We've been visiting The Bells Road Social quite often over the last 6 months, making detours on the way to the boy's sporting commitments to grab a coffee or a tasty bite to eat. See, this cafe is probably the best cafe in the NW of Sydney at the moment - and that's a big call! The lovely owners have a strong cafe pedigree, previously owning Long Shot Cafe in Beecroft, and as they are young parents they know exactly the right formula to create the perfect stylish child friendly cafe.
The family friendly necessities are all covered at The Bells Road Social - open early, ample street parking, pram access, spotless high chairs, toilets with baby change facilities and super friendly and fast service. However it's the superior food and coffee that keeps us coming back. And the fact that The Bells Road Social is right across the road from a park, so the boys can run around like little monkeys there whilst we sit back and relax in the cafe. If you have smaller humans in your life you probably shouldn't do this, as the park isn't fenced and there is a laneway between the cafe and park. So your best bet is to grab a picnic rug from the cafe and order your food for take-away.
Now let's talk about the most important meal of the day - coffee! One of our favourite Western Sydney Roasters - Morgans Coffee from Emu Plains, is used at The Bells Road Social. This brew is fabulous. It has the right punch of caffeine needed to keep you going throughout the day, but it isn't so strong that your eyes will pop out. For the kidlets, babycinos and other kid size drinks like milkshakes and juices are available.
Make sure you sample some of The Bells Road Social's food too. The current menu is full of wintery goodness! From hearty pies and salads to the soup of the day, there's all sorts of deliciousness to warm your bellies with. The Grilled Chicken, Chorizo & Kumera Salad with toasted almonds and salad greens is a delight to eat. It's packed full of the 3 main ingredients, and then lighly dressed with an orange and coriander dressing. The Chunky Beef Pot Pie is full of old fashioned beef and veg cooked long and slow, so that it all melts in your mouth. On the side is something naughty and nice - spicy hot chips and a crisp salad. Another favourite of ours is the Lamb and Haloumi on Open Rye, and at breakfast time make sure you order either the Brekky Crumble or the Spinach and Ricotta Toast with bacon, rocket, haloumi & truffle aioli - pure gorgeousness!
On to the offspring. Our kids are very well catered for at both breakfast and lunch time, and we love that the menu includes loads of healthy options like a Fruit Plate and Eggs on Toast to kick the day off. A Grilled Chicken Wrap or Ham & Cheese Toasty with vegie sticks at lunch time will have both the kids and parentals smiling. There are also burgers and fish & chips on offer and the kitchen is happy to substitute vegie sticks for chips - can we please see more of this in Sydney cafes?!
If you are dining in with your kids, stop by the Helping Hands Street Library (outside near the park) on your way in, and borrow a book for the kids to read. Those smart Mummas at Parra Parents in conjunction with the The Bells Road Social have created this little gem and it would be wonderful to see more of them around our suburbs. After your meal there's also a bushwalk you can do as a family - the Vineyard Creek Walk is about 2.5km in length and takes about an hour (perhaps longer if your kids are quite young).
So what are you waiting for? Head to The Bells Road Social now to check out this awesome spot for yourselves. Who know's you'll probably see us there too ~ make sure you come up and say howdy if you do x
1 Bells Road, Oatlands NSW 2117
02 99684 6221
Tue - Fri: 7am - 3pm
Sat - Sun: 8am - 3pm
Many thanks to Mel from The Bells Road Social for inviting us to lunch on our most recent visit x
OVERVIEW: Neighbourhood gem in the brand new North Village Square, out in the new housing development in North Kellyville. This franchised cafe is a great spot for local families to hang out in, especially during the week when the cafe isn't too busy.
PARKING: - free undercover parking as well as street parking available.
PRAM FRIENDLY: - there is easy access into the cafe with your pram and a reasonable amount of room to park it near your table. Outside tables have more space for mulriple prams.
HIGH CHAIRS:- a few available (ask staff for them).
KIDS MENU: - yes for both breakfast and lunch.
BABYCINOS: - yes and they are FREE and come with a marshmallow and lots of froth.
KIDS ACTIVITIES: - colouring and play dough available.
TOILETS: - located close by in the shopping centre and they include a baby change table.
ADDRESS: Shop 1 , The North Village 133 - 149 Samantha Riley Drive, North Kellyville
TELEPHONE: 02 9006 9691
My first outing to the Pennant Hills Bowling Club was as a nervous first time Mum who had very little confidence in dining out with a newborn - and I hated every minute of it! And that had absolutely nothing to do with the Club...... it was just me and my insecurities at the time.
If you had told me then that in the not too distant future I was going to become a kids food reviewer, I would have given you the "rude finger" to quote my boys! 9 years on and hundreds of eateries later, my insecurities have disappeared and I hope through Little Munch I can help other Mums (and Dads) who may be nervous about dining out with kids, both young and old, that it can be easily done as long as you choose the right venue - like the Pennant Hills Bowling Club.
9 years ago, when we first dined there, the PHBC was your typical bowlo - definitely aimed at the bowling crowd and people seeking a cheap feed. Fast forward to 2017 and it has had a lovely make over and now it's definitely aimed at up and coming young families who live in the area, as well as the original bowling set.
The Club has been handsomely decorated offering different areas to relax in, depending on your dining needs. There's the lounge area near the bar which is perfect for a pre-dinner drinkie poo; the bistro area which over looks the bowling greens; and the family area downstairs which has a very cute play gym in it. You just order your drinks and meals up at the bistro and a member of the really friendly staff will deliver it down to you.
The bistro is called Turf Dining and their kiddies menu is fairly typical with nuggets, minute steak, fish and beef burgers with chippies and sauce. The kids meal cost $12.00 ($11 if you are a member) and include a juice popper. Oh and kids eat free every Monday and Tuesday evening!
The big people's menu features wood fired pizzas (both traditional and gourmet), fish, pasta, schnittys, salads, burgers and steaks. We actually sampled a couple of their "specials of the day" - fish cakes and ribs. Both came with salad and wedges and went down a treat with an ice cold beer! Now if you just want to catch up with your mum squad for coffee and cake they have a daily $6.95 special and they have heaps of space for prams, high chairs, baby change facilites and parking, so it's a top spot for a mums group meet up. Lunch and dinner are also served from the family friendly hours of 11.30am and 5.30pm too.
Now my dear Little Munchers I personally believe that you all need to eat out with your kids and not be afraid to do it. At first it can be so overwhelming but the more you do it, the more confident you will become - especially when you are by yourself. Trust me I've been there and totally worn out the t-shirt! The Pennant Hills Bowling Club is actually a fantastic spot to "do it" for the first time. The venue is completely welcoming and just a lovely space to hang out in. There's both caffeine and wine to help calm the nerves, the food is tasty and your little ones will love the play area.
52 Yarrara Rd, Pennant Hills
02 9484 2433
Open 7 days a week for lunch & dinner
There's ample parking available as well as plenty of street parking!
There's a new crop of kid friendly cafes opening up in Sydney that realise that they not only need to welcome kidlets with open arms, but also need to keep them amused for a period of time so that their parents can either have some down time, or log on to work with a coffee in hand and not a child!
Kinder Cafe in Castle Hill is one such cafe. You will find this brand new gem hidden up in a business park on Salisbury Rd (just behind the Hills Lodge Hotel). From the outside the cafe looks a bit non descript, but when you enter a kid friendly nirvana awaits.
This spacious and pram friendly cafe has an area for parents to chillax in with comfy leather chairs; another area with booth seating (complete with felt stick ons on the wall to keep little ones amused); some more tables and chairs and then 2 small play areas for little people - one with a cubby house and toys, the other with a playpen!
Next to this is the soundproof classroom where your little ones can be occupied in classes like yoga, zumba, hoola hooping and cup cake decorating. They also host some adult classes as well (yoga is a current example). For those of you who either work or study from home, you'll be delighted to know that they have Creche Time where an early childhood teacher will look after your little ones whilst you escape upstairs and log on and do some work without interuption for once! All of these classes need to be booked in advance and a fee is involved. Check their website for more details.
When you need the bathroom you will find it near the front entrance of the cafe and it is complete with a baby change mat (I noticed there wasn't any hand wash, so make sure you have some hand sansitiser in your bag just in case it's missing when you visit too). There's also a special room where you can breastfeed if you aren't keen on doing it in public, complete with a comfy chair and a blanket to keep you warm.
When it comes to the all important tucker time, little people are well catered for. The babycino will delight fussy little ones as it comes with a tiny teddy submerged in a teaspoon of chocolate. And if that doesn't tickle their fancy, the kids milkshake certainly will as it is encrusted with 100s and 1000s.
The kids menu includes Pancakes, Hot Chips, Mini Croissants and Mini Bacon & Egg Rolls. They have also introduced a fabulous looking Kids Picnic Board since we dined. And for dessert there are ice cream scoops with sprinkles for $2.00.
There's a range of sweet treats on offer including cute looking biscuits, donuts, caramel tartlets, mini lamingtons and bliss balls that will match perfectly with the Will & Co Coffee on offer. To be honest my large skim flat white was a bit weak for my liking, so when I return I'll be asking for a double shot as I like my coffee strong. And for those of you who love the mega shake phenomenon they make an instagram worthy looking one here that will only set you back $5.50!
The parental's food menu is basic in comparison to some other local cafes, but all of your favourites are there inlcuding Avo Smash, Bacon & Egg Rolls, Pancakes, Waffles and Bircher Muesli at breakfast time. At lunch time there are Salads and Sandwiches as well as the Soup of the Day. I daresay the menu will evolve as time goes on and the bonus is that the majority of the menu items are reasonbly priced all coming in under $15.00.
Our Avo Smash with Fetta ($14) and Bacon & Egg Roll ($11.50) were quite tasty, however my dining companions would have liked a bit more sauce on ther BAEs as they were a tad dry, but other than that we were all happy little diners.
