Loose Ends are all about having a great time,
and that means a great time
for each and every member of the family.
There’s nothing worse than taking your knee-high nearest and dearest
out for a bite to eat
only to have to run the gauntlet
of disapproving stares
their table manners
fall short of immaculate.But equally, you don’t want to be stuck with leftover turkey dinosaurs when you’d rather be tucking into something more adult. So here is Loose End's pick of restaurants which manage to offer a family-friendly atmosphere and food which appeals to gourmets of all ages.
It’s a chain, we know, but we think Giraffe gets a lot right when it comes to family-friendliness. Its reach is fairly wide, too: you’ll find Giraffes throughout England, three branches in Scotland, and they’ve even made it to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Our absolutely favourite branch of Giraffe is at the Brunswick Centre, just a stone’s throw from Great Ormond Street Hospital, right in the heart of Bloomsbury. If you agree with us that it’s never too early to introduce future generations to the joys of pioneering medium-rise modernist architecture, you’ll love it as much as we do.
Menus vary somewhat depending on your location, but tend to take an international approach, featuring spicy yummies such as Kerala Cauliflower Bhajis and Penang Bang chicken. If you prefer to graze the Anglosphere, burgers and fries (including very good sweet potato fries) are well worth a try.
There are wholesome and appealing kids’ menus, too, and we’ve found that staff go out of their way to accommodate the needs of families. In fact: Giraffe is so amazing we wrote a poem about it once.
Ginger Bistro, Belfast
We haven’t eaten at Ginger ourselves, but we had to include it simply because we’ve heard such great things about it (on the strength of which we’re tempted to book a mini-break in Belfast). We love the idea of modern Irish cuisine based on seafood, and the restaurant’s stripped-back interior—illuminated by Moroccan and South East Asian-inspired lighting—appeals to our bohemian side.
Ginger bistro clearly isn’t a finger-food and finger-painting sort of restaurant. There’s no kids’ menu, but the establishment does declare itself to be child-friendly. You can’t book a table online or by email, though: you need to give them a call and do it the old-fashioned way.
We’re not fixated on huge nationwide mega-chains, we promise you, but Jamie’s Italian deserves a special mention for the quality of its interior décor, the broad appeal of its menu and the welcoming attitude of its staff. We recently went to lunch at the Chelmsford branch of Jamie’s with a total of five adults and two energetic boy-children (one aged 5, the other 18 months), and we all had a whale of a time.
The grownups tucked into fried squid, pasta carbonara and giant pork chops while the little ‘uns gnawed at pizza margarita and played ‘who can get repeatedly stuck behind the sofa and scream the loudest’. Staff charmed the 5-year-old by demonstrating the art of slicing salami, and good-naturedly returned the toddler to us when he roamed too far.
There are branches of Jamie’s Italian in most regions of the UK, so check it out when you fancy some adult nosh and the offspring want familiar favourites.
Bush Pepper, Newquay
If your kids could give Ned Kelly a run for his money in terms of larrikin behaviour, Newquay’s Bush Pepper is the restaurant for you. Stand-out dishes feature fresh local seafood, Australian specialities like Kangaroo sausages and an unusually varied and delicious vegetarian menu.
Booking is definitely a good idea because this isn’t the biggest restaurant in the world, but you’ll be glad you made the effort. You can even charm your children into early morning good behaviour with the promise of Bush Tucker breakfast or home-made banana bread. Yummy.
More company, more fun
We hope you enjoy the restaurants we’ve chosen. But don’t forget that eating out is about more than just good food – it’s also about great company. Why not download the Loose Ends app and use it to make your next restaurant outing a bigger, better, more sociable experience? Take a look at our beginners guide to get you off to a flying start.