Kellyville Pets is our boredom buster - it's kinda like a museum/mini zoo/cafe all rolled into one. Boys (and I'm sure most little girls) love dinosaurs and they are lurking everywhere around the place at Kellyville Pets. Kids also love animals and at Kellyville Pets they can get up close and personal with all sorts of furry animals, reptiles, critters, noisy birds and rodents (for free).
There is loads of parking and it is super easy to access both the cafe and pet store with a pram. There is a toilet on site with a baby change table and you can also bring along your fur baby as they are welcome with open arms and even have their very own doggy bowl in the cafe. And if pooch is in need of a check up or a blow dry they can have both, as there is a vet and also a DIY doggie wash on site.
Nest Cafe is the appropriately named cafe that is at the front of the pet store. It has recently been overtaken by the owners of Red Estate Espresso. This means that one can now find a seriously good coffee there, and even if pets and dinosaurs aren't your thing, I thoroughly recommend that you drop by just to try out the coffee! And for those of you with dietary intolerances, they offer lactose free, almond and soy milk options for your brew.
The cafe set up is simple and under cover. There is plenty of space so a visit by your mums group would be ideal. You order and pay at the counter and then collect your meal once it's ready. Morning time is our favourite time to visit and they normally have scrolls, banana bread, muffins and cookies available to munch on. As I mentioned previously the coffee is brilliant and their babycinos cost 80 cents and ours came with 3 marshmallows!
The food menu contains bacon & egg rolls, various toasties and wraps, a seasoned steak roll, as well as gourmet pies, sausage rolls, quiches and chicken nuggets for baby dinosaurs. All of the menu items are under $8.00 so the hip pocket won't be hurt too much! You can also have an ice cream or all sorts of icy cold frappes, milkshakes and more, to cool you down, and they come in small and large sizes which is perfect for both adults and kids.
When we finish our morning tea, we head into the pet store and oogle over all the birdies, fishies, puppies, mice, ferrets, kittens and snakes. They even normally allow us to touch the slithery little creatures! The boys have no fear stroking the lovely spotted pythons (all I can think of is - my, wouldn't you make a lovely handbag! Oops!) x
Kellyville Pets offer free school holiday activities, so make sure you follow them on FB to see what is on offer - they really are the prefect cheap boredom buster for families!
106 Windsor Rd Beaumont Hills NSW
Open 7 days from 8.30am
This is our "regular".
It's one of those cafes where you walk in and grab a table and your coffees instantly appear without ordering. It's one of those cafes where, when seeing one of our little men having a major meltdown they run over with a marshmallow to make them happy again. It's one of those cafes where they know us all by name. It's one of those cafes where you can queue jump just cause you're a regular! And I love it!
Little Rock is located on the outside of the Stockland Mall at Baulkham Hills. Stockland Mall has loads of parking, the 3 major supermarkets, 2 wine shops, an excellent and very expensive artisan butcher and also a Harris Farm Market - so Little Rock is the perfect spot to recharge your batteries before or after tackling the weekly grocery shop with your kids!
Little Rock is also located right next door to the mall's playground which has just had a major revamp and it really is quite lovely. It's called My Funland and it has been built in conjunction with the Touched by Olivia Foundation. The area is fully secure and has a fairyland theme. There are little places to sit, things to climb over, a fort with a slide, a chalk board, a musical instrument as well as lots of touchy feely things.
Quite a few of the outdoor tables have a good view over the playground so if you want to meet up with a group of friends I suggest that you ring ahead and make a booking, as this cafe can get quite busy. You can bring along your pram, but if every table is full of parents with prams, it may get a bit squishy. There is also a big stack of high chairs available. If your kids don't want to play they have a shelf full of children's books as well as gossip magazines for Mummas.
They have an excellent kids menu called the 'Little Rockers' that covers breakfast and lunch. The boys favourites are the kids pancake as well as vegemite toast. Like other smart cafe operators kid's milkshakes come in takeaway coffee cups as do juices. Their babycinos are a good choice at $1.20 and they come with a marshmallow. If you order a kids size hot chocolate just ask one of the friendly waitresses for it to be served in a take away cup to avoid any spillages.
As for the adult's menu, Mr Munch thinks they serve the best value bacon & egg roll in town at $7.50. The rest of the menu is also reasonably priced and you order everything from a simple sandwich to a full on main meal. Their Vittoria coffee is excellent and make sure you have a perv at the awesome mural on the interior wall of the cafe of Mr Pacino sipping his espresso.
The closest loo is in the mall, so you actually have to leave the cafe. However there is an excellent little parents room where you and your progeny can wee and you can change nappies and breast feed in private. On that note the cafe is frequented by loads of mums and kids so you always feel comfortable breastfeeding the bub here and the lovely staff are more then happy to warm a bottle for you.
375 Windsor Rd Baulkham Hills NSW 2153
02 9639 4446
Open from 7.00am 7 days
On our honeymoon we went to Italy with the plan of spending many long lunches in trattorias in the hills of Tuscany. Unfortunately when we arrived in Tuscany at our quaint (I use that term loosely) little appartamento, Mr Munch came down with an almighty dose of chicken pox!! And it rained non stop, and our accommodation had a serious dose of the roof leaks!! So we hot footed it back to Rome as soon as we could to be close to medical facilities and also to stay in a fully sealed hotel. We have unfinished business with Tuscany, so in the meantime we have discovered a lovely trattoria in the hills of Sydney - 42 Bannerman Trattoria & Bar in Glenhaven, where we can have many a long lunch - and it is kid friendly!
42 Bannerman Trattoria & Bar is located at 42 Bannerman Rd but you actually access it from Glenhaven Rd. The trattoria is in a converted house, just like so many are in Italy. There is a decent amount of parking right out the front and if you have a pram there is easy access into the restaurant as well as room to park it next to your table. 42 Bannerman also have the other kid friendly features such as high chairs and a baby change table in the disabled loo.
The house has one very large wooden door that you need to push open to enter. As soon as we walked in, a lovely young member of staff greeted us and showed us to our table. The interior of the trattoria is decked out in dark wood furniture, exposed brick walls and slate floors. There are retro Italianesque posters on the wall and the kitchen in glass fronted so you can spy on all of the chefs in action.
As soon as we sat down we were presented with the longest grissini that I have ever seen! And of course the first thing the boys wanted to do with them was to have a sword fight. To avoid someone being stabbed in the eye (more than likely our waitress) we brought out the electronic devices. I recommend that you bring yours along too so that you can keep the kids occupied whilst you enjoy the beautiful food that they serve at 42 Bannerman. And if you are like me and have a little bag of crayons/pencils in your bag, the kids will be able to use these on the brown paper that covers the table.
On Sundays at lunch time they serve up an Italian Table feast. You can be terribly sensible and order off the a la carte menu, or you can place your taste buds in the hands of the chefs and order the "surprise menu" for $45/head. We went for the latter. And don't worry, if you have any dietary requirements, just let your waitress know and she will advise the kitchen to prepare something according to your needs. Children are also catered for as they offer two options for $15.00 - a chicken schnitzel or pasta with Neapolitan sauce, so we ordered one of each for the boys.
The chicken schnitzel was delicious - home made of course and the chips were made from the thinnest slices of potato! My little man couldn't eat all of this dish, so if you have small eaters in your brood it may be a wise idea to only order one to share. My bigger boy on the other hand gobbled down all of his pasta. He was a bit perplexed when the dish first arrived on the table and it didn't look like the packet pasta that I use at home. When I explained that it was hand made, he wanted to know why I didn't do that with ours as it tasted so good!
There is a great range of gelato for kidlets to have for dessert (they of course can order off the dessert menu too).The boys went with a scoop of chocolate mint.
During the kids meal, our food had been steadily arriving. Our first "surprise" dish was the antipasto plate. There were shiny olives, roasted capsicums, arancini, polenta fingers, some sort of very spicy salami, and two little slices of bread that had yummy toppings - blue cheese and walnut as well as smoked salmon and a herby cheese. I could eat this sort of food all day, especially if I have a lovely cold bottle of vino to accompany it - like the lovely prosecco that they serve at 42 Bannerman!
Next was our Pasta course, and I think this was my favourite dish of the meal. The very large pasta shells (conchiglione) were stuffed full of meaty mushrooms, pork & fennel sausage meat, spinach and cream. The flavour combination was spectacular and I would happily just go back to order this dish for myself and myself only!
For our Secondi course we had spatchcock. I'm not normally a fan of this little dude as I find it a bit fiddly to eat (and I'm not very good at sucking on bones in public, unlike my husband). But the flavour of this bird was perfect and it was served atop asparagus with pecorino and a most delicious peppercorn type of sauce.
Dessert is not included in the Italian Table price but it was my birthday and I wasn't going to miss out on dolci (we were dining at 42 Bannerman because it was 42nd birthday!!). There were 2 choices - chocolate profiteroles, lavender pannacotta or sfingi. I had never heard of sfingi before so I ordered them - it's amazing how you start to live dangerously in your 40s. Anyway I soon discovered that sfingi are Sicilian donuts. There were 3 of these delicious little deep fried beauties in the dish and they came with peaches and cream - and they were most definitely the perfect way to finish the meal.
My advice to you dear readers is that you wear your stretchy pants when you dine at 42 Bannerman Trattoria & Bar for their Italian Table long lunch! If however you don't think your kids can cope with sitting at a table for such a long period they also do Pizza & Birra nights in their outdoor court yard Fri - Sun nights from the very family friendly hour of 4pm. Your kidlets will have some room to roam around and gorgeous themselves on beautiful wood fired pizza and you can sit back and enjoy a beer or two!
42 Bannerman Rd (entry from Glenhaven Rd)
Restaurant Dinner: Thu - Sat from 6pm
Pizza & Birra: Fri- Sun 4pm - 8pm
Lunch: Sun 12 -2.30pm
I think that I can safely say that Wild Pear Cafe in Dural is the most popular cafe in the Hills district. If you ask anyone who lives out in this part of Sydney for a recommendation for a lovely breakfast, the majority will say Wild Pear Cafe.
We first reviewed the cafe back in 2013 and we were really impressed with the ambience, service and quality of the food. We dined with the boys and had an enjoyable breakfast and the only issue we had at the time, was that the kids menu was on the expensive side. It's now two and half years later, and we have been back to visit Wild Pear (this time without the kids) and it was all to do with a milkshake!
Wild Pear Cafe are now famous for their Rosewater Milkshake with Pashmak. Photos of this very pretty girl have been clogging my social media for months, so when my birthday just happened to occur on a day where both of my offspring were at their institutions of education, I convinced Mr Munch to take me out there for brunch!
The "Pash Me" shake (my new name for it) was a pure delight and at $7.90 quite delightful value for money and it most certainly put a smile on my birthday dial. As did my huge meal of Mushrooms, Fetta, & Walnut Sage Butter on Toast with Fried Eggs. See that's the thing, some of the meals at Wild Pear are a tad expensive (like most cafes these days) BUT the size of the portion and the deliciousness of the food, certainly make up for it.
I was surprised to find that on a Thursday morning at about 9.30am, that Wild Pear was almost full to the brim. I know on weekends you can't score a table unless you have a booking, and it looks like weekdays are heading that way too. There were business men, gorgeous young things who instagrammed everything they saw, new Mums with big prams and young families with restless toddlers. The service was excellent and attentive, and considering how the full the place was, we received our drinks and meals really quickly.
Now back to the kid friendly aspects of Wild Pear. There is parking out the front of the cafe but it does get quite full. And as they share their property with a posh pot shop, you need to make sure you read the signs and not park in front of the said posh pots. Once you have unloaded your brood, you can easily drive your pram straight into the cafe, but I suggest if you dining at peak hour, you should ring ahead and make a booking and advise them that you are encumbered. When this place is full, there isn't a lot of room to move a pram around. There is both indoor and outdoor seating with the tables on the outside large wrap around verandah being the most popular as they have views over the rural 'hood of Dural.
High chairs are available, toilets are on site and they still have their kids menu for breakfast and lunch. Babycinos will set you back $1.00, kid size shakes are served in cute milk bottles and cost $3.50 and a kids juice will cost you $2.90. So that you can enjoy your yummy meal and also the pretty shake in peace, I suggest that you pack some sort of activity to occupy your little munchers.
Wild Pear has been operating for quite a few years now and I think it will be around for a long time to come. It was the perfect spot for a birthday brunch, so next time you are looking for a lovely cafe to have a special meal at (with or without the kids) or just want to treat yourself to a Pash Me Milkshake, Wild Pear Cafe is it x
658 Old Northern Rd Dural NSW 2158
02 9651 6600
Open 7 days 8am - 4pm
In the neighbourhood....
I have a confession to make - I'm not a very good driver. I much prefer to be in the passenger seat than behind the wheel. See, I have this fairly decent cafe radar - my eyes can spot them from miles off, and as a result it is much safer for me not to be in charge of the wheel. Take for example last week when I was driving down a very familiar street in Castle Hill, a street where a favourite cafe of mine closed down earlier this year (Air Coffee). When I spied a sign called Beanmeister - lets just say that in my excitement at discovering a new cafe, the kerb and my front wheel had a bit of an unhappy meeting.
