Bernardi's, the popular Italian restaurant and bar on the local foodie haven of Seymour Street, has recently launched a kid's set menu which looks great.
For those of you who haven't been, the food is fresh and delicious and the space is large, bright and airy. The basement bar is also great and they serve delicious cocktails. They have a weekend brunch menu with delicious options as well as an a la carte menu. They are kid friendly and welcome local families!
A review will follow shortly but in the meantime, here's the kids menu to whet your appetite.
Bernardi's 62 Seymour Street, London W1H 5BN
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.
I think its fair to say that most Marylebone families are living in a space that is probably a bit smaller than would be idea, with too much stuff primarily due to kid-related clutter. One day recently when toys and crayons had taken over the living area, my husband lamented about the lack of space. I pointed out we had looked at properties (in pre-child days) in Zone 2/3 which were 3x the size and he had said its too big, at which point he replied, "I didn't realise kids have so much STUFF!"
In an ideal world, I would have a formal living area as a lovely adult space and a kid-friendly space for all the STUFF. However that was the compromise when we decided to live centrally.We all probably have too much stuff too, and Marie Kondo etc have made a living from telling us to throw away our stuff, but inevitably it gets replaced by new stuff eventually. And of course if you get rid of your child's stuff without telling them, quite often it is suddenly their "most favourite toy ever and you threw it away".
For the last 5 years, our house has been a super-kid-friendly, kid-focussed space. It is comfortable, we aren't precious about our belongings, children can come and play and have fun. However as our daughter has grown up, we are gradually seeing less plastic primary-coloured tat and so we starting to feel like we could reclaim the space at least a little bit. However I still wanted to keep the space kid-friendly so we weren't at the stage of getting in an interior designer to rethink the space etc. This is where Nete with her business Moberry Interior stepped in.
Nete is a local mum who has changed careers and is following her passion for home interior design. She has 2 children under 6 and knows all too well what we are up against when trying to have a beautiful yet practical home. She is Danish so has the fabulous Northern European eye for style and design. Nete is also very aware that at this intermediate stage of "reclaiming your home", you may not want to spend a lot of money and so is very aware of budget.
Nete came into our house and immediately pinpointed some very quick, easy and cheap things to do. We got rid of old throws from the sofa, moved a (slightly dubious patterned) rug to another area of the room, and removed doors from a tv wall cabinet we inherited from the previous owners. Just doing that, the room suddenly opened up! We moved some books around in the book shelves, and she inspired me to do a bit of decluttering of cupboards and shelves. All of this made a massive difference immediately at zero cost.
Next she advised on some possible colour schemes we could work with for the soft furnishings, as we had an eclectic collection of cushions we have acquired over the years. On her return visit she presented a couple of different colour schemes that tied in with some existing items we liked. For each colour scheme she presented a range of cushion covers and furnishings she had found online, all with sensible prices. I ended up going for ones from H&M so for under £40 I had a full new set of cushion pads and covers which look great! She also advised changing the boxes we use for toy storage to something more aesthetically pleasing. She presented some lovely affordable options as a starting point and when I used that to look around online more I found some fab wicker baskets in the John Lewis sale - so again a massive impact in the look of the room at low cost.
Nete made a scale diagram of the room and its furniture which we played around with. After a fun morning of moving furniture about we came up with ideal positioning of the existing furniture as well as a plan of action for replacing existing pieces over time. She picked out a few pieces online to guide me, we exchanged thoughts and found more options to bear in mind when we want to buy soemthing. Even though we haven't replaced our existing things yet, I now know what types of furniture will fit the look and feel of the room, and importantly what will not look good! We also talked about longer term bigger things we could do with the room if we decide to change things more dramatically.
We went through a lot of the prints and art that we have hidden away in our cupboards, and have decided which pieces will look good where, advising on the frames to go for. For someone with a poor aesthetic eye like me this has been so useful. Now I have started to understand a bit more.
Of course decluttering and staying on top of STUFF is key but the small changes made the room look so much better that it has been easier to keep it up as I want the room to stay looking nice.
