Photo: Slappy Cakes
Any parent knows that eating out with young children can be a stressful affair. Thankfully, there is an increasing number of restaurants and cafes that make the whole experience of dining out with kids less stressful for parents. Here are five restaurants that provide fun activities to keep the young ones happily occupied while the family enjoys their meal:
Craft workshops and kids menus
Though operated separately, Bistro Cool's menu is offered at indoor playground and Miami, Florida-franchise Cool de Sac so parents needn't tear their eyes away from the little ones while eating. We do, however, advise parents to take up the seats in the adjoining dining area (for sanity and cultivating good eating habits). Bistro Cool serves everything from salads and pizzas, to wines and desserts. Parents and children have suitable menus: the adult-intended main of pan-seared seabass ($18) with potatoes, leek and yuzu shoyu sauce is cooked beautifully, as is the not-salty butternut pumpkin risotto ($4) for young tots (nine to 18 months). The entire menu is well thought out, with the 'Cool Kids' menu analysed by nutrition professionals.
Bistro Cool | Address: 8 Temasek Boulevard, Suntec City Mall, #02-02-384/5 | Tel: 63321259 | Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10am-10pm, Sat-Sun 9am-10pm
Craft workshops and kids menus
Family restaurant Charly T's — famed for their signature rotisserie chicken (original recipe quarter chicken, with two sides, $14.50) — is now even more family-friendly. At their 112 Katong branch, there is a dedicated kids' corner stocked with colouring sheets, storybooks, and a TV that screens cartoons.
One Sunday a month (check Charly T's Facebook page for dates and times), Charly T’s will invite a guest instructor to conduct a fun workshop for young diners. Past workshops include making paper puppets, masks and lanterns. This activity is free for children accompanied by dining adults, but limited to 20 kids per session on a first come, first serve basis. Apart from the regular menu, which is already very kid-friendly, Charly T's also has a kids' menu with items like pasta bolognaise, fish and chips, and chicken nuggets with fries (all $9.50 each).
Charly T's | Address: 112 East Coast Road, #03-13 112 Katong and PasarBella | Tel: 66364701 | Opening hours: Mon–Fri 11am–10pm, Sat & Sun 9am–10pm
Art and craft supplies, vintage knick-knacks and toys
Located in Aliwal Arts Center, this hip retro-style cafe is fast becoming a favourite hang-out among parents and children. For just $5 per hour (per two hours on weekdays), children get craft materials to create little works of art while their parents dine in leisure. There are two craft corners — a smaller one that seats six children, and a larger one that seats 15 to 20 kids. They boast an amazingly comprehensive selection of art materials — from colouring pencils, markers, crayons, glitter glue, hole punchers, string and coloured papers to recyclable materials like egg crates, bottle caps and plastic bottles. There are craft books to provide ideas and inspiration. Paper puppets, foil art, and sock monkey kits are also available for purchase. The cafe menu is a mix of pocket-friendly Thai classics and Western-style dishes — think green curry chicken with rice ($8), pastas ($8.50) and burgers ($12.50-$14.50). There's also a kids' menu with items like macaroni and cheese ($7.50). In addition, EatPlayLove is a treasure trove of vintage knick-knacks, toys and snacks. Placed throughout the cafe, these items of nostalgia will definitely bring back fond childhood memories for the adults
EatPlayLove Cafe | Address: 28 Aliwal Street, #01-07 | Tel: 64446400 | Opening hours: Daily noon–10pm
Elegant Italian fare with a playroom for kids
For parents who wish to indulge in a relaxing, elegant Italian brunch, La Barca is the place to head to. Situated in the lush grounds of the Goodman Arts Centre, La Barca has set up a spacious kids' playroom for their weekend Sunday brunch (Sat and Sun, 11am-2.30pm). While parents feast on dishes like the affettati e formaggi (a selection of cold cuts and pecorino cheese, $26) and the l’omelette con spinaci e verdure alla griglia (spinach omelet, with grilled vegetables, cannellini beans, roasted potato wedges, fresh tomato and basil, $22), children can go all out in the safety of the playroom (10am-3pm). There are toys, puzzles, crayons, colouring sheets, as well as books and magazines for different age groups. There’s also a mini slide to keep active kids entertained. Older children can also play in the gardens in front of the al fresco dining section.
La Barca Ristorante & Wine Bar | Address: 90 Goodman Road Block C, Goodman Arts Centre | Tel: 63465813 | Opening hours: Tue–Sun 10am–11pm
DIY pancakes for little chefs
Originating from Portland, Oregon in the US, American DIY pancake restaurant Slappy Cakes allows diners to make your own pancakes. Encourage your kids to get creative. The process starts with picking your preferred flavours of pancake batter ($8 per portion, good for four pancakes) – there’s buttermilk, whole grain, peanut butter, chocolate, and zucchini (yes, zucchini). The batter comes in squeeze bottles for squirting onto the hot griddle — create whatever shape or design you fancy, and then customise your preferred flavours with sweet and savoury fixings ($1.50 to $3 per ramekin-sized portion) like fresh berries, chocolate chips, nuts, cheese, and ham. Finish off your pancakes with toppings ($1.50 to $3 per portion) like maple syrup, jam or whipped cream. From picking the batter and toppings, kids learn to cook as well as make decisions independently. It's also a good bonding experience.
Slappy Cakes | Address: 200 Turf Club Road, #01-20/21 The Grandstand and Resort Resort World Sentosa| Tel: 64651814 | Opening hours: Mon–Fri 10am–9pm, Sat, Sun and Public holidays 8am–9pm
Vegan-friendly fare and a toy swap
Families looking for meat-free options have Veganburg at The Grandstand, a perfect venue for families with young children. There are separate dining areas for parents and kids. Children can eat at kiddy-sized tables and chairs, while remaining under the watchful eyes of their parents. There are colouring sheets and a small variety of toys to keep children occupied. To promote sustainability, Veganburg at The Grandstand has a new initiative called Toy Swap. Children are encouraged to bring pre-loved toys and educational materials that are still in good condition to swap with other children. VeganBurg does a healthy kids' meal — a corn mayo sandwich in a wholemeal bun, seaweed fries, vegetarian franks and a drink ($8.80).
VeganBurg | Address: 200 Turf Club Road, #01-32 The Grandstand and four other locations | Tel: 64621281 | Opening hours: Daily 11.30am-9pm
Food writer Julia Khoo has been a regular contributor to inSing.com since its launch in 2009. Her obsession for writing and photographing all things epicurean is lovingly documented in her long-running food blog, AromaCookery, making her one of the most established food bloggers in Singapore.