Anyway I am very pleased to report that I can still drive my car and that Beanmeister is most definitely a cafe - a new cafe in the exact same spot that was once home to Air Coffee, and they have literally just swung open their doors for business! And thankfully Beanmeister is just as good as Air Coffee used to be. The cafe actually is very similar to the previous one - the coffee is still brilliant but they use different beans (Black Drum Roasters), the amount of fantastic space is still the same, and the yummy menu is very similar also to what you could munch on at Air.
For those of you have not been to this cafe before, the best place to park is on the street in front of the building where it is located. Yes there is a slope that you will have to push a pram up, if you are at that stage in life, but it isn't Mt Everest so you shouldn't be too short of breath when you get to the top. Make sure you enter through the door near the outdoor seating, as you will have to negotiate a few stairs if you use the main door.
You still have the choice of sitting inside or out at Beanmeister, and whilst the interior walls and kitchen area are exactly the same, there are new tables and chairs. Whether you decide to sit inside or out there is enough room between the tables for the kidlets to wander around without causing too much disturbance to other diners. We love sitting outside so that the boys can wander around the grassy area, and play with their toy cars on the ground, but just remember to keep a close eye on little wanderers as the road is close by.
Now for the other kid friendly aspects of Beanmeister - space, there is loads of it, so gather your Mums group and have a lovely coffee date there; they have high chairs; the loo still has the baby change table in it - you will find it just up the stairs near the front door; the staff are delightful and are very accommodating of kids; and lastly there is a toy box to keep little people amused!
Kidlets don't have a dedicated menu at Beanmeister, but I'm sure you will find something for them to eat on the menu. Toast, Banana Bread, Ham & Cheese Toasties, as well as a Pasta of the Day are all good examples of options for them. The cake cabinet has some really good baked goods - my little mate loved his friand when we dropped by for a mid morning snack. For drinks they serve milkshakes, babycinos as well as a range of soft drinks to quench your little one's thirst. There is also a self help water station. I was really impressed when I asked for a babycino that the member of staff asked if I would like it in a small cup or takeaway cup - I chose the later and it came with a straw, which meant none of the usual spillages for us. By the way you order and pay at the front counter.
The reasonably priced all day menu is very similar to the one that previously existed at Air, but with a few additions. I was very happy to see that the poached eggs on toast with baby spinach and tomato relish still features on the menu, this is one of my favourite items as it is a substantial breakfast/brunch and is also great value for $10.00. Some other tasty sounding dishes on the menu are the Avocado & Sweet Pea Smash on Toasted Sourdough with Fetta, Sumac Dust & Fresh Mint; and Cauliflower & Almond Falafels with Lemon Scented Yoghurt, Pita Bread & Beetroot Dip. All sounds very healthy doesn't it! Don't worry carnivores you can fill your bellies with loads of delicious sounding options, such as a Chicken & Bacon Burger or a Tradie Egg & Bacon Roll.
Thank you Beanmeister for swinging open your doors, I'm sure local parents will be flocking there again very soon, enjoying all of that space, the brilliant coffee and tasty food.
Beanmeister's FB Page
1/10 Salisbury Ave, Castle Hill NSW
Mon - Sat: 7.30am - 3pm
Sun: 8.30am - 3pm
One of Little Munch's favourite cafes in West Pennant Hills has new owners and a new name. The very kid friendly Cosy Nook Cafe is no longer, it is now called Bella Mondo Cafe & Restaurant - and thankfully it still have its cute kids play area and it has an interesting new kids menu.
Bella Mondo Cafe & Restaurant is a bit of a hidden gem, so to find it you need to park in the car park of Coles on Pennant Hills Rd at Thompson's Corner in West Pennant Hills - this is best accessed from Castle Hill Rd (so look at a map or use your GPS if you ain't a local). The cafe is in Thorbys Arcade on the left, half way down and it is all easily accessed with a pram.
The best feature of this cafe is its kids play area. Brightly coloured farm yard murals cover the walls, there are boxes of toys, books and puzzles, a massive chalk board and tables and stools for little bottoms to sit at. It is basically one fun space for kids to occupy themselves whilst their parents sit back and enjoy their coffee. The area is also completely secured with thick glass panelling so you can always spy on what your little ones are up to.
The rest of the cafe is quite spacious and there is a decent amount of room for prams - it's the perfect hang for your mother's group. There are different sized table settings around the cafe so you can meet up with small or large groups of friends and there are even some comfy lounges where you can sit back and relax (just be careful you don't end up having a Nanna nap!). High chairs are also available and there is a loo in the cafe but it doesn't contain a baby change table.
The new menu is HUGE at Bella Mondo. All of your favourite breakfast staples are covered and at lunch time they serve up sandwiches, wraps, toasties, burgers, pasta, salads and hot meals in every shape and form! Your hip pocket won't be damaged too badly as most of the meals are under $15.00.
And kids now have their very own menu which has some healthy and some not so healthy options:
Bella's Junior Meals
They serve a strong brew of Bay Coffee now at Bella Mondo, so if you need a caffeine jolt to start your day, this is the place for you. They also have a fresh juice bar if you need a vitamin hit. For kids, babycinos are available but my little mate was a wee bit disappointed that the marshmallow was missing in action! If your bambinos have outgrown babycinos, hot chocolates, pop tops and shakes are on the menu. I noticed some sweet kidlets on the next table slurping on milkshakes that came in disposable containers, so that always gets a big tick from me.
There is absolutely nothing pretentious about Bella Mondo - it's a good old fashioned cafe. As much as I love a trendy hipster style cafe, they're not always that child friendly. Sometimes their regulars aren't really that happy dining alongside kidlets who are prone to tantrums, melt downs and hissy fits. So luckily there are old fashioned cafes like this that are welcoming of children, where you can go and not feel the pressure to make your kids behave like the perfect little angels that they aren't x
Shop 10 Thorbys Arcade
562 Pennant Hills Rd, West Pennant Hills
02 9484 2479
Mon - Sat: 7am - 7pm
Sun: 8am - 3pm
We travel along the nightmare that is Pennant Hills Road quite often when we are coming and going from Sydney. Recently when we were coming back from holidays, we were stuck in absolute gridlock, so we decided to take a detour onto Normanhurst Road. This turned out to be an act of pure brilliance, as when we got to the end of the road we discovered the Normanhurst Shops (in Denman Parade), and our latest Little Munch find - the delightful No. 38 Cafe!
No. 38 has only had its coffee machine fired up for a few months. It is open 7 days a week from 7am during the week, and from 8am on weekends - so it is the perfect place to grab a caffeine fix when your little mud larks wake. When you arrive, it should be quite easy to find a car space on the street out the front of the shops where the cafe is. There are some tables and chairs outside of No.38 Cafe, but the interior of the cafe is lovely, so I suggest you sit in there. Just a word of warning for those of you with prams, there are a few steps to be negotiated to get into the room where the indoor seating is located.
The interior of the No. 38 Cafe is what I would call stylish simplicity. An on trend colour scheme of copper and muted blues is throughout the space and a big mural of the number 38 dominates one of the walls. There are tables of all sizes and shapes, as well as some lovely lounges to relax in. If you are able to get your pram into the interior, there is enough room to park it next to where you sit, or you can use one of the available high chairs if your bub is old enough.
Some other aspects of this cafe that I love are the handbag hooks on the tables so that your bag is in reaching distance when you quickly need to rip out the baby wipes (and yes fist time parents, you keep using them until your kids are practically teenagers!); the little library nook where you can pick up a book and then sit back in a comfy lounge and have a quick read (actually that probably won't happen if you have the kids with you); and last, but not least, the roll of butchers paper and colouring pencils that you can help yourself too, so that the kids have something to do whilst you enjoy your brew. You will find these in the little room on the way to the loos. Oh and the unisex toilet facilities are quite fabulous (however they don't contain a baby change table). The wash basin and tap handles are amazing - I want them in Chez Little Munch!
OK lets move on now to the all important coffee. It is excellent. They use Gabriel beans and our flat whites were perfectly brewed. Small coffees are $3.50 and it's an extra dollar for a large. And for non coffee drinkers, I noticed that you can even get a pot of hot water and lemon for $2.00 - something you don't see on too many menus. The boys had a hot chocolate and apple juice and they also serve up mini milkshakes and smoothies for kids ($4), and of course there are babycinos available and they will cost you $1.50.
There is a decent menu for kidlets for both breakfast and lunch. To start the day little ones can have Toast Fingers ($4) with peanut butter, vegemite, jam or smashed avo; Banana Bread ($4); Ham & Cheese or Bacon & Cheese Sliders for $4.50 each; Sausages & Egg ($7); Mini Waffles ($7) served with banana & berries or with maple syrup. At lunch time the menu is $8.50 and kids can choose between Chicken/Fish Goujons with chips or Chicken/Beef sliders with chips.
Our little lads actually chose something from the front counter for their breakfast - pain au chocolate and a cherry danish. There are also freshly baked muffins available as well as a delicious selection of sweet treats that would be perfect with a morning coffee. I'm sure your babes will clock the cute looking cupcakes and cookies when they walk past!
The breakfast menu for adults ranges in price from $11.00 - $22.00. We thoroughly recommend the Signature Avocado (smashed avo with mint, za'atar, rocket, roast tomato & poached eggs) as well as the Breakfast Burger (bacon, egg, Swiss cheese, tomato, English spinach & relish on a milk bun). At lunch time soup, burgers, delicious sounding salads, as well as a daily selection of sandwiches and baguettes are available, with prices starting at $7.50.
When you have finished at No. 38 grab a takeaway and head down the road to Davidson Park where there is a playground for the kids to play in - you can even do some train spotting as the park is right next to the northern train line.
So Little Munchers, next time you find yourself battling the traffic gridlock that is Pennant Hills Rd, I thoroughly recommend you take a little detour off into Normanhurst Rd so that you end up at the delightful No. 38 Cafe.
38 Denman Pde, Normanhurst NSW
Mon - Fri: 7am - 5pm
Sat - Sun: 8am - 3pm
There aren't too many times when you dine out with kids that you can call the experience relaxing (unless of course you are lucky enough to have a nanny who can sort the kids out for you). However I think once you have dined at the Fig House Coffee House in semi rural Kenthurst, you will feel not only relaxed but at one with nature as this is one delightful cafe located in an even more delightful garden setting.
The Fig Coffee House has only been open for a couple of weeks - Mother Earth Cafe occupied the building previously and its nursery still exists right next to the cafe. The new owners have given the cafe a nip and tuck and also opened up out the back into a gorgeous garden area. The first thing you will notice when you arrive is the water fall cascading over the roof of the cafe into a pond at the front door. There is a decent amount of parking in front of the cafe and pram access is relatively easy (only a couple of short steps to go up). The interior of the cafe is quite rustic and the perfect spot to sit on a rainy day, however if you have kids - you really need to head outside.
There are just so many different places to sit outside amongst the lush garden setting at the Fig Coffee House. When we arrived around 9am we had our pick of tables as there weren't too many other diners (you can also make a reservation). We headed away from everyone else and sat on a table up the back of the garden next to the lamas. Yes there are lamas, not actually in the grounds of the cafe but in the paddock next to it.
There are water features scattered throughout the garden which makes the whole space so peaceful and relaxing. There is plenty of room for children to wander and also enough room to park quite a few prams (hint for your next Mother's Group outing). If your kids have CSI training like mine do, they will spot the kids play area immediately, so I suggest you sit somewhere in eye sight of that. And if you are putting that nanny to good use and have scored some time off from the kids, there are some quiet nooks where you can avoid the noise that will inevitably come from the play area.
The small kids play area is fully enclosed and has little tables and chairs where kidlets can do a spot of colouring in as well as a chalkboard easel. There is a seating area right next to this play area which is the perfect spot to sit you have toddlers who you need to keep a close eye on (you do have to go down a couple of steps to this seating area). And don't worry if your little ones need to piddle they don't need to go behind one of the trees in the garden, as the toilets are right next to the play area. The loos don't contain a baby change table, but there are quite a few private spaces where you can change bub's nappy in the pram.
Now it's time to talk about the food! At the Fig Coffee House the attention to detail in the presentation of the menu is impressive. Take for example the kids milkshakes - they come in a mason jar that has a lid and a red stripy straw and then a baby donut is placed on top - too cute! And don't worry adults, you too receive a wee donut with your shake. Even the babycino is super cute with its sprinkle of 100 and 1000s, oh and it is absolutely FREE!
The kids menu is also worthy of a big thumbs up - at breakfast time kids can munch on an egg on toast ($6); an egg & bacon on toast ($8); or the beautifully presented and very healthy fresh fruit plate with vanilla yoghurt ($8) which my babe hungrily devoured. At lunch time there are 4 options to fill little bellies - cheese on toast ($6); grilled chicken skewers ($8); battered barramundi ($8); or crumbed chicken strips ($8).
