Just down the road from our favourite Balham Bakery (Dee Light!) on Ritherdon Road is The French Café. We like a lot of French things; cheese, croissants, Disneyland Paris - so it sounded like the perfect place to take Mum for dinner on the evening before Mother's Day.
We let Mum pick the starters so we could all share - she picked the paté, mussels and smoked salmon. They were all delicious, but my favourite (Riley) was the paté, and Emily's was the salmon.
The menu didn't have any children's options, but there were lots of starters we could eat... although if you were a bit more fussy there wouldn't have been much choice.
When it came to the main-courses we shared a steak & chips with some green beans (again because there isn't a kids' option) but they split it on two plates and it was just the right amount. We've eaten a few steaks recently for our reviews and this was delicious.
When a restaurant doesn't have a kids' menu it's great that they're so willing to split adult dishes, or serve smaller portions. We'd rather that than a bad kids' menu (You know who are!).
Mum & Dad weren't drinking because it's Lent, so instead of red wine they ordered a French drink called Vin Rouge - although they didn't let us taste it.
We enjoyed our meal at The French Café and we'll definitely be back soon.
Oh, and Happy Mother's Day Mum. xx
FOOD: E4.5 R5 = 9.5/10
ATMOSPHERE: E4.5 R4 = 8.5/10
FRIENDLINESS: E4.5 R4.5 = 9/10
KIDS MENU: E4 R4 = 8/10
KID-FRIENDLY: E4.5 R4.5 = 9/10
It's the start of the half-term holidays, so to celebrate Mum & Dad are taking us out for dinner. As you know we like to try new restaurants that we've not been to before, and recently quite a few places have opened in Balham, one of them is called Arlo's.
Arlo's say they are 'Serious About Steak' and I'm not too keen on steak, but as Dad keeps saying, you have to try things before you know whether you like them... PLUS it is a treat, and apparently there are milkshakes...
... AND THERE WERE! They have loads of cool flavours; I had the Vanilla Fudge Brownie, and my sister had the Raspberry Pavlova. You have to pay a bit more to get the milkshake (£2.50 extra. The kids' menu comes with juice) but it's definitely worth it.
Talking of the kids' menu, it's pretty simple. You can have steak or macaroni cheese for a main, and a choice of two puddings (ice cream or a mini ice cream sundae) and a drink.
The menu itself has some colouring-in, and some stickers, so you can decorate the monsters on the menu. As I've said before, I'm not a big fan of colouring in, I prefer puzzles on menus, so I turned my sheet over and did some drawing instead. My sister seemed to really like the colouring though.
Most kids like macaroni cheese, so that's a really good thing to have on a kids' menu. Tonight though I wanted to try the steak which comes with broccoli & chips.
At first I thought the steak was chewy, but Dad showed me that you have to cut it into smaller pieces (I'd put quite a big piece in my mouth first time!). He was right. Once I'd cut it smaller, it was perfect. I ate all the steak, and all the chips, but I didn't eat much of the broccoli. I thought it looked too much like asparagus (which I don't like) but Dad told me it was 'Tenderstem Broccoli' so I tried it and actually it was pretty delicious.
Emily had the macaroni cheese. I had a couple of spoonfuls on my plate (I swapped some of my steak for some of her dinner!) and really liked it. It was even better than the macaroni cheese we get at school, and that's my favourite school dinner!
As if a steak dinner and a milkshake wasn't enough there was still time to try the sundae (even though it was a Friday!).
I had broken-up Oreos on mine, and Emily chose the M&Ms - it's great to find a fun dessert on a kids' menu - most places have a boring scoop of ice-cream!
We really enjoyed our half-term treat at Arlo's, and actually it was a really good time to go. For the whole of half-term kids can eat for free - which is brilliant!*
Normally the kids' menu costs £7 which is pretty good for what you get, the food was delicious.
One thing I really enjoyed was the music - there were some cool songs on that you can rock-out to between courses. We'll definitely be coming back!
FOOD: E5 R5 = 10/10
ATMOSPHERE: E4.5 R5 = 9.5/10
FRIENDLINESS: E5 R5 = 10/10
KIDS MENU: E4.5 R4.5 = 9/10
KID-FRIENDLY: E5 R5 = 10/10
* October half-term 2016
MUM & DAD'S DISCLAIMER: We ate as guests of Arlo's, although Riley and Emily were unaware of this and reviewed as impartially and honestly as ever.
PS - if you'd like a review of the grown-ups' menu then we liked what Laura has written on her 'A Second Serving' blog.
I like pizza.
There are LOADS of nice places to eat pizza in Balham & Tooting like Pizza Express, Franco Manca and Cassio. So we haven't been to a new pizza restaurant for a while. My sister and I love Pizza Express because it's great for kids, but after school Mum & Dad took us to The Honest Italian on Balham High Road to try somewhere new.
