Trying to occupy kidlets in school holidays can be a real challenge. And as we are constantly told by the naysayers that we should not use elecronic devices to "babysit" our kids, I feel obliged to source activities outside the house to keep them (and me) occupied. So thankfully businesses like the delightful Grandma's at McEvoy in Alexandria, provide hands on cooking classes during school holidays to entertain kidlets, whilst their parents sit back and relax over a perfectly brewed coffee and some of the most delicious food you'll taste this side of the Middle East!
Grandma's at McEvoy is the flagship store/cafe of the the Grandma's group of cafes that include venues at Rosebery and also at the farm in Collector, in south west NSW. We're big fans of their Collector cafe, and visit it regularly en route to Canberra. And now we are massive fans of their McEvoy cafe after our visit there in the January school holidays.
You'll find this very family friendly cafe on busy McEvoy Street. The cafe ticks all of the kid friendly boxes, and is very popular with the gorgeous Mummas and Pappas of the inner city. They have a cute and well used kids play area, which is perfect to occupy little people whilst you sit back and enjoy one of the cafe's delicious meals. Or if one of their Cookie/Chocolate making workshops are on, your kids can do that too.
All of Grandma's classes need to be booked online in advance, as they are very popular! The lads participated in the chocolate making workshop, which was run by one of Grandma's young chefs. To start with the kids donned an apron and then were taken to wash their hands. From here they were given a quick lesson in where chocolate came from, and were encouraged to eat a cocoa bean (which of course was spat out quite quickly).
Then the real fun began as they were allowed to create their very own chocolates, with the help of the chef. Obviously this is not the sort of class kids with allergies could do, as there were nuts available to decorate chocolates with. Of course the chocolate buttons, mini M&Ms and 100s & 1000s were the most popular items to decorate with, and I'm sure I spied one or two of them being slyly snuck into a little mouth when chef wasn't watching!
At the conclusion of the class, all of the chocolates were placed in a take home bag. Then it was off to wash their hands and hand back their aprons. The lads loved their class and also made some new friends, so make sure you follow Grandma's facebook page so that you know when their next cooking classes are on for kids!
With the boys completely taken care of, we could sit back and relax over brunch for once. We didn't order a meal for them as they were too busy eating chocolate, however there is an excellent Grandkids Menu which we have sampled on many occasions when dining at Grandmas at the farm. The kids meals are hearty, healthy and all home made, with not a deep fried nugget or chip in sight!
Thirsty little people will love the Grandma's babycino ($1) which comes with a cookie on the side, and there are also kid size fresh juices and thick shakes available for $5.00.
Let's move on to the adults. There are so many delicious choices for big people to eat for both breakfast and lunch at Grandma's. Everything has a definite Middle Eastern influence, and it's all home made just like you'd expect to have at your Grandmother's house ( I suppose as long as she is a good cook!). For our brunch we enjoyed the homemade natural muesli with yoghurt, almonds and strawberries as well as the poached eggs with Grandma's special bread and a side of bacon. Both dishes looked bright and colourful and were full of loads of flavour.
Grandma's are also famous for their Shakshukas. They are served all day and come in loads of different flavours. Other homestyle dishes on the lunch menu include soup, casseroles and tasty looking fresh salads.
Grandmas also have loads of things for sale. From olives and olive oil direct from their Collector farm, to cookies, jams and kitchen objects, it's hard to go home empty handed. Their inhouse bakery also has loads of delicious goodies that you can take home as well (their chocolate croissants are quite heavenly).
The only hassle we had at Grandma's was finding a park. There are only a couple parking spots behind the cafe, and street parking is a bit of a nightmare. Then we discovered a Bunnings up the street on the corner of Euston Rd. So your best bet is to head straight up there. It's an easy walk back to the cafe, and of couse if your kids need to burn off any further energy, you can always take them to the playground in Bunnings before you head home!
So Little Munchers was your Grandma a good cook? And what do you do to occupy your kidlets in the school holidays?
140-142 McEvoy St, Alexandria
02 9669 1862
Open 7 days 7am - 4pm
There is a new breed of child friendly cafes swinging open their doors all over Sydney. These cafes are seriously cool and serve up top notch fare and staggeringly good coffee. They could be quite at home in the hipster belt but oh no, they are out in the burbs and the best thing is they have areas dedicated to kidlets! A very good example of one such cafe is our latest find - Meeting Morgan.
