I know not everyone is a fan of chain restaurants but it has to be said, they are normally very accommodating towards families and have thought of lots of ways to help parents and their kids have a pleasant dining experience or even, dare I say, ENJOY eating out together.
Giraffe World Kitchen (just outside of intu Chapefield) invited us along to put them to the ‘family-friendly’ test. With a nearly 4-year-old and a 1-year-old dining at my LEAST favourite time of day (what is with the 4-5pm hour that turns kids into squealing, exhausted banshees, but then come 6.58pm they’re wide awake and happily playing with every toy they’ve ever owned?) I knew we would be putting them through their paces.
I deliberately booked a table for 4.30pm as I knew by the time we were in, settled and had ordered we would be eating around 5pm and hopefully staving off any major meltdowns or grumps. Mr Mumbler had to chaperone the Teeny One on a walking rampage outside (she was very unhappy at getting her hopes up that we were out and about, only to find out she was expected to be contained by the walls of the restaurant), but Mini Mumbler was perfectly entertained by the crayons and colouring sheet she was given and happily slurped her way through her blackcurrant Fruit Shoot.
There is a range of food on both the adult’s and children’s menu, and everything we ordered arrived quickly. The restaurant was fairly quiet but I have been before when it was much busier and the food still arrived promptly – definitely a plus point when you have hungry little ones, and husband, in tow.
The children’s menu has a range of normal type kid’s food options but also a ‘hidden veggie’ pasta option with garlic bread, which we ordered for the Teeny One. (For those with allergies, GWK have an allergens page on their website where you can select your preferences to see what foods suit your requirements before you get there.) Mini Mumbler had the sausages, chips and beans, and although she was warned that the food was hot, the first thing she managed to do was spill HOT beans on her arm. The waitress heard the commotion (wailing) and immediately brought over a cup of ice, which satisfied Mini Mumbler’s penchant for the dramatic as she got to sit there with an iced napkin over her arm for the duration of the meal.
I think it’s often the staff who can make or break whether you feel a place is ‘family-friendly’ or not and the staff at GWK definitely made us feel welcomed and went out of their way to chat to the girls. Eating out is always less stressful when you know you don’t have judgey or watchful staff (or diners!) tutting when food gets tipped on the floor or if your youngest is squealing because you won’t let her have a side of crayon with her pasta. (Saying this, I do always pick up as much mess as I can before leaving!)
On the whole it was a really lovely dining experience but something to be mindful of is that they ask that buggies are left in the space under the stairs and not left next to tables. I’ve heard they ask this even if babies are sleeping…just so you’re aware.
I awarded them the Mumbler ‘Family-Friendly’ sticker before leaving as I was impressed by the service and efforts they’ve made to appeal to families, plus they’ve been recommended by lots of other Mumblers!