I'm really saddened to read Serge's review of Del Aziz - and he/she enjoyed the restaurant without screaming kids - our kids were not screaming that day! I have noted that kids are not welcomed at the Woolpack, the Garrison or Village East after 6pm or even lunchtimes as they don't have kids menus. Its such a shame that we can't take our children for a civilised meal especially in the early evenings as in all european countries. My daughter would be out of the restaurant by 7pm and in bed by 8pm so that shouldn't affect most single diners. Its such a shame that most single/childless couples would prefer us to lock them up in our homes or only dine in Pizza Express etc.
Mrs. Erniebug, while I have no doubt that your child and your friend's children are well behaved, unfortunately I have found that civilised behaviour is not the norm for the majority of indigenous children.
On the fortunately rare occasions that I have found myself in a restaurant where british children are I have encountered the bored ones who will get up from the table and roll around the floor, or chase one another around the room sometimes shrieking loudly.
The parents seem oblivious to this, to the extent that once another diner had to bring to a mother's attention the fact that her toddler had opened the door and wandered into the street.
So while I sympathise with you that you find it difficult to find a restaurant that will cater to children in the way that you would like, I'm not at all surprised that restaurants are loath to have chidren come through the door.
In Europe, where chidren are made welcome in restaurants you may on occasion find one badly behaved child, this is a rarity, in the UK it seems to be de rigeur.
I completely agree with Debrajoan. The last time I went to OTTOLENGHI in Angel, my friends and I were seating next to a screaming child and the mother (there were only two women) was totally oblivious to the effect he could have on the other diners sharing the table. My friend had to say something and it might have been construed as rude but it had the desired effect, they left and we finally could talk to each other.
I also agree with Debrajoan's comment about the difference with children on the continent. I was in Munich for the summer and I even saw a waiter telling off a child who was making too much noise. Imagine the uproar it would have caused in this country!
There are lots of child friendly places in London like Giraffe for example!
My normally well behaved children have presumably worked out that they dont want to eat in the sort of restaurants that attract the likes of Debrajoan!
Odd too that Serge seems to think that chains are for children. Part of the joy of living in London is that children can grow up enjoying a wide variety of food and, hopefully, avoid the faddyness of many of this generation of young adults.
Go ethnic. Try Dragon Castle. Plenty of kids there and no problems. My kids love Kennington Tandoori, and seemingly all kids love sushi. (If you cant face Yo Sushi, though kids love the conveyor belt, try the small place on Lower Marsh.) Waiters in TAS can be lovely to small ones. The tapas places around Vauxhall.
Key things to look for when they are very young is fast service. Any two year old has a limited time when they can sit still. (We used to go to places in China Town where they practically try to stampede you through your meal.) Or brief the waiter in advance that you will want fast service and skip the starter. And plenty of fall back fillers. The bread in TAS is great and if a very small child is struggling with some of the new tastes at least they leave full.
With older children we employ a bribe system. Try something new, or finish an unfamiliar vegetable and they earn a chocolate. And learn that the unfamiliar can, though not always, be delicious. The pay back now is that they get very frustrated with school friends who on school trips dont seem to be able to eat anything. My daughter just came back from a sports camp which she absolutely loved. Her only complaint was the endless nuggets and burgers and NO vegetables.
If you want to take kids to a smart restaurant for perhaps a family occasion, it is a bit further afield but our favourite, well tried and tested, is Ransomes Dock in Battersea. (Family run and welcoming to both the very old and very young, in the way that more stylish places in SE1 may not be. Which together with good food and wine makes it a real treat.)
If you dont take the kids out to eat, or only take them to McDonalds and equivalent, how will they know how to behave. So Catch 22. Restaurants/diners in London discourage kids and then are surprised when kids then find themselves out of their confort zone when taken out.
Yes, it is true that kids must be allowed in restaurants to learn how to behave. I like family friendly places and people should be more relaxed about kids, especially before 8pm or so.
However parents need to be considerate and restaurant staff need to be assertive if other customers are disturbed.
I was at the Woolpack for lunch one Sunday and a woman changed her baby's nappy on a table without anything on the table first - in full view! It stank! I guess there are no proper facilities to change a nappy there, but the staff did nothing, even when she did not throw the dirty nappy away and the entire restaurant smelled. It was disgusting. The woman also allowed the kids to run around all over the place with no one saying a word.
But for every bad experience there are lots of behaved children- they just arent noticed if they are behaving!
There's a learning curve here for both parents and child. Our first chaotic outings didn't go so well and i'm sure we weren't appreciated by our fellow diners. But over time we've (sort of) worked out what works and what doesn't - making sure the little one can eat the same time we do, giving her some play-dough or paper and crayons between courses. Stickers are also great currency.
My experience is that the vast majority of kids (but of course not all) are actually as well behaved as you can expect them to be in a restaurant. I think it's a shame that some people view children as pariahs - maybe that's the difference with other countries where children dine out without issue.
The worst 'behaviour' i've ever seen in restaurants comes from adults. Other customer's drunkeness, shouting, rudeness, cigar and cigarette smoking (before the ban) have all made meals unpleasant for us and I dare say I've been guilty of a few of those myself.
It has nothing to do with gender, race or age. I go to a restaurant to enjoy the food and the conversation I can have with my friends without children screaming. Some children can be very unruly and their parents ,sometimes, fail to encourage them to behave properly. If they behave properly, I have no issue about it.
Should we accept everything? On the underground, do you enjoy people listening to deafening music or eating smelly food? I don't out of courtesy for my fellow passengers.
If some restaurants don't want to have children's menu, they probably try to attract a certain type of clientele. I was once looking for a holiday in the St Lucia and in a place like Sandals, they only wanted straight couples. We went somewhere else! Big deal!
And finally, sarah2, Del Aziz like Tas are chains!
Serge - Del Aziz may not provide a kids menu, but they do provide highchairs (quite a nice selection of colours). So it seems to me that children are exactly the type of clientele they are trying to attract.
No one is saying that it's ok for children to run amok, throw food at you or pour soup in your shoes. But children are exactly that, children, not mini adults speaking in hushed tones.
Perhaps if you want a better chance of guaranteeing your enjoyment of food and conversation without the 'nuisance' of kids you could ask the restaurant if they are child-friendly or have highchairs. If so, no big deal, just go somewhere else.
But this is what I do! If I don't like a place, I go somewhere else. As far as Del Aziz is concerned, one person was complaining about the fact that there are no special prices for children! She had tp pay £10 for 3 apple juice and the full cost for a child's portion!
Same thing, if you don't like it, go somewhere else and like Trevor said "No big deal"! And by the way, I did not inquire about their policy regarding children. Every time, I went there, it was fine. If I were seating next to noisy children with parents who cannot educate them, I would complain!