Eating out with your kids… what are your experiences?
I could definitely amuse you with some tales of dining with my tribe of four (Dad and I make six)! From escapees to rock-star chair throws and food splattered inside my shoe (don’t ask how, they are magic workers). My little sticks of dynamite are the reason why we have strict prerequisites for chowing down in public. Lucky for us, we live in an area where dining out with kids in tow is a comfortable, relaxing and tasty experience thanks to these family-friendly establishments!
Self-described as a bit like “Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory”, Little Creatures Geelong is a bustling destination for adults and kids alike. As Mr Wonka so fittingly states “Tremendous things are in store for you! Wonderful surprises await...” The Little Creatures’ Canteen and Mystery Lane is a fun and colourful venue where the kids will revel in the two playground areas (one inside and one outside). The location is also home to a cinema and arts market (keep your ears open to when these are on because food and fun can be had here too).
About the food - The menu features an array of food. There are wood fire pizzas to choose from, share plates/platters, roasted barramundi or steak sandwich, deserts (personal fav is the chocolate brownie) and of course, the greatest of all accompaniments; an ice, cold frothy.
Looking for a winery experience that's abit more kid-friendly? Mr Grubb Cafe located at Oakdene Winery provides relaxed, casual dining with the wonderful added benefit of having delectable Oakdene wines on hand. Mr Grubb is set among the magnificent birch tree gardens where a photo booth, train shed, transformed hills hoist (now a play wheel) and scattered statues give children plenty to see and explore.
About the food – The deals that Mr Grubb offer truly hit the right notes for families. For the kids; free kids options on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights (pasta, chicken, pizza, fish n chips). For the big kids (that means you); $16 Mr Grubb Specials every night (chicken parma, burger, steak, seafood, pizza). This menu has something for everybody’s tastes, dietary requirements and appetite size. Mr Grubb’s grub is spot on.
It is most likely that Van Loons is already known in your household. After all, it is THE place to go to for green thumb necessities (and treats). But did you know about the café situated in the heart of Van Loons? The café gives you the feel of being in a quaint English garden waiting on your pot of tea and cucumber sandwich. Kids are happiest in the great outdoors and the Van Loons Café has that in spades, plus a playground just a hop, skip and a jump away.
About the food – With a selection of sweet indulgences; traditional home-made scones, citrus tarts, creamy vanilla slices and so much more, Van Loons is perfect for a family arvo tea session. Van Loons also pride themselves on sourcing herbs and vegetables from their kitchen garden and whipping them up into a scrumptious lunch offering. Not only can they grow food but they can cook it too!
Mt Duneed has created a charismatic dining space in their rustic café; The Barrel Hall. One can feel quite sophisticated dining among the wine tanks and old oak barrels. Parents… I know where your mind is heading. Rest assured, your children will not be tempted to roll the barrels as their time and energy will be spent enjoying the indoor play area. Live music is the Sunday norm, so not only will your taste buds be well and truly looked after but so will your ears.
About the food – Winery boards. Yep, these platters of deliciousness showcase pickled goods, cheeses, cured meats, breads (I am so drooling). Take your pick from standards such as gourmet pizzas, a specially designed kids menu, starters & snacks and deserts. Pair your feast (obviously not the kids) with Mt Duneed Estate wine and/or Mt Duneed Brewing Co craft beer and cider. Perfection!
You know when you find something you absolutely love and want to shout it from the roof top but also want to selfishly keep it a secret at the same time? The Paddock Café is my little secret! Situated in the lusciousness that is Wallington, the aptly name cafe will delight you with its charm and epicurean spreads. Pull up a chair, relax on the front veranda and savour every bite knowing that your tiny ones are having a ball in the nearby sandpit and play area.
About the food – The Paddock changes its menu seasonally but maintains a theme of local produce. There is a whole page dedicated to house-made waffles (waffles with butterscotch sauce, waffles with grilled peach, waffles, waffles, waffles). Special mention to the tastiest of tasty congees served with house-made kimchi. And not to forget the egg-cellent way in which they prepare their farm fresh eggs; creamy and gooey.
So there you have it, the places that I love taking my family to for a bite to eat on The Bellarine and in Geelong. These places come highly recommended from a family feasting expert, so don't be surprised if you see (or more likely hear) me and my family enjoying some scrumdiddlyumptious food.