The River Cafe

Location:  South West (Hammersmith)

Cuisine: Italian

Price Range: ££££

LFM Score: 5/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 2/3

Bring two kids under the age of 3 to a Michelin starred restaurant? Are you crazy LFM? The River Cafe was at the top of LFM’s wish list, but with 2 young kids in tow, could we enjoy this luxurious treat? Answer: YES!

Firstly, being a Michelin starred venue, The River Cafe doesn’t feel stuffy or stiff. In fact, it feels quite trendy and slick; the staff were particularly well trained and treated our mini guests well. There is outdoor space just outside, over looking the River Thames, perfect to take a restless toddler out if need be. Tables are quite closely packed, however, one can request a table to fit a buggy beside.

So how can this infamous restaurant charge £40 for one main course? The prices are not completely justified, but you can taste the high quality produce. Selected ingredients really could sing..LFM was particularly impressed by a simple dish of homemade pasta in a lemon and rocket sauce – sounds plain but really was moreish. And if I need to choose my last dessert ever, let me please have their chocolate nemesis cake again – an intense, gooey type mousse. Bliss! Nice touch offered by the restaurant, adding a candle for LFM’s plus one who was celebrating his birthday.

In summary, do go, especially if someone else can pay!

http://www.rivercafe.co.uk/

Il pampero

Location:  South West (Knightsbridge/Belgravia)

Cuisine: Italian

Price Range: £££

LFM Score: 5/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 3/3

Did someone whisper “Soft launch..half price..in Belgravia”?…yes please, table for 2 plus a highchair thank you..

LFM has found an almost perfect venue. The food served is exquisite….starter of seabass carpaccio was delicate and beautifully presented. We sampled the mains of ravioli of oxtail and cacciucco (seafood soup) which was amazing followed by an inventive tiramisu where the waitress  dramatically doused our dessert with an espresso shot. And must mention the tasty complimentary homemade bread basket – what a treat.

Delighted to see this upmarket restaurant had a kids menu, high chairs, room for buggies plus nappy changing facilities. However, don’t think this is a pizza express which tolerates hundreds of kids through the doors…this is a ‘nice’ place where you can bring ‘nice’ children <ahem>..if the kids get restless, they can be brought into the attached lobby of the neighbouring boutique hotel (Hari hotel).

And why not a perfect venue? Well high quality food comes at a price..so maybe save this for a family treat…

http://www.ilpampero.com/

Tozi Restaurant and Bar

Location: Victoria

Cuisine: Italian

Price Range: £££

LFM Score: 5/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 2/3

Victoria London; Never really been a destination area for amazing restaurant choices. Having worked in the area for 5 years (BB; Before Bebe), always felt Victoria was a bit of a black hole for reasonably priced foodie venues. However, things  have changed (with recent openings of Iberica, A Wong) and now on our hit list, TOZI.

Tozi has not been on the LFM radar, not sure why, just less of a buzz and/or press overage compared to similar venues (on par with the likes of the exponentially growing Polpo chain or Trullo in Islington or Zucca in Bermondsey). The Italian tapas style concept is gathering pace and Tozi is fantastic. Stand out dishes were the soft shell crab and deep fried zucchini shoe string fries (LFM diet starts next week). Disappointed by the Pizzetta (rather bland) especially with the enticing wood fired oven on display as a centre piece. Leave room for dessert – Merningata, yoghurt & amarene was to die for!

The venue is spacious and light n airy – lots of buggy space and high chairs available.  Baby changing facilities present but a little trek into the basement of the adjacent hotel (super clean – we like A LOT). We haven’t awarded top Bebe Friendly Scores as Tozi is kinda chic and too ‘smart’ for a screaming baby, especially in the evening. Weekend daytime acceptable but you can just imagine a lot of business lunches (or ‘Ladies Who Lunch) here and feeling out of place.

http://www.tozirestaurant.co.uk/

Paesan

Location: Clerkenwell (Exmouth Market)

Cuisine: Italian

Price Range: ££

LFM Score: 4/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 2/3

I took a risk and brought my Italian sister-in-law to an Italian restaurant in London. But am so glad I took her to Paesan as this place is amazing (and apparently rather authentic). Forget boring pizza  – this place does proper Italian food! The fresh breads are superb and stand out dish was the Pasta Vongole (clams).

We’ve been here for lunch and early dinner ; families are a common site at Paesan – the staff are great with the kids! Plenty of high chairs (we once had 4 toddlers eating at our table). Only negative is no baby changing facilties but hey, this is central London.

http://www.paesanlondon.com/

Sweet Thursday

Location: Islington

Cuisine: Italian (Pizza/Pasta)

Price Range: ££

LFM Score: 3/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 3/3

Situated in a quiet Islington neighbourhood is Sweet Thursday, serving woodfired pizzas and a large selection of wines.  The pizzas are good but not amazing (we’ve had better at Franco Manca)  – not a destination restaurant but somewhere to try if you are in the area. However, make it your destination if you have kids and want to have a semi-peaceful meal. That’s because the restaurant has a small but functional play area and the classic crayons etc (and high chairs/baby changing). Our little ones loved the ‘Micky’ pizzas! Adults loved the chocolate cake.

Brunch at Sweet Thursday is also pretty decent and they run special wine tasting and coffee tasting sessions which are extremely fun and informative.

www.sweetthursday.co.uk/