Nete understands the needs of family life and had great ideas about combining needs like storage with the desire to make our spaces look lovely, all while being mindful of how much or little you are able to spend. Little things that she notices and can advise on can make a big difference, and her advice on bigger changes like new furniture are well-considered and sensible. I highly recommend her service.
You can find out more about Moberry at www.moberry.co.uk where you can also see some examples of her work. Alternatively you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
As readers and followers of Marylebone Mums, you may have picked up that I am an advocate of trying to use local businesses where possible. The needs of a family are such that supermarkets and large chain restaurants are of course part of life, but the much-talked-about "village feel" of Marylebone comes from the fact that we still have many independent local businesses catering to locals (both residents and those who work here) who can provide for our needs.
Stores like La Fromagerie and Ginger Pig draw people to the area from miles around but there is so much more than that. We have hardware stores where we can get advice and help - the Crawford St hardware store next to Titania's Garden is amazingly well stocked, and Redmount on Seymour Place had helped me out when I have had a flooded kitchen with washing machine leaks. We have the fruit and veg store on Blandford St who has a great variety of produce and the luxury of purchasing 1 or 2 pieces of fruit rather than pre-packaged, plastic wrapped multipacks (I'm on a household crusade to reduce single-use plastic consumption - more on this another time!). The wonderful organic/natural store As Nature Intended also adds to the variety in the area, and I have also previously written about La Petite Poissonnerie on New Quebec St who can source even the most obscure fish as well as advise and give you recipe inspiration.
Recently we have welcomed Boxcar to New Quebec St - a fab new butcher and grill where you can buy meat but also has a lovely menu for dining in or take away and is open all day from breakfast time. I had visited a few times for their delicious bacon rolls (which are sooooo goooood). Recently while picking up lunch and some meat from the butcher I met Nicola Gregson who is part of the Boxcar team and thought it might be an opportunity to learn and share more about the business and what they hope to bring to our Marylebone community.
The main director of Boxcar, a Marylebone local, is experienced in the hospitality business with several bars and restaurants to his name. He wanted to create a neighbourhood place with a focus on quality products. When that was mixed with the other director who is from a family of butchers, a dying tradition as we all know, Boxcar was created with the aim of primarily being a butcher and grill but with provisions and other complementary items mixed in. The store has been 18 months in the planning. Boxcar was chosen as a name as it is what drove the cowboys out of business - refrigerated railroad cars that enabled food to be transported more easily.
Boxcar focuses on UK produced products. Another of the directors is Nicola's brother who knows and has visited all the producers and suppliers personally. Fruit and veg come from within a 50 mile radius. Meat comes from areas such as North Yorkshire (I bought some delicious lamb from there), and Essex less than 100 miles from here! They have complete knowledge of the food chain for the products they are selling. Though the products are not necessarily organic, they focus on the integrity and quality of produce, food miles and the conditions that the animal is reared in.
There is an in house pastry chef who is baking most of the breads and pastries in house now - the soda bread uses Nicola's family recipe. The sausage rolls and pies they have for sale are just delicious. I was skeptical about the mushy pea pie but it was one of the most yummy things I have eaten for a long time and I will be having to ration my consumption of them or else I may end up having to go up a few dress sizes!
Even the eggs for sale have been thought about - they sell pullet eggs. These are eggs from chickens who are under 12 months old so basically just starting to lay eggs. They are smaller than most supermarket eggs by 25% and may be wonky shaped, but they have a high nutritional content. Supermarkets don't sell them so they tend to be destroyed - such a waste - but Boxcar will be selling them from a local farm.
Although some of the alcohol for sale is not UK produced, they do sell beers from Toast. Do try them and look them up as it is a great story - they use leftover bread to create the beer!
The team at Boxcar would love to hear about any interesting products you come across that you would like stocked too. They already have lots of interesting items in the store and more are coming soon.
The store itself is part restaurant and part butcher. The butchery team can of course provide you with whatever cuts you want and can advise on cooking etc. Downstairs the restaurant space doubles as an event space and there is a kitchen you can see into with an amazing grill for the meat. They can run butchery masterclass events and will also be running classes for the public in time. All around the store there are little details such as real branding irons used as decorations.
