81% of surveyed fine dining restaurants in the UK are child-friendly and can accommodate for them.
The prevailing preconception of fine dining restaurants is of a posh atmosphere with people dressed to the nines, chatting softly, and eating the most interesting and expensive food, with no children or high chairs in sight.
But why do we need to leave the kids at home instead of letting them experience this culinary adventure? Here at Truly, we conducted a survey asking 500 fine dining and Michelin starred restaurants in the UK about their child policies and their accommodations, if any, for children.
How Many Fine-Dining Restaurants are Child-Friendly?
According to our survey, 81% of UK fine dining restaurants welcome, and some even love having, kids in their restaurant. While 32% of those restaurants have certain age limits and/or specific dining times for bringing your children, 59% of them always welcome children and are willing to make the appropriate adjustments to keep any kid who’s a fan of good food happy.
“It is very rare people bring kids,” said Where the Light Gets In, a luxury restaurant serving a minimum of three hours dining experience,” although we encourage this kind of dining experience for kids.”
For some parents, a reason they might not bring their kids is simply that they’re worried their kids won’t be accommodated for, or that it makes a hassle for the restaurant. However the 59% of the restaurants that welcomed kids also offered child-friendly amenities such as high chairs, children’s menus, colouring activities and baby changing stations. These restaurants said they would even adjust things on the menu or make something new for a kid on request.
Francois Fracell, the owner of upmarket Italian restaurant Terra Rosa, goes out of his way to ensure everyone in the family, no matter what age, feels welcome at his restaurant.
“Believe me or not, I nearly repeat this to all those families that when I get to the table they say ‘sorry’ for the mess, or noise of their kids. I say ‘I will always be a family-friendly and dog-friendly place’. I have a 30 months old daughter, she entertains other kids every Saturday lunch, [a] very popular time for families, together with Sundays.”
“Should we have a child who might not enjoy anything we have on the menu we follow the parents lead and will be able to produce a dish for them for sure,” said Roux at Parliament Square, an elegant fine dining restaurant serving classic dishes with a contemporary flair. “When producing what could have been requested by any parent we tend to be creative and sometimes playful with our presentation.”
Wedgwood the Restaurant, a chic Edinburgh restaurant on the Royal Mile, is also open to modifying their dishes to cater for younger diners. “We are happy to simplify a dish from our menu or create a dish that [kids] love. We often work with parents prior to their dining dates to find out what their children like to eat. Our chefs will then prepare the dish with the finest ingredients.”
While many of the restaurants will produce things at the parents’ or kids’ request to appease a picky eater, a few of the restaurants noted that when kids do come in, they’re typically more likely to try new things than some adults.
“It’s a bit of a misconception that kids are going to just want nuggets and chips,” said fine dining restaurant Tredwells, “as we find the younger children visiting us are actually very open to new tastes and textures and are actually less fussy than the adults.”
For kids that are a struggle to pull out the door and get to the restaurant, it’s understandable why a parent might want to let them stay at home so that both parties end up happier and have a pleasant night. But for kids who are excited to go out to dinner, even if they might not be the perfect formal guest, sometimes giving them the full adult treatment can be a surprising success.
“We tend to find that if they have expressed an interest in dining at the restaurant they want the whole experience as any other guest and made to feel special,” said the award-winning restaurant Simon Radley at the Chester Grosvenor. “We can organise mocktails to complement each course instead of a wine flight and this can be fun for the sommelier to introduce as he would with the wines presented with each course.”
While the kids still might need a high chair or a smaller portion, they can enjoy the fine dining experience just as much as any other guest. Then further accommodations, like colouring pages, can help keep them entertained when their active minds eventually get bored.
Fine Dining Experiences For Kids
Some restaurants offer entire dining experiences catered towards children during set times or on certain days. High-end steakhouse Smith & Wollensky London offers a supervised Sunday lunch for kids, with activities for them to do.
“We work with Kids Club on Sunday lunch which specialises in providing professional and accredited childminders to run a supervised lunch in a private room for children with lots of engaging activities while parents enjoy a civilised lunch in the restaurant, able to relax in the knowledge that their children are having fun and eating healthy food.”
