Coffee morning THIS WEDNESDAY 21st Nov 10am to 11.30am
At Buongiorno e Buonaserra on Baker Street
Marylebone is a popular destination for those looking for great food - we have some of the best restaurants and bars in London in the area. There has been a massive change in the area over the last few years though, and some of the tried and true locals favourites have moved on, as well as many of the chains which (though boring) were great stalwarts when out with younger children. Amongst others we have lost Giraffe which was truly great for kids, and more recently Carluccio's where the staff overlooked the noise and mess that comes with kids and was always an easy and affordable option. Thankfully a few places like Cote that are reasonably priced, where kids are welcomed and not just tolerated do still exist in the area.
Some of the newcomer restaurants that have opened are not particularly kid friendly in their menus, or do not encourage children (to put it politely), or are just too expensive to go to regularly and not really value for money.
Yet we do have a few little gems in the area, such as The Ivy Cafe on Marylebone Lane.
Recently, I was invited by The Ivy Cafe to have lunch with a friend at their Marylebone branch. As you may know, The Ivy Cafe has been growing rapidly as a group with branches is many of the "nice" areas of London and the South East such as St John's Wood and Richmond. The Ivy brand has a great reputation but when I first heard they were coming to Marylebone I was not convinced we needed something like that in the area and had my concerns about whether it could be a place where locals want to go rather attracting mainly the destination diners that many restaurants focus on.
Well, I was totally wrong!
Not only do the team at The Ivy Cafe welcome families with children, they also provide tasty food at a price level that is justifiable, in lovely surroundings and most importantly welcoming to locals. In fact during my lunch there I not only saw 2 people I know from the area but also bumped into my cousin who lives and works in the neighbourhood who was having a business lunch there and who confirmed that it is definitely one of his go-to places for a meal. It is definitely a place for locals - which is lovely to see.
The Ivy Cafe has a varied menu, with something for everyone. Comfort food is definitely prevalent but there are lots of lighter and healthier options too. I enjoyed my prawn cocktail starter with beautiful large prawns, and couldn't resist the Shepherd's Pie which is always comforting, delicious and far better than anything I ever make at home! My dining companion used her test of a restaurant by ordering the fried calamari which was crispy yet tender (passing the test with flying colours) and proclaimed her sea bass main delicious and light. We indulged with a chocolate mousse and tarte tatin for dessert which were both lovely as well as some much-needed coffee to carry us through the afternoon after a rather larger-than-usual lunch!
The manager chatted to us and mentioned that a few of the local restaurants have pitched together and can share child seats if they have a larger than normal number of little ones dining with them, which I think is a great idea and nice to see the community working together. They will do small portions and children's options, and I am sure my child would happily eat many of the things from the main menu as the menu has a wide and varied mix with many family favourites that children would be familiar with.
My only negative from the visit was that even though it was a Monday afternoon in early October, the place was packed. I believe they do keep some tables for walk-in diners but given the restaurant's popularity it may not be easy to just pop in at peak times (if like me you are never organised enough to book!). But if you get a table you are almost guaranteed a good meal.
As well as a delicious all-day menu, they have a breakfast menu, a cream tea from 3-5pm every day with scones (guess where you might be able to find me one day very soon?), and a weekend brunch menu as well as a dedicated vegetarian and vegan menu. So there really is something for everyone! It is quite clear why The Ivy Cafe has become a popular place for Marylebone residents and visitors alike.
The Ivy Cafe 96 Marylebone Ln, Marylebone, London W1U 2QA
Disclaimer: I was invited to dine with a guest and did not have to pay for our meal. I will happily return to the venue in the future to dine there with family and friends based on my experience.
One of the lovely members of our Marylebone Mums & Dads Facebook group has kindly written up her thoughts after attending the opening event for the new Bryanston Nursery in Marble Arch. Many thanks to Soraya !
Bryanston Nursery @ Marble Arch is a new nursery on Bryanston Street opening its doors in October 2018 to parents working and living in Marylebone. Claire Laine is the director and it is her family business that already runs two other nurseries in Bath successfully.
There are two huge rooms for babies and toddlers, beautifully arranged with different activity corners and colorful wooden toys, almost looking like an indoor adventure playground. Although the nursery is in the basement, the rooms are bright and very friendly with a warm and cheerful atmosphere. Furthermore, there is a parents’ and staff lounge where parents can relax, work or have a free coffee before or after dropping off the kids. Here, parents have the opportunity to meet other parents or the staff to discuss their child’s development. What a wonderful and unique idea!
The children do everything in the same room: Sleeping, eating and playing. There is no set timetable and staff will follow the parents’ routine from home. The nursery has key access to the nearby Portman Square Gardens and the children will go there (in a cute Turtle Bus if they can’t walk, yet) for regular play times. Other outings like museum, park and zoo visits are planned for the near future.
Sarah Cornish, Director of Child Care and Education and an ex Ofsted Inspector, explains the very unique but child-friendly schedule of the nursery: There are no regular, daily lessons, however, the nursery will book in an extra-curriculum activity teacher (for example: yoga, ballet, tennis, football, cooking, French, music etc) for about 3 months and all children can try out and learn that activity every day for those 3 months. Other than that there is no schedule during the day: every child decides for themselves what activity they would like to do in one of the activity corners, this could be drawing, kitchen area, play dough, painting, role play, reading, climbing, sliding, sleeping, messy play, etc. All resources and activities are accessible to the children and the practitioners will work/play alongside the children to support their learning and thinking skills. Staff uses the iConnect system to share their observations and information on each child with parents on a daily basis.
The food is freshly prepared on site by the nursery’s own chefs Ellie and Jamie. At the launch party the nursery’s menu was not only beautifully arranged, healthy and colorful but also delicious! Claire Berridge, the friendly and welcoming Nursery Manager, tells me that the children are presented with a choice of healthy meal options and they can take whatever they would like to eat. To my surprise my toddler was jamming lots of healthy food options like cut vegetables with humus and fruit skewers.
The opening hours are from 7am-7pm and a full day’s fee is £75-£85 depending on the child’s age from 3 months - 5 years. This fee includes everything: food, nappies, outings and any extra-curricular lessons. The nursery’s booking sessions are extremely flexible and accommodating, even a “term-time-only” option is available.
The only downside: On entering the nursery there are stairs with about 20 steps and parents need to carry down their buggy and leave it in the buggy area. The nursery’s cleaner will be at the door to help. Other than that, the Bryanston Nursery seems a very happy and friendly place where children can enjoy their days developing friendships in a nurturing and safe environment.
Bryanston Street, Marble Arch, Marlyebone, London W1H 7AH