Monday, July 26, 2010

Gov's Rules!

Gov's Espresso
2457 Gold Coast Highway
Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast
T:  5667 1098

Rating out of 5:  4.5 child friendly forks

Clean highchairs available? Yes
Pram access? Yes.
Kids' menu? Not specifically, but plenty on the menu for kids.
Play area? Yes - great outdoor play area for the kids which is being extended as we speak.
Activities at the table? No
Room for kids to move around? Yes, outside only.  Indoor tables are a bit more "adult" like.
Child friendly atmosphere? Yes
Prices? Very reasonable.

I loved this place!  It is a real hidden treasure.  Just a few blocks from the beautiful and exclusive beaches of Mermaid on the Gold Coast, is this fantastic and interesting coffee shop.  It is in an old house and each of the rooms are set up like a house - lounge room, dining etc and are full of retro and eclectic pieces.  Mike and I took the kids in there as we had heard it was a good place to take children, and I must admit I was sceptical at first....

From the front it looks like an old junk shop.  Then as we walked in I realised it was full of these interesting antiques and retro knick-knacks.  I was seriously questioning what we were doing there at that point with 4 littlies and 8 eager hands wanting to touch everything.  The barista signalled to us that we might want to head through to the back, so we did.  What a treasure in the backyard....

A big open area with random tables and seating, and in the corner was an old style boat perched on top of a sandpit.  There were beach toys and Tonka trucks strewn across the lawn and an antique looking bed perfect for kids to chill out and read stories.

We ordered coffee and brekky and the kids played.  It was lovely and relaxing.  I can highly recommend the bircher museli and the coffee was great!!  The only issue we had was that the littlies did not want to leave, especially once a Mothers Group arrived and there were so many kids to play with.

The staff were fabulously friendly, and the waitress chatted to us about the extension underway with a whole new play area.  So we will have to get back there to check it out soon.

There is also a back entrance from the side street through the side fence gate.  This makes pram access really easy.

I would highly recommend Gov's Espresso!!  It is both interesting and relaxing and with the extension of the cafe and play area it will be a brilliant place to go with a family.  It would be perfect for a mid-week Mothers Group or Sunday family time.  Loved it!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday night at the Club...or was it a Chinese restaurant from the 80s??

Bardon Bowls Club
69 Bowman Parade
Bardon , Brisbane,  4065
T:  3366 2981

Rating out of 5:  3 child friendly forks

Clean highchairs available? Yes
Pram access? Yes.
Kids' menu? Yes.
Play area? Yes - indoor toy area including Wii, and outdoor running around area.  The outdoor area is not secure and borders a road, so important to have someone watching them.
Activities at the table? No
Room for kids to move around? Yes.
Child friendly atmosphere? Yes
Prices? Very reasonable. Steak starts from $12.  Kids meals are huge at $7.50

I would love to give this place a higher rating as they were so friendly and it really is easy to take kids there.  But the only thing letting it down was the time taken for the food to come out and the fact that all our meals were staggered.  Mine came out an hour before Mike's, and the kids meals came out in between that.

The decor is definitely like an RSL and the meals remind me of the local Chinese restaurant from when I was a kid - standard sweet and sour pork and honey prawns, which in the 80s we thought was so exotic!  They also serve steak which was a big meal served with salad and chips - and cheap as chips from $12, or $13 for reef and beef!!  Of course it is not the standard you would get at a specialty steakhouse, but good value all the same.  I ordered the san choy bao, which was beautiful and fresh and very filling at $11.  The kids meals are limited but good value.  Fish or nuggets served with chips or salad.  There were 10 nuggets to a serve and a mountain of chips - I could have just ordered one meal to feed all four of my kids.

The staff are so friendly, with "Big John" coming around handing out lucky door prizes, which included a kids birthday barefoot bowls party and gorgeous cupcakes from Luscious Cupcakes valued at $800.  Then they were selling tickets for the meat tray, like the old style "Friday night at the club" with banter going on as to who was going to win it.  Then another bloke came around handing out free Freddo Frogs to all the kids - a special after dinner offer on Friday nights.  It was a very old style friendly "club" atmosphere.

Our littlies ran around outside kicking a soccer balls for ages.  I would recommend you keep an eye on them through the window or be out there with them, as it does border the carpark and the road, and there is no fencing.  But a massive area, so it is not like they are close to the cars, unless they actually run over there.  Inside also has a toy corner, the Wii and space for them to move around.  As far as being relaxed and inviting of children it was excellent.

However, we ordered our meals at 6.30pm.  Mine came out at 7.15, the kids meals at about 7.300 and then Mike's just after 8.15pm.  This was the only thing letting it down.  They were extremely busy and obviously were not coping with the rush.  So I think if we were to go there again we would get there at 5.30pm and order immediately.  I think that would then enable the kids to eat earlier, have a play and then head home at a reasonable hour.

Definitely child friendly and definitely reasonably priced for a family.  We will go back there, but earlier with a game plan for ordering.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Milk takes you back....

Milk Cafe Milkbar
Windsor Homezone,
142 Newmarket Rd, Windsor.
T:  3357 3009.

Rating out of 5:  4 child friendly forks

Clean highchairs available? Yes
Pram access? Yes.
Kids' menu? No, but plenty on the main menu suitable for children.
Play area? No.
Activities at the table? No
Room for kids to move around? Yes if indoors, but limited.
Child friendly atmosphere? Yes
Prices? Very reasonable.  Latte was about $3.50, sandwiches start from about $6.90.