Tredwells has gone as far as offering their own ‘Culinary Kids Menu’, a tasting menu for kids to lap up while their parents do the full tasting. They also have kid-friendly ‘cocktails’ to accompany their meal, for the full fine dining experience.
Mayfair restaurant sketch, which was recently awarded its third Michelin star, offers a child-friendly take on the popular tradition of high tea. “The most child-friendly experience is Afternoon Tea. We offer a children’s Afternoon Tea menu and it comes with a little sketch bear (it’s very cute!)”
Mandarin Oriental also offers goodies for young foodies that will make their dining experience highly memorable (and repeatable!):
“Our restaurant is child-friendly and we offer a Children Afternoon Tea menu available for children under the age of 13 years old which usually includes more simple sandwiches and pastries selection, a Bento box to take away, colouring paper and crayons. From 25th November to 5th January, we are serving a Harrods Bear afternoon tea menu which includes a Joshua Bear to take away.”
While many parents want to turn a fine dining meal into a family affair, certain restaurants realise that some adults would prefer to enjoy their special dinner away from the company of children. Taking your partner out to a high-end restaurant can be a well-deserved treat for parents needing some ‘grown-up time’ away from noisy kids, which is why some high-end restaurants do not cater for children, or only cater for them during certain times.
As Parlour Kensal stated in our survey, “Children are allowed before 8 p.m. After 8 p.m. it is not totally restricted, but the atmosphere doesn’t seem appropriate after that time.”
If letting your kids tag along to your next fancy dinner sounds like a good idea to you, here’s the full list from our survey of kid-friendly fine dining restaurants, along with their accommodations and restrictions. Bon appétit!
Fine dining restaurants where:
All kids are welcome and accommodations are provided (48)
- Ristorante Frescobaldi: has high chairs
- Koji: has highchairs and there’s room for prams
- Cornerstone Hackney Wick: has high chairs and can tailor the menu on request
- Tandoor Chop House: can accommodate children
- Oklava: has high chairs
- Ella Canta: has a children’s menu and colouring activities
- Zela London: has high chairs and tries best to accommodate children
- The Gate: has high chairs, a children’s menus, and colouring sheets
- Salt Restaurant: can make smaller portions of menu items for children
- Lochbay Restaurant: can simplify a dish or make a smaller portion off the menu
- Red Lion: has colouring pages and makes kid ice cream sandwiches. Says private dining rooms are good for groups with children
- Angels with Bagpipes: can offer simplified dishes if requested
- Zoilo: family friendly and welcomes all children, no high chairs
- Tharavadu: allows kids all ages, no differences maybe smaller portions
- Park Chinois: high chairs, childrens’ menu including drinks, offers colouring sheets
- l’Escargot Bleu: kids menu and high chairs
- Kinghams: welcomes kids, a few high chairs, a kids roast on Sunday
- Dean Street Townhouse: has high chairs and can cook off menu
- Bulrush : offers kid friendly options
- Mandarin Oriental: a Children Afternoon Tea menu, Bento box to take away, colouring paper and crayons.
- Deanes at Queens: yes, offers a children’s menu and has a lawn at the front of the restaurant allowing kids to enjoy playtime while parents are dining.
- Salvos: has highchairs, a children’s menu, and colouring sheets
- Stockdales Restaurant: has a children’s menu and colouring sheets
- Hispi: has a children’s menu and high chairs
- Greens: has children’s activity packs, high chairs, a children’s and vegan children’s menu
- Smith & Wollensky London: offers a supervised Sunday lunch for kids with activities for them to do
- Smokehouse Islington: has a few high chairs and a kids roast on Sunday
- Cafe L’oscar: has a children’s menu
- Roux at Parliament Square: can adjust the menu to kids preferences or produce something for them
- Hawksmoor Manchester: has high chairs and cushions for boosters, colouring sheets, and baby changing facilities
- Where the Light Gets In: can cook smaller portions and has done a full kids tasting menu before
- Camino Shoreditch: kids eat free
- Terra Rosa: has a children’s menu, colouring pencils, children’s cutlery, and high chairs
- Noizé: can cook off-menu for kids
- Les 110 de Taillevent: has a children’s menu and can cook up any kid-friendly dish on request
- The Kitchin: can offer highchairs if told in advance
- Castle Terrace: has high chairs and the menu can be adapted for kids
- Wedgwood the Restaurant: has high chairs, baby changing tables, and can simplify dishes or make something else for children
- The Lighterman: has a children’s menu
- Bella Cosa Restaurant: has buster seats
- Chaophraya: has a kids menu, high chairs, and colouring sheet
- HĀM: has a children’s menu, high chairs, baby changing station, colouring activities, plastic cutlery, and miniature doughnuts for kids
- Corrigans: has a children’s menu and colouring activities
- Hide: has a children’s menu, high chairs, and baby changing facilities
- Stovell’s: has high chairs and a children’s menu
- The Woodspeen: has a small children’s menu
- Hind’s Head: has a children’s menu, high chairs, as well as coloured pencils and cartoon paper
- Tredwells: has two high chairs, colouring books and pencils, a Junior menu with a la carte options, a Culinary Kids tasting course menu, and kids mocktails.