The restaurant menu uses the butcher's meat obviously but also small details like bread and butter pudding using leftover bread which is so great to see! The Sunday Roast sounds rather good, and they sell half portions for kids (and will happily provide plates for little ones who might want to share your dinner instead!).
I have visited the store a few times now. Full disclosure that I was given a free mushy pea pie and pork pie - both delicious, I would happily pay for and will be buying many more of! I have also bought the bacon roll a few times (yummmmm), steak salad, burger and beef sandwich. Firstly, they are all delicious! Secondly, they are priced very attractively especially considering the quality of the produce. I have also bought meat from the butcher - I recieved lots of advice, was introduced to some new alternative cuts, and the price was very attractive . The meat was delicious when I cooked it whicht is definitely a reflection of the quality of the produce.
This is such a great addition to the area and even better they are have a special offer for Marylebone Mums!
25% discount on all food when dining in - except the Sunday Roast dinner (sorry, they can't discount this) and is valid from now through to August 31st 2017. Just quote "Marylebone Mums Discount" when you ask for the bill.
The Langham London Hotel has recently launched an Afternoon Tea in association with Hamleys as well as launching family rooms and family packages in the hotel. The Family Getaway package includes options such as a VIP tour of Hamleys, afternoon tea, and even Kidzania tickets. It sounds like a real treat for families visiting London.
We were lucky enough to be invited to sample the afternoon tea just before the launch on 1st August. My 3.5 year old daughter was very excited when I explained that she was going to put on a lovely party dress, and would go to a beautiful hotel to have a tea party. Her expectations were high, and the tea did not disappoint!
The Langham, London Children’s Afternoon Tea is available in the Palm Court. In partnership with Hamleys, the Afternoon Tea is part of a series of initiatives aimed at providing families an enjoyable experience within Regent Street’s Grand Hotel. It is available to children aged 12 years and under and each child receives a complimentary Hamleys teddy bear as a token giveaway of their time at The Langham, London.
The tea has been created by Cherish Finden, Executive Pastry Chef together with Chris King, Executive Chef of The Langham, London. For those of you who watched Bake Off Creme de la Creme may recognise Cherish as one of the judges. As soon as I realised this, I was a little bit (ok, a lot) excited as I was a big fan of the show and was amazed by Cherish's exacting standards. I was very keen to experience her creations.
Three seatings are available in Palm Court: 1pm, 3.15pm and 5.30pm. We were at the 1pm sitting and in the future I will always chose this as it was an alternative to lunch and (more importantly) left us the whole afternoon to burn off the higher than usual amount of food (and sugar) that we had consumed by a long afternoon visit to the park!
When we arrived we were offered drinks. Children have a choice of strawberry and kiwi tea, hot chocolate, fruit juice , or as my little one chose, cold chocolate milk. It was delicious and it was great to have some many options for picky palates.
Then the main event. The most beautiful and carefully thought through afternoon tea. A jigsaw of delicious sandwiches, a Carousel Cup Cake Swirl, a Cookie Monster Macaroon, a Maltesers Chocolate Mousse and a Langham Cold Chocolate along with a Sweet Surprise Bag of assorted candy and classic sweets. Not only did it look stunning but everything tasted amazing. My daughter couldn't bring herself to eat Cookie Monster so I devoured him in true Cookie Monster style! (he was delicious)
The Children’s Langham Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood is priced at £27.50 per child.
Adults can indulge in the Wedgwood Afternoon tea. The cakes were some of the lightest and most delicious I have ever tasted and looked stunning. And of course no tea is complete without freshly baked, light fluffy scones.
The decor and atmosphere of the Palm Court are a fantastic mix of modern and traditional. There was no stuffy, old feel at all and the children were warmly welcomed. My daughter proclaimed it to be "amazing" and "the best fun".
I'm often asked for good places for afternoon tea and in the future I will recommend this as my top place, especially if you have kids, but even without. I have been lucky enough to tea at most of the main tea venues in London and this is definitely up there with the best.
I recently met Faisal Laljee, a local resident and the co-founder of kidsitter.co.uk who are positioning themselves as the "Uber" of babysitters. They provide local trusted and thoroughly vetted babysitters across the whole of London, having started off in Islington to great success. The beauty of the service is that they can now send you a babysitter in as little as 2 hours!