The Kinder Cafe is the creation of two Mummas who had a vision to create the perfect child friendly cafe. They are certainly well on their way to achieving that vision and when all of their plans are completed, it will not only be a child friendly nirvana but also a parent friendly nirvana too. I know that if this place was around when my lads were younger, life would have been so much easier and I would have been one of their most regular customers x
3/3 Salisbury Rd, Castle Hill
0412 821 269
Mon - Fri: 8.30am - 5.00pm
Sat: 8.30am - 3.00pm
I love Ikea, but golly gosh I dislike their coffee! The closest Ikea to Chez Little Munch is at Marsden Park and thankfully a cafe serving up an excellent brew of coffee has swung open its doors recently just across the road from it, so I can now enjoy my Ikea spree fully caffeinated. Little Munchers say a big hello to the Baristas' Shed!
Semi rural Marsden Park in North-West Sydney is booming at the moment. Brand new housing developments are popping up everywhere as are some major retailers (e.g. Costco). As a result a few different dining venues are also opening their doors to capitalise on this growth area. The Baristas' Shed is one such venue and it gets the Little Munch seal of approval. It is located within the Home Hub Centre at Marsden Park, which has heaps of free parking and toilets with a baby change table. From the carpark you can easily access the Baristas' Shed with a pram and choose to sit outside or inside which is nice and spacious.
Now the Baristas' Shed gets a big tick for brewing a perfect flat white. The handsome chap who owns this place knows how to do a good brew that's for sure. The beans are from Grand Cru who I'm unfamiliar with, but will be looking out for them from now on as the coffee was so good. Babycinos and yummy looking kid size shakes and orange juice are available for your little ones to sip on. And I spied some colouring in behind the counter if you need to keep little fingers entertained (apparently my lads are too cool for that these days!).
Moving on to the food offering at the Baritas' Shed - for kidlets there is a decent range of baked goods in the front counter that they will enjoy munching on at breakfast time as well as well as toast with spreads, banana bread and fruit loaf as well. The menu is served all day, so whilst the menu doesn't feature anything specifically for kids there are some options such as a chicken panini as well as a selection of sandwiches/wraps in the front counter that they many enjoy.
For bigger bellies I can thoroughly recommend the Breakie Bruschetta to kick start your day. Mushrooms cooked in Worcestershire Sauce are mixed with kale and haloumi and then served on top of sourdough, and a perfectly poached egg is the crowning glory. The Granola Bowl also looks amazing and will definitely be road tested on our next visit to Ikea!
Before you head across the road to Ikea you might want to check out the Baby and Toddler Town store which is nearby the Baristas' Shed. I had a quick look and it stocks a fairly decent range of all things baby goods. Oh and there's also the Lindt Factory Outlet close by too! And you can enjoy all of this shopping fully caffeinated thanks to the Baristas' Shed.
20/9 Hollingsworth Rd, Marsden Park NSW
Open 7.00am - 3.00pm daily
Welcome to our next instalment of Cafe Parents!
For our next Cafe Parent interview we are having a chat with Karyn from a great blog I've been following for a while now called Little Opinions. Karyn and her absolutely gorgeous daughters review all things kids, offering both the girl's perspective as well as Mums!
1. Tell us a little about yourself Karyn...
I have 2 daughters Ellie 10 & Alyssa 7 and we love adventures. We enjoy checking out new places, seeing live shows & movies and are always looking for something fun to do on the weekend. Together the three of us started up a blog called Little Opinions to share our thoughts and reviews on all things kids! When we are not on an adventure I work full time at a special needs school as a teacher aide it's very hard work and very rewarding.
2. Do you have a favourite neighbourhood gem that is kid friendly?
We recently found a great new cafe at Bella Vista called Salty Lip Cafe & Grill, I would highly recommend the burgers, my girls are very fussy eaters and they absolutely love them. They also make a great hot chocolate! The team there are very kid friendly especially when my 7 year old decides to break out into dance.
3. The witching hour & dinner time - do you have any tricks for surviving this period, especially when dining out?
I always pack pencils and paper, the girls love to draw. I also pack water for the girls & if we are eating later than usual I always take cucumber, tomatoes and carrot with me to hopefully help the 'I'm hungry' phase. If we are staying out I do let the girls take their iPads.
4. What would your ultimate kid friendly café provide to make dining out easier for parents?
I would like to see more room in cafes to enable the kids to walk around & be pram friendly without bumping into other customers. I would also love to see an old fashioned arcade corner for the kids to keep themselves entertained.
5. What has been your biggest parental fail when dining out with your kids?
Letting the kids indulge for far too long and on their iPads. One night my seven year old purchased $1000 worth of in app purchases for Star Wars Angry Birds! Luckily Apple also agreed that was ridiculous & refunded our money...
Thank you so much for chatting with us Karyn, you are one busy lady! We definitely need to check out Salty Lip Cafe & Grill and we also definitely need to go on a family holiday to Ayres Rock after seeing the above photo of your beautiful fambam!
So Little Munchers I thoroughly recommend that you follow Little Opinions so that you can follow their adventures and keep up to date on all of teh best things to do with kids in Sydney:
Sometimes you just have to escape the city and head somewhere a little more quieter. To a place where there's very little traffic, loads of blue sky and new places to explore. And lucky for us Sydneysiders, the Hawkesbury area on the outskirts of Sydney, is the perfect place to do just that.
It's in the Hawkesbury area that you will find Australia's oldest church, at a little village called Ebenezer. Built in 1809, this quaint church was also once upon a time a school, and as such is Australia's oldest exisiting school building as well.
The Church is surrounded by a historic cemetry, with graves dating back as far as 1825. It's fascinating wandering around, reading who is buried in each grave, and how old they were when they died (some of them sadly were so young).
What I love about this special place, is that you can explore every square inch of it. You can go into the Church (which is still used for services), you can see where they used to make bread for the school kids, and you can wander down to the river as well (make sure you don't let kids wander off by themselves although, as it's a big river!).
Next to the Church is the School Master's House which was built in 1817. And it's here you will find some sustenance! You can sit under the shade of the pergola surrounding the house, and enjoy morning or afternoon tea. It's open from 10am - 3pm, and is staffed by the friendliest of volunteers. They are more than happy to tell you all about Ebenezer and the Church, whilst serving you.
The Schoolmaster's House only serves Devonshire Teas - please do not arrive here expecting lunch or fancy cakes. It's just old fashioned scones, jam and cream, with your choice of instant coffee or tea. The scones are just like Nanna used to make. Perfectly light and fluffy - you receive 2 with each serve. They do sell some soft drinks as well as packets of chips, just in case you or your kids aren't into scones.
There's plenty of parking available, there are very clean toilets just behind the School Master's House (which don't have a baby change table), and all of the outdoor area is easy to access with a pram. And of course there's plenty of room for the kids to run around and play hide & seek, whilst you enjoy your cuppa and scones.
After your visit to the Schoolmaster's House, make sure you continue your explore of this part of the Hawkesbury. We recommend heading back out of Ebenezer village towards Tizzana Rd. If you follow this road you will pass wineries and lush farmland, and then you will end up at the Sackville Ferry where you can cross the mighty river on a car ferry (the kids will love this!). You can then drive home, or venture further out towards Wiseman's Ferry - we love the Wiseman's Ferry Inn for a cool drink, and bite to eat too!
So next time you need a good dose of fresh air, or a country drive, go to Ebenezer. Enjoy the country hospitality and learn about some of Australia's history at the same time - your body, mind and soul will thank you for it!
95 Coromandel Rd, Ebenezer NSW
02 4579 9350
Open 7 days 10am - 3pm
(closed over the Christmas period & Good Friday)
If you were going to open a kid friendly cafe what would you call it?
I think the smartest cafe name we have come across to date is The Coffee Playground - a new cafe in West Ryde. Because it's what every bleary eyed parents wants - coffee and a playground. And the google search results will no doubt be outstanding!
You will find The Coffee Playground on Ryedale Rd in West Ryde, just opposite the West Ryde Train Station. And yes the cafe does have a playground, and yes the cafe does serve excellent coffee! The Little Beans Playground is inside the cafe down one side, and it's best for small humans aged under 5 years. It has things to climb up and slide down, tunnels to crawl through and wall mounted puzzles to play with. So your little people should have loads of fun in here. I actually did the let the boys have a quick road test of it (with the approval of the owner of course) when there weren't any little ones using it, just to make sure it met with the Little Munch standard - and it does!
From your table within the cafe you have full sight of the playground which will not doubt impress weary parents. Pram access is very easy into the cafe, however if the cafe was pumping it may be difficult to find a space to park tractor size prams near where you are sitting. There are high chairs, and there's an excellent loo at the back of the cafe, complete with a baby change table. Overlooking the whole cafe is the lady below - she features in a grafitti mural on the back wall which gives the cafe space, a somewhat inner city feel.
Kids have their own menu at lunch time at The Coffee Playground, and for breakfast there are quite a few options suitable for them on the main menu. Toast and spreads for example, or eggs on toast or banana bread. There are also muffins and other pastries available that they may like. At lunch time kidlets can munch away on Beef & Chicken Sliders ($10), Mac & Cheese ($8.50) or a range of Toasted Sandwiches ($6.50).
The adults menu at The Coffee Playground is very reasonably priced in comparison to most cafes we eat at these days. I can thoroughly recommend the Haloumi Stack for breakfast which will only set you back $12.50! You will find haloumi, roasted tomatoes, spinach, parmsean, pesto and perfectly poached eggs perched on top of a slice of toasted sourdough - so good and so delicious. The Eggs on Toast with a side of bacon, is also another great way to kick off your morning, and this only costs $9.50. If you prefer a sweet start to your day, there are also House Made Waffles, French Toast and a Smoothie Bowl to satisfy your sweet craving.
At lunch time you can fill your bellies with very healthy sound salads, wraps, sandwiches, burgers (including a naked burger), as well as more substantial dishes like Fish of the Day or a Crusted Chicken Breast with pumpkin mash and greens. And if you need a sweet treat to finish off your meal, just check out the front cake cabinet to see what the daily offering is.
The caffeine for the parentals is on point - nice and strong without being too bitter. They use Di Bella coffee beans and I was glad to see that they only charge $3.50 for a coffee. So many places these days are charging north of $4.00 for a regular size, which is making my caffeine addiction a tad expensive!
