The London Olympics in 2012 will take place in several venues across the capital and in other places in the UK as well but most of the main events will be at Stratford at the Olympic Park: an area that has a few very good established restaurants as well as some that have sprung up ahead of the Olympics and are of variable quality.
Our list of ten family restaurants aims to give you a choice that includes restaurants that are renowned for great food with menus that will have something for everyone in the family.
Though restaurants in the UK generally are at least accepting of children some make a real effort with not only the food they serve but the service which can make all the difference to make a good meal great.
Stratford & Greenwich (Main Olympic Park Greenwich Park and Excel)
1) Palmers Restaurant 238 Roman Road, Bethnal Green
London has a fantastic choice of international cuisine, but while in London, if visiting from outside the UK, you might want to try some British dishes.
Near Bethnal Green underground station Palmer’s sells great modern British cuisine including many great fish dishes: with delicious fresh fish from nearby Billingsgate market. The menu changes daily depending on availability but often includes Lobster, Crab, Cod and Haddock as well as Steaks, Pork Chop and Vegetarian options, there is no specific children’s menu but smaller portions are available.
2) La Figa, 45 Narrow Street, Limehouse
La Figa has received great reviews from the likes of Time Out magazine and is a popular venue for large parties including families for special occasions or just a meal together.
The food is traditional Italian and it is the quality of the ingredients that make the dishes so good, no microwave meals here. With pastas, pizzas, salads meat and fish there should be something for everyone including any hard to please children.
The long range forecast suggests weather should stay warm and dry throughout the Olympics and La Figa has al fresco dining on the Mosaic Piazza outside.
3) Nandos, (3 branches close to the Olympic Park) 552 Mile End Road, Mile End, Stratford Westfield Shopping Centre, 1A Romford Road, Stratford
Nandos is a large chain but this doesn’t seem to have affected the quality of the food, service or ambiance at any of their branches we have visited.
Nandos specialize in Portuguese style Peri Peri Chicken and a large part of the menu is chicken in a variety of styles, including plain yet succulent roasted chicken. Nandos also offer a choice of Burgers, Wraps and Salads though and have a Children’s menu plus a good choice of desserts for children and adults.
4) Caribbean Scene, Great Eastern Road, Stratford
Caribbean food in a setting purposely put together for family dining, this is a large restaurant with space for even the largest extended families to dine together.
Expect classic Caribbean dishes like curried goat and jerk chicken and also some more Caribbean variations on dishes such as steak and burgers. There is a children’s menu too with slightly less spicy options and a good choice of vegetarian dishes.
5) King Edward VII’s (King Eddies for short), 47 Broadway, Stratford
A traditional English East End pub with few changes to the décor and styling’s since the 19th century this is an exceedingly relaxing atmosphere at King Edward VII’s, which not only has a menu of great English and International dishes but also a great choice of English draught and bottled ales.
King Eddie’s’ food is mainly simple fare such as sausage and mash, fish and chips and lamb chops but done exceedingly well with quality ingredients cooked by a great chef but sold at very reasonable prices.
6) Planet Hollywood, 57-60 Haymarket
The great thing about a Planet Hollywood is that wherever you go they are a little different, the food is fantastic but so is the experience that is one that both adults and children will revel in.
Close to London’s theatre land if you plan to see a show in London Planet Hollywood is a great place to grab a bite to eat before with their pre theatre menu. Food includes not only classic American dishes but also Italian, Mexican and Asian dishes as well as a children’s menu with simpler and smaller dishes.
7) Inamo, Regents Street
It may seem to be made for children but with the advantage that it will keep them busy yet at the table. The clever interactive tables are great fun even without children in tow, explore the menu on your interactive table, design your tablecloth and play games such as battleships.
The food though isn’t what you’d expect from a restaurant that is so child friendly as it is top quality Pan-Asian food including fantastic Sushi and Bento, beef dishes Fish dishes, curries and more, the smaller dishes are ideal for children.
Eton and Windsor (Rowing and Canoeing)
8) Francessco’s 53, Peascod St, Windsor
Residents of Windsor aren’t the type to accept anything but the best and Francesscos is no exception with well known Italian dishes as well as regional specialties and fresh seafood.
Children are made welcome with a children’s menu that gives them a good choice of genuine Italian dishes, unlike some restaurants who offer children Chicken Nuggets or a Burger and little else
9) The Giraffe, Wimbledon
From the very child friendly sounding name to the fun décor and great grill menu Giraffe is popular during the day and early evenings with families and is a popular nightspot as the evening wears on.
The giraffe is a perfect spot for lunch as well as dinner and outside seating means you can hopefully make the most of the summer weather. The proximity to the Tennis means you can quickly pop her between matches but be aware it gets busy.
Hyde Park (Open Water Swimming, Triathlon)
10) Apsleys, 1 Lanesborough Place
For parents with children in tow the choices of restaurant and food are often limited and you may feel uncomfortable going into very high end restaurants with the types of dishes you really want when with your children, even if they are generally well behaved.
Apsleys is part of the Lanesborough Hotel by Hyde Park and provides the kind of food you would expect at a high class SW1 restaurant but high chairs are available, there is a children’s menu and staff will be more than happy to cater to your entire family. Food is primarily Italian with simpler Italian dishes on the children’s menu.
Eating with your children shouldn’t mean that you have to eat at some fast food outlet and being a child shouldn’t mean you have a choice of three bland microwave meals. London has some of the best restaurants in the world so make the most of it.