James Wallis levels with you

Kid-friendly places to eat lunch in central London

I’ve not been hacked, no.

I’m taking E, my firstborn, to the theatre in Soho this weekend, and then for lunch afterwards. A few minutes ago I asked Twitter for ideas on places to eat and the suggestions that came back were so good that I thought they were worth compiling and posting somewhere public. Apologies if you could care less.

(Update: and then a bunch of suggestions came in from Facebook, so I felt a comprehensive edit was in order, and I’ve added in the recommendations from the comments and some quotes too, and credit where due, and stuff.)

  • Ed’s Easy Diner (12 Moor Street and 19 Rupert Street by the Trocadero): ‘naughty but delicious’ (Hannah Actual Flynn);  ‘the Piccadilly one has booths which are more practical than stools’ (Chris Locke); also recommended by Arran Ross-Paterson
  • Yo Sushi (52 Poland Street): ‘conveyor belts and bouncy music’ (Russell Davies)
  • Rainforest Cafe (20 Shaftesbury Avenue): ‘you’ll hate it, they’ll love it’ (Chris Locke); ‘fun, but was £15 for a kids meal back in 2009’ (Mac Morrison); also recommended by David Hughes
  • Belgo Centraal (50 Earlham Street): ‘our three year old loved Belgo Centraal, mainly because of the staff (in monks habits), who made a fuss of her’ (George Walkley)
  • Tokyo Diner (2 Newport Place): ‘an introduction to ace and well priced Japanese food’ (@karohemd); also recommended by Simon Rogers
  • Wahaca (80 Wardour Street): ‘My kids loved Wahaca (as do I) but I had to specifically ask for some less spicy dishes for fussy 3-year-old’ (Gary Barker).
  • Koya Noodles (49 Frith Street);
  • Polpetto (above the French pub, 49 Dean Street);
  • Spuntino (61 Rupert Street); and
  • Y Ming (35 Greek Street): ‘All four v credible but delightful with kids’  (Iain Smedley). I had a very, very bad date in Y Ming about nine years ago but don’t let that put the rest of you off
  • Maison Bertaux (28 Greek Street) ‘if a snack will do’ (Iain Smedley)
  • Mildred’s (45 Lexington Street)
  • Chipotle (114-116 Charing Cross Road)
  • Giraffe (11 Frith Street) ‘if all else fails’ (Russell Davies)

And two that aren’t quite Soho:

  • Fortnum and Mason (181 Piccadilly): ‘The ice cream parlor is amazing for kids (and adults)’ (Machum)
  • Smollensky’s on the Strand (105 The Strand): ‘has magician going round tables on weekends’ (Mac Morrison)

There was some discussion about the Rainforest Cafe: the kids’ menu is £12.95 and drinks are extra, which is high even for central London. On the other hand it’s a special day and I want a meal that E is going to enjoy, not necessarily the one that’s going to be most nutritious or the best value for money. If she remembers the venue and not the food, that’s still a win.

It’s a great list, with some surprises—who’d have thought that Belgo Centraal had a kids’ menu, much less a £4.95 one? Many thanks to everyone who gave suggestions. I’ll let E decide where we go, and I will report back.

UPDATE:  The theatrical performance of Bagpuss was a triumph. E initially seemed interested by the idea of Yo Sushi, but decided on inspection that the stools were too high and a bit scary. She was very excited by the gift shop at the Rainforest Cafe but just as we were about to go down the tunnel to the restaurant a loud lion’s roar came echoing up and she decided that perhaps this wasn’t the best place for lunch. (E is not normally a timid child, but I think she was a bit overwhelmed by the onslaught of central London on a Saturday afternoon.) We ended up at Ed’s Easy Diner by the Trocadero, which wasn’t spectacular but gave her a very satisfactory hot dog and some things to colour in, and I told her about diners and America, and it was fun. Suggest you beg a table with a juke-box selector; we didn’t and E was fascinated by them. Then we discovered there was a shop a couple of doors up that sold Totoro plushes, and that was the afternoon made.

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  1. Simon Rogers says:

    I was going to suggest the Tokyo Diner, too. The food is beautifully presented, and kids really like it. It also gives you an excuse to give finger food – reducing cutlery related disputes.

  2. John H says:

    I could care less about an Englishman using “could care less” to mean its opposite…

  3. machum says:

    The ice cream parlor Fortnum and Mason is amazing for kids (and adults).

  4. Thanks for researching and writing this! Finding kid-friendly places always seems to be a challenge. Have copy-pasted and emailed to myself and my wife for future reference!

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