Babycinos will cost you a buck, and they are perfectly made. A disposable cup is full of froth and there are real chocolate flakes on top and the obligatory marshmallow is on the side. It even comes with a little plastic spoon and a napkin underneath, in case there are spillages - so simple and so easy, yet so many cafes have not mastered the craft of a babycino!
You can visit The Coffee Playground 7 days a week from early in the morning for your caffeine fix, and you can book a table during the week, even for your mums group. However on weekends they do not take bookings. As I mentioned before, they are just across from West Ryde Station, so there is a decent amount of both street and car park parking available. You can even see trains zoom by, in case you have any little trainspotters in your brood.
So my fellow parentals - have you come across a better name for a kid friendly cafe than The Coffee Playground?
67 Ryedale Rd, West Ryde NSW
Open 7 days
Mon - Fri: 6.30am - 3.00pm
Sat: 7am - 3pm
Sun: 8am - 3pm
We fell a little bit in love with Lil Miss Collins when it first popped up in Prince Alfred Park in Parramatta earlier this year, and were saddened when it closed its doors. But now we are all happy again because she has popped up in the lovely surrounds of Bella Vista Farm, in a space that was crying out for a cafe. And Lil Miss Collins looks right at home that's for sure!
The Lil Miss Collin's farmhouse is the same as before, but there is just a lot more room now at Bella Vista Farm. Tables and chairs, as well as old fashioned lounges and hay bales are scattered around under the shade of the surrounding trees. It's very peaceful here - the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of neighbouring Norwest Business Park. And the best bit is that there is heaps of space for kids to run around. Apparently there is even a kids play set, although I didn't spy it in action.
There's full table service with the same lovely owner delivering a warm welcome to all of the diners at Lil Miss Collins. You can easily bring your pram along and park it right next to where you sit, as there is so much space. High chairs are also available if you need them. The toilet facilites are close by - they don't contain a baby change table, but there's heaps of space to get your pram into the disabled loo.
You're also allowed to bring your fur baby! So you don't have to leave pooch at home and there are a few different spots where you can tie them up in case they get too frisky with any of the other canine visitors at Lil Miss Collins.
Your babies without fur, have their very own menu (see below) and there are babycinos, nutella hot chocolates, milkshakes and cold pressed juices available for them to slurp on. They are also serving up 2 mega shakes. The first is called Choc of Block. It is full of oreos, chocolate ice cream, milk & tim tams, and it's topped with whipped cream and oreos. Then there is the Nutella Tower. Nutella, peanut butter, milk and vanilla ice cream make up this baby, and it's topped with a nutella scroll drizzled with yet more nutella! I'm thinking these would make a great treat for kidlets to share after school or on the weekend. Lil Miss Collins is open from 8am - 4pm every day!
The food for grown ups is a bit delish. The Farmer's Stack is a great way to start the day. Scrambled eggs with gruyere, mushies, wilted spinach and tomato relish on crunchy bread, combine together perfectly. The Granola sounds awesome, as does the Smashed Avo (although it comes with green peas and as I've had an aversion to these since being forced fed them as a child, I won't be sampling it). At lunch time salad lovers are certain to enjoy the various choices - Grilled Chicken Pesto or Grilled Haloumi with spiced peanuts, labne & roasted pumpkin; or Roasted Beetroot with mograbiah and dill infused yoghurt. And if you have a fella in your life who just needs to wrap his chops around a big burger, they are also on the menu.
On the front table where you pay, there is a selection of sweet treats that will go perfectly with a coffee or a T2 tea. Scrolls, slices and muffins are in the mix. I'm also thinking that Lil Miss Collins would be the perfect spot to bring a bottle of vino to, so that you can enjoy a lazy weekend lunch too!
If you need to stretch your legs after your meal from Lil Miss Collins, take the fambam for a wander around the farm. Most of the the important buildings are fenced off but you can still see though it. There is a beautiful old homestead, farm sheds from yesteryear and also some sheep! I didn't realise that sheep actually lived on Bella Vista Farm, and between you and me I think they are due for a hair cut before the weather gets too warm out here in north west Sydney. The homestead and surrounding buildings are only open to the public on the first Sunday of each month, however the rest of Bella Vista Farm including the picnic/bbq shelters are open 7 days a week.
When you visit Lil Miss Collins, it feels as though you are visiting your friends in the country. It's so homely and welcoming and let me tell you, this country girl felt as though she was back home on the farm when she visited. As a result, you'll be sure to find me and my "Mum Pack" at Lil Miss Collins quite often over the next few months - it's only popping up at Bella Vista Farm until 28 February 2017.
So I suppose the big question is, where will Lil Miss Collins pop up next?
Bella Vista Farm
Cnr Norwest Blvd & Elizabeth Macarthur Dr
Bella Vista NSW
Open 7 days 8am - 4pm
Frankie's Food Factory has recently fired up its coffee machine in Flower Power at Glenhaven, giving a new lease of life, and a complete makeover, to a wondeful space that was in serious need of some TLC. This transformation would have to position Frankie's as a serious contender for the funkiest cafe in the North West of Sydney!
The interior of Frankie's Food Factoy reminds me of a classy farm shed - it has a retro country chic style that appeals seriously to this country gal. Rusted corrugated iron has been pannelled along the walls, there's a hills hoist complete with laundry thrown over it, and an old ute has been backed in as well. The retro style tables and chairs could have come straight out of Nanna's farm kitchen from the 50s, and I love the fruit and veg stall in the middle of the room.
The dining area out near the playground is bright and airy, with hanging baskets and bird cages dangling from the ceiling. The tables have a pot of crayons on them that kids and adults can use to doodle all over the white paper table covers. There's also melamine cups on the table for water if you need it - and you can help yourself to this at the very cute lemonade stand! If you are dining with a pram, there is heaps of space to park it near your table, and high chairs are in abundance. I'm also happy to report that the toilets have had a massive upgrade, and now include a disabled toilet which doubles as a family room, complete with a baby change table.
The playground has a little bit of a facelift too, with a fun new mural dominating the area. The playground is fully enclosed, and is covered in soft spongy stuff, to minimise bumps and grazes. Shoes are to be left outside the gate on the stool provided. And as you can reserve tables, you should ring up and request one close by to this area. Just to let you know, you have to order and pay at the front counter, however if you are paying via the cashless Paypass method, then there is no need to even leave your table, as Frankies is technology savvy and they come to you.
I'm sure your bellies are rumbling by now, so let's move on the food. Little humans have their very own menu that is served all day. The kids Fruit Plate ($12) for breakfast, was a big hit with the lads (it can also come with youghurt +$3). There's also Scrambled Eggs on toast ($8); Vegetti Pasta with cheese sauce ($11); Mini Cheeseburger with chips and dips ($14); Chicken Schnitty with chips ($15) and Fish & Chips ($16). The prices are definitely up there with some of Sydney's more expensive kids menus, that's for sure, so you may want to think about ordering shared kids meals instead which does seem to work with mine sometimes, depending upon their emotional states, and appetites.
For breakfast we sampled the Avo & Fetta Smash with Poached Eggs ($17), which came with pickled onions and was totally yum (but didn't photograph too well), as well as the Chorizo Hotpot ($21) that came with a side of bubble 'n squeak! Now this hot pot was perfect in every way - juicy and spicy with 2 big eggs in the middle. The patty of bubble 'n squeak was tasty, but the murmurings I heard from Mr Munch were very much that some crunchy toast to mop up those delicious pan juices would have been preferred.
Coffee is by Vittoria and it's the first time in my travels that I've seen coffee served in a melamine cup - it's not what I was expecting and the jury is still out on whether or not it should be served this way from my perspective. Large coffees are $5.00, and they are served on a smart looking wooden board - as are babycinos which will cost you $2.00. I'm thinking a marshmallow wouldn't go astray on that board with the babycino. Milkshakes with a sprinkle edge are $7.00, and there is a delicious range of freshly squeezed juices available as well. And if you are dining a little later in the day, you can even have a drinkie poo as they have wine, beer and cider on the menu too!
So my dear Parents you now have another fabulous kid friendly cafe to explore with your brood. And as Frankie's Food Factory is located in a Flower Power Garden Centre (which includes a lovely homewares section) you can pick yourself up some pretties for the garden, as well as a few pretties for the house too x
609 Old Northern Rd, Glenhaven
Monday - Friday: 9am - 5pm
Saturday - Sunday: 8am - 5pm
The Castle Hill RSL Club is an institution with local Hills families - it's THE place to go out. With 5 different eating venues, and a brand new super duper kids playground, I can see why.
IN A NUTSHELL: Being a RSL Club you have to be a member, or live outside the 6km radius to enter the Castle Hill RSL Club. Membership is reasonably priced ar $22/year, and you can pay on the spot. You also receive a $15.00 voucher to be spent on your birthday, so really your membership is only costing $7.00! The Club has loads of parking, an excellent gym as well as a pool where kidlets can learn to swim. There are cocktail bars, and extensive event/function spaces available. Like all Clubs, if you are a member you receive discounted prices for food and drinks. The Castle Hill RSL is also a huge supporter of the local community, sponsoring many sporting teams and charities. The doors to the club are open 7 days a week, from 10am until late.
FAMILY FRIENDLY ASPECTS: The favourite meeting place for parents (in particular Mother's Groups) at the Club, is in the sunny courtyard. This area is really spacious so you can get a huge number of prams in here. There is a lovely green where kids can run around and also the enclosed playground which has play equipmet for both big and little kids. High chairs are in abundance and excellent toilet facilities with baby change tables are close by.
Before you go out to the the courtyard, it is advisable to order something to eat and drink from within the club (unless you are dining with other people who can keep an eye on your kidlets). The Courtyard Cafe is where you can have coffee, cake or a snack 7 days a week from 10.00am. Once you place your order you receive a buzzer and then you have to go back and collect your meal once it is ready. There is a dazzling array of cakes available for you to have with your coffee - oh and the coffee is really good! Babycinos and kid size milkshakes are also available. Besides the sweet treats there are pies, wraps, toasties and other hot snacks available, and nothing costs over $10.00!
