a good half a day here.
Frenchys is a very nice cafe and it is very child friendly. It's just a shame the service was such a shemozzle on the day we visited. The food is delicious and the location is just lovely, so perhaps just don't visit on a public holiday x
1100 Middle Head Rd, Mosman NSW
Open 7 day for breakfast & lunch from 7.30am
The only food preparation I let the boys help me with, is the making of pizzas. Besides not being able to cope with the mess they create in the kitchen, I'm a bit of a control freak when it comes to cooking and little fingers just don't meet my OCD standards! Our kid friendly home-made pizzas consist of pita breads, tomato paste, luminous yellow home brand grated cheese, Coles deli ham and tin pineapple. So when I took my eldest along to a Mini Pizza Chef class at The Italian in Willoughby he was brimming with confidence as he knew how to make pizza! Oh how wrong the poor little tacker was.
On Friday and Sunday afternoons between the hours of 3pm - 5pm, The Italian in Willoughby let little hands from the ages of 6 - 12 years into their kitchen to create pizzas with their master pizzaiolo - Ivano. The cost of this experience is $25.00 per child and for that kids make and eat their very own pizza and their parent/carer receives a drink to imbibe whilst their kidlet is happily occupied. Now even though we went along as a family on a Sunday afternoon, I stuck my hand straight up at the designated "carer" and said thank you very much to a cold, crisp glass of prosecco! This my friends is one very enjoyable way to fill in a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Now Ivano is your typical Italian stallion - good looking, oozing with charm and fabulous with kids! My babe became all shy when we arrived as he realised he was the only one in the class. Ivano took control of the situation immediately and kitted him up with an apron and tea towel and off they went to wash their hands. Now if you are a helicopter parent, don't worry your child isn't taken out of your sight for one second, as the kitchen at The Italian is completely open plan. You can stand on the restaurant side of the kitchen bench and watch everything your little chef gets up to.
The class lasts about 20 minutes. The dough is already made, it just needs to be hand stretched (a job most kids will love, except for mine who found it tedious - he wanted to know where the pita breads were!!). Then next it is time for the home made tomato sauce and then the toppings. Of course number one son went for the good ol' Aussie favourite - Hawaiian, which I'm sure must make true Italians cringe! Now the ham and pineapple were very similar to what we use at home but the cheese really threw my little master chef. It was white, not luminous yellow, it was crumbly and not grated and it was a wee bit gooey to touch. That's because it was pure cow's milk mozzarella and not store bought crap!
With his masterpiece created it was time to place it in the fabulous pizza oven. With Ivanos help, the pizza paddle was slid underneath the pizza and then placed in the hot oven. My little man told me that it was 300 degrees in there and that it only took 3 minutes to cook. Ivano takes the pizza out of the oven to avoid any little mishaps and then it is placed on the bench ready for slicing. Once again Ivano helps people with little hands cut the pizza up and voila (I know that's a French and not Italian word by the way) it's time to eat the little beauty!
When the masterchef took his seat at our table, Ivano presented him with a certificate of completion and now he can say that he is a fully fledged pizzaiolo!! After eating his creation I was advised by my dear son that we shouldn't use pita bread any more because it is lame in comparison to the base that Ivano uses. Oh dear.
Now even if you aren't interested in letting your children become little masterchefs, The Italian is a great family friendly restaurant to visit for lunch or dinner. There is easy access for prams and just enough room to park it next to your table. There is both seating inside and out as well as high chairs for little bambinos to sit in. Toilets are located in the courtyard outside the restaurant and kids have their own menu. The boys indulged in some of the chocolate gelato whilst we were there as well and it went down a treat! I'm sure of an evening this place would be noisy, just like any decent Italian restaurant should be, so your boisterous kids will fit right in and dinner service starts at the very family friendly hour of 5.30pm. Prego!
There are about 20 pizzas on the menu at The Italian. Ranging in price from $19 - $25 you can have everything from the basic Ananas to the fancier Genovese (roast potato, pork sausage & pesto). The pizza that Ivano whipped us up alongside his little apprentice was good, seriously good - all pizza should be made a woodfired oven don't you think? If you love pasta then there are quite a few selections on the menu. All of the pasta is made on site and you can have everything from pappardelle with porcini mushroom, cream & truffle oil to a spinach & ricotta gnocchi with burnt butter & almonds. Apparently the Nonna of the owner of The Italian is the inspiration behind most of the dishes that are on the menu (her beautiful face is used in the logo) and as we all know, whether our Nonnas were Italian or not they were damn fine cooks.
Our experience at The Italian was totally authentic. You could forgot for a moment that you were in down town Willoughby and perhaps think that you were at some family run trattoria in the burbs of Roma - a feeling that perhaps is missing from another so called kid friendly Italian restaurant that we reviewed earlier this year (by the way Jamie I'm still waiting to hear back from you). The staff hail from Italy, their accents are still prominent and their passion for food is catching - I definitely think that those pita breads are not going to be seen again in our household x
Little Munch independently paid for this experience at The Italian!
If you want to drag you little masterchef to a class book online here.
191 High St Willoughby
Open 7 days lunch (12pm) & dinner (5.30pm)
Since this review was written, Black Mocha has closed their kids play room due to parents not behaving themselves!