My big boy wanted a muffin for breakfast and the choc chip and strawberry muffin of the day was huge! And it was beautifully presented with pretty edible flowers and berries as well as a little puff of fairy floss (which is missing from the photo below because it was quickly snapped up by a jealous younger brother). They make so many delicious baked goods in house at the Fig Coffee House (make sure you check out the cake cabinet inside) and you can even have a devonshire tea. And just in case you were wondering, yes the coffee ($3.50) is excellent - they use di stefano beans and our skim flat whites were perfectly made.
Now children don't deserve all the food fun do they! The adults menu at breakfast time covers typical cafe favourites as well as some other interesting selections. We had the perfectly cooked, good old bacon and eggs ($15) which came with grilled tomato on toast. Now if you prefer something a bit fancier why not try the Sweet Potato Rosti with chorizo, wilted spinach, poached eggs & spiced maple glaze ($19.50) or the Seeded Muesli with quinoa, fresh orange, poached mandarins & vanilla yoghurt & toasted pistachios ($16.50). If you just feel like something light toast and spreads are available and their version of banana bread sounds so good, as it also has figs and walnuts in it and is served with honey butter!
At lunch time the menu does start to verge in the expensive side for a cafe, but then you do have to remember the setting you are in! You can have everything from soup of the day for $10.00 to Moroccan Spiced Lamb Cutlets on a sweet potato rosti with broccolini & sweet tomato chutney for $30.00. When I go back I will definitely be trying out the Salt & Chilli Squid with a rocket, apple, orange & pistachio salad (e $12.50/m $18.50). And something I haven't mentioned yet, is that they offer full table service at the Fig Coffee House, so you don't have to leave your kids whilst you go inside and order.
I think the Fig Coffee House is going to become one of the most popular cafes in the Hills District. Even if you aren't from the area I'm sure if you make a day trip out to Kenthurst you will thoroughly enjoy your time at the Fig Coffee House. It actually is really like a Mother Earth experience - your mind, body and soul will thank you for it - oh and so will the kids I suspect!
1a Annangrove Rd, Kenthurst NSW
Tue - Fri: 9am - 4pm
Sat - Sun: 8.30am - 4.00pm
Yet again a reader has given me a red hot tip about a delightful kid friendly cafe - thank you Jess! This latest tip is for a cafe called Mannelli's, and it is located in the Burnside Shopping Village in Oatlands - it's actually a bit of a hidden gem. Tucked safely away inside the Burnside Housing Estate, you would probably never know that it existed unless you were local. And Little Munch is just about to unearth it, so that all of the Mammas & Pappas of Sydney now know about it!
There's a lot to like about Mannelli's, especially the fact that they serve an excellent brew of Campos coffee and that babycinos are free with every coffee purchased! But I'm getting ahead of myself - let's go back to the start shall we - where do you park? The Burnside Shopping Village has ample parking right out the front, and if for some reason this is full, you can also park on the street. Pram access is very easy into the cafe. You can choose to sit inside or out and there is just enough room to park your pram next to your table. They also have a couple of funky looking high chairs available for those little bottoms to sit in. If your kids need occupying whilst you eat, make sure your bring along some colouring in.
The interior is lovely and clean with loads of subway tiling, recycled wood and exposed brick completing the fit out. After you have decided where you are going to sit, you grab a menu and then place your order at the counter. They serve breakfast and lunch at Mannelli's and make sure you check out glass fronted food cabinets as there are some mighty fine sweet treats to have with your coffee. And the kids have their very own treats too - fairy bread, smiley face cookies and jelly cups.
Kidlets are seriously well catered for at Mannelli's. The Mini Mannelli's menu is available for kids under the age of 12 years. At breakfast time a double stack of pancakes ($7) features on the menu and kids can choose to have them served with either cinnamon butter & ice cream or chocolate sauce & ice cream. If these don't tickle their taste buds, banana bread, toast & spreads, fresh muffins and fresh fruit salad are all available for them to munch on. At lunch time the typical kids menu is $7 and there are 3 choices - sliders/chicken tenderloins or fish cocktails are served with hot chippies.
My little dudes have road tested the toast for breakfast and also the slider at lunch time. Both were given the big thumbs up - especially the slider. Sliders are the perfect size for little mouths, don't you think? Mannelli's version came with a tasty beef patty, cheese, salads leaves and your kids choice of sauce. On the side was handful of crunchy hot chips.
The menu for big people at Mannelli's is served all day and included options suitable for both breakfast and lunch. All your favourite breakfast staples are covered such as Eggs Benedict and Triple Stack Pancakes. Their version of a big breakfast is called the Mega Mannelli's ($18.50) and it has basically everything on it - toast, eggs, bacon, sausages, beans, avocado, mushrooms, spinach & tomatoes. They also do my favourite - Avocado Smash with Poached Eggs. This dish is huge and very reasonably priced at $13.00. The avo smash was almost like a guacamole and there was loads of it, so much that I couldn't eat it all.
At lunch time there are yummy looking wraps in the front counter as well as some very tasty menu items such as a Mediterranean Plate that has marinated skewers of chicken & lamb that comes with salad, garlic dip and pita bread. There are also burgers, schnitzels, fish and a very good steak sandwich which we sampled. For $9.50 this sandwich is good value and the steak was perfectly cooked - no stringy sinew on this baby, just loads of flavour!
Now I mentioned before that babycinos are free with a coffee purchase - the babycinos are served in a little espresso glass and are lined with chocolate sauce. If you want to seriously treat your kids then make sure you order them a Mini Manelli's Extreme Milkshake - these decadent shakes have a layer of jelly on the bottom of the glass, then kids can choose what flavour shake they want on top. My little mate went with chocolate and it came topped with a crumbled oreo cookie, and then to top the sugar fix off, there was a snake tied around the straw!! This shake was seriously a meal in itself.
Your kidlets probably won't need any more sugar after a visit to Mannelli's, but just in case they do, there is a basket of lollies on top of the counter. The cutely packaged bags cost $3.00 and could be a good idea if you have somewhere to travel after your meal. And here's a tip - Mannelli's is located just off Pennant Hills Rd, so if you are heading north out of Sydney for the weekend, this would be a great spot to stop for breakfast or take away coffees so that you can hit the freeway totally caffeinated! And if you need a wee break, just ask a member of staff for the toilet key, as they are just outside in the shopping village.
I love hidden gems like Mannelli's and I love that you the readers keep telling me about them! So please keep the tips coming Little Munchers x
1/1 Blackwood Place, Oatlands
02 9890 9677
Mon - Fri: 7am - 5pm
Sat - Sun: 8am - 3pm
Grocery shopping with children can be an absolute nightmare - I don't think I've met a parent yet who enjoys the experience! Hence why it is imperative that every shopping centre has a decent cafe - and that cafe needs to be smack bang next to a playground. We all need to be properly caffeinated or dosed up on sugar to handle the shopping experience. Luckily for the parents of Kellyville in North West Sydney, the weekly grocery run has just become a wee bit easier, thanks to one seriously fine cafe that has just opened up. This cafe not only serves brilliant coffee and food, but is also about as close as you can get to a fully enclosed playground! Parents, let me introduce you to The Local Trade.
The Local Trade is located on the outside of the newly renovated Kellyville Plaza. It is right next to the top car park and there are parents with pram car spots literally right at the entrance to the cafe (so make sure you keep an eye on wandering toddlers). From this car park you can also walk straight into where the Coles supermarket is. The Local Trade has both indoor and outdoor seating. If you are dining with kids, you need to sit outside, as it is right next to the playground. During winter there is heating available out here and this area also receives beautiful morning sun to keep you nice and toasty.
The playground is brand spanking new and is probably most suited for kids under the age of 8 years. The ground is nice and spongy and there are some park benches in here for parents to sit on. It is also protected from the sun by a large shade sail. Once you have deposited your kids in the playground, take a seat at one of the tables and the staff will come out and serve you - luckily it's table service so you don't have to leave your kidlets alone whilst you go inside and order. The interior of The Local Trade is simple but stylish, and it is easy to access with your pram, but there isn't a huge amount of room to park them near your table, so either pop your little one in one of the high chairs provided or try to sit outside where there is loads more space.
At The Local Trade, kidlets have their very own well priced menu and it includes items suitable both for breakfast and lunch. At the start of the day, little ones can enjoy eggs and soldiers; bacon & egg sliders; or pikelets & maple syrup - all of which cost $8.00. At lunch time a cheesy burger & fries, crispy chicken & fries, as well as fish & chips feature and they all cost $9.00. Kids milkshakes cost $4.00 and babycinos $2.00 (and from what I've seen it's a fairly standard babycino).
The boys shared a serve of the pikelets for breakfast - 3 big fat ones, and they were a wee bit excited to have some ice cream at breakfast time, as this dish is accompanied by a scoop of it. To further increase their calcium intake for the day, they also had milkshakes which come is a large melamine cups and the milk that they use at The Local Trade is seriously creamy, which results in the shakes being absolutely divine. They also have a shake of day for adults which look very naughty indeed!
The adults menu has quite a Middle Eastern feel to it. The breakfast menu is simply delicious. You all need to try the soy & linseed toast with avocado, sumac tomatoes, fetta and poached eggs ($16). Besides looking picture perfect, this dish is huge and the best way to start the day! The omelette is also a good choice - it comes with mushrooms, fetta & avocado ($17). If this isn't carnivore enough for you, then perhaps try the mixed plate - crispy pancetta or sucuk (spicy sausage), eggs your way, avocado, hash, fetta, corn, tomato & sourdough ($19). Lovers of a sweet breakfast should try the yummy sounding wholemeal rhubarb pancakes with candied nuts & maple syrup ($15).
At lunch time you can fill your bellies with some awesome sounding salads or with a steak baguette with salsa verde, onion jam, manchego, wild rocket & fries ($17); a wagyu beef burger; fish of the day or braised lamb with seasonal vegies & pearl barley ($21). I suggest that you also keep room for a sweet treat afterwards. They are made by local talent called The Cake Couple. Their sublime little treats include nutella donuts, petite lemon and ferrero rocher chocolate tarts, eclairs and the list goes on and on (a little hint - don't wear your skinny jeans, perhaps don a pair of stretchy pants instead in case you indulge a bit too much).
And last but not least - let's talk about the coffee! It's excellent. It's Tobys Estate. It's perfectly made. Need I say more? You have the choice between the Woolloomooloo blend ($3.70) or Toby's Estate Single Origin coffee ($4). So even if you don't have the time to sit down at The Local Trade for a quick bite to eat, make sure you grab a takeaway before you head off to work or on your shopping expedition/school run/play date etc etc. This coffee beats the brews from all of the other joints in the plaza hands down, and the best bit is, if you grab yourself a coffee card, your 10th one is free!
So my dear parents, do you dread the weekly grocery shop with kidlets in tow? Do you refuel in the shopping centre's cafe or do you just head straight to Liquorland!!
Kellyville Shopping Village
90 Wrights Rd, Kellyville NSW
Mon - Wed: 7am - 5.30pm
Thu: 7am - 9pm; Fri: 7am - 5.30pm
Sat: 8am - 5pm; Sun: 8am - 4pm
I love a little neighbourhood gem! And East Ryde has a fabulous one called the Fox and Bird Cafe.
I found out about this fab little cafe after seeing a few snaps on instagram from @sweetandyummie, a chick who seems to know of every new cafe opening up in and around Sydney. I swang on by one day to check it out, and low and behold I found that not only was this cafe just so lovely, but it was also quite kid friendly!
Fox and Bird is located in the Sager Place shops in East Ryde and there is a decent amount of street parking available. Heatly Reserve is located in front of the shops and it contains a fully enclosed playground! Yay! Now if you sit on the table outside Fox and Bird, you have a good view of the playground, so if you have independent kids this is ideal. If you have little ones there is a park bench inside the playground, so you can grab takeaways from the cafe and have them in there. There is also a strip of green grass right in front of the cafe so kids can have a wee run around there - but the road is close by, so keep an eye on them.
The Fox and Bird is a smallish cafe that is prettily styled with loads of yellow tones and a semi recycled industrial feel to it. A large mural of the cafe's location features on the main wall of the cafe and on the other wall is the coffee counter/food prep area - and this is where you order and pay for your meal. There is one large communal table as well as a few smaller tables within the space. There are high chairs available and you could fit a pram in here, but it is not a large space, so don't invite all of your mothers group along to sit inside with their prams, as there definitely isn't enough room.
Kids are really well looked after in the sustenance department at Fox and Bird. Firstly, babycinos are free with any coffee purchase and they will make hot chocolates for kidlets warm and serve them in takeaway cups if you ask them nicely. Kid size milkshakes are also available for $4. Nearly everything on the menu kids will eat. From melted cheese fingers ($4) to ham & cheese croissants ($6) to fruit salad ($10) and banana bread ($5.50) - your babes won't go hungry here. There are also yummy biscuits and gingerbread men on the front counter that they can munch on for those times in between meals.