Meeting Morgan opened at the end of March and is located right in the middle of a suburban street in the southern Sydney suburb of Kingsgrove. It looks like they have converted the bottom floor of a small apartment block to create this funky cafe. The décor is a little bit recycled, a little bit industrial and a little bit eclectic. There are big and small tables to fit families of various sizes and there is also easy pram access. However if there were more than a few prams parked around the cafe it would make access for staff and other diners a wee bit tricky. They do have high chairs if your little one needs to be restrained and if you have to deal with number ones, twos or threes, the excellent toilet is really spacious and contains a baby change table.
When we arrived for breakfast on a Sunday morning we were warmly greeted by the staff and told we could sit where ever took our fancy. We took up a possie in the sun and the boys immediately sniffed out the toy room which is located at the back of the cafe. This long room is full of books, toys, colouring in and a huge black board. On one wall the "play room rules" are painted - you have to play fair, share, make new friends, dance, sing and most importantly clean up after yourselves! The boys happily played in there until it was time to feed their little bellies.
The pretty menu at Meeting Morgan is simple but perfectly formed. Kids have an option for both breakfast and lunch and they of course can choose something off the main menu. There was a basket full of freshly baked croissants on the front counter so the boys chose chocolate ones for their breakfast. To accompany these the boys had a babycino ($1) which comes in a very sensible takeaway cup with a straw and a Freddo Frog (as much as I love that Mister 6 can read it can also work against me as he now knows exactly what he wants to order off every menu he sees). Anyway the Freddo Frog is basically an iced chocolate served in a glass jar and it gave him one of those nasty brain freezes!
They serve Campos coffee at Meeting Morgan and golly gosh they make it well. The coffees were served at the perfect temperature and were so easy to drink that we had to order more than one. For non caffeine addicts they serve a decent selection of tea by T-Nomics as well as smoothies, coconut water and cold pressed juices that are freshly juiced each morgan!
For breakfast I sampled the "Bacon & Eggs meet Schiacciata". It's basically a squashed bacon and egg sandwich and it's really good. It came out piping hot and you can choose to have it served plain or with BBQ or tomato sauce. Next time I visit I want to try the double banana pancakes that come with banana brulee, almonds, maple syrup & mascarpone - the table next to ours had these and they looked completely decadent!
I need to comment on the service at Meeting Morgan - it was first rate. They were very welcoming of the boys which is always my first test of how "child friendly" a cafe is, they were efficient, and always friendly. From the moment we arrived to the moment we left we well and truly felt the Morgan love!
It really excites me that such cool and trendy cafes are opening up in the burbs and I'm even more excited by them being so darn kid friendly. Do you have one in your hood Little Munchers?
134 Morgan St, Kingsgrove NSW
02 8540 9719
Hours: Mon -closed
Tue - Sat: 6am - 4pm; Sun: 8am - 4pm
We had a plumber do some work for us last year and he told me that he lived in God's own country - Yowie Bay. He also muttered something about this neighbourhood gem called the Post Box and I filed it away in the chaotic world of my brain for future reference. So last Saturday when we were all up with the mudlarks thanks to a family of kookaburras that have taken up residence outside of Chez Little Munch we jumped in the trusty Hyundai and made our way south to Yowie Bay. I wanted to see if the plumber was right or he if he was just full of it because he had been working in it for way too long!
I'm happy to say that he was right. Very right. Yowie Bay is truly delightful as it practically surrounded by water and that cafe he mentioned well it most definitely is a neighbourhood gem. I think the Post Box Cafe is the only cafe in Yowie Bay (please correct me if I am wrong) and I assume that it is named after the post box that is directly on the street in front of it. There is a small parking area and loads of street parking available. When we arrived, the first things the boys noticed were the toys next to the outdoor dining area and the first thing I noticed was the decent stack of high chairs - clearly a lot of families dine at the Post Box Cafe. We sat outside at a table right next to the play area, the boys happily played in the sun while we checked out the menu. I think in the middle of the day this play area could get a wee bit too hot for little ones, so remember to "slip, slop, slap" as it is not shaded at all. The cafe is easily accessed by a pram and they do have a small toilet down the side but it doesn't have a baby change table or access for a pram.