Founded by London Business School and Harvard alumni, KidSitter has a mission to connect parents with trusted and vetted babysitters. As such, KidSitter uses a thorough 5-step vetting process to ensure they work with only the very best babysitters, most of who are nannies, childminders, nurses and teachers. According to George Chan, the co-founder, “For every 10 babysitters who wish to work with us, only 1 will meet our criteria”.
The idea for KidSitter was born when George, found himself disappointed with the lack of short-notice childcare options available for babysitting his 5-year old. “Parents can count on KidSitter to provide them with the peace of mind, that someone trustworthy and qualified is looking after their child while they enjoy a night out or run their errands”, adds George. After working together on the idea for over 6 months, the founders launched KidSitter in Islington last October and prompted by demand, have now increased their service to all of London. “We can send you a trusted babysitter in as little as 2 hours, across most of London, and our price is still only £12 per hour with no joining fees, booking fees or added extras”, said Faisal.
Over 95% of parents who have used KidSitter have given a 5-star rating to their experience, with feedback such as:
“Reliable and wonderful service for families looking for someone trustworthy and competent to take care of their child.”
“KidSitter provides an amazing service - they do everything they can to provide families with high quality babysitters”
All KidSitter babysitters have passed a comprehensive 5-step vetting process. They are all DBS checked, paediatric first-aid certified, reference checked and interviewed in-person. Bookings can be made securely online at http://KidSitter.co.uk in 3 easy steps.
Kidsitters sounds like a great option for childcare. They will try to accommodate language and cultural preferences where possible, and as the business is still young and growing they are really focused on solving the childcare problem for us parents. I like that the business has been created out of the problem faced by a parent - they obviously understand the issues as well as what parents look for in a good babysitter.
Marylebone residents are lucky to live in an area where food options are aplenty - any budget or cuisine is catered for.
As a busy family, we have been users of the fabulous Deliveroo delivery service since it started a couple of years ago.
Recently we have received a flyer from Foodora who seem to be trying to replicate that with a different list of restaurants.
There are also some other interesting options for Italian food. I can't wait to try both of them!
Valentina Italian Home Cooking
Local Mum Valentina is offering home-made dishes for delivery or collection in the area. She offers an extensive menu of dishes and she can send you more information as well as testimonials from existing customers.
The menu looks delicious!
Timballo di Riso - a gorgeous Risotto finished off in the oven made with sautéed onion, organic carnaroli rice, white wine, parmigiano reggiano, vegetable broth, organic mozzarella and saffron. Can be served with either a rich tomato sauce made with onion, fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil or mushrooms cooked with parsley and garlic. Cost for six portions £25.
Costolette di maiale piccanti - pork cutlets with pickles. A lovely pork cutlet dish made with white wine, a dash of Worcester sauce and a smattering of pickles, which confer a light piquancy. Six trimmed cutlets, medium sized, come to £30.
Parmigiana - a delicious vegetarian dish made with olive-oil lightly fried aubergines, tomato sauce with basil and finely chopped onion, organic mozzarella and 24-month aged parmigiano reggiano. The cost for six hearty portions is £30.
She can also make classic Lasagne. The recipe includes prosciutto (cured ham), a good glug of red wine (don't worry, the alcohol content evaporates once it is cooked), dried porcini mushrooms, the finest minced beef, tomato passata and soffritto (onions, celery and carrots) and a béchamel sauce. Cost for six portions is £36 and feeds six.
Pollo in fricassea - a creamy, lemony chicken dish without the cream! The breasts are coated in flour and cooked in vegetable broth, egg yolks, lemon juice, four generous portions comes to £25. Very healthy!
Traditional Italian Meatballs in tomato sauce - with parsley, parmigiano reggiano, breadcrumbs, garlic and egg whites. Eight portions £30. Can use pork, beef or chicken according to preference.
Pesce all’Isolana – a dish for two! Rosemary infused Sea Bream baked in the oven with finely sliced potatoes and cherry tomatoes. Cost for two portions £15.
Any sides can be cooked according to preference at an additional cost. Greens are steam-cooked and tossed in a little extra virgin olive oil.