The menu at Fox and Bird is so reasonably priced! So many cafes I'm walking in to lately are charging north of $20.00 for breakfast and lunch. Yes I do understand that the price of EVERYTHING in Sydney at the moment is sky-rocketing, but it is refreshing that a neighbourhood gem is only charging $3 for raisin toast; and $8 for a bacon & egg roll; and $9 for eggs on toast. And thankfully their regular coffees are still under $4 - they are $3.50 in actual fact!
Just to let you now the weekend menu is different to the one they serve during the week. The weekday menu is fairly simple but on weekends they rock out some seriously yummy sounding brunch options - I'm thinking the Peggy Sager roll ($12) sounds like the perfect way to tackle the weekend head on - 2 poached eggs, sauteed spinach, mushrooms, aioli on Italian flat bread; or how about the sour cherry & almond loaf ($10) that comes with creamy ricotta, a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of pistachios!
Oh and their coffee is simply sublime! The Fox and Bird use Locale coffee which is from south of the border and it is delicious - and I love their patriotic green and gold cups! Tea lovers will enjoy the range of T Bar loose leaf tea, and if you prefer a cool drink they make smoothies and milkshakes and stock Phoenix juices and sodas.
Now a neighbourhood gem will not survive if their staff aren't "neighbourly." We've been to the Fox and Bird a couple of times now, and each time we were treated as locals (which we aren't). The young staff are not only welcoming, but pump out the food and coffee quickly and always with a smile for both us and the boys. And that is why our little brood will no doubt visit the Fox and Bird again and again in the near future.
So Little Munchers do you have a fabulous little child friendly neighbourhood gem like the Fox and Bird, that I need to know about at??
Shop 2, 8 Sager Place, East Ryde
Mon - Sat: 7am - 2pm
Sun: 8am - 2pm
Every now and then you just stumble into a little unassuming gem of a cafe. You're not really expecting much but then you are blown away with what eventuates. And that's exactly what happened to us the first time we visited Chat Time Cafe in Dural last year. Since that visit however, Chat Time has had a facelift and a name change and the results are amazing! The cafe is now called S.A.L.T. and it looks like it could be at home in any funky inner city location, but it's not, it is located out in the North West of Sydney, in the heart of Dural Mall.
With industrial seating, subway tiling, retro lighting and polished concrete flooring, the interior of the cafe looks completely different to the suburban cafe interior that it used to have. What isn't different however, is the service. It is still as warm and friendly as ever. The lovely owner and his team clearly love families and kids - you are always greeted with a big smile, almost like you are a long lost relative.
At S.A.L.T. there is indoor and outdoor seating, with the outdoor area being under cover. If you visit in the cooler months there are blankets available to keep you warm. If you have a pram the outdoor area is the best place to sit as it has easy access and enough room for you to park it. You will also find outside a tiny little play area for kidlets - a small table and chairs with some toys. High chairs are available as are toilets in the mall, but they do not include a baby change table.
The menu too has been tweaked somewhat at S.A.L.T. - thankfully although the "Kiddycino" still features! The "kiddycino" has definitely made it on to the list of Little Munch's best - it's like having your kidlets morning/afternoon tea all rolled into one. A plastic cup comes full of luke warm frothy chocolatey milk and is sprinkled with real chocolate flakes. This is accompanied by a small handful of tiny teddys, 2 marshmallows and a lollipop. For $3.00 I think this is good value, as I've been to some cafes and all you get for the same price is a small cup of frothed milk. Make sure you do ask for a kiddycino and not a babycino ($1) as they also serve these, but they only have a marshmallow and we wouldn't your bambinos to be disappointed now, would we.
Little Ones also have their very own menu at S.A.L.T. and it is very reasonably priced. Sandwiches are $4.00 each and you have a choice between nutella, honey, vegemite or peanut butter. They do grilled cheese fingers $3.00 ($8 with ham); a ham & cheese croissant ($9); and chicken strips with chips will cost $10.00. For morning/afternoon tea you can obviously have the kiddycino or a slice of fairy bread for $2.00. There are also loads of sweet treats on the display shelves. If your kids think they are too big for kiddycinos they also have juice poppers, kids size milkshake, ice cream sodas and a full range of soft drinks available.
We've dined both for lunch and breakfast at S.A.L.T. and the menu is still as tasty as ever. The sandwiches at lunch time are awesome with my favourite being the Southern Style Fried Chicken with slaw and aioli (pictured above). Old school open melts, burgers, salads and soup are also on the menu. The menu ranges in price from $8 - $17 and there is something available to suit most dietary requirements.
The all day breakfast menu is outstanding! This has become out favourite spot to enjoy brekkie after the boy's sport on weekends. The home made baked beans with smoked bacon and parmesan are the perfect way to warm yourself up after standing on a rugby pitch for too long at some ungodly hour and the omelette, well let me tell you it's probably the best we have sampled in Sydney to date! It is perfectly cooked, beautifully light and fluffy and you can choose what fillings come wrapped up in it. Some other options we are yet to try are the zucchini & fetta fritters with smoked salmon & mint; or the home toasted granola with tahini yoghurt & fresh fruit. I was also very excited to see that S.A.L.T. are using sourdough from the Bread and Butter Project - this is an awesome bakery with a social conscious that I love to support.
S.A.L.T. is also an excellent spot to stop in for a caffeine fix and sweet treat. Coffee lovers will enjoy the decent Lavazza brew that comes with a tiny teddy (if you are dining with more than one kid you may have to ask for more tiny teddies so that you can share the love between your kids, or just eat it yourself!). Freshly baked muffins, scrolls, pastries and slices as well as big fat cookies are available to satisfy your sweet cravings. My pick is the double caramel slice that is flavoured chai like spices - it is seriously decadent!
Being located next to Woolies and ALDI plus some other excellent shops in the Dural Mall (make sure you check out the butcher), means that S.A.L.T. is the perfect spot for a caffeine fix before you do your weekly shop. It's also a great place to catch up for a gossip with the girls or just to sneak out to for a quick lunch by yourself with the kids. S.A.L.T. is open 7 days a week from 8am and they do get very busy as they are a firm favourite amongst Dural residents. And now that they have had their lovely make over, I'm sure the crowds will be coming form further afield as well - so maybe get in early to nab yourself a table.
I must mention that S.A.L.T. is a cash only business, so make sure you go to the ATM before you arrive. And if kidlets have been well behaved during their visit, they can ask the cashier sweetly for a lollipop that is in the big barrel on the front counter x
So my lovelies, do you have a child friendly neighbourhood gem as good as S.A.L.T.? Would you like to share it with all the rest of us?
Dural Mall, 46 Kenthurst Rd Dural NSW 2158
Open 7 days - breakfast & lunch
One of our favourite child friendly cafes in the North West of Sydney has had a change of ownership and a change of name. To make sure that it was still child friendly as ever, we popped out there for lunch recently, on a beautiful sunny day. Mezze Me in Rouse Hill has now become the Mezze Bar Cafe which has now become The Local Shed (May 2016). And I am happy to report that it is still as fabulous as ever, and still as child friendly as ever - and the food - well it is simply amazing!
Meze Bar Cafe is located in the historic Mungerie House in Rouse Hill. Just to give you a quick history lesson - this building dates back to the 1890's and was once the top floor of a two storey house that was located across the road! For some reason the bottom floor was demolished and they moved the top floor (on top of logs) to its current position and it became the homestead for a large sheep property. That property has now become a housing estate, but luckily the building has survived and we can enjoy all it has to offer, when we visit Mezze Bar Cafe.
Mezze Bar Cafe is a really spacious, light and airy cafe. There is loads of seating inside and out, and there is very easy access for prams - it's the ideal spot for a Mother's Group, as quite a few prams can fit around the outside tables. The day we visited for lunch, nearly every table had a pram parked next to it! There are high chairs and decent toilet facilities with a baby change table too, so families are very well catered for here. If you need a bottle to be heated up, just ask a member of staff and they will do it for you, and if you want to occupy your kidlets at the table, they have colouring in supplies. My boys however prefer the cool playground that is right next door to the cafe!
The all ages and abilities playground has very clean sand pits, climbing frames, a water pump, slippery slides, those things your kids speak (yell) to each other through, a mini castle and the longest snake you will ever see, that snakes its way around the whole playground. My favourite thing about this playground is that there aren't any swings!! So you don't hear every 2 minutes "Mum can you push me." There is a swimming pool and tennis court also on site but these are for the use of the residents of the housing estate only.
Just to let you know, you don't have full sight of your kids in the playground and it isn't fenced, so depending on how free range your parenting style is, you may have to make your kids eat before you hit the playground with them. The outside area of the cafe is hedged with plants so when you are sitting down your visibility of the playground is limited. Now that the boys are that little bit older, we let them play down there by themselves, if there aren't that many kids in the playground. From some of the tables that are located outside you can stand and see and hear your kids. However on a day when the playground and the cafe are packed, I wouldn't be so relaxed and I would be down there with them.
There is a lovely grassed area in front of the outdoor eating area, so another idea would be to bring along a picnic blanket and plonk yourselves down on that, with some takeaways from Mezze Bar Cafe and that way you would have full sight of the playground.
Children are very well catered for at Mezze Bar Cafe - they have their own menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My little man had the Crumbed Chicken for lunch and the portion size was huge! The chicken was so succulent and I think it had a panko crumb on the outside. For the gelato, kids can choose one scoop from a huge variety on offer and my dude went for the velvety smooth white chocolate gelato. And I love how it is served in a little plastic cup.
Babycinos ($1.50), hot chocolates ($4.50), kids size milkshakes ($3.00), soft drinks ($4.00) and bottled juices ($4.50) area all available to quench our little people's thirsts, as is table water. If you arrive in time for morning/afternoon tea you can let your kidlets choose a sweet treat from the selection on the front counter inside the cafe.
Now on to the all important food for the parents! Mmmm it's so yummy! The menu still has a Middle Eastern influence and it is such a nice change to go to a cafe and to see that there isn't a panini, or a BLT or a caesar salad in sight! The food is designed to share (or not) depending on what mood you are in. I can highly recommend the Middle Eastern Spicy Lamb ($19). This huge dish consists of freshly baked pita bread (which is nothing like you buy in the supermarket) topped with a big dash of creamy hummus and the spicy lamb mince mixture, then sprinkled with pine nuts and a handful of crisp rocket. To finish it off, it was drizzled with olive oil and I think zaatar.
The other amazing dish we sampled was the Shish Plate. Served on a beautiful aubergine coloured plate were 4 skewers of chermoula chicken and lamb kafta. They were served atop cos lettuce and tabouli then it was finished with a tahini and yoghurt dressing. A little pot of purple pickled vegetables also accompanied the meal. There are so many other tantalising sounding mezze plates on the menu as well as tagines and it all sounds so good!
If you dine at breakfast time the menu does have some classic breakfast dishes such as granola, omelettes, eggs benedict, and banana bread, but they also have quite a few Middle Eastern inspired dishes such as sweet cous cous that comes with warm cardamon milk, mixed nuts, dried fruit & rhubarb compote or the Moroccan falafel with soft poached egg, homemade mint yoghurt & roasted tomato. The breakfast menu ranges in price from $6.50 - $20.00.
If you have a sweet tooth you HAVE to try one of Mezze's desserts! Our charming waiter convinced us to sample the Sticky Spiced Persian Fig Pudding and I'm so glad he did (although I wish I had worn my stretchy pants rather than my skinny jeans). This seriously moist little pud came with double cream, caramelised figs, crushed pistachios and the most amazing fig and almond gelato! I'm also very relieved to see that they still have the spectacular dessert share plate on the menu. We had this the last time we dined at Mezze Me and it is a great plate to share with the whole family (the picture below is from our previous visit).
So my dear Little Munchers if you are after an amazing food experience that is seriously child friendly you must check Mezze Bar Cafe. This place ticks every single Little Munch box and then some!
16 Bellcast Rd, Rouse Hill NSW
Open Wed: 10am - 4pm
Thu - Sat: 9am - late
Sun: 8.30am - 4pm
**bookings recommended on weekends**
Communal tables. You will find them in most cafes these days and I don't like them! I think the reason is that you are forced to talk to people who you wouldn't normally chat to. It's not that I'm anti social (quite the opposite, I'm a real sticky beak) it's just that I had a very annoying experience a couple of weeks ago when we dined at a communal table in Lid & Jar in Rhodes.
Lid & Jar is a spacious industrial looking cafe located near Rhodes train station. On a weekend it is easy to score a parking spot close by on the street, otherwise you can park in the Rhodes Shopping Centre and then walk up. Lid & Jar's (they also have a sister cafe in Chatswood) ethos is to source the freshest ingredients possible and serve you coffee that has been made from the most perfectly roasted coffee beans. And they most certainly live up to their ethos, as both the food we ate and the coffee we drank were excellent.
There is both outside and indoor seating available at Lid & Jar, and as the cafe is so spacious you can drive your pram right into the cafe and park it right next to your table. If you sit outside your kids can run around the paved area in front of the cafe (just be warned that this area is surrounded by streets). When we arrived for breakfast on a Sunday morning, every table in the cafe was occupied except for the large communal table. So we plonked ourselves down on one side and checked out the menu. At Lid & Jar you order and pay at the front counter and the staff bring your meals to you when they are ready.