Obviously we eat out at loads of places with our kids - Little Munch wouldn't exist if we didn't. Now I'm not saying the boys are angels but they are reasonably well behaved when we dine out. That is mainly because Mr Munch and I are fanatical about manners. We make sure the boys are well behaved; we make sure they keep their voices down when we are in a cafe; we make sure they say please and thank you; we make sure they tidy up any mess that they may make (or we do); we never ever changed their nappies at the table or in a play area when they were younger; and if they have a tantrum, we get the hell out of there! We don't have shining halos on top of our heads, we just believe in respect. Respecting other diners, respecting cafe owners and respecting someone else's property.
So I think it is kind of sad when parents don't respect a small business that is trying to provide a child friendly service for families such as that provided by Black Mocha in Turramurra. See this cafe ticks all of the Little Munch boxes - they have a great kids menu, they have a excellent little play room, they have room for prams, loads of high chairs and even a baby change table in their loo. Alas some customers have chosen to not respect the fact that Black Mocha has provided these child friendly facilities and basically treated the cafe like they were having a meal in their own home, where kids can do whatever they want. As a result the owners of Black Mocha are taking a stance and asking diners with unruly kids to either curtail their behaviour or leave. And I say - good on them!
Black Mocha is located on the seriously busy Pacific Highway at Turramurra. The best place to park if you don't live nearby is the Coles car park in Ray St, right behind the cafe. If you don't have a pram you can walk up the stairs from the car park into the cafe (just look for the Black Mocha sign). If you do have a pram, it is a reasonably easy walk around to the front entrance. The cafe has quite a homely feel to it, there are comfortable tables and chairs as well as some lounges down the back next to the play room, there is enough room to park your pram, but if all the other diners have their big prams to, the space may get congested. High chairs are also readily available. There are pretty botanical prints lining the walls and the tables have little posies of flowers on them - it reminds a bit of a comfortable lounge room that you would find in a country home.
We road-tested Black Mocha's menu at lunchtime. They have an excellent kids menu, and guess what? There isn't a chicken nugget in sight or a hot chip for that matter! And the most expensive item on the menu is $7 - bonus! Each menu item has a quirky name such as Gooey Snot Worms (cheese sandwich); Gold Snow (yoghurt & honey); Tiny Tasty Tree Top Monkey (bacon & fried egg on toast). Even the beverages have cool names so if you have an avid little reader like I do, they will be giggling their pants off at some of them. A babycino ($1.50) is otherwise known as a Mini Masterpiece and as I didn't have my babycino connoisseur with me, we didn't try it out. Instead my big boy had an Upside Down Polar Bear ($4) which was basically a hot chocolate with a marshmallow.
Now my 6 year old bambino is recovering from having his tonsils removed not so long ago. Some food tastes good to him and some tastes yuk, so I let him order the Sparkle Sky (aka fairy bread) presuming that it would taste more yum than yuk. Unfortunately he couldn't stomach it. Noticing that he had no sparkle after trying to eat his fairy bread, a lovely lady (I think she was the owner) came to see if there was a problem. As soon as she found out what was wrong with him, she looked at me and said "your son needs ice cream!" and before I knew it, he had a bowl of ice cream and topping in front of him and yep it tasted yum and not yuk. And the best bit was that the ice cream was gratis - that my friends, is hospitality at its best.
I was equally impressed with the adult's menu. If you suffer from gluten intolerance this is the cafe for you. I think two pages of the menu are dedicated to those with coeliac disease. Luckily for me I don't have any dietary problems (maybe if I did I wouldn't be so amply proportioned) so I chose off the "Delectable Lunch" menu. My Tahitian Lime Smashed Avocado, Tomato, Fetta & Mint on toasted sourdough was delicious ($15) as was my dining partner's Sparkling Clean Atlantic Water Norwegian Smoked Salmon Salad ($14). Both dishes looked beautiful and were delicious and I think a wee bit healthy. Some other examples on the menu are BLTs, bruschetta and quiches. If you are dining at breakfast the menu includes croissants, banana bread, scones, bircher muesli and scrambled eggs to name but a few. This menu ranges in price from $5 - $16.
At the end of lunch, my little man went and checked out the toy room whilst I inhaled a fix of caffeine. The Delano brew was excellent and it would have been perfect with one of the many sweet treats in Black Mocha's cake cabinet, however I showed restraint and didn't indulge. Meanwhile the 6 year old inspected all of the toys, announcing to me that they were for much younger kids than he, but for some funny reason he didn't want to leave - I don't think he is as grown up as he thinks he is! Just to let you know that at the entrance to the toy room there are signs asking parents to make sure they and their children respect the facilities that have been provided and also advise if children's bad behaviour upsets other diners then they will be asked to either quieten down or leave. It also states that there is a baby change table in the loo downstairs and to please not change a nappy anywhere in the cafe (apparently quite a few people have changed their babes nappies either in the toy room or on the lounges outside the room and actually left the nappies behind.....seriously parents?!).
My purpose in creating Little Munch was to find child friendly cafes such as Black Mocha for all of us to go to. I don't want Maccas to be the only place that I can go to get a caffeine fix and for the kids to have a play (BTW we should still act respectfully in the golden arches too). I know it is totally natural for all kids to be unruly (and yes my kids have had serious meltdowns in cafes and opened quite a few sugar packets over the years and then tried to inhale them), but it is our responsibility as parents to make sure our kids learn respect from an early age - if we don't, we all will end up in the park pushing those bloody swings with takeaways x
1305 Pacific Highway Turramurra
Open 7 days - from 7.30am weekdays & 8am w/ends
The Coonanbarra Cafe in leafy Wahroonga has been serving customers for many years. It is located directly opposite the beautiful Wahroonga Park which is home to one awesome playground. The cafe itself is housed in a lovely old building that dates back to 1894 and it is the perfect spot to drop by for a meal or takeaway coffees before you let your kids run wild in the park.
