Ruby Violet, handmade organic ice cream


A new ice cream parlour has opened up (in my neighbourhood! hooray!), and the ice cream really is the best in town. Ruby Violet in Tufnell Park might be located on a busy and not otherwise impressive street, but this charming little shop with its tiled floors and thoughtful decor, will win you over immediately. The ice cream and sorbets are all handmade on site using the finest natural and local ingredients. You’ll find such interesting flavours like Regent’s Park Honey, Cardamon and Lemon, Flintham Damson with Sour Cream, Liquorice with Blackcurrant Ripple, etc, and the flavours are so fresh and recognisable. You can also buy tubs of their ice cream to take away, and they also make ice cream cakes and other desserts for parties and events.  They’re open every day from 11-7, sunshine or no sunshine. (more…)

Byron for proper hamburgers

It’s not easy to find good hamburgers in London. Unless you go to Byron.

Byron is a proper hamburger joint, hoping to ‘do a simple thing, and do it properly’. They source good meat from Scotland, mince it fresh every day, and then cook it medium so it’s pink and juicy. They then place it in a soft, squishy bun with minimum fuss and fanfare, and ‘serve it with a smile’. I love that.  They also serve great milkshakes, good French fries and other sides, and have a kids menu.  Byron now has several locations across London, so check their site to see which one is nearest to you.

River Café

The River Café hardly needs an introduction. This well-known restaurant is both a celebrity hang-out and a favourite brunch locale for London families.  The prices are high, but the food is so good it’s worth it.  I once read somewhere that the best Italian food in Europe can be found at the River Café — meaning even better than Italy itself. I’m sure that made the Italians angry… and perhaps it was a generous compliment, but the food is really that good.  The restaurant is located on the Thames and has a grassy courtyard separating it from the river. On a sunny day you can sit outside and let your kids run around while you finish your meal.  Otherwise, they have paper and crayons to keep your kids entertained inside.  Perfect for family brunch on the weekend. Just make sure to book well in advance.

Rossopomodoro Pizza

Sometimes you just feel like eating pizza. So easy, so tasty, so casual… and kids always love it! Rossopomodoro is a Naples-based pizza chain with three locations in London (Chelsea, Covent Garden and Notting Hill). All their ingredients come from the Napolitan region of Campania — even the water used in their pizza dough is rumoured to come from Naples! Pretty impressive for a Pizza chain. They also have highchairs and welcome children — they’re Italian after all.

Borough Market

The Borough Market is not for the crowd-fearing or for the buggy-pushing — its popularity is widespread and it gets crowded! But, if you’re a food lover (and who isn’t?), it is definitely worth visiting. It is London’s largest and most renowned food market with more than 130 food stalls and culinary experts. It has been around (in this very location) for more than 250 years and continues to get better with each passing year. This is where the chefs and well-known restaurateurs can be found on Saturday morning picking from the finest fish, meat, cheese, produce, etc.  Kids will love trying all the samples, checking out all the displays (my kids love the fish stalls!), and taking in the buzz of foodie talk and knowledge.  Just don’t take a buggy if you can avoid it — carry babies in a carrier. And if you can, go on a Thursday or a Friday — Saturdays are insane! Check their website for more info. (Image from Flickr) (more…)

Konditor & Cook

I tease my husband that one of his requirements when picking a new place of employment is that there is a Konditor & Cook within walking distance. (There are 6 locations in London and my husband has worked near to 3 of them.) Their wonderful cakes and pastries are his (not so secret) indulgence and I can’t blame him — I am yet to taste something that K&C has to offer which doesn’t blow me away. Every cake, muffin, croissant is melt-in-the-mouth heaven.

Konditor & Cook was started by German-born Gerhard Jenne, who studied to be a ‘Konditor’ (pastry chef) in Germany before coming here and learning to be a ‘cook’ in London. Other than tasting good, Gerhard’s cakes look the part too and can be customised for any occasion (I love these mini-wedding cakes pictured). He has even written a book on how to decorate Wacky Cakes & Kooky Cookies. Everything the team bakes or cooks uses organic free-range eggs and natural butter, and if you need your whistle wetting further you can see their menu here. (more…)

Melrose & Morgan

Two years ago our Christmas got canceled on Christmas Eve — well the trip we had planned to Switzerland did anyway. It was our first Christmas with a child and you know how important they are! We were devastated. I think the only thing that saved us was Melrose & Morgan, our local deli in Primrose Hill (where we lived at the time). We turned up at 12pm to a packed store of everyone collecting their orders and they thankfully managed to make us up one of their ‘Christmas’s in a box’. It honestly saved the day.

But Melrose & Morgan is not just for Christmas, their fantastic home-cooked meals are perfect to take home, heat up and make you look like a domestic goddess. Sadly my better-half isn’t easily fooled – Melrose & Morgan’s food is just that bit too delicious for him to believe it was made by me whilst I had 2 children hanging off my arms. (more…)

The London High Street

popFollowing on from Emilie’s recent post about places in Paris to find chic clothes at less-than-chic prices I thought I’d let you know about some of my favourite spots on a typical London High Street. Now most Mums in London will know of these national treasures but if you are visiting London they are worth checking out.

I’m a huge fan of Swedish kids clothes shop P.OP (Polarn O Pyret) which sells playful and colourful kids clothes and a small selection of maternity wear. Think lots of stripes and lots of colour. They have 4 shops in and around London (Brent Cross, Westfield, House of Fraser (Oxford Street) and Kingston) but a further 10 or so stores around the rest of the UK.