There wasn't a kids menu... although they will make small versions of all the pizzas for kids. But we were pretty hungry so we all ordered full-size pizzas. Dad said we should try the anti-pasta plate as there would be loads of new flavours to try.
You can see it in the photo below - the meats and cheeses were all delicious, and the grilled courgette & peppers were nice too, but I wasn't too keen on the aubergine or the giant capers.
My favourite pizza is ham & pineapple, but they didn't have it on the menu. I wanted to get an anchovy, caper and olive pizza but Mum & Dad said it would be way too salty for me.
What do they know?
So I ordered the anchovy, caper and olive pizza.
It was really salty. Luckily Dad let me swap pizzas with him. The food was delicious, although I think the grown-up size pizzas are a bit too much for a 7-year-old!
Lots of restaurants have menus you can colour in, with mazes or word searches on them, but at The Honest Italian they have a really cool blackboard and loads of chalk, so while Mum & Dad had a glass of wine (or two) we drew on the walls... and a little bit on ourselves too.
If you only go to Pizza Express then you're missing out. The Honest Italian is worth checking out for a change - it was really fun, the food was delicious and we'll definitely be going back for more pizza...
... but maybe not the salty one!
FOOD: E5 R4.5 = 9.5/10
ATMOSPHERE: E5 R5 = 10/10
FRIENDLINESS: E5 R5 = 10/10
KIDS MENU: E4 R4 = 8/10
KID-FRIENDLY: E4.5 R4.5 = 9/10
In our last post we were comparing The Chicken Shop in Balham to Nandos, so we HAD to come to Nandos to make sure we'd been fair!
The Nandos in Balham has been redecorated recently, but all Nandos are pretty much the same.
It's sort of a mix between a cafe and a restaurant because you have to go to the till to order your food, but someone brings it to your table.
As for the menu... it's chicken. There are lots of side dishes... but it's mainly chicken. Don't go to Nandos if you don't like chicken.
There is a kids' menu. It's basically smaller portion sized versions of the grown up menu. You can get a chicken burger and chips and sweetcorn - which is good.
But I think the best thing about Nandos is getting a load of food and sharing it. So we got 1 1/2 chickens, lots of chips, sweetcorn and coleslaw.
,The food definitely arrived quicker at The Chicken Shop - and we were pretty hungry when the food came.
Luckily that gave us plenty of time to decide which sauce to have with our chicken. Most of them are quite spicy, there are some milder sauces, and you can just have ketchup if you want. I've tried XXHot sauce once... when I first tasted it, it was okay, and then it got hotter and hotter and hotter until my mouth was on fire! I don't think I'll try that one again, but this time I had some of the mild sauce, which was nice. Dad has the extra hot sauce... but I think he does that to stop us stealing his chips.
One thing that is annoying is the sweetcorn - they don't cut it up, so to share it someone has to try and cut through it with a blunt knife... Dad has to do it. (Dear Nandos, can you cut the sweetcorn into smaller pieces please? Thanks. Dad)
The other BEST thing about Nandos is the drinks machine. You can fill up your glass as many times as you like. You can also get your own ice from an ice machine which is pretty cool. Well actually VERY cool. It's ice.
I like to mix two drinks together. I mixed fanta & coke... or foke as I like to call it. Dad doesn't like me doing this. But I think it's pretty cool.
The kids' menu doesn't just have colouring in like some restaurants do. It has word searches and mazes - which are pretty cool.
Great fun place to share a big plate of chicken and chips. Really relaxed and VERY kid friendly.
FOOD: E3.5 R5 = 8.5/10
ATMOSPHERE: E4 R5 = 9/10
FRIENDLINESS: E3 R3.5 = 6.5/10
KIDS MENU: E4 R5 = 9/10
KID-FRIENDLY: E4 R5 = 9/10
PS... here's selfie my sister took with my dad while we were waiting for the food to come.
This is not our first trip to The Chicken Shop. In fact we've been to this restaurant (and its sister in Tooting) a few times, but this is our first trip since Dirty Burgers were added to the menu.
The menu at The Chicken Shop is a bit like Nandos - although you can see the chickens being roasted on a spit. If you don't like chicken, stop reading.
We went for dinner at 6pm on a Wednesday, and there weren't many others eating at that time. Which meant we had most of the smallish restaurant to ourselves.
One of the best things about The Chicken Shop is that after you order the food arrives really quickly - within five minutes on our visit.
I ordered a quarter of a chicken, with some chips, coleslaw and corn-on-the-cob. My sister ordered from the bottom half of the menu and asked for a cheeseburger.