When we arrived for any early lunch we easily found parking on the street in front of the cafe. A delightful waitress immediately greeted us and asked us if we would prefer to sit inside or out. I asked for an outside table as it was a spectacular day and it had a lovely view of the park (I also knew that I could use the sight of the playground as bribery over the boys to behave during their meal). It wasn't until we sat down that I noticed all of the other customers dining at the cafe. They had two things in common - they were well heeled and they were of a much older generation than I. Worried that they would be clutching at their pearls because two young boys had just sat amongst them, I gave the boys the Easter Bunny chat (ie. I'll call her to make sure she does not hop on by our house on Easter Sunday if they dared to misbehave!).
It's funny isn't it how you can judge people too quickly, as the boys didn't perturb the other diners one little bit. I think they quite enjoyed seeing two spirited children being out and about - it was only myself and my dining companion (my well heeled Mother) who were concerned about the boys behaviour. Thankfully the boys are of an age where they can sit in chairs, however if you have little ones they will need to be contained as the street is quite busy. You can obviously sit inside if you would prefer (the interior is just a wee bit daggy for my liking). There is room for prams at the outside tables and there are also high chairs for baby bottoms to sit in. If you need to use the loo these are located inside the cafe and down a very steep set of stairs and they don't contain a baby change table. However the toilets across the road in the park do have a change table that you can use.
Kidlets have their own menu at the Coonanbarra Cafe and it contains 4 options:
Knowing that the boys aren't the biggest eaters in the world I only ordered them a meal to share - nuggets and chips. Our thoughtful waitress made sure the kitchen split the dish in two, in order to avoid any arguments between the boys. The individual portions were huge, so if you have little eaters as well, I suggest they halve one of the cooked meals. The chicken nuggets looked very home made, not your Maccas garden variety of nuggets, that's for sure, and the chips were big, fat and super crunchy. If your offspring require dessert then they can have ice cream with topping for $4.00 or with a freddo frog for $5.00.
The adults menu is really yummy and broken up into sections. "Sandwich and Burger" ranges in price from $6 - $18. We road tested the steak sandwich and it was delicious. Then there is "Salads" from which we had a garlic prawn salad with persian fetta, roasted beetroot, roasted tomato, baby wild rocket & fried quinoa (the beetroot & tomato weren't roasted). If these types of food don't tickle your fancy then you can choose of the "Pasta and Risotto" section or the "Knife and Fork" section. These both range in price from $20 - $26 and a couple of tasty sounding examples are wild mushroom risotto or three spiced lamb stew (which is served with a spiced fried boiled egg!).
I've heard from friends that the breakfast menu is really yummy. The most expensive item is about $16.00 which is surprisingly cheap when you are dining at a cafe in the upper north shore. The Belaroma coffee that they serve at the cafe is pretty good, not the best I've ever had but if you need a caffeine fix it will definitely suffice. There was a steady stream of parents crossing the road from the playground to the cafe to grab their takeaways, so perhaps I'm just been a bit too fussy.
Service was a mixed bag, and overall left us feeling a little negative about our visit. Without doubt, it should be a major focus for improvement. Throughout our visit, we had both good and not so good engagement with staff, and the lack of consistency was disappointing to say the least. In this day and age, if you're working in hospitality, it's all about the customer, so when you come across staff who do not seem the least bit interested in assisting customers, you wonder why they are working in the industry at all, and how they landed the job in the first place. Rant over. Hopefully you have a better customer service experience on your visit.
Obviously after your meal at the Coonanbarra Cafe you will have to check out the playground. It was upgraded last year and it contains equipment for both big and little kids. There is a train theme happening and if you have train nerds in your brood they will also love watching the real suburban trains whizzing past across the road as this is where Wahroonga Station is. The playground is enclosed (but the gates can be easily opened by both of my kids aged 5 & 6) and there is a reasonable amount of seating for parents. The swings are just outside of the enclosed area and there is also loads of beautiful green space out here for children to run off some steam. Part of the playground is covered by shade and when we visited the playground was spotless - I think it would be one of the best on the north shore.
Little Munchers what is your favourite playground on the North Shore? And more importantly does it have a playground next to it?
64 Coonanbarra Rd, Wahroonga NSW 2076
02 9489 0980
Open 7 days from 8.30am
Lately we've being doing some family walks on weekends. We get up early in the morning, drive to somewhere we haven't been before, have breakfast and then do our walk. Last weekend we had Narrabeen Lakes as our destination. Now Narrabeen has loads of cafes, but it also home to loads of sporty spice people who get up early, exercise and have breakfast - so trying to find a table was proving to be a bit tricky when we arrived. Our boys don't go well in busy cafes, they don't like the noise and they don't cope well with not having a bit of space to move around in - and to be honest I am exactly the same. So after ditching the idea of eating in a cafe right on the water, we ventured into some side streets and that is how we found the delightful Cafe Dalmatino!