If you arrive at lunch/dinner time you can order food from the Courtyard Restaurant - it's basically the club's bistro and it is open 7 days a week. The menu is quite creative and you can have everything from a gourmet salad to an old fashion roast of the day. Most of the menu items cost between $20 - $30, with simpler items such as burgers costing less than 20 bucks. Once you order and pay, you take a table number and staff bring you your meal.
Kids have their very own menu - $9.50 for members and $10.50 for non members - each meal includes an ice cream or slushie. The kids meals are fairly typical but you can choose to have either salad or chips served with the meal which is a bonus. In the bistro area you will also find colouring in for kidlets - you just go and help yourself. This is an ideal way of keeping the kids at the table whilst you all eat dinner.
All of the other eateries within the RSL welcome families with open arms too. Jin Yan Asian Cuisine is a huge Chinese restaurant that is open Tuesday - Sunday for lunch and dinner; the Rib Factory is open from Thursday - Sunday for dinner and has $11 - $12.50 kids meals; and the Courtyard Pizzeria is open from Wednesday - Sunday for dinner (as well as lunch on Sun) from 5.30pm.
Every Tuesday in the courtyard the RSL provides entertainment for kidlets which will hopefully give parents a little break from parenting! Face painting, balloons and a clown are the usual entertainment from 11am - 2pm. Also during school holidays they normally have some sort of activity for kids to participate in as well as shows such as Play School Concerts, The Jitterbugs and other kids favourites. So yes the Castle Hill rissole is definitely family friendly and it receives 5 big fat lollipops from us!
So Little Munchers, does your local RSL Club have facilities as good as the one in Castle Hill? Is it THE go to place for dining out in your hood?
77 Castle St, Castle Hill NSW
02 8858 4800
Open 7 days lunch & dinner
You might also like The Lynwood Country Club @ Pitt Town
There's something very inviting about a bright yellow stripey awning. It promises cheer and sunshine. And the awning outside of the Charles St Kitchen, is so enticing that we had to stop in for a squizz when in Putney recently. CSK is located on the edge of Putney Village - and I'm very envious of parents who live in this hood, as there are so many excellent cafes per square inch of this little village.
Charles St Kitchen is named after the street on which it is located. If you're not a local and are visiting en route to the awesome Putney Park Playground, you will find a reasonable amount of parking available around the village centre. All of the cafe's seating is inside except for a bench seat right in front of the cafe, which is perfect for sipping your latte on and soaking up some rays (but maybe not if you have a restless toddler in tow). You can easily drive your pram into the cafe but there isn't much room to park it, so maybe wear your baby or use one of the high chairs available. However in saying that, there were 2 different types of prams parked near the back tables of the cafe the morning we dined.
Now that cheer from the stripey awning doesn't stop as you walk into CSK. The owner of the cafe just exudes happiness. From the moment we walked in the front door to the time we left we were all treated like royalty. This chap made sure everyone at every table was happy, that the coffee and meals were served quickly, and that all the little people in residence were well looked after.
And your little people are going to love the babycino as it is pretty darn sweet. With its marshmallow and chocolate sprinkle edge (kids milkshakes also come with the same delicious rim), this will keep the kids occupied for a wee while whilst you enjoy one of the excellent coffees made with Mocopan beans. Kidults will love the CSK Crazy Shakes that come oozing with all sorts of toppings and calories - and speaking of calories the cake cabinet is full of the most delicious looking sweet treats we've seen at a cafe in a long time.
Suckers for donuts, especially nutella and salted caramel ones, our lads couldn't walk past the tray of freshly baked balls on the front counter either. There are other dishes available for kidlets, but our boys only had eyes for the balls!
The adults menu provides a contemporary cafe style of food. CSK Eggs with bacon (scrambled eggs with fetta, fresh tomato and spring onions), are a visual delight (and taste really good too). The Bacon Benedict is also a delight for the taste buds and instead of being served on top of a muffin it sits happily on top of a hash made with zucchini and potato.
The hollandaise was perfectly made and the eggs were perfectly poached. There was a layer of really thick bacon (that is smoked in house) and then the hash - the combination of all these elements worked really well. I also spied a very pretty granola being served to another table, and it's definitely on my "to eat" list next time we are in the area.
Now we didn't see a copy of the lunch time menu, which is no big drama as we'll just have to go back to sample it another time. I'm presuming since the brekkie menu was so awesome, that the lunch one must be great too! And they have just started dinner service on Friday and Saturday evenings, so that might mean we are going to need two different dining outings to CSK, and we have absolutely no dramas with that x
So my fellow Little Munchers are you a sucker for a yellow stripey awning too? And do you have a "to eat" list like me (or is that just a wee bit weird!) x
78A Charles st, Putney NSW
02 9807 8999
Mon - Fri: 6am - 4pm
Dinner Fri & Sat nights
In an attempt to find all of Sydney's most kid friendly cafes smack bang next to playgrounds, it would be remiss of us not to include the fabulous Blends & Brothers in Rouse Hill.....because look how awesome the playground right next to them is!!
The playground is called The Backyard and you will find it (and obviously Blends & Brothers) in the Rouse Hill Town Centre - an open plan shopping centre in North West Sydney. This playground is suitable for kids aged 9yrs and younger (in my opinion) and it is reasonably secure. So if you have kids who are older like mine, you can happily sit in Blends & Brothers and let the kids play. However climbers can definitely get out of the playground, so don't take you eyes off your little monkeys for too long.
If you are leaving your kids in the playground, then the best place to sit at Blends & Brothers is somewhere in the outdoor seating area - a couple of indoor tables do also have window views over the playground as well. The cafe is pram friendly and there are also high chairs available. You do have to order and pay at the front counter for your meal, and then the staff will bring your food to you, but you still have a decent view over your table whilst ordering. If you need to use the parents room, it's a short walk away - just on the other side of the Oliver Brown Cafe that is also a neighbour of the playground.
We like to visit Blends & Brothers for a spot of afternoon tea after school pick up. The cafe and playground are reasonably quiet during this time of day. Mid morning however these two places are packed! So my advice is to arrive early or go after the lunch time rush. You will always find loads of parents and kidlets in the cafe, so even though it is quite a funky/hispter type of joint, the uber cool dudes that work there, are always welcoming of fambams.
The coffee (Pablo & Rustys) is top notch as is the food at Blends & Brothers. Firstly we'll talk about the kiddies. Their babycinos are free with every coffee purchase! And they are served in a take away cup and come with a marshmallow on top. The kids menu is very reasonably priced. There's toast with spreads, a ham & cheese toastie, eggs on toast, avo on toast, and a mini hot diggity dog available with nothing costing over $6.00. And they have the sweetest little cupcakes for an afternoon treat.
For those of us with bigger bellies, the menu is simple but just done really, really well. At breakfast time there is the tasty avo smash, bacon & egg rolls, muesli, eggs benny etc and most meals will set you back $10 - $15. At lunch time some healthy salads are whipped up in the kitchen alongside some rather decadent looking burgers and sandwiches. For an afternoon treat I love their hot chockies made on skim milk as they still come with real chocolate on top. And their caramel and macadamia crumble slice that I sampled on our last visit was just a wee bit sublime.
Now Blends & Brothers is not only a cafe, but it is also a super cool barber shop too! You can have your kids hair cut for $20 and I do believe you also receive a discounted coffee with each haircut. The retro style barber is a favourite amongst Sydney's footy set, with the likes of Izzy Folau often popping in to have their locks lopped.
p.s. if you have a seriously bad sense of direction like I do, it is quite easy to get lost in RHTC. So always follow the signs for Coles and you will eventually come across the Blends & Brothers as well as the Backyard playground!
Between Outback Jacks & The Backyard in RHTC
Open 7 days from 7.30am
Every now and then I am totally blown away when I find a seriously trendy joint out in the burbs. And I'm even more blown away when that joint is inside the local RSL Club. Little Munchers let me introduce you to Easy Lane. A place that could easily be at home in the inner city, but actually has its roots firmly planted inside the Windsor RSL Club.
The Windsor RSL can actually be found in South Windsor on Argyle St. There is loads of parking and access into the Club and also into Easy Lane, which is also very easy with a pram. Being a Club you will need to sign in if you are not a member. Easy Lane is accessed via a laneway down the side of the Club, just past the main reception area when you enter. During busy periods a hostess is at the front door checking to see if you have a reservation or not. We visited for an early mid week dinner, and whilst the place was relatively empty when we first arrived, by the time we left it was packed to the rafters with local families and the after work crowd. So I suggest you make a booking if you are arriving at peak times or are going to dine on the weekend.
As you walk down the laneway and into the "beer garden" space that is Easy Lane, I guarantee you that you will be amazed by the coolness of this space. The fit out is brilliant. With loads of greenery, recycled furniture, quirky wall hangings and industrial style lighting, the hipster in all of you will feel right at home! There are high chairs available for hip little bottoms, and you will also find space to park your pram near your table. If you need to use the toilet facilites, there is a disabled loo just outside the opposite side of Easy Lane to where you entered. The loo is very spacious but doesn't include a baby change table.
One of the really friendly members of staff will seat you when you arrive - there ain't no inner city attitude in the wait staff out here that's for sure. Our lovely waitress explained the menu to us, and also produced some colouring in to keep our young lads occupied. Once you have chosen your food, you pop up to the cashier area and order your meals. Then you pop over to the big bar to order your drinkie poos. Easy Lane is becoming very popular for their imaginative cocktail list and they also have some delicious sounding mocktails for all the pregnant ladies out there! Beer lovers will rejoice with the huge selection of craft beers available, and winos will appreciate the very decent wine list. Kids can sip on table water, or soft drinks and juices are available at the bar.
Easy Lane has an Ankle Biters menu and the best bit is that if you dine Mon - Wed, kids eat for free if you are a member (social membership is dirt cheap at $5/year, so it definitely makes it worthwhile joining up). The kids menu is fairly standard (ham & pineapple pizza, nugget & chips, fish cocktails & chips, or penne pasta with meatballs) and it will cost you $14 if you aren't a member or $12 if you are. Whilst the prices may be a tad on the high side, the kidlets do receive a mini gelato cone with their meal - and you pick these up from the bar with a little docket you are given when you place your order.
