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{London} Would it be crazy to take a toddler to any of these restaurants?

k
Kelly Feb 24, 2011 01:35 PM

We're off to London for a 4-day weekend in early March -- and it will be my first time there en famille with our 20-month-old. We're planning on hitting some old favourites where I'm not at all concerned about having a toddler along: Lahore, the Golden Hind, some stalls at Borough Market.

But of course there are lots of places I'd LIKE to return to/try out where I'm not sure he/we would be welcome. So, 'hounds, I'd appreciate your thoughts on which, if any, of the list below would be accessible for us.

Bocca di Lupo
Quilon
Moti Mahal
St John Bread and Wine
Anchor and Hope
Draper's Arms
32 Great Queen St
Regency Cafe

Basically, I'm keeping the bar low: would it be possible to get in with a Maclaren umbrella pram, and would the occasional hoot/holler and scramble for dropped toys be tolerated with good grace?

We don't need a high chair, though tables with banquette seating are always a plus. Himself's culinary needs are not worthy of consideration, as he's Mr. Picky (oh cruel, cruel wound to a foodie mama) and will likely subsist on bread and cheese we tote along. Armed with sufficient toy cars, we recently emerged unscathed from three-course lunches in Paris.

Any of these would be for lunch, though I'm intrigued by the idea of a pre-theatre-time dinner at Bocca di Lupo.

Many thanks in advance!

-----
St John
26 St John St, Islington EC1M 4AY, United Kingdom

Quilon
41 Buckingham Gate, London, Greater London SW1E 6, GB

Moti Mahal
45 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AA, GB

  1. k
    Kelly Mar 13, 2011 07:54 AM

    Had a lovely time in London, though we made it to only four restaurants (one of 'em twice):

    Lahore Kebab House
    Old Brewery
    Golden Hind
    Bocca di Lupo

    Old favourites Lahore and Golden Hind were, as you'd imagine, perfectly fine with a kid -- and we were ever so thrilled that the young one developed a taste for pappadums, chutney, naan and biryani. He turned up his nose at the (really lovely) haddock at GH, but ate his share of chips and more than his share of treacle sponge with custard. I have to say that as much as I love GH's fish, their chips are less than stellar. The flat we were staying in was literally around the corner from the Sea Shell, but I was spooked by reports of a decline in quality since the reopening, so we decided to stick with a known quantity.

    Old Brewery (in Greenwich) was fine for what it was - a basic cafe where we could come in and warm up after a chilly walk through the naval college. We got there too early for their kitchen lunch offerings (fish and chips, burgers, etc.) so made do with the stew of the day, veal with garden vegetables. The stew was quite tasty, if a bit salty -- loads and loads of veal cooked until it fell apart, but the only garden vegetables we could discern were a few smallish bits of potato.

    Bocca di Lupo was our "stretch" - we reserved for dinner at the ungodly hour of 5.30pm in the hopes of bothering as few perople as possible, but it was still fairly stressful keeping our son from flinging his toy car onto the floor, etc. That said, the staff was very accommodating - unexpectedly, they had a booster seat, and our server, upon realising that the boy was eating his wait in those massive Cerignola olives, dedicated herself to keeping the little plate of 'em well filled.

    Everything was very good at Bocca, but the highlights were definitely the nettle and borage pansotti with walnut sauce and the fricassee of new peas, broad beans, artichokes and asparagus. We also had suppli, baccala, orecchiette with 'nduja, pork/foie gras sausage with farro and porcini and cime di rape with garlic and chilli. The only complaint I had was that everything was VERY highly seasoned. I am a salt freak, so for me to say something's salty means it might have been borderline scary for others. But am very glad we went.

    We stopped at Gelupo afterward so I could try their clementine and pink grapefruit gelati. Clementine was undistinguished, and the pink grapefruit was bracingly tart -- but certainly no threat to Berthillon. :o)

    1. c
      collinsboe Mar 11, 2011 12:30 AM

      St John Bread and wine seems permanently populated by buggies and toddlers. Cracking place for any foodie family.

