Family-friendly cafés in Melbourne
Jason M Jones’s Rockbank café Go West is L-shaped and spacious – handy for steering prams. The kid-friendly menu (ranging from $5 for simple pastries to $22 for the parma) features the ‘cheesy toast’ with béchamel sauce and substantial lunches (macaroni cheese, lamb gnocchi) – this is comfort food poshed up and done well. There's an awesome adventure playground nearby as part of the Woodlea housing estate, but don't dash off before you pick up a housemade musk stick for the drive home.
Kid’s comment: “Mum, can I eat those pink sticks for breakfast tomorrow?”
Smith & Deli brings a less than authentic yet no less delicious vegan Jewish deli to a Fitzroy side street. The sister venue to Shannon Martinez and Mo Wyse's Latin-inspired restaurant Smith & Daughters, there are plenty of kid-friendly sandwiches and toasties on offer to takeaway for lunches at the park. Smith & Deli’s take on the classic ham, cheese and tomato toastie that’s so buttery and cheesy, you’ll forget it’s vegan. Bagels, which can come with a schmear of flavoured cream cheese, are made fresh in house.
Kid’s comment: “How do soy beans make milk?”
It never ceases to amaze us that a mere hopscotch throw away from Abbotsford Convent, you can be suddenly in the countryside facing off with pigs, cows, horses and cheeky goats. The café doesn’t boast a huge menu, but what they do have gets a million brownie points for using produce they can reach from the kitchen door, and for actually being seasonal, rather than just hijacking this catch phrase du jour.
Kid’s comment: “That chicken tried to eat my sausage roll!”
OK, so the inside can be packed out but there’s a good reason for this. If you can get a seat the food is delicious: dippy eggs in individual serving trays are a winner for adults and kids alike. If you’re struggling to sit down or you’re only here for coffee and cake, then this venue is next door to a council play area. You can let the kids have some play without you standing next over them, while keeping an eye on them from the outdoor balcony. Or the hoop-swing fits an adult bottom. Just saying…
Kid’s comment: “Tons of things to play on keeps me interested, and there’s soft stuff to fall on to stop Mum panicking.”
Perfect for a big family get together. The wide-open grass at the front, complete with blankets and rugs makes for a lovely, lazy feel. It provides the best bit of picnics (lying down, getting crumbs everywhere) with café service, meaning you don’t need to worry about washing up. Plus the yummy food and fresh cakes served by watchful staff mean you don’t need to leave the blanket!
Kid’s comment: “The best bit? The tree on the grass out front is climbable!”
This is a very family-friendly restaurant and it means there’s somewhere to eat good Italian, with the kids, in the evening. Open from 5pm onwards you can get your brood into restaurant dining practice knowing that the other patrons won’t want to kill you, or your kids. The menu caters for all tastes and sizes of appetites. But the star turn is that the staff bring dough to the table so the kids can make their own pudding pizza. It miraculously returns to the table cooked and covered in chocolate for dessert.
Kid’s comment: “Where else do I get to play with my food and everyone’s happy about it?”