The main menu at Easy Lane is massive - there's almost too much choice and as a result we just went with sharing plates because everything sounds so tempting. Gourmet pizzas, hearty pies, trendy salads, burgers, steaks, ribs - you name it, it's on the menu! Most dietary requirements are aslo covered - from pescartarians to omnivores and everything in between. And sugar addicts will love the dessert menu - Peanut Butter Jelly Pizza anyone?? The Easy Lane Chicken Wings are finger lickin good, but they may have you breathing fire by the time you have munched on a few. They are accompanied by a pot of blue cheese dip and celery sticks to help sedate your palate. And the Antispasto Plate for 2 is full of lots of delicious cured meats and pickled vegies, as well as a few dips. I think it was also meant to have cheese on the board but it was MIA from ours (although there wasn't much room to put anything else on it!), and I also would have loved a bit more bread as I'm a total carb hog when it comes to sharing plates!
Since we dined at Easy Lane, I have found out they hold sessions specifically for Mummas called "Mindful Mummies" and "Grateful Mummies". I think they are like a big group therapy kind of gathering for us Mums where they host professionals to chat about all things health and well being - how fabulous does that sound! These sessions are FREE and you also receive a "huge" goodie bag (you must book a seat in advance). So my gorgeous Little Munch Mums, how about we all go to the next one together, and perhaps we can even treat ourselves to a sneaky little cocktail or two??
Just to let you know, if you aren't into uber trendy dining settings like Easy Lane, the Windsor RSL has a cafe (Cafe Latte) where you can grab a coffee from 10am each day. And there is also Bistro 36, where the meals are a little more friendly on the wallet (kids meals are $11 and inc. ice cream). During the school holidays the Club normally has a special entertainment show on for kidlets in their auditorium too.
36 Argyle St, Windsor NSW
Lunch & Dinner 7 days
When I was a kid, if we went to the local Country Club the most kid friendly thing we could do was sip on a fire engine. However these days kids are well and truly spoilt with playgrounds, baby animals, colouring in and more at their local Country Club. The awesome Lynwood Country Club in the North West Sydney suburb of Pitt Town is the perfect example of this.
For those of you who are geographically challenged in Sydney, Pitt Town is located in the Hawkesbury region. Despite it not having a particulary glamorous name, Pitt Town is a really lovely semi rural area full of paddocks of green grass and sprawling homes. And if you are of the same vintage as I am, you may also be interested to know that once upon a time it was the film location of that iconic Australian show - A Country Practice (I am still emotionally scarred by Molly's death!).
The Lynwood Country Club occupies a perfect spot over looking its golfing green and some nearby farms - it almost feels like you've gone to the country (and some people would indeed think you had). There's loads of parking and as it is a really spacious venue, it's a great place to catch up with fellow breeders. Being a Club you will need to sign in if you aren't a member (or join up if you live within a 6km radius). Membership is really cheap ($5.50 p.a. for a social m'ship) and worth every cent, as you receive discounts on your drinks and food - so you will easily recoup your outlay after one visit.
The Club has a large indoor seating area, but if you are dining with kidlets you need to head out to the terrace - because this is where all the fambam action is. There is one very decent sized and fully enclosed playground for kids to muck around in, whilst you enjoy a drink and soak up the view. There are quite a few tables surrounding the playground so if you arrive early (especially on weekends) you can hopefully supervise older kids from your seat and not have to get up too often to sort out the inevitable playground tantrums (see below). There is play equipment suitable for both big and little kids.
Just past the playground you will find an aviary that is home to many pretty birdies, that you can say hullo to. There is a sign advising you to be careful of little fingers poking through the wire mesh enclosure, as they may get nipped by the residents! A bit further on is a chook house that is home to one handsome rooster, who looks like he has had a visit to the local blow dry bar. His harem also flap about in here too. Once again keep little fingers away in case they are mistaken for a wriggly worm!
On weekends the Lynwood Country Club has an animal nursery where your kidlets can get up close and personal with all sorts of small animals, and some big ones too. From 12pm - 3pm on Saturdays, and 11.30am - 3.30pm on Sundays, kids can have a hands on experience at "the farm" which is perfect for city slickers who don't venture out of the the city limits too often.
The farm theme continues for kids at Lynwood with pages of farm inspired colouring in available at the Terrace Grill's front counter, and also with the names of the meals on the kids menu. From the Farmer's Pasta, to the Chicken Salad and Barnyard Burger, there is a good mix of choices on the menu which is great to see. You can even substitute hot chips for vegies and salad. Table water, soft drinks, juice and babycinos are available as are every kids favourite - the slushie. On Monday nights during the NRL season, if a kidlet is wearing a footy jersey they receive a free slushie too.
The kids menu from the Terrace Grill hovers around the $10 mark and it includes Moo Moo ice cream and topping for dessert. Our lads had the Farmhouse Burgers for lunch and they are like a mini cheeseburger slider - the perfect size for small tummies. When your children have finished their lunch, you go back inside and ask for their ice cream.
There is also a cafe section inside too, in case you are just after a spot of morning tea. There are tempting cookies, cakes and slices available as well as pies, sausage rolls and toasted sandwiches. They use Piazza Doro coffee beans, and they also have a decent selection of organic teas for non coffee drinkers. I would recommend this as a great place to meet up with your mother's group for morning tea as the whole place is very pram friendly. There is a baby change table in the handicapped loo, and of a morning I don't think it would be as busy as it would be at lunch time - so get the girls together and go for a drive. There's nothing like a dose of good fresh country air to make little ones sleep all the way home. The cafe is open from 10am each day.
The adults menu from the Terrace Gril covers all of your classic club favourites. Most dietary requirements are looked after and the portion sizes are huge! The steak sandwich was mammoth ($19.50) and could easily be shared between two girlfriends, but perhaps not between two big blokes. You order and pay for your meals inside and a member of staff will bring them to your table when they are ready. For drinkie poos you also need to head inside to the bar. The wine list is made up of the standard club type of wines, but there is also Moet, in case you are celebrating something special (or just want to treat yourself).
If you are looking for a new birthday party venue for your offspring, the Lynwood Country Club also host kids birthday parties! Once again they have a good mix of menus available as well as party hosts and lots more. Packages start at $29.95 - click on this link to find out more information. During school holidays, kids golfing clinics and special kid themed days are held, so keep an eye on their facebook page for what's coming up.
253 Pitt Town Bottoms Rd
Pitt Town NSW
Open 7 days from 10am
How lucky are the commuters of Thornleigh! On one side of the train station they have the cute little Curl the Whisker Cafe that serves up an excellent brew of Campos Coffee and on the other side they have Monday Morning Cafe serving up a brilliant drop of Double Roasters coffee!
We stumbled across Monday Morning Cafe earlier this year when it first opened. Anywhere that serves Double Roasters coffee is a huge draw card for me, so we popped in for breakfast. At the time, the cafe was finding its feet, so we decided to pop back later for a proper review. It actually took us 6 months to pop back!
Monday Morning Cafe is located on a busy road called the Esplanade. There is some parking out the front, but you will also find parking just around the corner or across the street in the Thornleigh Station commuter carpark. The cafe is really pram friendly, so don't be afraid to bring it along. There is seating available outside right in front of the cafe, or there is more seating available down the right side of the cafe. Outside is a great spot to sit with little train spotters, as you can see the trains zooming by across the road. Obviously you need to keep an eye on them as there is no barrier between where you sit and the road. At the front of the cafe there is a gorgeous wooden rocking horse for kids to giddy up on, as well as some other toys for kids to play with around the side.
If the weather is unpleasant you can choose to sit inside, where there are quite a few tables of various sizes. The fit out is quite quirky, with loads of retro recycle items being used to decorate every nook and cranny. High chairs are available, and there is a shelf of toys and colouring for kidlets to play with (including a cool Barbie vespa). There are toilet facilities located at the back of the cafe (that don't contain a baby change table) and they are nicely set up with hand wash and even perfume!
The Double Roasters coffee they brew is seriously good (don't think I've had a bad drop of coffee made by these beans) and it will certainly perk up your Monday morning, or any other morning of the week too. And as the cafe is so close to the train station they open at 6am, which is obviously perfect for commuters as well as bleary eyed parents in need of a caffeine fix! For those of you who don't imbibe in the magic elixir of caffeine, they also have a great selection of drinks available for you to slurp on. Like the Green Mule and Oreo Chiller for example! The Green Mule is full of all the green things in life that are good for you, and the Oreo Chiller is full of all sorts of decadent things in life that aren't good for you.
Now there isn't a specific menu for our little people, but there are still quite a few options for them to eat. The front counter is heaving with muffins, pastries and other sweet treats, or they can simply just have some toast with vegemite to start their day. The staff are super sweet, so I'm sure if you asked them to make you a vegemite sandwich at lunch time, they would also happily oblige.
On our most recent visit I shared the Mini Wagyu Burgers ($17) with my little man for lunch. These are mini versions of the traditional Aussie burger, served on little brioche buns. On the side were "special chips" which were delicious chunks of baby fried baby potatoes. To whet your appetite further, the other lunch time items include a Chicken & Avocado Salad; Grilled Dory Fillet with Warm Potato Salad; a Chicken or Wagyu Burger; and lastly Linguine tossed with Wild Rocket, Olives and Seared Tiger Prawns. The lunch menu is priced from $15 - $19.
The all day breakfast menu is more expansive, and you can have everything from the traditional Eggs on Toast or a Bacon & Egg Roll, to delicious sounding French Toast with Pear & Seasonal Fruits, yoghurt, toasted hazelnuts and maple syrup. The brekkie menu will set you back between $10 - $19.50, depending on how extravagant your taste buds are.
Whether you are a commuter or just a parent who is in need of a coffee and chillax, I think you are going to like the Monday Morning Cafe every day of the week. The coffee is superior, service is friendly and the food is very tasty indeed.