Cafe Dalmatino is a modern European cafe and the owners have Serbian heritage. From the outside it looks like any other coastal cafe in Sydney however the inside has a much more European feel to it. I loved the enormous communal table under the antique light fitting - it would be the perfect spot to kick back and relax over a child free dinner with a bunch of your besties whilst you enjoyed some of Cafe Dalmatinos fine fare. But we are here talk about dining out with kidlets so lets get down to business shall we?
If you have a pram you are best placed to sit at one of the outside tables. Access into the cafe is easy but I would suggest that if you are meeting up with friends who also have prams then maybe leave them in the car and pop your little one into one of the high chairs available or use your baby carrier as there is not a huge amount of space between tables. On a Sunday morning we easily found a parking spot right out the front of the cafe but as this is Narrabeen and the beach is about 100m away, you may need to be prepared to do the block a couple of times in the height of summer or peak periods. The cafe has a kids menu for lunch/dinner and there are loads of options on the breakfast menu for kids to enjoy. The best bit however, is that they serve free babycinos with a side of marshmallows!
Our coffees and babycinos were expertly brewed by the handsome Serbian barista - he oozed European charm and also fawned over our boys (a combination that makes this Mumma very happy!!). They serve Gusto coffee at Cafe Dalamtino and to be honest I haven't enjoyed this blend of beans in the past. But I have to say the skim flat whites we received were nothing short of brilliant.
For breakfast the boys were tossing up between a selection of mini French Pastries ($2/each) or the house made daily muffins ($4). Cafe Dalmatino bake all of their sweet treats in house. After much (insert infuriating) umming and ahhing they went for the muffins. The morning we dined the flavour was mixed berry. They were served with "blood" according to number one son! The blood was just some delicious berry coulis, however there was no way we could convince the boys of that fact and they only ate the muffins. I think some muffin dipped in the blood would have tasted absolutely scrummy and I would have tried it if the boys hadn't woofed down the muffins in record time.
I have a thing for avocado smash at the moment - I think it's a healthy yet substantial breakfast choice. Cafe Dalmatino's version ($13.50) is probably not as good as some others I have had of late but it was still tasty and I devoured every last crumb of it. Mr Munch went with the bacon and poached eggs which looked and smelt oh so yum and for $11.00 it was a great value dish. Some other highlights on the breakfast menu are the vegie fritters with avocado smash & rocket ($16) and the buttermilk pancakes served with maple syrup, berry coulis (aka blood), toasted almonds and your choice of either ricotta or ice cream ($16).
Cafe Dalmatino is open for lunch and dinner as well. The lunch time menu ranges in price from $9 - $25. You can have anything from a selection of the best Italian olives with toast and house made dip to Cavatelli pasta with prawns, zucchini, tomato broth & basil. Dinner is served from the family friendly hour of 5.30pm Thursday - Saturday nights. The menu changes regularly with the main emphasis being on seafood, and all mains are under $30.00. The kids menu is $7 and they can choose between fish or chicken nuggets & chips.
Whilst there aren't any activities for kids to do whilst you dine at Cafe Dalmatino, our boys seemed very content to just sit and "people watch." They loved the passing parade of surfers heading up to the beach, who all seemed to stop in for a takeaway coffee en route. A gorgeous blond chick with hot pink board shorts and a massive surf board kept them entranced for ages, as she did every other bloke in the cafe! Fearing that we may end up spending the whole day in the cafe checking out surfer chicks, I moved my 3 boys off onto our walk where we became one with all the local sporty spice families.
Do you have a favourite family walk Little Munchers? Does it start or end in a cafe?
10 Waterloo St, Narabeen NSW
Opens 8am 7 days
Breakfast and lunch 7 days
Dinner Thu, Fri, Sat nights
Attention parents - I have found the place for y'all to be "seen" at this summer. This place is SO cool and it is also SO child friendly. Let me introduce you to The Greens:
The Greens is brand spanking new, and it has made its home in the old Norths Bowling Club. This is located in one of my favourite parts of North Sydney, just behind beautiful North Sydney Oval where the surrounding views over Sydney Harbour are fantastic, and at this time of year there is a purple hue everywhere courtesy of the many flowering jacaranda trees. I remember going to the Bowlo quite a few years back when in my pre kidlet days I worked nearby, and trust me the transformation from what it used to be from what The Greens has now become, is awe inspiring!
Being a club you have to sign in when you first arrive at The Greens, and then you walk in to a beautiful large space dominated by plants and an eclectic mix of furniture. The feel is a wee bit vintage and a wee bit retro but very classy and very cool. The Greens is a bar, restaurant and cafe all mixed into one. You first come across the very well stocked bar. It serves a great selection of wines by the glass or you can go for one of the delicious sounding cocktails that are featured on the wall. Next to the bar is the baristas station where they serve up my favourite Double Roasters Coffee from Marrickville. This also doubles as a shop of sorts as you can buy some of The Greens home made jams, chutneys and pickled cucumbers. From here you wander into a large eating space that is dominated by a homage to the bowling club of old. And it is here that you will find a big stack of high chairs!
We arrived right on Midday on a sweltering hot Friday. There is parking out the front of the Club but you would have to arrive very early score one of these spots, otherwise these is a decent amount of street parking available and you can just walk up to the Club. Luckily for us we timed our arrival just before the hordes of local corporate workers from North Sydney had dragged themselves up the hill from the CBD to The Greens. The place was already buzzing with some gorgeous Mammas and their babes but some how we were able to score a glam booth seat looking straight over the green and the harbour! The Greens don't take reservations and at the moment they are open for lunch and dinner but from early 2015 they will open for breakfast as well.