Not long after we were seated, another family came and plonked themselves down on the other side of the table. Their perfect pigeon pair of kids were a bit younger than ours, so one remained in the pram and the other one who looked about 3, was put in one of the cafe's high chairs. We exchanged pleasantries and then they proceeded to pull out an Ipad for their little one to play with (our boys were doing the same, as there isn't anything else to keep kidlets occupied at Lid & Jar). The thing is, the toddler was playing Eggy Words! My boys were playing Plants v Zombies or something equally non-educational. Then the questions started - what school do your boys go to, what reading levels are they on, where do you want them to go to high school!! And then the question that makes my skin crawl the most as a mother of two boys - are you going to try for a girl!
Luckily my coffee arrived just after that last question, because I was blown away with how picture perfect it looked and forgot to implode at the interrogator across the table. They seriously know their latte art at Lid & Jar. My skim flat white not only looked perfect but also tasted perfect. Coffees are $3.80 for a cup and $4.30 for a mug and when they are brewed this well, they are worth every cent! They also do all of those fancy pants methods of brewing - siphon, aeropress, chemex etc, which I have no clue about. For tea drinkers there is a full selection of T2 teas and you can also get your "daily fix of raw" with one of Lid & Jar's cold pressed juices ($9.30!). If you just want some H2o, help yourself to some at the front counter - it's actually very much a help yourself place, as it hard to get the attention of any of the staff especially when they are busy.
They don't have a kids menu at Lid & Jar but there are a few things that kids can eat. The front counter is full of baked goods so that is a good place to find something for breakfast and they also serve toast with spreads ($3) and banana bread. The standard babycino with a marshmallow is also available. At lunch/dinner time fruit platters, corn fritters & hot chips are some examples what kids may like to eat, but there's not much else. The boys went with their usual chocolate croissant and they had a crunchie honeycomb milkshake as well - my nemesis across the table rolled her eyes when the boy's meals arrived - she had cut up fresh fruit from home for her kids to eat! Oh well.
The adult's food is generous in size and very tasty. The Big Breakfast had scrambled eggs, bacon, chorizo, field mushrooms, roast tomatoes and wilted baby spinach as well as toasted multi grain sourdough. It's the perfect bloke's breakfast for a chilly Autumn morning as are the Fresh Corn Fritters. Two large fritters come with bacon, avocado salsa and a pile of rocket. The kitchen obviously have their act together as our meals came out very quickly despite the cafe been so busy, which was a relief for me as I didn't have to make any more polite chit chat with my communal neighbours.
After breakfast we bid farewell to our competitive communal neighbours and made a quick exit out the back door (because this is where the loos are at). The toilets were spotlessly clean and service quite a few businesses that are located next to Lid & Jar. There isn't a baby change table but there is enough room to get your pram in there to change a nappy. If you need some entertaining after your meal, the Rhodes Waterside Shopping Centre has a cinema and an Ikea and for an outdoor option you can head down towards the water and go for a stroll in the the park that borders the river.
Do you like sitting at communal table Little Munchers? And what is the most annoying question you get asked as a parent?
3/7 Rider Blvd, Rhodes NSW 2138
02 9188 2598
Mon - Fri: 7am - 11pm
Sat - Sun: 8am - 11pm
When friends from our previous life (i.e. pre kidlet days) call us to organise a pub lunch on a weekend, we always travel to them in the lower north shore/inner west/eastern suburbs of Sydney. See that's where the cool pubs are, that serve the fancy pants pub food. Out here in suburbia we do indeed have some excellent pubs, but they aren't necessarily all that sophisticated. However now that we have discovered The Fiddler, we are going to start making them come to us because this is one classy hotel, that serves up some great pub grub and is oh so kid friendly!
The Fiddler has been given a serious nip and tuck of late. Once upon a time it had a bit of a bad reputation but since the plastic surgeon moved in and smoothed out all of the wrinkles via some lovely interior design and implementing a tasty new menu, The Fiddler now looks like it could belong in the Hemmes stable of hotels. Muted green colours, white subway tiling, verdant green plants, black and white stripy umbrellas, as well as weather-boards and corrugated iron make for a design style that I call Australian chic.
There are different areas where you can sit to eat or drink at your leisure at The Fiddler. We entered via The Courtyard and here there are tables of all different sizes under the beautiful old palm trees. The access is very easy for those of you have prams and there are loads of high chairs available. This is where we sat right in front of the kitchen. There is also the lovely Verandah which is where one can do High Tea (kids included); then there is the Sports area down from the kitchen right in front of the big TV that has a ping pong table that kids can use at any time. Another area is called The Irish - this is the original pub that has been serving up ale since 1826 and it literally looks like it has been transported direct from Tipperary.
I'm presuming all of the plants around the pub look so verdant because they are watered so often by some of The Fiddler's youngest patrons. Just near the kitchen is a wall of brightly coloured watering cans that can be filled up from the water taps below them. Kids can either water the hanging herb garden that is next to it or any of the plants that are around the pub. My tip is to fill a can up for your kids when you first arrive, and let them water so that you can have a moment's peace to read through the menu.
Children have their very own menu at The Fiddler and it doubles as a chatterbox (between you and me, we had to google how to make it), I suppose you can call it craft in the pub! Anyway the boys chose the Mini Fiddler Dog and the Beef Cheese Burger. When you order the meals you are given vouchers for a free soft drink and a free ice cream for them. The kids soft drink came in a disposable plastic cup - this scores a big fat tick from me. I hate it when you order a kids soft drink when you go out and it comes in a glass, as you end up spending your whole meal making sure said glass does not get knocked over and shatter into a million little pieces over the floor.
The kids meals were a really decent size - the burger was like a little slider and made out of wagyu (not that most kids would have a clue what that is). The dog was served in a little cocktail roll with tomato sauce and was devoured in seconds by my 6 year old. The ice cream comes in a little tub with a spoon and on the kitchen bench you will find toppings that you squirt over it. For $8 and $9 these were great value meals. And they were served on melamine plates - every single little detail which makes life easier eating out with kids has been thought of at The Fiddler.
The main menu has all of traditional pub favourites but just done in that gastro pub way. You will find all of the current food trends such as pulled pork, quinoa and panko crumbs on the menu in some form or another. The pulled pork bun was extremely filling and full of perfectly braised shoulder meat, slaw & chilli mayo. A big serve of crunchy chips came on the side. Likewise the beer battered fish and chips was also filling as it was so large in size - 3 huge flathead fillets came with a mound of chips and home made tartare. There is a good selection of salads, pizzas, burgers and seafood on offer as well as gluten free and vegetarian options.
Thankfully The Fiddler has a decent wine list, it's sometimes a bit difficult to get anything other than a glass of rough red in suburban pubs. However at The Fiddler you can have everything from a glass of French bubbles to a crisp NZ sav blanc. If you're not a wino then the range of cocktails is outstanding as it the selection of craft beers on tap. They even make milkshakes, smoothies and soda floats - so all drinking palates are catered for.
For some reason we decided to order dessert, something we rarely do at lunch time. I was going to order the churros with dipping chocolate but then I was convinced by the lovely lass who took my order to order the special of the day - the pretzel with pots of dark and white chocolate. To be honest it didn't rock my world, I should have stuck with the churros. It was the pretzel - I thought it may have been crunchy, but it wasn't. Instead it was dense and bland and as a result it was a bit underwhelming.
After drinking a bit too much lemonade the boys required a pit stop. I found the toilets in The Irish section, and although they are in need of a bit of a nip and tuck they are perfectly sufficient because they have a family room where you can feed your baby in private, a baby change table and there is even a toddler toilet in the handicapped loo - so that gets a big tick from me again. After the pit stop we discovered a confessional just outside the loo (I suppose you can pop in there if got up to something a wee bit naughty whilst using the amenities) and then we had a quick wander through the nooks and crannies of The Irish and then that's when we discovered the playground! And of course this is where all the families were sitting.
The large and fully secure playground is on the northern side of The Irish. There are quite a few tables up here and to order your meal, you just pop down to the kitchen and give them your table number and they will bring your meal up to you. A beautiful old peppercorn tree is in the middle of the playground providing some shade and there are also sun sails as well. The playground is probably most suitable for younger kids and the equipment is a wee bit dated. However I have read somewhere that it too is due for a nip and tuck towards the end of the year, so I shall keep you updated on when that happens.
I love that The Fiddler is a little bit glam. I love that The Fiddler is so child friendly. I love that both regular patrons and families can co exist because there are enough different spaces within the hotel for one to escape the other. And above all, I love that The Fiddler is out in the "boonies" and that as a result our Etag doesn't get a work out going to some of those trendier suburbs on the other side of town x
Cnr Commercial & Windsor Rds, Rouse Hill NSW
Open 7 days from 10am
The Valentine Cafe is probably not the sort of cafe that you would take your Valentine to, but it is the perfect cafe for your Mother's Group or a large group of friends with kids; or even to catch up with the extended family as this is one big cafe that has loads of space for everyone.
The cafe is named after its location at the Valentine Sports Park at Glenwood in north west Sydney. For those of you not in the know, this is the home of Football NSW (that's the round ball for the uninitiated). The facilities are very flash - modern sports fields, an indoor pool, indoor stadium and accommodation. Gorgeous young people are click clacking around in their soccer boots all hoping one day to become the next Beckham (or should I be more patriotic and say Cahill?). Anyway the Valentine Cafe services all of these facilities and it is also open to the general public, which is fantastic as it serves awesome Toby's Estate Coffee and huge portions of very tasty food.
We first visited Valentine Cafe when they had only be opened a few weeks, this was back in 2014. I don't think it is entirely fair to review a cafe when they are newly open and still finding their feet, so I decided to wait a bit (almost 12 months) until we visited to give it the proper Little Munch once over. Both times we visited it was mid week, first time was for breakfast and the second was for lunch. On both occasions the cafe was reasonably quiet, so we had no issue finding a table and service was fast and friendly each time.
You have the choice of sitting inside or out at Valentine Cafe - both areas are spacious and if you have a pram the access is easy. There is plenty of room to park your pram as well as all of your mates, so Mothers Groups this is the place for you! There are high chairs for little ones as well as space for kidlets to wander around. The toilets are located through the back doors of the cafe and if it hasn't ticked enough kid friendly boxes already then all the yummy food for kids to eat will seal the deal.
The Valentine Cafe also receive a big tick for their very cute babycino! I'm sure your bambinos will love it as much as you will love your perfectly brewed coffee. Luckily Toby's Estate also create some wonderful tea concoctions and Valentine Cafe stock these for those of you who may not crave coffee as much as I do. Otherwise you can partake in a freshly made juice from the "Juse Bar" which is perfect if you are in need of a quick vitamin shot! If you need something light to accompany your beverage make sure you check out the front counter as it is full of yummy looking cakes, cookies and other sweet treats (psst they have a $7 coffee & cake deal!).
The breaky menu has some delicious tasting items on it. We just had the fruit salad and breakfast burger when we visited however the menu is a lot fancier than that. How does Arancini & Eggs sound? Two homemade arancini are served with poached eggs, roast tomato and a rocket & parmesan salad - yum! Or a Vegie Brekkie Stack with grilled eggplant, haloumi, zucchini, tomato & rocket with balsmaic reduction & a cajun fried egg! The breakfast menu ranges in price from $5.00 for fruit salad up to $15.00 for eggs benny, so it is quite reasonably priced in comparison to a lot of cafes in the north west.
Kids have their own menu for lunch and there are quite a few options on the main menu and also in the front counter for kidlets to enjoy at breakfast time. The kids lunch menu doubles as an activity sheet. Older children will be able to do the soccer inspired Find a Word and younger ones will be able to colour in the soccer drawing. The short ( and not very healthy) menu includes nuggets & chips, fish cocktail & chips or a mini steak & chips. The cost of the meals are $7.50 and this includes an apple or orange popper. My little man ordered the nuggets and chips and the portion was huge, so if you have small eaters you may need to only one meal for them to share.
Like the breakfast menu, the lunch time menu is also reasonably priced considering the size of the portions you receive. The most expensive item on the menu is $15.50 and you can have everything from a Thai Beef Salad to Sliders to Spinach & Ricotta Ravioli. I was in a carnivore mood the day we had lunch at the cafe and I ordered the humongous steak sandwich. It was the kind of meal I really should have shared with someone else as the sandwich itself was massive and then it also came with big bad serve of bad boys! They are beer battered chips cooked to perfection and oh so bad for your arteries and hips, but terribly delicious!
Valentine Cafe will also host your kids birthday party. They have a large communal table down the back of the cafe where they will serve party food to you and your little guests. They can organise face painters and clowns or you could perhaps have a pool party or even a soccer party, just ring and have a chat to the staff about it. You don't even have to worry about the lolly bags - they have them for sale on the front counter for $1.50!