86 The Esplanade, Thornleigh NSW
02 9484 2554
Open 7 days: 6am - 4pm
I was compiling a list of Little Munch's favourite cafes in the Hornsby Shire recently, when I realised that I had a couple of glaring omissions - one of them being The Local Collective Cafe in Galston. This cool new cafe had opened its doors earlier in 2016, and we hadn't been out to give it the Little Munch once over. Well that has now been rectified, and because it is just a wee bit fabulous, we have Little Munched it on more than one occasion.
You'll find The Local Collective on the outside of the Galston Shopping Village. There is loads of parking available in the underground carpark of the centre. When you walk up to the cafe, the first thing you (actually your kidlets) will notice, is the big blackboard on the outside wall of the cafe. This is perfect to keep older kids occupied whilst you enjoy your coffee indoors. However if you have small little munchers in your life, than you may need to order take aways and enjoy the sun on the grassy square whilst your kids scribble away.
The interior of the Local Collective is Scandanavian cool - simple yet sophisticated. There are tables of various sizes so it's perfect for a gossip and a coffee with a girlfriend, or a full on family brunch. Access into The Local Collective is easy with a pram and there is a decent amount of space to park it next to your table. Or there are also high chairs to put your babes in as well. Before you get too comfortable, grab some colouring in from the shelves along the side of the cafe to keep your kids occupied. Then check out the menu before you head up to order and pay at the front counter.
Our little people have their very own little menu at the Local Collective, and we highly recommend the sweet looking milkshake ($4) that comes with Persian fairy floss on top! And to fill their bellies, little ones can indulge in a Bacon & Egg Roll ($8.50), Ham & Cheese Toastie on sourdough ($7.50), Nutella on Pita Bread ($6.50), or a Cheeseburger & Fries ($10.50). And if you have children who always want to make life a wee bit difficult and want to order a cheeseburger without cheese, that can be done too (my darling little pains in the you know where, eat cheese but only if it ain't melted!).
Parents will be relieved to know that the cafe serves an excellent brew of Campos coffee, and if you are a serious caffeine addict like I am, you will love their new extra large cups that have 3 shots in them!! Tea drinkers can sip on a selection of T2 teas, and shake lovers can slurp on Oreo or Honeycomb shakes that are served with the Persian fairy floss too.
For the most perfect mid morning coffee treat you must try out the Local Collective's Banana Loaf ($10.50). It is made inhouse and is far superior to the mass produced stuff that is served up in normal cafes (apologies Bob & Pete). And the kitchen takes it to a whole new level of deliciousness, by serving it with housemade ricotta, honey and walnuts - with a little blossom on top.
During the luncheon session you can't go wrong with the Calamari ($15.50) which is dusted with chilli salt and served with a lime aioli and salad. If you prefer something more substantial then the Wagyu Burger ($17.50) will do the trick, as will the Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder with pita bread, pomengranate, fried egg & labneh. And health nuts will go crazy over the Nourishment Board ($17.50) - ancients grains, maple raosted pumpkin, avocado, spinach, sauerkraut, soft egg & sprouts. The all day menu isn't huge, but it does cover all of the food groups nicely.
Galston is one of Sydney's most outlying suburbs, and I love that such a cool urban cafe has swung open its doors on the edge of the city sprawl. And I love it even more that they are so family friendly. So thank you to the Local Collective, and we look forward to seeing you again soon x
What's your favourite cafe in the Hornsby Shire, Little Munchers?
346 Galston Rd, Galston NSW
02 9653 1461
Mon - Fri: 6am - 4pm
Sat: 7am - 3pm
Sun: 8am - 3pm
I recently posted a message on the Little Munch Facebook page asking if anyone had seen any cool babycinos of late. Within minutes a lovely reader put up a photo of one seriously cute babycino and I knew that we had to go and check out its creator ASAP! And its creator is the Newnique Cafe in Bella Vista.
Now this little beauty of a babycino is absolutely free! With any coffee purchase obviously. So if your offspring are in a bad mood I'm sure this friendly face will definitely cheer them up. And if the babycino doesn't, then one of Newnique's delicious sweet treat will be sure too. The front counter has all sorts of donuts, cakes and other decadent delights to please both little and not so little bellies.
If you don't like your kids eating sugary delights, then there is also toast with your choice of spreads ($4.50) on offer, as well as eggs on toast ($8), a bacon & egg roll ($8.00), porridge ($8) and toasties if you are dining at breakfast time. At lunch time kidlets could easily share a serve of fish & chips ($13) as well as a schnitzel & chips, or munch on one of Newniques sandwiches or wraps.
Adults will love the smashed avo ($11) on toast that is dished up with pan fried tomatoes, fetta and you can add a a side of poached eggs if you wish. The omelette ($13) is also a worthy contender for the best start to the day, and it is full of tomato, cheese, mushrooms & shallots. There's a big brekkie for $19 and Ben's eggs (eggs benny) on the menu for $17.00. And of course you will need a brew with your brekkie, and I'm happy to report that Newnique's coffee is excellent - the continual line of the take away coffee crowd obviously also agree.
At lunch the menu covers all of the usual cafe favourites. There are different flavoured burgers, a sticky steak sandwich as well as lamb & chicken skewers served with tzatziki, flat bread, salad and chips. However I think next time we go back we might sample the delicious sounding los 3 amigos - soft tacos filled with your choice of chicken or steak and salad and side of sourcream and guacamole
You will find Newnique Cafe towards the end of Lexington Drive in Bella Vista (not too far from the new train station that is being built). There is parking available outisde the cafe, but mid week this can be quite busy. The cafe can be easily accessed with a pram, and there is a decent amount of space available to park it next to your table. There is seating available inside and out - if you would like to meet up with friends for a coffee date, and you are all in possesion of a pram you can ring in advance and book a table complete with high chairs.
Lastly I need to mention the service. The owner is just delightful. We have now visited on several occasions and each time she goes out of her way to make the boys are well looked after - as do her staff. And that my friends is the secret of a successful family friendly cafe!
33 Lexington Dr, Bella Vista NSW
02 8824 4281
Mon - Fri: 7am - 4pm
Sat: 8am - 2pm
Welcome to Cafe Parents!
Just in case you are all bored of seeing where our Little Munch family end up eating out each week, I thought I would introduce you to some parents from all around Sydney (and beyond) who love to eat out with their brood.
First up we have the lovely Lilit from the very popular site Makeup and Macaroons. If you are useless with makeup (like I am), you need to read this site! Lilit road tests all the myriad of makeup products on the market for you - with a bit of fashion, child rearing and eating out thrown in for good measure.
1. Tell us a little about yourself Lilit.
I'm a mum to a 4yr old boy and a 1yr old girl, and by the time you read this I would have returned part time to my job as a project manager. We live in Sydney's North West and have always loved traveling and dining out. As you'd know both aren't necessarily easy with kids, however slowly slowly we've introduced our kids to the delights of both travel and eating out, to the point where every few weeks our 4yr old will tell us he needs a holiday and wants to stay in a hotel and have outside-breakfast.
2. Do you have a favourite neighbourhood gem that is kid friendly?
For breakfast we love The Big Treehouse Cafe at Rydalmere. Bar Angolo at Top Ryde City is a favourite all rounder, they do amazing pizzas and I can never go past their freshly piped ricotta cannoli. We also really love Dos Senoritas in Gladesville for authentic Mexican, but we haven't been there since my daughter was born so I think it's time for a visit! I think they have kids-eat-free nights, so if you haven't been there yet I highly recommend it.
3. The witching hour & dinner time - do you have any tricks for surviving this period, especially when dining out?
I think the witching hour/s get easier as the kids get older, or perhaps we learn how to navigate it better. At home we usually reserve the 5-7pm window solely for the kids, e.g. getting them fed, bathed, books, bedtime. It's just too difficult to cram our own dinner prep and eating in that window, so the husband and I eat our dinner after the kids are asleep. Since my son is getting older now, if he's awake late then he'll sit with us at the dinner table and have a snack to keep us company. If dining out, we tend to do early-ish dinner so the kids aren't too hungry and tired. The best trick to surviving dinners out with the kids is research research research, as in, make sure you choose your venue correctly and that it's kid friendly, also have toys or other distractions with you. I'm always using the Little Munch guides to choose a kid friendly eatery and so far I haven't been disappointed!
4. What would we find in your handbag (besides lipstick) ?
If my 1yr old daughter is with me I usually just carry her large nappy bag, so it's crammed full of the kids' necessities. My own handbag generally has the usual suspects, wallet, phone, keys, some makeup, and in this occasion 2 x racing cars, doll's shoes, and a half eaten packet of gingerbread babies.
5. What is your biggest parental fail when dining out with your kids?
I'm sure there's too many to mention, but for now I'll say that we've been known to take an iPad with us to restaurants to keep the kids entertained. Some people are against the use of technology and screen time, but we've found if we ban something they'll want it more, so we let them have it in moderation and they don't ask for it often. Actually that's a lie, if we let my son he'd sit there all day watching those damn egg opening videos on YouTube all day long!
Thank you so much Lilit! Obviously Little Munch needs to check out Bar Angolo & Dos Senoritas very soon. And as for the Ipad when dining out - I'm so guilty of that too (or should I say I was until the boys broke the damn thing!). To find out more about Lilit and her fabulous website and Instagram account, check out the links below:
The Little Munch fambam call the Hills District home. We moved out to them thar hills of Sydney, when we realised we couldn't afford a house with a big backyard living in the east. Life is pretty darn fine out here, and thankfully in the 7 odd years that we have called this area home, some fabulous cafes have swung open their doors. So here are some of our favourite cafes (not restaurants), in alphabetical order:
Some other awesome cafes in the Hills that we frequent regularly are Youeni and The Baron in Castle Hill, they are the Hills answer to hipsterville. And last but not least, delicious Dolcettini in Dural. This place has THE most incredible sweet treats (as well as savoury options), and if you haven't been you need to real soon. On our "to visit" list is the brand new Kinda Cafe in Castle Hill, The Farm Wholefoods in Norwest and Hills Organis in Dural x
This swanky new cafe opened in Dural last year, and every time I drove past to check it out on a weekend, there was a huge line of people waiting outside for a table. I don't do lines. Especially when I have the kids in tow. My lads don't wait in lines very well and I certainly don't do the patient Mumma thing very well. So I changed my plan of attack and decided to visit first thing on a Monday morning.