Someone wasn't very happy sitting inside so we went for a wander in the 40 degree heat, leaving Mr Munch behind to fetch the food and beverages. The outside is the perfect space to be with kids (except when it is 40 degrees). There is loads of space with all sorts of seating configurations and it feels as though you are visiting a very glamorous friend's back yard. There are BBQ areas, fire pits, comfy chairs and a really relaxed vibe. Of course there is the well kept bowling lawn but there is also a vegie patch complete with a scare crow and last but not least the bird house.
The bird house is home to Beyonce and Eminem! Beyonce is a fluffly black hen and Eminem is a handsome white rooster who struts his stuff and has a fairly lame crow. Apparently on occasion Beyonce shakes her bootie and Eminem gets a wee bit excited. So be careful, your kidlets may get an early birds and bees lesson! The cage is also home to a couple of very cute baby quail and a galah who was MIA when we visited as he was away having a medical.
Whilst we were there, Beyonce seriously shook her bootie and popped out an egg! We got chatting to the lovely bird carer/gardener who let my little man hold the warm egg. (I'm not sure if it was a vodka infused egg as the bird's water comes from a recycled vodka bottle!) On weekends The Greens host a petting zoo and face painting to entertain children. There is loads of room for kids to run around outside and you can even bring along your well behaved fur babies as the outside of the The Greens is pet friendly. Just to let you know kidlets have a 9pm curfew - that is they have to leave the premises by that time and to be honest with you, if you are out and about with your kidlets after 9pm in a Club, you probably won't be winning any awards for parents of the year ;)
After all of the excitement of meeting the livestock we headed back inside to wash our hands and conduct the mandatory loo inspection. I am happy to report that the toilet facilities are excellent and the disabled loo is home to the baby change table. There is plenty of room for your pram as well, actually the whole of The Greens is pram friendly, but just be mindful that when the place is full is may be a bit difficult navigating between all of the punters standing around having a "working" lunch etc.
When we got back to our booth not only were our drinks waiting for us but also our lunch. You order and pay at the bar, take a number and the friendly wait staff bring your food out to where you are sitting. The food at The Greens is fresh and delicious. The chefs used to work at The Grounds (I think I am the only person in Sydney who hasn't been there!) and they have created a menu that focuses on fresh seasonal produce that can be easily shared. They want you to sit back, relax and graze. The Barman's Plate for Two ($40) of pork terrine, cured meats, scotch egg, house pickles, marinated olives, triple cream brie, heirloom tomatoes, bread & lavosh looked amazing when I saw a neighbouring table nibbling on it. I was also pleased to see that there are a decent number of vegetarian and gluten free options on the menu.
Mr Munch and I decided to order individual meals - a Wagyu Beef Burger ($17) for him and fish and chips ($20) for me. The burger smelt and looked delicious (and apparently it was) but I think I won with my "healthy" fish and chips. The fish was bream and the fillets were perfectly cooked and not deep fried as I was expecting. Baby gem leaves were slightly sweet and buttery and those chips - oh my they were good. They were beer battered and lightly dusted with sea salt and thyme. On the side was a little pot of home made tartare sauce which finished the dish off perfectly.
There is a dedicated kids menu that costs $10.00. The 3 choices are cheeseburger & chips (and the pattie is made out of wagyu!); crumbed fish & chips; and crumbed chicken & chips. The fish and the chicken both come with some of the delicious baby gem leaves. For dessert kidlets can have vanilla ice cream crumbled with choc chip cookies for $5.00. My little mate only wanted chips and a small bucket of these cost $8.00.
Just to let you know there are two awesome kid friendly events happening between now and the end of the year at The Greens. Firstly on Boxing Day they are hosting Cricket on the Green. You can burn off some calories after your big feast on Christmas Day by having a hit and giggle on the bowling green and there will be picnic baskets and eskys of cold ones available for purchase. Secondly on NYE they are having a ticketed event and kidlets are allowed to stay until just after the 9pm fireworks - there will even be jumping castles to keep them entertained. Trust me the views will be amazing, so forget about hanging with the crowds on the street and sharing those dodgy port-a-loos with strangers!
I think one of the reasons that The Greens is so family friendly is that it is run by people who have kids. The chefs have kids, the marketing & events manager has kids - so they get it, they get that parents like to go out with their kidlets in tow. And now we have the coolest place in town to go - so thank you guys!
So my dear Little Munchers, the child friendly Gods are most definitely smiling down upon us at the moment. The Greens is yet another example of where those of us with offspring are welcome with open arms. So I suggest you gather your mates and get ye to The Greens quick smart x
54 Ridge St, North Sydney
02 9245 3099
Open 7 days from 11am
Beach weather is upon us folks and that means it's time to get some sand between your toes and head to the coast. We tend to head to the northern beaches when the sun is shining, to a secluded little beach inlet that is perfect for little kids - in other words it doesn't have big waves that will dump little bodies. The only downside to this beach is that it doesn't have a cafe. So if we want to combine some sandcastle making and a yummy breakfast we head to Dee Why. We've tried most of the cafes along The Strand over the years and they are all relatively kid friendly but my recent online research told me that the On Shore Cafe Brasserie was meant to be the most child friendly of them all.