Delivery is only to Marylebone, in within walking distance of Gloucester Place, covering the area up to Edgware Rd and down to Portland Place. Delivery is free, but needs to be before on weekdays (she's a busy mum with a school run to do!) or people can come and pickup from me at a mutually convenient time. She also is trying to limit the service only to school term-time.
You can get in touch with Valentina on 07889 406659 (text preferred), or email her at email@example.com
Salentina Fridge/Freezer Filling Service
Salentina are offering a service that sounds like it would be very helpful for families in the area. All dishes are handcrafted using seasonal ingredients. They are a small business and are flexible and ready to adapt the offering to customer's needs, so do get in touch with them to discuss further.
Salentina takes inspiration from Southern Italian home-cooking as both the Chef (Enrica) and the Shopkeeper (Barbara) come from Puglia: http://www.salentina.co.uk/the-team.php
Starters, mains, sides, desserts and bread products can be ordered directly from our website prior to 2 days booking on http://www.salentina.co.uk/whats-on-the-menu---shop.php
Booking is essential not only because all products are made from scratch (including breads) but also to ensure freshness of raw ingredients.
They deliver personally and supply a delivery note with storage and reheating instructions to ensure a delicious experience.
Salentina is also available for parties and catering.
Visit salentina.co.uk for more and feel free to contact them with any question you may have.
An exciting new shop will be opening soon on New Quebec Street - La Petite Poissonnerie, a fantastic fishmonger. I met with the owner Nic recently to find out more about what the store will offer local residents and I am very excited that we will soon have a great shop that addresses the needs of locals. Well done to the Portman Estate for resisting the temptation of opening another boutique!
La Petite Poissonerie has a successful shop in Primrose Hill and is now going to serve Marylebone. It is not just a run-of-the-mill fishmonger - Nic has great plans. With a French and Japanese influence, they sell fresh fish (of the highest grade), pre-prepared meals and marinaded fish, as well as beers and sakes all to complement the fish. They also make their own fish fingers, which I am sure will be popular with local families - I can't wait to try them. Nic is a chef originally so really knows his stuff!
The interior of the shop is still being completed, but it is clear that this is not traditional fishmonger. A lot of care and attention has gone into the design - check out the lovely granite work surface they have installed, and the fresh fish display idea is a great quirky one (I won't spoil it by saying too much). Importantly the shop is going to have extended opening hours so people can stop by after work or whenever is convenient. Tuesday to Saturday 9.30am to 7.30pm! They are very customer driven and it sounds like they will be able to deal with even the fussiest customer :)
Christmas is expected to be a busy season, and then the January diets mean fish is a popular choice through the winter. Nic also has exciting plans to address the large business crowd at lunchtimes once 2015 is underway. I was getting hungry listening to what he plans to offer!
Nic and all his team are very knowledgable about all things fish. I know I should eat more fish, and offer it more often to my little one, but I lack imagination and confidence to try new things. With great fish and advice now on our doorstep there will be no excuse!
We also had a great discussion about cooking in general. Nic's top tips for appliances in the kitchen - a hand blender with attachments (food processors end up sitting in the cupboard!), a rice cooker (on my christmas list as I can't cook rice!), and a pressure cooker (I am a recent convert - I love mine).
La Petite Possonnerie should be opening during the 2nd week of November - do stop by and support an exciting local business that serves the needs of locals.
Marylebone is starting to get ready for Christmas (!). Here are the first 2 events I have heard of - I am sure there will be more to come!
The annual Christmas Lights party is on 19th November from 3.30pm to 6.30pm on Marylebone High Street. There will be stalls, entertainment and food. You can find more information at www.marylebonechristmaslights.com
Also on 5th and 6th December, there will be a Christmas Fair at St Cyprian's Church on Glentworth St - details in the flyer below.
In case you hadn't heard the exciting news - Take A Deep Breath pop-up cafe is coming to Marylebone!
With afternoon tea for mums, and entertainment for children, the events sound great and tickets are selling fast. Go to www.takeadeepbreath.co.uk for more info and to buy your ticket. The events are running for the next 2 Wednesdays at Hardy's on Dover Street.
Its great to see a local mum being so enterprising - well done! So do come along to show your support and of course have some fun.