I think space is a very important factor when dining out with kids. You need it for your pram, and you need it for your little ones to be able to wander without interfering with other diners. And this is why I love the Valentine Cafe so much. Whether you sit inside or out you won't feel hemmed in and you won't feel as though other diners are breathing down your neck.
So my dear Little Munchers, what is the most important factor to you when dining out with kidlets?
235 - 257 Meurants Lane, Glenwood NSW
02 9836 3104
Open 7 days
Mon - Fri: 8am - 4pm
Sat - Sun: 8am - 3pm
You know how there is that pesky term "Yummy Mummy", well why isn't there one for the Daddies? There are loads of seriously good looking Dads out there, even old Mr Munch isn't too bad if I do say so myself! So maybe we should start one - Dandy Daddy, Dapper Daddy or how about Dishy Daddy? What ever they are called, I saw quite a few of them last Saturday morning when we stopped in for a spot of breakfast at Dolcini Cafe in Putney.
See all of these local Dishy Dads came in solo with some very cute progeny and ordered themselves their morning caffeine fix and a babycino for their babes. I presume their wives were home catching up on some much needed R & R (or the latest episode of Housewives of Melbourne), and good luck to them. Now Dolcini Cafe loves families - just look at their logo! And apparently by visiting Dolcini you are "Living La Dolcini Vita" and yep you guessed it, this is an Italian cafe.
If the name of the cafe didn't give it away then the big tubs of Nutella and the framed football jerseys on the wall will. The cafe is quite small in size so if you arrive with a pram you will need to sit at one of the outside tables. We sat inside on a communal table and whilst I watched all of the dishy dads, Mr Munch read the papers and the boys played arm wrestles (I forgot to pack my bag of colouring in for them).
Whilst there aren't any activities to keep kidlets occupied, this cafe has some very child friendly aspects to it. Firstly, their kids menu is excellent. It is broken down into 4 parts - Rise & Shine; Starving; Thirsty; and If You Ate Your Greens! The meals are $10.00 and this includes either a kids size juice or milk shake. Babycinos and kid's hot chocolates both come with the obligatory marshmallow. If you would prefer your kids to drink table water, Dolcini uses plastic tumblers. Even the kids food was served on unbreakable plates! High chairs are available, the staff love kids and they open super early - I'm talking 6am, so you can get your caffeine fix as soon as those little mud larks of yours wake up. If you need the loos they are around the back of the complex where Dolcini is located and there is also a car park here as well as loads of street parking available.
One of our boys was very lucky and allowed to avoid the "greens" and have a Nutella Muffin for breakfast. The morning we dined the front counter near the cash register was jam packed with freshly baked muffins (all made in house) and there are also quite a few other naughty treats in the cake cabinet next to it. My other little nut went for peanut butter toast and we had the choice between one or two slices which is ideal if you have small eaters. After he gobbled down his toast the little nut was using his fingers to get out every last sticky bit, much to the amusement of our waitress and she very kindly brought him another little portion to eat!
The menu for big people at Dolcini is extensive. Beside the delicious standard menu on offer they have daily specials from which we ordered our breakfast. My poached eggs on top of haloumi, avocado and sourdough was the perfect way to start the day and of course it was accompanied by a perfectly brewed skim flat white (getting healthy aren't I!). Our very own dishy daddy had the health breakfast which was poached eggs, spinach,tomato and prosciutto on rye - both of these specials were $16.00.
At lunch time they have all sorts of yummy Italian inspired dishes on their menu. You can start on some antipasti and then move onto to something more substantial. Off course several pasta dishes are present as well as pizza, but you can also have salads, burgers and gourmet sandwiches. They always have some thing amazing on their specials page too. You can complete the experience with a scoop or two of gelato from their bar afterwards, oh and they are licensed so cheers!
Now a visit to Putney is not complete without a visit to Putney Park. Dolcini is located in the Putney village shops in Charles St and the park with the awesome playground is about a 3 minute drive away in Pellisier Road. Make sure you grab a take away coffee although, as once your kids are in the park it is seriously hard to drag them away. And for something extra fun why not go home via the Putney Punt (depending whereabouts in Sydney you live of course).
So Little Munchers what shall we call our Dads? Shall it be Dandy, Dapper or Dishy? Or do you have a better one?
90 Charles St Putney, NSW
02 9808 4111
Open 7 days for breakfast & lunch
Celebratory family dinners - they can be a bit of a nightmare can't they? I'm talking when you all want to go out to celebrate, say Pop's birthday, and you need somewhere that can accommodate a big group, serves decent food that suits various dietary requirements, and that is kid friendly as there are quite a few grandkids to cater for. Trying to find a restaurant that ticks all of those boxes can be tricky, but never fear as I have found somewhere more than suitable, but I suggest that you get Pop to foot the bill as it is a wee bit expensive!
We got stuck in traffic on the way home from the city one evening and my baby piglets starting squealing that they were hungry. So we decided to stop into the first restaurant that we saw hoping that the traffic congestion would ease whilst we ate dinner. That restaurant was a Taste of Tuscany in Carlingford. The restaurant occupies a corner block on busy Pennant Hills Road. We found a car park easily in a side street and walked up to the restaurant. On arrival we were warmly greeted by the staff and shown into the second larger room of the restaurant, because this is where all the families were dining - smart move!
As soon as we sat down the waitress brought colouring pencils to the table for the boys (and us) to use to doodle all over the white paper table cloth. Our drinks order was taken (it is byo) and the waitress asked if we would like garlic bread to which she received a resounding yes please from my "starving" babes. I meanwhile checked out all of the cute families dining around us. There were small families like ours and big tribes of families celebrating special occasions. There are big and small tables, loads of high chairs and relatively easy access for those of you who have prams and if you need to use the loos they are out the back near the kitchen (no baby change table).
The soft drinks and hot crunchy garlic bread was delivered quickly so the boys were kept quiet for a wee while. We then ordered their dinner from the $15 Children's Menu. The choices were fairly typical - fish & chips; nuggets & chips; schnitzel & vegies; penne napolitana; or spaghetti bolognese. The $15 included a soft drink or juice and a scoop of vanilla ice cream with topping. The boys went for the spag bol which again was delivered in record time and the portion sizes were perfect for two ravenous boys. When it came time for their ice cream, the boys declared that they were full! So the lovely waitress placed their ice cream in a take away container for us - a very sweet gesture indeed.
The adults menu is huge in typical Italian style (it was pages and pages long). Whether you like pasta, pizza, risotto, steak, seafood, veal, chicken or salad you are spoilt for choice at the Taste of Tuscany. Most menu items are between $30 - $40, so it's not your cheap suburban Italian restaurant and hence why I recommend to take Pop along with his credit card to pay. However the food is beautifully presented and large in size, so you will not go home hungry.
Mr Munch and I shared a Pago pizza ($36.90). The base was covered in pesto and then topped with king prawns, sun dried tomatoes, ricotta and a sprinkling of chilli. We loved the topping however the base was a bit too soggy for our liking. I prefer to eat my pizza with my hands, however this was definitely a knife and fork operation as the base wasn't firm enough to hold. Only a minor complaint however as our dessert was nothing short of magnificent! The tiramisu! It is was of the best I've ever eaten and I wished that we hadn't decided to share one. It was presented beautifully, and it was perfectly creamy with just the right amount of booze in it. It's worth the journey to Carlingford just to try this little beauty.
Most Italian restaurants are family friendly and they are always a safe bet when you are out and about with kids and need to find somewhere on the fly for dinner. We loved every aspect of our experience at the Taste of Tuscany and I'm sure we will go back, but this time we might take Grandpa and his gold Amex x
What's you favourite Italian restaurant for an extended family dinner in Sydney Little Munchers?
324 Pennant Hills Rd, Carlingford NSW 2118
Open Wed - Sat from 5pm
Sundays 12pm - 3pm
Have you ever walked into a cafe and immediately felt like you are at home? That's the feeling I have when I walk into the Vintage Pantry in Pitt Town. This cafe is just so lovely and so beautifully presented that I feel as though I could stay there all day sipping coffee and flicking through glossy magazines. However on the two occasions I have visited I have been with my offspring and as we all know spending longer than about 20 - 30 minutes in a cafe with kids is virtually impossible.
The Vintage Pantry is owned by a lovely young woman who clearly has great taste. She has furnished the cafe with gorgeous shabby chic furniture, wing back chairs, fresh flowers and quirky little decorative accessories. The cafe is located in the local shops at Pitt Town. There is parking right out the front and you have the choice of sitting inside or out. Pram access is easy as their aren't stairs to contend with and high chairs are also available. Sometimes I worry that beautifully presented cafes may not be that welcoming of kidlets, but that is most definitely not the case at the Vintage Pantry. On both occasions that we visited the boys were welcomed with open arms.
We first dined at the Pantry in its opening week last year. The full menu was not yet in operation so we just had coffee and a snack (and yes their coffee is really good). I decided to visit again a couple of weeks ago when I found myself back out in the Hawkesbury region on a Wednesday. My babe and I had arrived in time for brunch and there was hardly a soul in the place (mothers groups this might be the ideal time for you to visit). I believe that on weekends the placed is packed with locals, so you may need to plan to arrive early and just to let you know, they open from the family friendly hour of 7am. The Pantry also do High Teas and dinners on special occasions such as Valentines day.
Little people have their very own and very reasonably priced Little Pantry menu. From the breakfast menu they can select a fried egg with bacon and toast ($6); a cheese and tomato toasty ($3); or a vegemite toasty ($3). I have neglected to look at the lunch menu which just means that I'll have to pop back again one day soon and try it out. The front counter is full of delicious looking home made cakes, biscuits, muffins, friands and slices that will tempt both little and big people. According to my babe their choc caramel slice ($6) get the big thumbs up. To accompany your child's meal the Village Pantry serve up yummy kid size milkshakes ($3.50), soft drinks ($2.50), juices ($2.50) and babycinos are cheap at just 50 cents.
My favourite breakfast item on the menu at the Vintage Pantry is the Za'atar on Sourdough ($14). Two crusty pieces of toasted sourdough are topped with avocado, feta, roasted cherry tomatoes, black olives and rocket. Drizzled over this deliciousness is a mix of za'atar and olive oil - I could eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner! If you prefer some protein with your breakfast, then the Breakfast Stack may be more to your liking - bacon, sausages, fried eggs, cheese, grilled tomatoes, rocket and a home made relish come stacked on Turkish bread ($12.90). Gluten free, vegetarian and vegan diets are all catered for, just ask the staff to point out the best choices for you on the menu.
Now lets talk about the loo. I wish cafe owners all over Sydney would take a look at this delight. Like the rest of the cafe, it is decked out beautifully. It is large in size so you can get a pram in here as well as a couple of kids; it has a baby change table complete with wipes and nappy bags; there is lovely hand wash and hand cream available for you to use when you need to clean yourself up; and it is spotlessly clean. So many cafe's loos are after thoughts and a big dingy and not the sort of place you would like to have some kid free time in flicking through one of those glossy magazines whilst you do your business!
We obviously go to loads of cafes in our travels for Little Munch and whilst the majority of them are fantastic cafes, I don't think I have been to one that has put so much attention into the detail of every aspect of their business as the Vintage Pantry has. I am very much looking forward to the day when I can go out to the Pantry kidlet free and sip loads coffee and flick through those glossy magazines and probably have another of those Za'atar toasts x
So my dear Little Munchers, are you a loo freak like I am? Got any favourite loos that you would like me to know about?
77 Bathurst St, Pitt Town NSW
02 4580 9528
Open 7 days from 7am - 5pm
We are seriously spoilt for choice in the north west of Sydney with all the amazing family friendly pubs we have available to us. There are actually 3 within a 3km drive in the Kellyville/Rouse Hill area - I don't think any other area of Sydney can beat that! Our latest review is of the wonky looking Ettamogah Hotel. Don't let the quirky exterior fool you, because out the back is one very modern and very family friendly pub, waiting to entertain your whole brood.
Even though we've been living in the north west for about 6 years, the Little Munch family has never set foot inside the leaning tower of Ettamogah. I was invited to lunch at the pub to celebrate a birthday with my big boy's bestie - just two energetic boys and their Mums. We arrived some time after 11am and I parked in the huge carpark behind the pub. Once you have unloaded your family, walk through the doors that have the sign for the beer garden. As soon as you walk in you will know that you have entered family friendly pub nirvana - so be warned punters who are after a relaxing and quiet ale, this is not the place for you!
You can sit inside or out at the Ettamogah. This inside would be perfect on a stinking hot day but the outside is the best place to sit when you have kids. The outside area has both ceiling fans and heaters and most of it offers protection from the sun. There are a couple of bars within the pub, one of which opens onto the outdoor area. You order your food inside at the bistro and take a buzzer. The toilet facilites are excellent and they have them both outside and inside the hotel (baby change tables are available). Prams of all shapes and sizes will easily be able to access both dining areas and you could even meet up here for a mother groups outing as there are loads of big tables available. They serve coffee and cake as well as pub food and of course sometimes as a parent you just need alcohol, which the pub obviously has loads of!