On Shore Cafe Brasserie is a big, light and airy space. If you sit out the front you will have gorgeous views of the beach, and of course these are the most popular, so you may find yourself seated inside. There was a big group of families sitting at a communal table in the middle of the cafe when we arrived - this table is the perfect spot for mother's groups who have kids that little bit older and can sit in high chairs. There most definitely is room and access for prams although it just may get a bit squishy if you try to park a few of them around the table. At the back of the cafe behind the kitchen you will find a large loo complete with a baby change table and they also have a big stack of high chairs - so I understand why they are considered to be so kid friendly.
The menu at On Shore is basic cafe fare with a few Asian meals thrown in for good measure. They have a kids menu for lunch and dinner which includes nachos, dumplings, burgers, schnitzel, fish and chips as well as pasta with meatballs. The prices range from about $4.00 - $11.00 depending on what you choose. At breakfast time there are quite a few choices suitable for kidlets off the main menu. Our boys had toast and a croissant. An assortment of jam and butter is already on the table ready to be used, which meant the butter was already at room temperature - I find it very frustrating when cafes give you portions of butter which have come straight out of the fridge - very difficult for little (and big) fingers to spread! Other child friendly aspects to the menu are that kid size milkshakes come in disposable containers and they also have a range of juices, smoothies as well as spiders and babycinos for little ones to quench their thirst with.
For breakfast I had an open DIY omelette (you choose the fillings), which interestingly came with a hash brown - which was quickly stolen by one of my boys. Mr Munch had the jumbo breakfast which was huge and full of your big breakfast favourites. Nothing on the breakfast menu costs more than about $19.00 and considering the large portion sizes I think this to be quite good value. Coffee was decent but not brilliant, I've had better brews from some of the other cafes along The Strand.
On Shore is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week. Their hours are very family friendly, opening at 7.00am each day - perfect for those of us who have mudlarks. You can also have have an early lunch or dinner and they cater for functions just in case you are looking for a child friendly function venue. At lunch time they serve everything from fish and chips to BLATS to salads and nachos. At dinner time meals get a lit bit more fancy with loads of seafood items on the menu including the seafood platter with the lot. Most mains will cost about $30 + and the seafood platter is north of $100.00. On Shore Brasserie is fully licensed so you can also enjoy a wine or ale with your meal - perfect on a hot summer's day.
We really enjoyed our breakfast at On Shore Cafe Brasserie - the food was tasty, and the service was quick and friendly, just as you need it to be when dining out with kids. After our meal we wandered across to the awesome fully fenced playground in the park across the road and had a quick play. From there the boys chased some poor old seagulls down onto the beach where we spent the next couple of hours building seaweed castles, playing a few beach games and having a quick dip.
The only opportunity to improve with a day out at Dee Why is parking. As Dee Why is such a popular spot come the warmer months, finding a car park can be quite tricky. There is street parking along The Strand as well as a car park down near the the surf life saving club but when we arrived at about 7.30am they were almost all taken. So just be warned if you arrive mid morning or later, you may be doing the block quite a few times before you can score a spot.
So share some love Little Munchers - what is your favourite family friendly beach-side cafe and why?
16 The Strand, Dee Why Beach NSW 2099
02 9972 2325
Open 7 days: 7.00am - 9.30pm
How fabulous is the spring weather that we are experiencing at the moment? It's time to be in the garden, making it look pretty, planting some vegies and basically just appreciating nature at its beautiful best. Now you could go to Bunnings and buy some plants to tart up your garden, but you would be helping make a big conglomerate just that little bit richer. So why not spend your money with a smaller independently owned business instead? A business just like the Plant Bug in Mt Colah and at the same time you can drop into their very child friendly cafe - the Ladybird Cafe.
I dragged my eldest along to the Plant Bug last week as we are in the middle of planting up our vegie patch. He was not impressed - a visit to a nursery isn't his idea of school holiday fun. Luckily we decided to visit the cafe first because he discovered a box full of toys and proceeded to check them all out and he stopped tripping over his bottom lip! Whilst he occupied himself I checked out all of the bits and bobs for sale in the shop that is attached to the cafe.
The Ladybird cafe is one cute cafe! It is situated at the back of the nursery in a covered in deck type of area. The whole space is decorated with bright coloured plants and flower themed wall art, which is all for sale. It's not a huge space but there is enough room to park your pram next to your table and access is relatively easy through the nursery. If you have little ones with you they have high chairs available and there are toilets on site (no baby change table). You order and pay at the hole in the wall and the super friendly staff will bring your meal out to your table.
The menu is simple but delicious. They serve all day breakfast: a variety of toast, bacon & egg sandwiches as well as bacon, eggs & tomato on toast and at lunch time you can have sandwiches, quiches, pies, nuggets and the best thing is that nothing costs over $8.50!! For in between times they have yummy sounding tarts, scones, muffins, friands, slices and sweet little cupcakes for kidlets. Once again all so cheap. The High Tea sounds awesome. For $10.00 a kids high tea consists of nuggets or sandwich fingers; mixed fruit, a cupcake & a kids size milkshake! The adults version comes with finger sandwiches, sweet treats, scones and either a Witham's Coffee or pot of T2 tea. All high teas need to be booked in advance. Apparently you can even have a high tea birthday party here!