The swanky cafe is called Wolfe & Co. and it is located on busy Old Northern Rd. Early in the morning you should be able to find a car spot close by to the cafe, however as this cafe becomes busier you will need to park further afield and walk up to it - the nearby Round Corner shops are probably your best bet.
You can choose to sit inside or out at Wolfe & Co. If the cafe is quiet (which isn't very often) you can fit your pram into the dining space outside. They also have high chairs available, so you could leave your pram on the pavement on the side of the cafe (and don't worry as it is Dural it is unlikely that anyone would nick it). If you have restless kids that can't sit still, this is probably not the sort of cafe you should take them to. It's more for kids who are content playing their electronic devices whilst you eat, or little ones that can be secured easily. Because trust me you will want to linger a little longer at Wolfe & Co. as the food and coffee are just so darn good.
As soon as we arrived at Wolfe & Co. we were treated like super star customers (major benefit of dining early). Everyone from the owner to the barista were charming and friendly and this continued for our entire stay. Being early on a Monday morning, most of the trade were the bleary eyed work crowd grabbing a takeaway coffee for their long drive to town (Dural is kinda like being in the country). There were a few other well heeled locals dining and us - team Little Munch! So within no time, our beloved coffees were sitting in front of us.
They brew up the Inner West based Five Senses Coffee at Wolfe & Co. and it is seriously "on point" to coin a popular foodie phrase at the moment. Served at the perfect temperature, I'm sure you'll find yourself having more than one if you are caffeine addicts like us. And being the smart cafe operators that they are, Wolfe & Co. are also delivering free babycinos for the kidlets. Tea drinkers have also been well catered for with an interesting selection of "health" teas as well as your standard tea choices.
Wolfe & Co. have a menu especially for the little pups of your pack. They can munch on: Toast Soldiers with soft boiled egg ($6.50); Buttermilk Pancake with ice cream & maple syrup ($8.50); Sourdough Toastie with ham & cheddar cheese ($6.50); or a Cheeseburger Slider with fries ($9.50).
My chaps chose the pancake and toastie to road test. Both the meals arrived on gorgeous children's bamboo plates (they are available for sale in the cafe). The portion sizes were perfect and I love the addition of the flowers on the pancake - so often kids meals are not given the same attention to detail as adults meals are, and are served haphazardly.
Now there is definitely nothing haphazard about the presentation of the adults food. The Avocado with black tomato, ajo blanco (a seasoned white bread like spread), aged Pedro Ximenez gel & toasted almonds on rye, with a side of streaky bacon looked and tasted amazing - $18.00. The Omelette was also divine and it was stuffed full of triple cream brie, sweet onions & lemon thyme - $16.50.
They have one menu at Wolfe & Co. that is served all day, so you can dine on these beauties when ever you like. Some other enticing sounding options are the Creme Brulee French Toast - $18.50 or the Heirloom Salad with goats cheese, honey & pistachio za'atar - $19.50. And they have just scored a liquor license so you can have a little tipple from 10am if you so choose.
Now the toilet facilities at Wolfe & Co. are superior (insert I would like them in my own home). You will find the loo down the back of the cafe, but it doesn't contain a baby change table, but it does contain quality hand wash and quite a bit of space for you and your brood.
So my dear Little Munchers if you like your cafes to be totally on point, and you have kidlets that don't mind sitting still, I suggest you get up early some time soon, and head out to Dural to experience Wolfe & Co. - I don't think you'll be disappointed x
538 Old Northern Rd, Dural NSW
Mon - Fri: 6am - 4pm
Sat: 7am - 3pm
Sun: 8am -3pm
In the neighbourhood...
Out on the north western outskirts of Sydney you will find the lovely village-like suburb of Kenthurst. The suburb is full of tree lined streets, magnificent shacks and a delightful new cafe called the Hidden Jem. I believe the owner of this lovely light and airy cafe is called Jemma, hence the name. The cafe can be found in the local village shops and it is also right across the road from a park (with a cute playground). In the short time that the cafe has been trading it has become very popular with locals from all walks of life, so much so that it can be hard to score a table on weekends - especially if you arrive at the popular brunch time of 10am like we did on our first visit. So my suggestion for you all is to arrive early - they are open from 6am during the week and 7am on weekends, which ideal for families who rise with the mud larks!
Hidden Jem is perfectly set up for families. Firstly, there is a heap of parking, both on the street and also behind the shops. From your parking spot you can easily push your pram straight into the cafe and as the tables in the cafe aren't jam packed together like in so many cafes these days, you will be able to park it next to your table. And if you can't be bothered getting your beast of a pram out of the car, they also have high chairs for little bottoms to be secured in. The toilet facilities for the shops are out the back near the car park, but they don't contain a baby change table - when we used these, one was open and the other locked, so you may need to ask a member of staff for a key.
Kidlets will have great fun running around in the courtyard in front of the cafe or busying themselves with the colouring in provided by the cafe, or just making friends with other little diners like kids can so easily do. You do have to order and pay at the front counter for your meal, but because of the open design of Hidden Jem you won't lose sight of your kids whilst you are inside handing over your moula.
With the offspring occupied you can sit back and enjoy one of Hidden Jem's expertly made Toby's Estate Coffees. The spunky young barista certainly knows his craft and in case you have issues with milk they also offer soy, almond and lactose free options too, which is brilliant to see. And for little ones the babycinos with sprinkles for 50c, will no doubt put a smile on their little dials. Like nearly every other cafe in Sydney at the moment they are also pumping out freak shakes except that the Little Jem call them killer shakes and they will set you back ten bucks. The cafe is open until 4pm weekdays, so I'm thinking they would make for a perfect after school treat!
The Little Jem has a little menu for Little Jems that includes Choc Chip Pancakes with ice cream, strawberries & maple syrup ($8); Mums Toastie with ham, cheese & tomato ($8); or Nuggets & Chips ($10). Our lads shared the pancakes for breakfast and the staff very kindly split the boys breakfast between two plates in the kitchen for us.
The staff were actually brilliant the whole time we were at the Hidden Jem. They were engaging and accommodating with both the boys and us. It did help too that there were only a handful of diners when we visited for the second time (the first time we only had takeaways).
So what did we eat? Well as I'm a sucker for anything with haloumi on it, I went for the Avo Smash ($17) that was served up on rye toast, with poached eggs, grilled tomato and two pieces of perfectly cooked haloumi - and it was the most delicious way to start the day that's for sure. I loved the addition of the sweet potato crisps on top. The Little Jem also serve haloumi in their Breakfast Salad. Spinach, strawberries, walnuts & avo are also in this dish and the salad is dressed with a pomegranate dressing - sounds kind of interesting for breakfast doesn't it?
Mr Munch had Eggs Your Way ($18) which actually is like a big breakfast - eggs, bacon, hash brown, mushies, sausage & spinach with toast. The portion size was very generous and in quite a few other cafes in the district this sort of breakfast costs north of $20! Waffles, granola, bacon & egg rolls are also on the menu at breakfast time. For lunch you can munch on a very healthy sounding Vegie Patch Salad or S & P Squid, Burgers or a Schnitty Wrap. But what I think would be a nice thing to do would be to share the Cheese Platter for 2 - a selection of cheeses, fruits and pastes with crackers (and if you are really smart you will drop into the bottle shop across the courtyard for a cold bottle of Savvy B to enjoy with it!).
After your visit to the Hidden Jem you'll obviously have to pop across the road to check out the pretty park. The brightly coloured play equipment, which includes a very sweet looking doll house is maintained by the local Rotary club. They take great pride in their neighbourhood that's for sure - the park is fully fenced and has toilets, BBQs and picnic shelters and it is so very clean. And if the Hidden Jem is full to the brim with other fambams, you can always grab takeaways and head over here.
The Hidden Jem won't be hidden for very long amongst Sydney's foodie set. This part of north western Sydney has such a burgeoning food scene, especially thanks to some cool new cafes in neighbouring Dural swinging open their doors. So my advice is to arrive early to score a table so that you can enjoy this delightful little jem x
4 Nelson St, Kenthurst
Mon - Fri: 6am - 4pm
Sat - Sun: 7am - 3pm
It's very easy for a dining venue to throw some nuggets and chips into the deep fryer and then say that they have a kids menu. It is quick, cheap to prepare and most kids love it. And we see it time and time again on menus everywhere we go. So when we arrive at a place where there is an actual kids menu (not an after thought quickly typed on the back of the adults menu), I do a little happy dance. Actually I do a big happy dance when I see that there isn't a nugget to be seen on the whole menu!
So when we had breakfast at InSeason Wholefood Cafe in Dural recently, I practically did a break dance when I saw how good their kids menu was. This cafe is all about healthy eating and using the freshest possible ingredients to achieve that. They are also very conscious of the different dietary requirements that diners have these days, so if you are vegetarian, a vegan, a coeliac, paleo enthusiast or even just a good food lover (like I am), you will be impressed with the options available at InSeason.
Breakfast is served from the very family friendly hour of 7am which is perfect for families who have early risers like we do. My lads started their day with a Kids Fresh Fruit Plate and hoovered down the entire thing! I loved how the kitchen did not skimp on the "special" fruit - there was mango, raspberries and blueberries on there. I also loved how the yoghurt came on the side, so it made for a perfect little dipping bowl for each piece of fruit.
I too chose some fruit for my breakfast - it was actually InSeason's delightful Muesli Jar ($9), that was topped with thick yoghurt, fresh berries, honey and coconut and besides looking so lovely, it also tasted delish! Mr Munch went with the Avo Smash that had a hint of basil and lime, and he added some protein on with a side of poached eggs ($17). Carnivores will be delighted to find that there is a Big Breakfast on the menu too and even a Bacon & Egg Roll. And vegans will be ecstatic to find that they have a dedicated menu for both breakfast and lunch - not too many places in Sydney have this.
At lunch time burgers (with sweet potato fries), very healthy sounding salads and a delicious sounding Middle Eastern Lamb (with flat bread, beetroot coleslaw & pumpkin hummus) feature on the menu. And if you just want a sweet treat to go with a coffee, make sure you check out the variety of goodies in the front counter that are all made inhouse - the choc protein balls are a must try!