Milk at Windsor is the follow-on from the concept opening at Ashgrove.  The Windsor store replaced Cafe Mama which Mothers had been raving about for years as a way to have a coffee and let the kids have a play.  When Cafe Mama closed I know there were a lot of disappointed patrons.  Personally I thought the play area at Cafe Mama was so tiny and only suitable for one or two children at the most, which made it difficult. 

Milk is not trying to replace this concept, but it does provide a child friendly cafe option.  There is no play area or activities at the table, but the atmosphere is suited for children.  The decor is light and fresh and the food gives you that home-baked feeling.  The menu reminds me of the old style milk bars and I think they have tried to capture that nostalgic feeling throughout the store, while still maintaining a modern feel.  They offer some good kids options with fairy bread, sandwiches or "wicked" hot chips, as well as gorgeous mini cupcakes.  The drinks are great too for kids, with the traditional baby-cino or the old fashion malted milk.  The options become more decadent for adults with Baci hot chocolate, tiramasu affogato or an Irish cream latte.  I thought the menu for adults was also very good and reasonably priced.

The tables are spaced apart so children are not annoying other diners if they climb on and off their chair, and most of the people in there had children under 5, so everyone was very tolerant.  There is no need to book, but there are only 4 highchairs, so perhaps if you plan to go in a larger group it might be wise to ring ahead and have the highchairs set aside.

I would highly recommend this for Mums with bubs wanting to have a mid-week catch-up or an after school treat with their school age children.  It would be lovely for a family Sunday brekky too.  Very child friendly, even though it does not have the play area like its predecessor.  We will be back there.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Eating in style, and the kids still eat free....

Lagoon Restaurant
Ground Floor
Marriott Hotel
158 Ferny Ave, Surfers Paradise, 4217
T:  5592 6800

Rating out of 5:  4 child friendly forks

Clean highchairs available? Yes

Pram access? Yes but limited with split level areas.
Kids' menu? No, but it is a smorgasbord and a great range for kids.
Play area? No, but great pool area with caves to go walking after dinner.
Activities at the table? Yes, colouring in.
Room for kids to move around? Not really.  More so after dinner, around the pool area.
Child friendly atmosphere? Yes
Prices? Adult smorgasbord was $69, but the children ate for free.

This restaurant does not tick all the standard criteria above, but for other reasons I really liked the Lagoon Restaurant for a family dinner.  Mainly becasue it was fresh food for the children, and not deep fried, and it was great for the adults too.

We met some family for dinner at the Marriott on the Gold Coast.  We had a choice of the Japanese Teppanyaki where they cook the food in front of you, or the Seafood Smorgasbord.  We chose the latter.  Even though the Japanese option would have been entertaining for all ages, I was a bit concerned about the children reaching the hot grill.  So the decision was made - seafood.

Everything was well set up when we arrived, so there was no mucking around with seating arrangements.  I quickly got four plates happening and filled them with an array of salads, cold meats, a few prawns and some fish.  The kids loved it and sat happily tasting the different options on their plates.  The waitress also brought out some colouring activity packs which was great. 

Mike and I definitely enjoyed our meals with fresh oysters and prawns, salmon, whiting and fresh salads.  There are other choices besides seafood, but we decided to make the most of it.

We all had dessert together - the kids enjoyed ice cream and we indulged in some more decadent options.  It is a high end dinner option, with the adult meal costing $69 and the wine bar another $20.  But children 5 years and under eat free, and are not limited to nuggets and chips like so many other kids menus.  For a family of six (like us) this was actually a very reasonable option.  The other thing I really liked was that I could get food for the kids immediately and did not have to wait 20 minutes in between ordering and bringing the food out.

Afterwards we took the children on an "adventure walk" through the caves that surround the gorgeous pools at the resort.  So they got to run around and wear out, while we got to run off our desserts, or at least a mouthful.

This was a lovely treat that we would definitely do again, and I can highly recommend it to families. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hogs Breath was a breath of child friendly fresh air!

Hogs Breath Indooroopilly
104 Coonan St
Indooroopilly, Brisbane
T: 3378 5533

Rating out of 5:  4 child friendly forks

Clean highchairs available?  Yes
Pram access? Yes
Kids' menu?  Yes
Play area?  No
Activities at the table?  Yes, colouring in.
Room for kids to move around?  Kind of, but would need to be supervised.
Child friendly atmosphere?  Yes
Prices?  Very reasonable and from Monday to Thursday the kids meals are free.

I have not been to Hogs Breath for years...probably my last visitation was pre-children in my early 20's while holidaying up at Mooloolaba with friends.  Hogs Breath at Indro is a bit hidden away.  It is located in the Coles Centre at Indooroopilly Junction and you have to park and catch the lift to the top to get to the restaurant.

I must say I was impressed.  The Manager welcomed us with excitement as we walked in with the 4 littlies...not a response we get regularly!  The three highchairs were set up for us promptly and colouring in activities were quickly delivered to the table.  The children's meals came out fast and were pretty big.  We were dining on a Tuesday evening, and from Monday to Thursday, kids meals are free.  So not only were they massives kids meals, we didn't even have to pay for them!  I am not sure if this was a temporary promotion, so make sure you ask when you book.  Our meals were not far behind which was great.  At least we could all eat together and not have to scoff our food down once the kids are restless and want to go home.  Our steaks were perfectly cooked and the sauce was delicious.

Included in the free kids meals was a lemonade and ice cream for dessert.  Once the children had finished dessert, the Manager brought over 4 helium balloons to take home.  So the children were in heaven - lemonade, colouring in, ice cream and now take-home balloons!  We all left happy!!  We will definitely be back.