Children have their own menu for breakfast, lunch and treats at The Post Box Cafe. Babycinos ($2), hot chocolates ($3), flavoured milk & juice ($2.50) are included on the drinks menu for kiddies. Our boys chose vegemite toast ($4) and the pancakes with maple syrup & ice cream ($7) off their breakfast menu and this was washed down with babycinos. Toast is toast, but that pancake was huge and gobbled up in record time by my skinny little man before he ran back out to play. The other breakfast options are bacon & eggs with toast ($7) or a ham & cheese omelette ($7).
The kidlet's lunch time menu costs $8.00 and it contains the usual suspects - nuggets and home style chips; cheeseburgers, fish & chips as well as steak & chips. For treats, little ones can have a scoop of ice cream with topping ($2.50), a dotty biscuit ($3.30) or a cupcake ($3.00).
The Post Box Cafe use Design Roast coffee beans, a brand I am unfamiliar with, but let me tell you makes a very decent cup of joe. A chocolate bullet came as a sweet touch on the side which I dutifully handed over to number one son and I fully expected Mr Munch would do the same with his and give it to the youngest. But oh no, he woofed it down as quick as you can blink, resulting in a sulking four year old - does anyone else's other half do this?!!
The breakfast menu is huge at the Post Box Cafe and so are the portion sizes! The eggs atlantic with charred asparagus (sans hollandaise) looked amazing and I almost regretted my choice of the fresh fruit salad until I saw it. I received a massive bowl of deliciously ripe chunky fruit pieces and on the side were two small bowls, one with muesli (that had little chips of yoghurt like chocolate) and the other had low fat vanilla yoghurt in it. If you aren't into "healthy" breakfasts there are loads of decadent choices for you such as the breakfast bruschetta - toasted vienna bread topped with baked ricotta, mixed berries & honey vanilla yoghurt or croquettes - potato & charred corn croquettes with soft poached eggs, tomato & avocado salsa. Every meal that came out of the kitchen looked amazing and huge!
Do you think your suburb is God's own country? Do you have a neighbourhood gem like the Post Box Cafe? If so spill x
When you and your brood are in the southern suburbs of Sydney and are in need of refuelling, may I recommend that you stop in at Gasolina Espresso & Kitchen in Ramsgate and refuel on donuts, cronuts, zuccheratti, panini and awesome coffee.
The first thing you notice when you pull up in front of Gasolina is their resident motor bike Max. I'm not sure if the motor bike is actually called Max but I think all vechiles need a name and Max is a cool name for a cool ride. Now be careful and don't park too close to Max, because I think it would be kind of embarrassing if you bumped into him and knocked him over (who know's what the barista might put in your coffee as way of payback!!). Likewise keep your little tackers away from Max - he's a well buffed show piece, not a ride on toy.
To help keep you little tackers away, show them the inside glass cabinet that is full to the brim of the most delicious looking sweet treats I have seen in quite a while. I'm sure if you order them a cronut or nutella donut they will happily munch away on one of these whilst you enjoy your perfectly brewed Grounds coffee. If you little ones need a drink they serve the standard babycino and a very sweet milkshake that comes in a small milk bottle with stripey straw.
If you're peckish and don't really dig a donut or cronut (I'm not a fan to be honest), try one of Gasolina's awesome paninis. My choice was the bacon and egg panini with spicy tomato relish for $10 or if you're a little bit more adventurous why not try the Florentine panini, it a bacon and egg roll with baby spinach and hollandaise sauce.
Now you won't feel as though you in are in Florence when you are munching on your Florentine panini as Gasonlia espresso is located on the busy Rocky Point Rd. The majority of the seating at Gasolina is located outside on the pavement. I recommend that you sit on one of the tables around near Max and not on the Rocky Point Road side. There are gas heaters and blankets to keep you warm on a wintry day. There is also room to park your pram, but obviously wandering toddlers will need to be kept close by. Inside there is bench seating along one of the windows if street dining is not your thing, but there isn't any room for prams.