They serve Adore Estate Coffee at InSeason and they make it extremely well. And the best bit is that a babycino for your bambino is free with any coffee purchase! Tea lovers will love their range of Tea Tonic teas, and for cold drinks they make a brilliant range of fresh smoothies and juices (full of all of those good things for you) that will have you bouncing around all day.
Now lets talk logistics - InSeason Wholefood Cafe is located in the New Line Business Park in Dural. There is a car park right out the front that services all the different businesses in the complex. And just to let you know there is a gym upstairs, so when that is in full swing (like it is most mornings) the car park is quite busy. Oh and if you are looking for a gym to join, the gym is called Resolution Fitness and it has an excellent Kids Corner Creche - Mr Munch swears he saw Delta Goodrem leaving the gym when we were breakfasting, so you may be able to sweat your tooshie off next to her!
There is easy access and plenty of space to park your pram especially outside at the cafe - mums' groups will definitely be happy about that. There is also a lovely clean loo on site (that doesn't contain a baby change table) and you will find it, inside at the back of the cafe. The super friendly staff offer full table service, so you don't have to leave your table or your pram and apparently they have colouring to occupy kidlets. The cafe looks over the Dural Golf Driving Range where they also have a cheap putt putt golf course, so that could be a fun adventure for your little brood afterwards.
So my dear parents, if you are sick of your little munchers eating too many deep fried nuggets when they go out to dine, why not take them out for some real food and check out In Season Whole Food cafe in Dural? They are open for breakfast and lunch every day x
256 New Line Rd, Dural NSW
Open 7 days from 7am - 3pm
Also in the area....
Last weekend I decided that we should visit the new Ikea in Marsden Park and my plan was to throw the boys into the "Smaland" play area they have, and then I could take Mr Munch and show him all the things we "desperately" needed in chez Little Munch! Upon arrival we were met with a sign saying that there was a 30 minute wait for the Smaland. Insert expletive. The boys howled with disappointment at the thought of being dragged through Ikea, so I promised them we would stop in for a treat at Ikea's cafe enroute through the store. So off they took trying to find it, and we lost them in all those darn nooks and crannies that Ikea is famous for. When we finally found them, they were playing on the store's computers - you know the ones the staff use to check availability of stock! Heaven only knows what stock they had moved, so we grabbed them and went straight to the cafe only to find it was full to the brim!! Cue more howling and expletives. Thankfully I had one last ace up my sleeve - I knew of a cafe a 5 minute drive away that was next to a playground, so we abandoned Ikea and headed a bit further west.
Livvi's Cafe and playground Elara, is in a new Stockland housing development just off Richmond Rd in Marsden Park. Most of the houses in the area are still being built, hence why I think the cafe is only open on weekends. The cafe is right next to the sales office for Elara and there is loads of parking available on the surrounding streets. Livvi's Cafe Elara is following in the steps of the Livvi's Cafe in Five Dock. Both cafes are right next to playgrounds created by the Touched by Olivia Foundation. They are built in conjunction with Stockland developments.
The cafe at Elara is probably a bit more like a kiosk - it has been made out of a converted shipping container (as have the loos). There are a few tables and chairs scattered around the deck in front of the cafe and protection from the elements is via a sun shade sail. Access into the cafe is super easy as there are ramps everywhere which is perfect for those of you who have prams, wheelchairs or walking frames. There is also loads of green space, so you can bring a picnic rug and dine out near the playground too.
Livvi's Cafe in Elara is run by a lovely couple with two kids. They are really friendly and come out and chat to the customers when they aren't busy. They clearly understand the demands of dining out with kids and we even had a laugh about the joys of taking kids to Ikea!
The cafe fare at Livvi's - pies, sausage rolls, toasties, wraps and pre-made sandwiches as well as yummy selection of sweet treats and cold drinks. Caffeine addicts will be delighted to see Campos Coffee being served and tea lovers will love the selection of T2 teas on offer at Livvi's Elara - they will go perfectly with one of Livvi's chocolate brownies. The boys still trying to convince me that they had suffered a punishment by being dragged around Ikea, suggested that they needed a bag of lollies as compensation - and I complied (anything for a moments peace and quiet I say).
Livvi's at Elara would be a great spot to meet up with your mum's group on a sunny day. There is loads of space to park all of your prams and there is a massive and very clean sand pit right next to the seating area on the deck of the cafe. If your kids don't like getting sandy butts, then there are also a couple of buckets of toys for them to play with and there is of course the playground! Just a word of warning - the playground is quite safe, but isn't completely secured, so make sure you keep a close eye on little runners.
The playground has 3 major pieces of equipment - a big round swing, a ping pong table and soccer posts (grab a soccer ball out of the toy bucket near the cafe). My baby Beckhams had great fun here! There are also mounds to climb over and fruit and vegie patches to explore. And if you have any smarty pants in your brood they will love trying to figure out the wooden puzzles that are to be found on each table in the cafe.
When we visited Livvi's on a Saturday afternoon the cafe was fairly quiet, but I'm thinking as all of those houses are completed this place is going to go off! And how lucky will the residents be to just wander down the road with the kidlets to have a Campos coffee and a play.
So Little Munchers if you have had failed expedition to Ikea, just remember that all is not lost as you can regain your sanity at Livvi's Cafe in Elara. And as all Livvi's Cafe are social enterprise cafes, it means that you can feel good in the knowledge that your money will be helping out an Australian family as well as an Australian charitable organisation (20c from each coffee goes back to TBO) and not going abroad to make those flat pack kings in Sweden that little bit richer!
Elara Blvd, Marsden Park NSW
Thu - Fri: 7am - 1pm
Sat: 9am - 3.30pm
Sun: 10am - 3.30pm
My sister teaches in the International School circuit overseas and she is always telling me how great her schools' "parent" cafes are. See, these schools normally have a cafe where parents can hang out and gossip after school drop off. Teachers can also pop in for coffees and something to eat (normally only when the pesky parents have gone home although). Anyway I've been thinking there must be a buck or two to be made at schools here in Australia - even if there was just a coffee cart near each school drop off. Unfortunately my son's school doesn't have one, but I have discovered that there is one school in North Ryde that does. And the cafe is right on its doorstep - it's actually been made out of 2 of the school's unused classrooms!
The Flame Cafe is located smack bang next to the Holy Spirit Primary School in North Ryde. The local parish wanted to create something for their community, and decided that the cafe (and also the gift shop next to it) would be a great idea. It's kind of like a social enterprise cafe with style. Look how fabulous the red furniture and banquette seating look! And whilst you're sitting there sipping your skim decaf soy latte, you may well also observe a few religious artefacts on the walls and shelves to help get you in the spirit.
You will find Flame Cafe in the Coxs Rd shops in North Ryde. There is a reasonable amount of parking available on the street in front of the cafe (I presume it would be best to avoid arriving at the same time as school drop/pick up however). You can access the cafe very easily with a pram or wheelchair as there are ramps available and there are big wide doors at the entrances to the cafe. If the weather is nice you can sit outside at one of the many tables and there is even a little container of water for doggies. However in my opinion the best spot to sit for those of you with little ones is inside, especially on a hot day - because it is air-conditioned.
Flame Cafe ticks all of my Little Munch kid friendly boxes - there are toilets on site that contain a baby change table; high chairs are available; staff are welcoming of families; there is easy access for prams to enter and also to be parked next to a table (it's a great mum's group cafe); there is a decent kids menu; and lastly there are kids activities in the form of a small play area.
There are two dining areas within the cafe and the secure play area is located in the bottom level near the front counter. My boys are probably getting a bit too big for this sort of play room but as there weren't any other kidlets around, I let them give it the once over. The chalk board was their favourite but I'm sure little ones will be happy to snuggle up to the cuddly toys (and yes they all looked very clean unlike some other cafe's toy boxes we have road tested). There is also a TV in here, but it wasn't on, but there was another TV in the dining area near where we sat, which was showing a kids show at a low volume.
Flame Cafe caters very well for little humans. They will most certainly fall in love with the Flame's milkshakes! These little beauties are up there with the best we have seen for kids and will cost you $3.50. I've also heard that their babycino is equally as cute, and we will go back another day to road test this. On the kids menu you will find a boiled egg with soldier toast, baked beans on toast, bacon & egg on toast or nuggets & chips and hallelujah the meals are reasonably priced at $6.00. There are also other options on the main menu that will satisfy little bellies such as toasted cheese & tomato sandwiches and banana bread. If you are just dropping by for a sweet treat, the cake cabinet has the sweetest range of baby cupcakes that will place a smile on the dial of your offspring, and they have some yummy versions for us bigger humans.
Parents will be very happy with the main menu as it too, is reasonably priced ($4.00 - $15.50). Whether you are after a simple bowl of soup or a full on burger and chips there is something to satisfy all of the vores (carni, herbi & omni!). The toasted Mediterranean foccacia was my choice for lunch and it hit the spot perfectly. Some other yummy lunch time options that tickled my fancy, include garlic prawns with crusty bread or the Moroccan lamb burger with roasted peppers, tzatziki & salad. And for breakfast the macadamia muesli with natural yoghurt, berry compote and honey or the breakfast bruschetta with ricotta, avocado, tomatoes & bacon sound delish. The day we visited was over 40 degrees, so I I opted for my caffeine fix to come out of a can (diet coke) and not an espresso machine, so I cannot comment on the quality of the coffee but will no doubt be back to visit some time soon when the weather isn't so darn hot.
Before I finish, I need to comment on the service - it was just lovely. I'm not sure if the staff are volunteers or members of the local parish or not, but they were both efficient and super sweet. Being such a hot day the cafe was not overly busy so of course we received our meals quickly, which is a bonus when dining with kids.
So tell me dear Little Munchers, does your local school have a cafe like Flame, or even a coffee cart? Or should I be starting up a franchise?!
Shop 1,195 Coxs Rd, North Ryde
Open Mon - Fri: 7am - 4pm
Sat - Sun: 7am - 3pm