We had arrived in time for lunch so I ordered a ham sandwich for my bored babe and I think it was the first time any cafe we have dined at, has asked if we would prefer the crusts on or off the sandwich! Of course my boy wanted the crusts off as he doesn't believe me when I tell him if he eats his crusts he will grow hairs on his chest! (Parents of girls - what white lies do you tell them to make them eat their crusts?). Anyway you can choose what type of bread you would like the sandwiches to be served on as well. To drink he had a pop top juice - kids size milkshakes and babycinos are also available. Oh and the babycinos are absolutely FREE!
The adults had the best ever chicken salad sandwich as well as quiche lorraine which came with a crunchy side salad. The food was fresh and tasty and served very quickly. Service the whole time was brilliant - the lady in charge was so bright and bubbly and I get the feeling that nothing would ever be too much trouble for her. She needs to start up her own hospitality school to teach a thing or two to some of the younger members of the industry that we encounter regularly in this hipster city of ours.
After we finished our lunch we dragged the boy away from his toy box and out into the nursery. I think he now considers nurseries to be quite cool spaces as the Plant Bug has very cool brightly coloured metal sculptures all around the nursery and we went on a mission to find every single one! I was then begged to buy him the cool scarecrow for the vegie patch but I much prefer the balloon for our outdoor area....mmmm might have to write a letter to Santa for both. If you need any garden advice just ask one of the friendly nursery staff, they were all ever so obliging - must be something in the water up at Mt Colah!
I'm very keen to go back to the Ladybird Cafe to try one of their high teas. I think I will be doing that next time my nursery loving Mumma is in town. I will also drag along my boys as I know they will be entertained by the box of toys in the cafe and I also want to road test the kids high tea - I'm sure it will be awesome!
525 Pacific Hwy, Mt Colah NSW 2079
Open 7 days 9am - 4pm
Well hello Stain Cafe, aren't you one of our favourite finds this year!
Located at St Peter's Green in suburban Lane Cove North, the Stain Cafe has been opened since the beginning of this year. St Peter's Green is not only home to the Stain Cafe but also the West Chatswood Library and an aged care facility. Due to its proximity to the retirement complex, access to the Stain Cafe is via ramps - which obviously makes it very pram friendly indeed - and this is just one of the many child friendly features that the Stain Cafe offers those of us in the family way.
When we rocked up to the Stain Cafe at about 9am on a Sunday morning we weren't sure whether or not we would score a table. Stain Cafe had its coffee machine hissing since since 6.30am (a big tick for those with mudlarks) and we presumed it would be completely full. All the parking out the front was taken so we headed into a side street and walked over. The boys spied the empty play ground immediately and bounded on in and we got such a surprise to see that all of the outdoor seating was empty!
We plonked ourselves down at a table, so that we had sight of the boys in the playground, grabbed one of the lovely red rugs provided by the cafe and snuggled up Nan and Pop style! Than we spied them - all of the families were huddled inside in the warmth. It was a chilly morning so they were being sensible, but there is no way our little dudes would have sat quietly inside when they could see a cool playground outside. Mr Munch and I were as snug as pigs in blankets so we were more than happy being the only diners outside. After a wee while a young gent came out and took our coffee order and then another gent (I think the owner) came out and turned the heater on for us.
Our Toby's Estate coffee came quickly and warmed our cockles instantly. The boys had a babycino and a kids sized milkshake with the milkshake being served in a disposable plastic cup. Our breakfast orders were taken and a cute basket full of our cutlery, napkins and a little pot of pink sea salt flakes arrived. Oh and I have to comment on the napkins. They were lovely and thick - one of my pet peeves when dining out, is cafes that use paper thin napkins - you need to use three times as many to wipe up any spilt babycinos or to protect your clothing from dripping egg yolks!
There are two brekkie options for kidlets - Kids Farm egg with bacon or snag on Turkish toast or Kids French Toast with bacon. There are also options on the main menu that would also be suitable for children such as toast ($5) and porridge ($9.50). At lunch time there are 3 options for kids - Cheesie Toast ($7); Grilled Chicken & Chips ($10); and Fish & Chips ($10).
For breakfast, I actually chose the little bulls a freshly baked muffin each as I saw the big tray on the front counter and there is nothing more satisfying on a cold morning then a big fat warm muffin. The flavour of the day was apple and rhubarb. The staff served the muffins almost as soon as they were ordered - another big tick in the kid friendly cafe ratings.
Now if there is an award going round for Sydney's best bacon and egg roll - The Stain should win it hands down. The menu states that the roll comes with 2 fried farm eggs, bacon, fresh tomato, roquette and aioli for $9.50. Well let me tell you that the masterpiece I received, came with 3 eggs, one of which was a double yoker and it was jammed packed full of deliciousness! If this is just too eggy for you, then the Stain Cafe also serve crepes of the day, home made banana, date and walnut bread with ricotta and jam or 3 different times of Benedict for brekkie plus quite a few other items all of which sound mouth watering. Prices range from $5.00 - $18.50.
At lunch time the menu is quite simple and simply delicious sounding. On a cold day Seafood Chowder with toasted sourdough ($14.50) would be perfect. They serve some wholesome sounding salads such as the Chicken Salad with roquette, pear, fetta, roast onions and walnuts or you can have a good old fashioned burger or steak sandwich. The most expensive item on the lunch time menu is $19.50. Please note the menu is seasonal so some of this items may not be on the menu if you visit during the warmer months.