The chips were really nice, and there are a selection of sauces to add to your meal (Hot, Smokey or plain-old-ketchup!) - my Dad helped me with the chicken which has quite a few bones in it - so maybe small kids might need help.
I also like Nandos - and the two restaurants are sort of similar. They're both based on chicken & sides, so from a kids' point of view it's hard to decide which I like best.
The Chicken Shop is more of a restaurant. Where waiters come to your table and take your order.
I like Nando's because you get unlimited fizzy drinks - and you can even mix drinks to make your own combinations, which is really fun. I also like the sauces which get hotter and hotter, and I can see how hot I like it.
Adding burgers to the menu is a great idea, some people don't like chicken. I'm not a fan of burgers, but Emily really enjoyed hers... as you can see!
Really nice food, and a simple, kid-friendly, menu. Good if you're in a rush.
FOOD: E5 R4.5 = 9.5/10
ATMOSPHERE: E4.5 R4 8.5/10
FRIENDLINESS: E3.5 R4 7.5/10
KIDS MENU: E4.5 R5 9.5/10
KID-FRIENDLY: E3.5 R4 7.5/10
Tonight it was just me and Dad - so we went to have some tea and cake. We wanted to try somewhere new.
So we went to the Lavish Habit, a cafe and shop combined. We picked a bright, sunny table in the window, and went to the counter to order.
To drink I ordered a pink lemonade, and Dad had an Iced Elderflower & Green tea... which sounded interesting. I was allowed to pick the cake - they had loads to chose from, like brownies, and flapjacks, but I chose some carrot & walnut cake.
I sat and read my book while Dad looked around the shop - there are loads of cool and interesting things like carnival lights which I thought were a board game, a 'Walk / Don't Walk' sign from America, and all sorts of jewellery and nik-naks.
My cake was delicious - two layers of cake with LOTS of frosting. I ate it all! I loved both of the drinks - Dad's was surprisingly nice - he said it was his new favourite drink.
We were just getting ready to leave when the lady who had served us came over to our table with a sandwich - we hadn't ordered it, but she explained that they were about to close and she didn't like to waste food - there was one baguette left, and we could have it if we wanted.
We had half, and the man at the next table had the other half. It was a ham, cheese, pickle and salad baguette - which was very yummy - but a bit tricky to eat, it was a bit too big for my little mouth!! Luckily Dad helped finish it off.
Lavish Habit is perfect if you like cakes and cool things. I really want to go again, but with my sister and Mummy, I think they'll love it. Mum could even buy some pretty clothes while she's there.
FOOD: 10/10 (Based on cake & a baguette!)
ATMOSPHERE: 9.5 /10
KIDS MENU: 9/10
TOTAL: 46.5/50 - can't wait to go back with Mum & Emily!!!!
PS - might try the Iced Chocolate next time!!!!!
Today we went to Pho in Balham. It's the third time we've been there... and we like it.
It was raining outside, and Emily REALLY wanted noodles, so we stepped inside and made ourselves at home.
One of the best things about Pho is that when you get there and you order some of the prawn crackers you get them straight away! Which when you're as hungry as we were is AMAZING!
The kids' menus only have colouring-in (boring!) and all the pencils were blunt, so you couldn't even do that.
I (Riley) ordered the Bun noodles from the kids menu. Emily went for the Pork Skewers - mainly because they came with MORE prawn crackers. (She says she wanted to try something new... but I know it was for the prawn crackers!)
The Bun Noodles are great because you can build your own dish. They come with herbs, beansprouts and sauces that you add to your own taste. I left out the herbs (Mint & coriander) and added all of the chilli sauce (and some of my Dad's too!)
The Pork Skewers were four coated pork balls on salad with a peanut satay sauce. Oh... and prawn crackers. I (Emily) ate all of the prawn crackers, and a couple of the pork balls, but I didn't finish them because they were a bit plain and I didn't like the peanut sauce. I gave the rest of mine to Riley and he ate it all. I tried some of his noodles and they were delicious, I think I will order them next time - they were much more tasty.
We both had a home-made lemonade with our meal.
Afterwards we had ice-cream! The flavours you can choose from are unusual, such as coconut, green-tea, mango or strawberry & basil. We both had the coconut ice cream. It wasn't very strong - but it was very nice.
We had a really cool chat with our waitress - who had a guinea pig! (Not in the restaurant - at home!).
In total our meals were £5.50 each with an extra £1 for the ice cream.
FOOD R5 E3 (8/10)
ATMOSPHERE R4.5 E5 (9.5/10)
FRIENDLINESS R5 E5 (10/10)
KIDS MENU R4.5 E5 (9.5/10)
KID-FRIENDLY R3.5 E4.5 (8/10)
TOTAL: 44/50 - We'll be back.