Children are welcome but accommodations cannot be provided (7)
- 15 East: children are welcome but has no highchairs
- The West House: children are welcome but cannot make any special arrangements
- Restaurant Interlude: has a set menu but all children are welcome to come and try from the tasting menu
- The Whitebrook: all children are welcome but has no accommodations
- The Yorke Arms: child-friendly
- The Pony & Trap: allows kids
- Momo Restaurant: children are welcome. The afternoon tea is popular
Children are welcome within certain age limits and/or at certain times (26)
- Dalhousie: don’t allow children younger than 12 y/o
- Indian Accent: allows children ages 10 and up only and has no space for prams or pushchairs
- Bath Priory: allows children age six years old (y/o) and up only
- Sosban & the Old Butcher’s Restaurant: allows children ages 12 and up only
- Waterside Inn Restaurant: allow children nine y/o and older in the main restaurant and also offers a children’s menu
- Wilks Restaurant: all ages are welcome for lunch but only children above age six are allowed for dinner. They can offer high chairs and smaller portions
- Fhior: children are welcome for lunch but no children under eight y/o at dinner
- The Boundary Rooftop: children under 18 y/o are allowed for lunch but not after 5 p.m.
- Junoon Restaurant: children 10 y/o and older are allowed in the casual dining room and children 14 y/o and older are allowed in the fine dining room
- Restaurant Martin Wishart: children eight y/o and older are allowed only
- Chutney Mary: children age four are allowed Monday through Friday for lunch and all ages are allowed Saturday and Sunday for lunch. For all dinners, children age six through 10 can be a part of 6:00 and 6:30 reservations but must leave the restaurant before 8:30.
- Simon Radley at the Chester Grosvenor: children over 12 y/o are allowed, mocktail pairings can be made for them, and earlier dinner arrangements can also be made
- The Fordwich Arms: children under 10 are allowed at lunch but after 6 p.m. only children above the age of six are allowed
- The Blackbird: children are only allowed at lunch
- Sumosan Twiga: children are allowed until 9 p.m. They offer highchairs.
- Issho: children are only allowed at lunch. They offer colouring books and mocktails for kids and all dishes are small plates which can be shared with children.
- Parlour Kensal: children are allowed before 8 p.m. After 8 p.m exceptions can be made. They also offer a kids menu.
- Thomas Carr at the Olive Room: children are allowed but they tend to stick to lunch time services. They also can simplify courses for younger palettes.
- sketch: accommodates children, in certain rooms, during certain times. They offer a child-friendly Afternoon Tea.
- Vice and Virtue: Children are welcome until 9pm, have high chairs, no special items
- The Ninth: 10 and up only, cant have prams or pushchairs
- The Edgbaston: 6 and over only
- Salt Yard Group: all ages for lunch, above 6 for dinner, can provide highchair and make smaller portions
- Kanpai Sushi: no children under 9 in the main restaurant, have a kids menu
- Colonnades: over 12 years old only, earlier dining arrangements from 6:30 can be catered for
- Hambleton Hall: Welcomes children over the age of 5 in the dining room who would like to sit through a dining experience.
With so many fine-dining restaurants able to cater for children, there’s no reason to leave the kids at home. A unique culinary experience at a gourmet restaurant should be a family affair that everyone can enjoy together.
For more fun things to do with the kids, have a look at our list of Fun Family Days Out in London.
Written by Megan Forsythe