There is a stack of high chairs and if your little ones need the loo ask the friendly wait staff for the key. The toilet facilities are huge (no baby change table) so there is plenty of room for you and your pram in there as well as a toddler or three. Now on to the staff - they are ever so nice. Service was attentive at all times and they were very patient with the demands of my, at times, precocious sons.
226 Rocky Point Rd, Ramsgate NSW
Mon - Fri : 6.30am - 3.30pm
Sat - Sun: 7.00am - 3.30pm
Mother Nature has been very good to us Sydney folk of late - the weather has been nothing short of spectacular, so what better way to spend a lazy Sunday than wandering around a lovely garden and having an equally lovely lunch in said garden - oh if only I had packed a picnic basket........
Our little family ventured far from the Hills on sunny Sunday, down some very very busy roads to a place called The Shire. Now The Shire is a place we don't visit very often, basically because we know of no one to visit down there. I know this is a lame excuse as The Shire is such a lovely spot and there is also an amazing food scene burgeoning in the area which I need to check out.
So as I've been promising to find some child friendly cafes out of my comfort zone for a wee while, I decided that we should head south and satisfy two passions of mine - food and gardening - I made my three boys come along for the ride (cause I'm in charge) - the little bulls could road test the playgrounds and Mr Munch - well I needed him to pay the bill....
I had made a booking for Sunday lunch at the Tea House in the National Camellia Gardens in Caringbah. From looking at their website I thought I had stumbled on a little gem - they had a dedicated childrens menu - they even offered a "little cherubs" high tea and they were the winner of the 2012 best cafe in The Shire. Add to this lovely gardens and playgrounds to explore - it was sounding lovely, oh so lovely. But sadly it wasn't.
When we arrived we could see that the cafe as well as its take-away section was busy - super busy. After a wee wait we were seated at our "reserved" table near the kitchen door. We spent some time - actually a very long time, people watching and taking in the very dated interior of the Japanese style tea house when at last a wee waitress asked if we had been served. We replied no to which she apologised and then disappeared through the kitchen door. She came back after another wee while and told us that our table had been reserved and that we would have to move to another table. I replied that yes the table was reserved - for us. She went to check with the manager to make sure that we should have been sitting at our table. By this stage my little bulls were beginning to get restless and so were we. The very friendly manager then came and said that we were actually on the right table and gave us some crayons for the boys to use and finally some menus.
So the Tea House ticks most of the child friendly boxes in that they have crayons and colouring sheets, they have a decent childrens menu, they serve their milkshakes in take away coffee cups, they have high chairs, there is a loo with a baby change table - but golly gosh the service is bad - friendly bad if you know what I mean.
We then waited at least 50 minutes for our meals and even with colouring in for kids, they can't wait so long for food - especially when they know there are playgrounds waiting outside. Also they could spy the ice cream menu from the table that we were sitting at, so of course they believed that's all they needed for lunch.
When our meals finally arrived at first glance I was impressed - nice big serves and for the prices that we were paying it was reasonable value - sadly my BLT was stone cold and cold bacon is no where as good as the hot stuff right? Mr Munch had no complaints about his burger and the boys with minds on the playground only ate the chips ($5.50) that came with their home made mini pie and sausage roll ($2 each).
So all in all the Tea House was sadly disappointing - maybe it would have been better if we went for coffee and cake midweek? I'm not sure. The potential is there most definitely for it to be a wonderful little gem. Maybe give it a miss on weekends or just pack a lovely picnic for the lovely Camellia Gardens.
Now the Camellia Gardens were definitely worth the trek to The Shire. They are beautifully maintained and there are two playgrounds - one right near the Tea House and the second one is on the other side of the gardens near the car park (which has a fab old wooden train) and it is a delightful wander between the two. The little bulls pretended they were big brave explorers wandering through a jungle as the gardens were so lush and dense. It's also the perfect place to play hide and seek.
There were pathways and steps leading off in all directions, cute little bridges crossing this way and that over a duck pond and lovely areas to picnic or have a BBQ. There were lots of little nooks and crannies where those without offspring were hidden away - maybe contemplating whether to spring or not?
So Mother Nature fulfilled our expectations on this sunny Sunday but alas the Tea House didn't. Should I come back one day to The Shire I will definitely be bringing the picnic basket x
Cnr President AVe & Kareen Rd Caringbah NSW
02 9540 2018