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/

Railhouse Cafe

Location:  South West (Victoria)

Cuisine: Modern European

Price Range: £££

LFM Score: 3/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 2/3

London Foodie Mama was excited to check out the soft launch of the Railhouse Cafe in Victoria. They launched with an interesting concept: The “Honesty Policy” – only pay for the dish if you think it was worth it…so how much did LFM end up paying?….

First we sampled the salmon tartare (£8.50)  for starters – sadly this was disappointing with too much olive oil lathered on top and lacking any zingy flavour. For mains we tried the Crab Royale (£14) which consisted of a generous portion of tasty crab cakes on a bed of English muffins topped with a Hollandaise sauce. We also sampled the buttermilk fried chicken sandwich which was moist but with so much salt added, our tastebuds were frazzled to extinction.

So the food was completely outshone by the decor and groovy fixtures. We particularly liked the toilets and the ‘vintage’ (but new) pull down cistern lavatories. Also, the varied seating areas are great if you have kids – from booths to sofas. Plus, unusual for central Lomdon, lots of room for buggies and high chairs a plenty.

So what did LFM end up paying? That’s a secret Shhhhh

www.railhouse.cafe

Dip and Flip (Battersea)

Location:  South West (Battersea)

Cuisine: French

Price Range: ££

LFM Score: 4/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 3/3

Soggy sandwiches – sound appealing? Perhaps not to everyone’s palate but somehow it works.

Dip and Flip are introducing us to the world of the French Dipped Sandwich – slicely thinned beef or lamb, dipped in gravy and served in a fresh bread roll. You get extra gravy on the side to dip the whole sandwich in and then try and stuff the sloppy mess into one’s salivating mouth. Definitely not a place to take a first date! Simple but fantastic. The burgers also impressed as did the huge American oversized thick milkshakes.

The venue is casual enough for the little ones, however we felt the Battersea branch was a little cramped for too many buggies. Highchairs available plus a separate kids menu.

http://dipandflip.co.uk/

Cellar Gascon

Location:  City (Smithfield Market/Clerkenwell)

Cuisine: French

Price Range: £

LFM Score: 4/5

Bebe Friendly Score: 1/3

Shhhh…London Foodie Mama has stumbled upon a little London secret. Not sure we want anyone else to discover this find….It’s the lunch time bargain dish of the day served at Cellar Gascon. LFM is a big fan of the Gascon mini chain having dined at the Michelin starred (stiff and formal) Club Gascon and the more accessible gourmet bistro style Comptoir Gascon. Having spent a fortune at both these venues, who would have thought their baby sister restaurant, Cellar Gascon, could offer a decent dish at £6!

We devoured the Toulouse Sausage cassoulet bathed in beautiful juices and lentils. OK, the dish is on the small size but we were satisfied at lunchtime having filled up on the accompanying complimentary fresh baguette and topping up with the bargain desert (£3) of Pain Perdu (translated as Lost bread). We also tried the Signature Gascon Duck burger which you couldn’t fault – moist shredded duck, sandwiched between a toasted brioche bun (yes it could have been bigger but it was only £5!) Why can’t there be more places like this in London??

Would you bring a baby? Simple answer..No. Do you want to trek to the City/Clerkenwell area at lunchtime with the buggy on public transport and dine amongst serious looking suited and booted business men? Plus, the venue is more of a narrow wine bar with little room for buggies with no highchairs available and no baby changing facilities. Having mentioned all the above, our toddler was happily perched in a booth and staff made us feel welcome despite our noisy tag along. (Parenting tip from LFM: train your kids early on regarding restaurant behaviour and etiquette and potty train early to avoid searching from nappy changing facilities).

http://www.clubgascon.com/cellar/about.php