Next up: Zara Home (no, not Zara Kids): A very small selection but I love their quilts and blankets for kids and they always have a tiny rail with really sweet sleep-wear/snuggly-wear. I have had some great finds there. (more…)

ONE YEAR AGO WE WROTE ABOUT:

Kidsen

Hope & Greenwood

DSC_0095I used to keep a picture in the front of my diary of an old-fashioned sweet shop. You know the kind: shelves stacked with glass jars brimming with brightly-coloured sweets. The Juliette Binoche in me always quite fancied being a ‘purveyor of splendid confectionery’. However these days there would be little point in me following this dream as Hope & Greenwood do it so perfectly.

They have stores in Dulwich & Covent Garden (which would be perfect if you happen to be taking a trip to Benjamin Pollocks as per my last post), but they are also sold in some pretty lovely other places: Liberty, Selfridges, Fortum & Mason (to name but a few) and of course you can buy them online from their site. I find the Miss Hope’s Jolly Mixture a very exciting treat and the Sugar free Gummy Bears a good one to ensure the children don’t bounce off the ceiling with too much sugar! (more…)

Tate Modern

Matisse at TateI haven’t been to the Tate Modern since having kids and I think I had forgotten how cool it is! I also completely underestimated how much my kids would like it. Interestingly, I think kids are really attracted to the vibrant colors, the huge paintings, ‘bizarre’ objects, etc. In some ways, it’s the kind of art that kids can relate to — art that inspires discussion.

On weekends the Tate hosts family-friendly events and interactive kid zones.  Or you can pick up a family trail sketchbook to keep kids interacted as they tour the museum (available every day of the week).

The gift shop on the bottom floor is WAY cool, and they have a great section of chilren’s books and unique toys. The café on the 2nd floor is also kid-friendly, with highchairs, crayons, etc.  But… the most impressive thing is the view from the restaurant at the top which looks out over the river Thames and offers one of the best views in London. (Even if you don’t eat there, it’s worth going up just to see!) (more…)

Brunch at The Wolseley

the wolseleyWhenever we have family in town visiting from America we always schedule a brunch at The Wolseley. Its location in Picadilly is perfect for tourists who want to do some sightseeing, and the grand building and beautiful setting never disappoint. Plus, if you’re a breakfast person, you’ll like the range of foods available — from the fancy (caviar omelette) to basic (crispy bacon roll), it’s all quite tasty.

Originally designed in 1921 as a prestigious car showroom, the marble flooring, grand pillars, archways and staircases make for a really impressive interior. And while the restaurant isn’t particularly kitted out for children, they do have highchairs to accommodate kids and will make sure you’re well looked after.

After brunch, you can take a stroll through Green Park, or walk down St. James’s Street to Buckingham Palace, The Mall and St. James Park for a fun little London outing.

Make sure you book in advance! (more…)

Wahaca for kid-friendly Mexican

wahaca londonUp until recently, it was really hard to find good Mexican food in London. Then, over the past few years, a handful of small Mexican restaurants popped up across town. None of them, however, were particularly kid-friendly. And then came Wahaca.

Wahaca is a vibrant and buzzing restaurant serving freshly prepared, seasonal Mexican food.  The menu is great, the staff is friendly, and they are well-equipped to accomodate kids! (You should see their collection of brightly-coloured Stokke highchairs!)

There are three locations across London including one in Covent Garden. And they don’t take reservations, so you can pop in whenever you want (and the queue moves quickly, I promise!). (more…)

Gracelands Café

gracelands cafeKensal Rise is an area in London which has changed so much in the past few years, becoming increasingly more family friendly. There are now loads of cute kiddie shops, organic delis, restaurants, and other family-oriented venues. And, with Queen’s Park so near, it’s a great neighborhood for a family outing.

Yesterday I met a friend at the lovely Gracelands Café on College Road, and I’m kicking myself for not having discovered it sooner! It’s a charming, kid-friendly café with big windows to make it bright, big wooden tables to make it cozy, and, rather impressively, a kitchen serving really good food! (I took all three kids to lunch, and managed to actually enjoy myself.)

They have a small, well-contained play area, plenty of highchairs, and all the necessary kiddie utensils. They also have outdoor seating in the front and a lovely patio out back.   And, in addition to the café, they offer classes and workshops for kids and adults in the two rooms behind the café, a space they call Gracelands Yard.

Check their site for more info, and click here for a map.

Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre

Swiss Cottage Leisure CentreIn the reception area of the Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre, you’ll spot every type of person… from the 20-something fitness buff to the old man with his badminton racket, mums with their buggies, teenagers with their swimming gear, toddlers running out of the Little Rascals soft-play area, etc. This council-run leisure centre offers something for everybody.

It was voted the best leisure centre in London by TimeOut guide in 2008, and for good reason.  But it also deserves a mention for its incredibly kid-friendly atmosphere and programs… ranging from swimming lessons, ballet, basketball, etc.  Toddler’s World classes are offered twice a week, and the soft-play area is opened all week long. On a rainy day in London the Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre can be a savior. (more…)

Kenwood House

Kenwood House is located at the top of London’s Hampstead Heath park and is one of my favorite places to go for brunch on a weekend.  Not only does Kenwood House boast sumptuous interiors and important paintings by many great artists (Rembrandt, Turner, Vermeer, etc.), it also has an impressive café/restaurant with one of the best ‘English Breakfasts’ in London.  They also make, in my opinion, the best hot chocolate in the city — it’s worth the walk up there just for a sip!

In nice weather you can sit outside at one of the many picnic tables set in their beautiful garden and enjoy some of the best views of London.  They also have plenty of highchairs and changing tables in the bathrooms, and kids can run freely around the garden area, or join the queue of other children waiting to buy an ice cream from the café!

Hampstead Heath is truly worth a visit if you’re in town, and a walk finishing at Kenwood House will be the icing on the cake of the whole experience!

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