Gradually during our breakfast kiddies starting dribbling out of the inside of the cafe and into the playground. The boys made some new friends (isn't it amazing how kids can do that so darn quickly!) and we had read the Sunday morning papers from front to back! It was time to leave and the boys started their usual whining and also complained that they hadn't climbed the tree. See the outside deck of the Stain cafe is built around a paperbark tree. So we let them have a quick climb (you actually can't climb it that high), but please be warned dear parents this tree will leave a powdery residue all over your kidlet's clothes - so maybe don't let them near it if they are decked out in their Sunday best!
We eventually dragged the little bulls away from the Stain Cafe kicking and screaming. If we had visited Mon - Sat I would have placated them with a visit to the library. The library is modern and from what I could spy through the window chockers full of cool kids books. On Thursday mornings they host preschool story time, combine that with morning tea at the Stain Cafe and you have the perfect morning out, don't you think?
I so hope when the time comes for Mr Munch and I to enter the retirement village phase of our lives, that a cafe and library are located in the same complex! If Little Munch is still going strong I will no doubt be reviewing zimmer frame friendly cafes!!
1 Felton Ave Lane Cove North NSW
Open 7 days 6.30am - 4.00pm
There seems to be a retro obsession at the moment in the Sydney dining scene with tuckshops, milkbars and diners popping up all over the place. These places are the home of dude food, hot diggity dawgs, wings, burgers, awesome fries and even more awesome milkshakes. And all of this food is ideal tucker for kiddliwinks as long as you remember to hold the chilli sauce!
Located on the outside of the Forestway Shopping Centre, The Old Civic offers a welcome respite after navigating one of the most frustrating car parks I think we have ever come across. It took us a good 20 minutes to find our spot on the roof and this was mainly due to the fact that the car park is so POORLY designed.
We climbed down the stairs from the roof top car park and arrived at The Old Civic just before lunch time, which turned out to be a smart move on our part. Breakfast is served until 11.30am and lunch begins service at 12.00pm. So our arrival at 11.45am meant that there were some spare tables - the breakfast crowd had buggered off and the lunch time feeding frenzy was yet to begin.
We were greeted by some super friendly staff and shown to our table. Waiting for us on the table were a couple of mega pad activity packs and colouring pencils. I'm not sure if the family that had used our table before us left them behind or if they are provided by The Old Civic (I think it was the later), but my boys made the most of them!
On each table you will also find your clipboard menus, cutlery and napkins in a cute tin pot as well as a couple of bottles of spicy looking sauce. Just make sure your little ones don't pick up the hot sauce and start playing with it! My youngest picked one up and was just about to squeeze some on his finger, thinking it was tomato sauce!
There is enough room at most tables to park your pram or stroller but when the place is packed it may be a bit difficult to navigate through the crowd (just like that frustrating car park!). There are high chairs available for little bottoms to sit on and I think most kids will love the booth style seating as well as the mini stools around the tables in the centre of the diner.
The menu at The Old Civic has a distinct Americana theme to it, actually more like south of the border flavour. It is reasonably priced and you can have something light or something completely wholesome. We didn't try The Old Civic's coffee but they were doing a huge takeaway trade, so I'm presuming it must be good! Just to let you know you order and pay at the counter for your meals. We obviously ordered right on the dot of 12 midday and it took less than 15 minutes for our meals to arrive. Service was spot on the whole time we were at The Old Civic.
The kids menu is small and perfectly formed. I was very excited to see that you could choose between hot chips and raw vegetable sticks as a side with all of the kids lunch items. I so wish more child friendly dining venues in Sydney offered this as an option. Price wise, it is good value for the size of the servings. The little bulls both wanted hot diggity dogs and that is what they got - being the typical boys that they are, they chose the "fried potatoes" over the raw veg. The portions that came out were huge and they barely munched through them.
Now for us big kids there are so many seriously delicious items to choose between. My pulled pork and slaw panini was a cracker and I love my gherkins! The kids ate the crisps and I devoured the panini and ended up with very greasy fingers thanks to the home made chipotle bbq sauce oozing deliciously everywhere. And wasn't it handy that as a Mumma, I always have a pack of my wipes in my handbag, as the serviettes provided weren't not going to clean up this tasty little mess.
Mr Munch ordered the Chicago Dawg - such bloke food. It was a big smoky sausage smothered in all sorts of sauces and mustard and finished off with some cheese. He clearly enjoyed it, as there was a massive grin on his chops as he savoured every last bit of it. I should also mention that the chips were amazing - really crunchy and ever so lightly seasoned. If you are just after coffee and a treat, make sure you check out the front counter as there were some scrummy looking fresh muffins waiting to be gorged on.
By the time we left The Old Civic, the place was packed to the rafters with a decent size queue waiting to score a table. We needed a pit stop, so we paid our bill and headed into the shopping centre. We had a quick squizz at some of the shops, and to be honest, the centre is in need of a bit of a nip and tuck - it was retro daggy, not retro cool. However it does contain an amazing looking Providore down the back where we picked up some supplies for dinner.
So my dear parents if you love your dude food and all things retro Americana, I suggest you get your skates on and head to The Old Civic in Frenchs Forest....but just allow yourself a bit of extra time to park your hot rod x
Shop 15, Forestway Shopping Centre,
Cnr Forestway & Warringah Rd, Frenchs Forest, NSW
(02) 7901 0009
Mon - Wed: 6:30am-5:30pmThursday: 6:30am-8:00pmFriday: 6:30am-5:30pmSaturday: 7:00am-5:00pmSunday: 8:00am-4:00pm