      -----
      St John
      26 St John St, Islington EC1M 4AY, United Kingdom

      1. m
        ManInTransit Feb 25, 2011 05:20 AM

        I'd say all of those would be absolutely fine although I can't speak for Bocca di Lupo.

        1. howler Feb 24, 2011 04:27 PM

          quilon and moti mahal are desi - toddlers running around, babes in arm screaming are all part of their upbringing.

          1 Reply
          1. re: howler
            k
            Kelly Feb 24, 2011 10:02 PM

            Thanks, howler - you've reassured me! We've only been to Quilon the once, but loved it and I am SO jonesing for a Keralan thali. I'm really tempted by JFores' Thattakuda (Thattukada?) in East Ham, but think that might be a bit of a trek with Himself.

            -----
            Quilon
            41 Buckingham Gate, London, Greater London SW1E 6, GB

          2. LulusMom Feb 24, 2011 01:42 PM

            Can't speak for most of them, but we took then 3 year old Lulu to London last summer, and had a great meal at Great Queen Street, where she seemed welcomed. It was fairly busy and loud, so I think squeaks and such wouldn't be much noticed, but can't say for sure as Lulu isn't a hollerer. But truly, it was a great meal, and she had a fun time.

            We also ate at a wonderful Spanish place (sorry - I'm away from home right now again, and don't have my notes so don't have the name - think it began with an L), a highlight of the trip, and they couldn't have been more accommodating. they kept refilling her bowl of olives and when she finally pooped out and fell asleep on my lap, they didn't even blink at the sight. And we had a very pleasant Indian meal (again, don't have the info in front of me) where there were other small children and no one seemed at all bothered. Good luck, and enjoy your trip.

            6 Replies
            1. re: LulusMom
              k
              Kelly Feb 25, 2011 01:00 AM

              Thanks v much. Great Queen Street has been on my list for years, but I always get distracted by Moti Mahal when I'm in that area. :o) The hollering isn't cranky hollering -- more "loud observations" along the line of "Train! Car! Bread! Taxi! Dump truck!" as the situation warrants. :o)

              -----
              Moti Mahal
              45 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AA, GB

              1. re: LulusMom
                greedygirl Feb 25, 2011 03:05 AM

                The Spanish place was Fino, I think and the Indian was Rasa Samudra.

                The Draper's Arms would definitely be fine at lunchtime - we ate there before Christmas and there was a bunch of mums with very small babies nearby. It is right in the heart of yummy mummy territory.

                A lot of pubs don't allow kids in the evening so you should check first if planning to go later than 7pm.

                1. re: greedygirl
                  k
                  Kelly Feb 25, 2011 07:32 AM

                  Thanks, GG. We also have an eye toward exploring Brixton Village Market, inspired by the thread you started. Evenings in pubs aren't an issue, as Himself will be in bed by 7pm anyway.

                  Would you say Draper's Arms is worth a trip, or only if we happen to be wandering around Islington anyway?

                  1. re: Kelly
                    greedygirl Feb 25, 2011 09:54 AM

                    The Draper's Arms is a nice pub - whether it's worth a special trip or not depends on where you're staying and how far it is, I'd say.

                    Be aware that in Brixton Village there are no toilets or changing facilities.

                    1. re: greedygirl
                      k
                      Kelly Feb 25, 2011 10:21 AM

                      Now THAT is useful information. Hmmmm. I am undeterred. Diapers are incredibly absorbent these days...and surely we can find a cafe or (blush) a chain like Pret or S'bucks somewhere within striking distance should we get desperate. Won't be the first time he's been changed on the floor of a loo...

                  2. re: greedygirl
                    LulusMom Feb 25, 2011 11:28 AM

                    thanks greedygirl, your memory is much better than mine! Those are exactly the restaurants we went to.

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