Now most family friendly pubs have a playground, as does the Ettamogah, but what makes this place stand out from other pubs I have visited, is that they have a rock climbing wall! This awesome activity is located at the back of the beer garden area and it does cost money to climb. You need tokens which you purchase from a vending type of machine inside the pub (more on the cost later). Once you have your tokens you have to sign a waiver that basically says if your kid falls and breaks their arm etc, the pub is not liable. You then hand your tokens over to the member of staff on duty and they harness your child up. Kids have to weigh more than 15 kgs to be able to climb. 6 children can climb at a time and certain climbs are easier than others.
Just to let you know our very fit 6/7 yr old boys had great difficulty getting much further up than the second row. Kids can change which section they climb and the staff member is the only person allowed to change their harness. It's actually quite hysterical to watch kids attempting to climb only to fall back down again (sadisitic aren't I). The rock climbing wall is open from 5pm - 10pm during the week and from 12pm - 10pm on weekends. During school holidays they also open it at 12pm every day.
Young kids will love the huge playground and the jumping castle. The playground is fully fenced and from the eating area in the beer garden you have a great view of it. As you can see from the photo below there are loads of high chairs available. Right next to the playground is a kids party area, so if you are looking for a venue for your child's next birthday give the Ettamogah a call, as I think it would be a great spot to entertain not only kids but also their parents.
The Ettamogah have a Kids Club, when I ordered our meals they asked if I would like to sign up. Basically once you are a member your kidlet receives a free gift with every kids meal purchased (in this case a soft cricket ball & colouring in), the chance to win monthly prizes, and treats on their birthday. You can either sign up at the pub or online at www.club4kids.com.au. The website has free colouring in print outs as well as some yummy kids recipes so make sure you take a look at it. Once you join, you receive an email as well as a "gift" to thank you for joining and in our case it was a free ice cream.
The Tin Lids Menu at the Ettamogah is brilliant as it has both healthy and not so healthy items available. The menu items are all $9.90 and colour coded to help you choose - so a green one is the healthiest option, a yellow is almost healthy and a red well it's going to be deep fried! The Stick Em Up (pictured above) is a green item and the decent size serve had two chicken kebabs with cherry tomatoes, rice and salad. Another healthy item is the Hook, Line & Sinker (grilled barramundi & salad); the not so healthy are Burger-iffic (a beef burger) and the Pasketti (meatball spaghetti); and the unhealthy choices are Fly the Coop (nuggets & chips) and Flipped Out (fish & chips). If your kidlets have time for, or need dessert, frog in the ponds or ice creams are on the menu. Mini milkshakes, kid size soft drinks, juices and babycinos are all available to quench their thirst.
The adults menu at the Ettamogah is huge with both healthy and unhealthy options as well. There are loads of options for people who have a gluten free diet and about four options for people who are vegetarians. The menu costs from around $16.00 (Nachos) - $35.00 (Graziers T bone) depending on what you choose. I chose the Thai Beef Salad ($20) and hurrah they served the dressing on the side - I so wish more places would do this. There was loads of yummy salad ingredients and the Thai Beef strips were perfectly cooked, portion wise it may have been a bit on the small size for $20.00. My dining companion's meal was also $20.00, the Chicken Schnitzel once again came with the gravy on the side as well as chips and salad and the schnitty was perfectly cooked.
Now the only problem I had with the Ettamogah was the cost of all the "arcade" game machines etc. As I mentioned previously you need tokens to let your kids climb the rock wall and you also need tokens to play any other activity within the pub. There are loads and loads of game machines located throughout the Ettamogah, for example Daytona Car Racing machines, Basketball Hoop machines, Air Hockey as well as a huge Transformers machine and each go costs two tokens. Now tokens cost you $10.00 for 12 tokens and let me tell you those games don't last very long, so if you are the type to give in to your kids (like I am when I'm trying to have an adult conversation with a friend over a glass of wine) you will go through a bit of coin before the end of your time at the Ettamogah!
The one word that comes to mind when I think about the Ettamogah is Fun! My eldest babe is quite a serious chap normally, however the whole time we were at the Ettamogah he had a massive smile on his dial. I actually took some photos where he was smiling for once, and if my kids are happy then I'm happy and cheers to that x
Have you been to the Ettamogah? Have you been to a pub with a rock climbing wall before?
Cnr Merriville & Windsor Rds, Kellyville Ridge
02 9629 1130
Open 7 days for lunch and dinner & breakfast on weekends
If you fancy a Sunday drive to a picturesque location where you can have lunch at a beautiful old pub where the kidlets will be well and truly entertained, then my dear dear Little Munchers I have found the place for you. Jump in the car, buckle up and hoon out to Wiseman's Ferry tomorrow!
This beautiful old Wisemans Ferry Inn was built in 1827 and it's about an hour's drive from the heart of Sydney. When you first pull up do not be put off by the throngs of bikies that you will see out the front - they're harmless! This is just one of the favourite pit stops for the weekend road warriors and I guarantee if you get talking to anyone of them they will no doubt be doctors and lawyers in their day jobs. Unfortunately parking can be at a bit of a premium on weekends, so if you can't find anything outside then drive down the street and you should be able to score a spot.
You can choose to enter the pub through the front door or you can use the outdoor side entrance - the latter being the pram friendly option. If you go through the main entrance you will see the heritage style front bar, the cosy fire and the olde world charm of the inn. But keep heading out the back as this is where all the action is. The busy bistro has seating inside and out, we always sit outside as that is where most of the seating is and you have a decent view of the awesome kids play area and the beautiful Hawkesbury River.
Your kids will want to scamper into the outdoor play area as soon as they see how fabulous it is. From the colourful life size tractor, to the Do Duck Inn (which has real live ducks in it), to the play equipment on the lawn, they will have a wonderful time exploring this huge space. On Sundays and during school holidays they have a jumping castle, face painting and animal nursery for absolutely free.
You can sit down here as there are quite a few green & gold picnic tables (I should mention that the owner is a former Wallaby) or if your kids are a bit older you can sit upstairs on the deck and just keep an eye on them. The play area is reasonably secure, it is fenced, but wandering kids can still climb through it. I suggest that you slip slop slap your kids and yourself when you arrive as there isn't must shade down here, and it gets bloody hot in Wisemans Ferry during the summer months!
When everyone starts to get a bit hungry you line up at the bistro to place your order. The friendly staff will give you a buzzer after you have paid, and you help your self to cutlery etc. The kitchen pumps out meals very quickly which is amazing considering how busy they can get on weekends. There are high chairs for little bottoms to sit in and the toilets are just at the back of the bistro. The bistro is also open from 11am every day of the year (except for 25/12), so if you are after an early lunch (or dinner) you can avoid the crowds and eat early.
The menu is made up of typical pub fare, loads of deep fried items, loads of hot chips and steaks. Depending on what you choose the menu costs from between $14 - $30. Vegetarian options are limited (only a fresh garden salad for you my dears), but do check the specials board in case a vegetarian quiche or something similar may be on it. There are two kids meals available - chicken schnitzel & chips or fish & chips. The menu states that they come with salad which actually is a piece of cucumber and a piece of tomato! Anyway the kids meals cost $10.00 and that includes a soft drink and bowl of ice cream, so it is very decent value. Depending on what size eaters you have, your kids may be able to share a meal as they are generous in size - my boys easily shared both the meal and the ice cream. The yummy ice cream comes out of a soft serve machine and kids can choose whether or not they want topping and sprinkles.
Whilst you are out here I recommend that you have a little wander around the village of Wiseman's Ferry. If you continue all the way to the end of Old Northern Rd you will find the Hawkesbury River. There is a great park here complete with a playground and you can catch the punt to other side, either on foot or in your car. There is spot for passengers to sit on the punt and you can cross the river and come back again for absolutely nothing - I guarantee your kids will love the experience! Another idea is to go over in your car and head back to Sydney via Wiseman's Ferry Rd. This is a very scenic trip that basically follows the water until you hit the M1 freeway. It will take you longer but the kids will probably need a decent nap after all the energy they just exerted at the Inn!
6 Old Northern Rd, Wisemans Ferry NSW
02 4566 4739
Open 7 days 11am - 8.30pm
School holidays are here and it's going to be a long six weeks me thinks! Quite a few coffees (and probably wines) may need to be consumed to survive each and every day. My plan is to have a few of those coffees in cafes that are located in a park or next to a playground so that the boys can run amok whilst I imbibe my caffeine fix in relative peace. We've got off to a brilliant start with our first cafe - Greenshades at Galston.
Greenshades is located in a nursery at Galston in the beautiful North Western Hills of Sydney. When you arrive you will find ample parking on both the street and the attached car park. The entrance to Greenshades is dominated by the nursery and impressive large garden ornaments. The boys were in awe of the two dog statues and were very keen for us to take them home as guard dogs. I wasn't so sure as I thought they would freak out the other neighbourhood hounddogs just a wee bit.
After I dragged the boys away from their new found pets we entered the house that is home to the Greenshades Cafe. Inside, rooms have been set up to accommodate tables of various sizes. The interior has a lovely atmosphere and in Winter an open fire adds to the charm of this space. But if you are dining with kidlets you need to sit outside. The large outdoor dining area has many tables, some right next to the playground as well as quite a few out of eye sight of the playground. I would suggest if you are dining during busy times, such as weekends, that you ring and make a booking as these are obviously the first tables to be taken with all the families that love dining at Greenshades.
The tables and chairs that occupy the outside are basic but ideal when dining with kids, as spills and messes created by our little angels won't create too much damage. A lovely trellis covers a lot of the area out here but I would pack the sun protection as it can get a touch warm in Summer. If you have a pram you can access the outside dining area via a side entrance from the car park. There are quite a few high chairs for little ones to sit in and if you require toilet facilities you will find these also near the side entrance to the car park, and they do include a baby change table.
We arrived just after Greenshades swung open it's french doors for business on a week day. There was only one other family sitting outside when we arrived. After I let the boys into the secure playground I plonked myself down on a table nearby and proceeded to have chat with the oh so friendly waitress. I've actually dined quite a few times at Greenshades over the years since we moved to the north west and the two things that keep me coming back are the excellent food and the decent sized playground which keeps the boys occupied for ages.
Breakfast and lunch are available 7 days a week at Greenshades as well as morning and afternoon tea. Kids have their very own menu and it varies in price depending on what your order. The usual pasta, fish and chips and ham/cheese toasties are all on offer and they are priced up to $15.00, which is quite expensive in comparison to many other kids menus in Sydney. Other options from the adults menu are also suitable for kiddliwinks such as toast, banana bread and pancakes.
We had morning tea - babycinos and white chocolate brownies for the boys and coffee and date slice for myself. Now the babycinos are a wee bit expensive at $2.00, considering that they do not come with any adornment, but those brownies were so good! They were moist and full of chunks of white chocolate, I was a bit envious that I chose the more adult date slice. The slices cost $5.00 - $6.00 and the date slice was very delicious, just not as yummy as that brownie! My Vittoria cappuccino was brilliant, I actually don't think I've had a bad brew in all the times we've dined at Greenshades. Just to let you know, they have a huge sweets menu, so if you have a sweet tooth you are in for a real treat. Everything from Blackberry Cheesecake to the decadent Caramel Pecan Meringue are available for $11.00, oh and the scones jam and King Island cream are just like Nanna used to make - $9.00.
Breakfast at Greenshades is a favourite weekend past time for many north west families. The menu varies from Toasted Banana Bread ($7) up to Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon ($24). At lunch time the menu has an Italian influence with delicious pastas, risottos, steaks and seafood but be warned you will be paying north of $30.00 for most meals. The meals are decent in size but maybe take along a wealthy relative to foot the bill or just go for coffee and a sweet treat. We've normally dined at Greenshades on special occasions such as Father's Day and even though the bill may be a lot more than other cafes in Sydney, our kids are always happily occupied when we go there and that my dear Little Munchers is a big bonus.
So our mission to road test Greenshades' playground and coffee was a huge success! One is down and there are quite a few more to go - where do you think we should road test next Little Munchers?
353 Galston Rd, Galston NSW
Open 7 days from 9am
Do you have a sister? An older more glamorous sister? Well one of our favourite family friendly pubs does - The Australian Hotel & Brewery - and boy is she glamorous! Just take a look at her please - moody lighting, chandeliers, drapes, towering floral arrangements, wing back chairs, animal heads and decadent booze. She's like a mix between a hunting lodge and a fashionable night club and she is located right in the business hub of Bella Vista.
I've been reading about the Bella Vista Hotel for quite a while now on social media. I've seen photos of glamorous soirées, high teas and big nights out for stylish lads and lasses, it's the sort of place you go for some bubbles with your besties and I've been very keen to try it out. It's the sort of place that I wouldn't have thought would tick many of the Little Munch child friendly boxes but guess what she actually does! So I tried the Bella out last weekend and not with my besties but with my boys for breakfast on Sunday morning and I have to say that yes she is glamorous, she's a wee bit expensive, but then again most glamorous things are and she she dishes out she some seriously good food!
The hotel has 3 different eating options - the Bistro, the Cafe and the Bella Shack. The bistro is where all of the main meals are created. The cafe is the place for a coffee and a snack and the shack is your place for some hot diggity dog action. The cafe and the bistro are inside the hotel and the shack is actually a food truck located out in the beer garden area of the Bella. So you can choose to sit inside or out and both areas are pram friendly. There is loads of parking - you can park literally outside the hotel or underneath it (there are however quite a few stairs that you have to climb to come up from the underground car park). It was a stinking hot day when we arrived at the Bella so we chose to sit inside in the lovely cool air-conditioning.
Sunday is the only morning that the Bella serves breakfast, it is served from 8am - 11am. The Bella was fairly quiet when we arrived at 9am, there were only a handful of other families dining. We were greeted by a friendly member of staff and advised that we could sit anywhere and to place our orders at the Bistro once we had our menu choice. The Bella has a dedicated kids menu and they also have a cake counter groaning with sweet treats. The boys had already eaten breakfast 3 hours earlier so they were after morning tea and they only had one thing on their mind - cupcakes!
They serve Roberto's cupcakes at the Bella. For those of you may have kidlets with gluten intolerance you need to know about Robertos! It is a bakery based in Rozelle that specialises in gluten free cakes. They are a tad on the expensive side but they are simply divine. The boys chose a chocolate cupcake with sprinkles and a salted caramel and banana cupcake. They were dense, moist and full of flavour. The Bella also had a basket of inhouse baked muffins that looked very appealing and they serve freshly squeezed juices (kids sizes are available) and they have a soft serve ice cream and frozen yoghurt machine!
The Bella cafe is a great place to meet up with friends for coffee and cake in the morning. Whether you sit inside or out there is enough space for prams and little ones to have a wander. There are also plenty of high chairs available. The disabled loo inside the hotel has a baby change table available, the loos are just near the animal heads on the wall. If you were to visit the Bella later in the day however, I would be conscious of other guests who may have come to the Bella for a meal or drink (without kids) and who may not be too impressed with any unruly children causing mayhem.
The breakfast menu for adults has 6 items on it ranging in price form $16 - $25. Their eggs, bread, milk, butter, and vegetables are organic and their bacon is free range. The most expensive item on the menu is the aptly named dish for a pub, the Hang Over. This dish has Black Forest bacon, eggs, chorizo, mushrooms, potato rosti and organic sourdough. Mr Munch had the Eggs Benedict with bacon which came on organic sour dough, the eggs were slightly over cooked for his liking but the hollandaise was excellent and they were very generous with the amount of bacon served.
I chose the winning dish however - the Cinnamon Spiced Brioche French Toast with vanilla mascarpone and wild berry compote ($16) and it was glorious! I'm more of a savoury gal normally at breakfast time but for some reason I decided to go sweet and I am so very glad I did. You all need to try this dish - the brioche was cooked perfectly and the combination of the vanilla mascarpone and and berries was to die for! Next time we go back for breakfast I'm keen to try the Avocado Bruschetta that is served with tomatoes, olives, basil and Persian fetta on ciabatta - also $16.00.
At lunch/dinner time, the menu gets quite "gastro pub" ish. You can have everything from freshly shucked oysters up to slow braised beef cheeks. Pizzas, salads and share plates are also available. I think if you are dining with kidlets at this time you are probably wiser to order something from the Bella Shack. They dish up hot dogs, burgers and fries and you can sit outside. If your kids are a bit older they can have a game of ping pong in the beer garden.
On the last Sunday of each month the Bella Markets are held in the outdoor area. There are all sorts of stalls selling clothing, gifts, arts & crafts and gourmet foods. They also have live music playing so I'm thinking that breakfast and a wander around the markets could be quite fun, that is of course if your kidlets are in a nice mood to let you have a decent wander! The Bella Vista Hotel also has its very own FB page for "not so average housewives"! The Bella Housewives will be keep you up to date with special events, competitions and gossip that is happening at the hotel, so if you believe you fit that category make sure you like the page.
So whilst the Bella Vista Hotel isn't as family friendly as her younger sister, she is still a place that you can hang out with your brood. Younger kidlets will probably get bored quickly (as mine did) so pack the colouring in and Ipads. I would most definitely recommend the Bella as place for to go to catch up with your fancy friends with offspring x
13 -15 Lexington Dr, Bella Vista NSW 2153
02 8884 2800
Open 7 days
Life certainly changes after having kids doesn't it!? Take for example your wedding anniversary. Pre kidlets you probably would have gone out for a romantic dinner with your loved one, maybe have scored a few roses and returned home for some etc. etc. Then etc. etc. creates some little beings that totally turn your romantic world upside down and a takeaway seems like a far more sensible option than dining out with said little beings on your anniversary. We've just clocked up 9 years and we have normally done the take away option but for some reason this year we crazily decided at the last minute to dine out and take our little beings along with us!
Our romantic destination was to be the local Chinese joint. The Baulkham Palace is a bit of an institution with families in the area and is located in the Stockland Mall. There is a very steep set of stairs to gain access to the restaurant. This will pose a problem for prams, people with dicky knees and inebriates. Once you have negotiated the stairs you walk in a very large and spacious restaurant. We arrived at 6.00pm and had the place to ourselves and the lovely staff fawned over our darling little boys who were very excited to eat at a such a "flash" restaurant!
The restaurant has a small bar and is fully licensed. Most wines on the list come from Robert Oatley owned vineyards. Soft drinks, water and juices are available for kidlets. There is a stack of high chairs for little ones to use and a decent size loo is available but it doesn't have a baby change table. If you are in desperate need of one you can always pop downstairs to the Parent's Room in the mall. As the restaurant is upstairs, you have a view over the CBD of Baulkham Hills and the boys immediately spotted the playground downstairs and wanted to get take away and eat down there!
We were seated at a table in front of a TV and also a small stage. I think it's the first time I have watched a 6pm news bulletin in years! And then Home & Away came on which I don't believe I've watched since I was about 16 and after watching a small bit of it, I totally believe they need to bring Sally back. Just after we were seated, a basket of prawn chips was placed on the table which were devoured by the boys and then, with their angelic little faces, they asked the waitress for some more and another basket magically appeared.
The menu at Baulkham Palace is huge and fairly typical of what you would find in most Chinese restaurants. Our boys are huge fans of spring rolls and fried rice so they were both ordered and when they arrived they were served in the good old fashioned silver service way! One of the specialities of the house is the bird's nest. Your choice of meat comes stir fried with vegetables and served in a deep fried noodle basket. Top marks for presentation and the stir fry was yummy (and perfect for kids to eat) but the basket was quite bland. The honey prawns are another really kid friendly dish and the serve was huge! They serve a lot more spicy dishes but as we had the boys we went for milder options.
My favourite dish of the evening was dessert. They serve Mr Pisa Gelato desserts at Baulkham Palace. The boys love mangoes so they both wanted the Mango Delight and I thought since it was our wedding anniversary that I would order a Baci Kiss for Mr Munch and I to share. Sadly they were all out of kisses so we ended up sharing the boy's mangoes. A gorgeous mango shaped ice cream arrived at the table. It was coated in a thin layer of white chocolate and in the centre there was a knob of dark chocolate that was meant to represent the seed of the mango. It was absolutely delicious and the perfect dessert!
In between eating the boys used the stage for their very own performance of the Tony Abbott/Vlad Putin shirt lifting competition! The stage is used by musicians on the weekend so we were lucky that the boys had full use of it and it also gave both us and the wait staff some entertainment. I had bought along some colouring in for them to do but wrestling seem like a far more interesting way to pass the time for them.
At the end of our meal, a basket of fortune cookies and mint chocolates arrived. The timing was perfect as it made the boys sit down at the table (they were starting to get the evil eye from some of the other patrons that had arrived). It was the first time the boys had ever seen the cookies and they ripped them apart with must gusto, so much so that their fortunes ended up torn and I think quite a few broken cookies ended up on the floor.
So there you have it my dear Little Munchers, our romantic Wedding Anniversary dinner. It was a bit crazy but also a bit fun and I love my little family to bits! And I totally agree with one of the fortunes we received "The love of a family is life's greatest blessing."
Shop 45, Stockland Mall, 375 Windsor Rd, Baulkham Hills
02 9686 2552
Open 7 days lunch & dinner
We had dinner in Italy last week. We dined at a delicious wood fired pizza cafe. There were gorgeous Italian speaking staff, Latino tunes belting out of the ipod dock, one Itallian Stallion of a chef, some amazing pizza and tiramisu and even Mickey Mouse was there!
Well I was trying to pretend that we were in Italy but in actual fact we were smack bang next to Meadowbank Train Station. A fabulous little Italian Restaurant called Anema e Core have set up shop in a very unassuming part of Meadowbank and I think you all are going to love it!
As we walked down the street to Anema e Core we were warmly greeted with a big Ciao from all the staff. Having dinner out on a school night is a bit of a rarity for our family and I was a little concerned how my boys would handle it but I shouldn't have been worried. The boys were charmed immediately by the gorgeous staff and their thick Italian accents. I haven't been to an Italian restaurant where kidlets aren't welcome - they love their bambinos! My youngest is learning a little bit of Italian at preschool so he was very excited when he realised that all the staff were from the land of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and he said "grazie" every chance he could!
The seating for the restaurant is located outside under a marquee. The area is surrounded by star jasmine and twinkling lanterns hang from the roof. From your outside table you can see all of the action taking place in the shop front which also doubles as the kitchen. A large wood fired oven takes centre stage in the kitchen and there is a scene on the back wall reminiscent of a view straight out of any Italian street scape with the laundry hanging outside of the shuttered window (jocks and all!). I didn't spy any high chairs so if you have little ones you may need to bring your pram. I'd also recommend that you make a booking and advise them that you will have a pram with you, so that they seat you at table with plenty of room.
When we took our seat we were each given a brightly coloured envelope. The restaurants stamp was on the back of each envelope and inside was the menu. So quirky! The boys loved opening up the envelopes to see what was inside. A sheet of paper had a list of all the delicious pizzas, insalate and antipasti available at Anema e Core. Our super friendly waitress also gave us a run down of the daily specials. We only had sparkling water to drink, the restaurant isn't licensed, so remember to bring a bottle of vino from home or pick one up from the bottle shop around the corner. There are juices, Italian soft drinks and of course coffee available on the menu.
No. 1 son, who seems to all of sudden learnt how to read very proficiently in the last couple of months read the entire menu and stopped when he saw the words "Mickey Mouse". I think his exact words were "what tha". We just presumed that a Mickey Mouse pizza would be a kids sized pizza and the boys both proclaimed that they weren't that hungry, so I only ordered them one and asked that it be a fairly plain margherita type of topping. Imagine our surprise when Mickey actually appeared at the table! Such a cute idea and for ten bucks pretty darn good value, especially as it easily fed our two boys.
We were only going to have pizza for dinner but when our good looking waitress asked us if we were quite sure that we wouldn't like one of Chef's specials as a starter, Mr Munch (a sucker for a wink and an Italian accent) ordered us the Fritto Misto. Thank heavens she did wink because the Italian classic was simply delicious. There were prawns, baby octopus, calamari, scallops and zucchini all lightly battered and lightly fried. It came in a brown paper cone with lemon, rocket and a wee pot of home made tartare sauce.
Now we need to talk about the Pizzas. Anema e Core have 3 sizes of pizzas available - 13 inch; 1/2 metre and 1 metre! (if you are a fan of the pizzas from via Napoli, you won't have to travel to Lane Cove or HH any more for it). The pizzas range in price from $19 for a 13 inch up to $70 for the 1 meter long baby depending on what toppings you choose. There are about 16 different varieties on the menu and we shared a 13 inch Tre Salumi. It had a tomato base and then was topped with fiordilatte (a type of cheese), Italian sausages, mild salami, ham, basil and olive oil. The base was perfectly crisp just as you would expect from a wood fired oven. I'd love to have a go at a 1m long pizza but I may have to wait until the boys are teenagers to fulfil that desire! By the way all of the pizzas are available for take away in case you are lucky enough to live close by.
Personally I don't think you can go to an Italian restaurant without sampling their tiramisu. The version they serve at Anema e Core is amongst the best we've had and their strawberry tart was demolished in a few mouthfuls by my bambinos, another popular choice I'm sure would be the nutella pizza. Just to let you know Anema e Core is open from 6am in the morning - I'm sure they do a roaring trade in commuter coffees. You can also pick up a panino on the fly if you want something quick and easy earlier in the day.
Besides the fact that we were right next to Meadowbank Train Station in suburban Sydney, it still felt as though we had escaped to Italy for our meal. There was a buzz and general craziness about the place which I have fond memories of from my travels in the land of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. If you want to check out the handsome Chef in action have a look at the following clip. Prego!
62 Constitution Rd, Meadowbank NSW 2114
02 9809 5555
Open 7 days
Mon: 6am - 3pm & 5pm - 10pm; Tue: 6am - 3pm;
Wed - Fri: 6am - 3pm & 5pm - 10pm; Sat - Sun: 5pm - 10pm.