Bravely going where we have never gone before: A restaurant…on a Saturday evening…with the kids! Ok, it was 4pm. But in my little girl’s world they were OUT OUT.
I LOVE eating out. It’s probably my favourite extracurricular activity actually. Date nights, girls nights… But never really managing to combine the offspring element successfully. To be honest we have had our fair share of car crash restaurant attempts in the past. All of which ending with hubster and I stressing out over the mayhem we are causing, and eating in shifts while the other ‘entertains’, sorry, CHASES the girls as they flee like ants in opposite directions. On the whole it’s been a waste of money: and not just on the amount of wine I have to buy on the way home to compensate.
ToddlerMonster is now the grand old age of 2, and Darcie is school age so we are going to give dining out another go… We are embarking on a bit of an Odyssey I think I’ll call it, this Spring, in an attempt to find the most toddler friendly food haunts near to where we live in East Sussex and hopefully start over on the family dining front.
The key to this will be finding REAL family friendly restaurants. Not just the ones that claim they are but actually once you are over the threshold discover that they have an aeroplane sized loo with change facilities that wouldn’t look out of place in the Trainspotting film, have zero space for your buggy (they cost more than some cars, I will NOT be leaving it outside), together with a limited and overpriced kids menu.
So, first up is Las Iguanas in Brighton. On this occasion we were given something towards our bill BUT I will be assessing with completely independent toddler eyes!
We were off to a good start, the restaurant was funky, bright, spacious and yes there was plenty of room for the buggy, a double would have coped. Actually they stored it in another room which was really helpful. We were shown to a huge round table with banquet seating – ideal for the kids to sprawl themselves over apparently. (It may be an insignificant point to make to some, but size matters: and the size of the table was perfect; Plenty of room to have the sippy cups, wet wipes, toy car, books and Frozen mobile phone alongside the other more standard paraphernalia. No constant juggling for space- it’s all in the detail!)
We were offered a highchair and told for every adult main ordered, a child can eat the Niño’s (child’s) set menu for free! Result: no need to stress about them ordering something they weren’t going to eat as it was the bargain price of FREE. My favourite. This was shortly followed by the bloody brilliant news that it was 241 cocktails on a selected 25 drinks to celebrate Las Iguanas 25th anniversary. This is going to be offered ALL YEAR! I’ll drink to that. And I did: 241 Caipirinhas. Despite this offer they hadn’t scrimped on units, I wouldn’t even let Darcie dip her finger in!
The girl’s menus had colouring and activities on it as well as a big selection of crayons to draw all over the table with. Darcie was occupied with that, while Lila perfected the art of putting ice in and out of her mouth. This meant her source of volume was quiet so who were we to stop her…
We were spoilt for choice over what to order: the menu was as funky looking as the room we were sat in, literally bursting with that Latino feel. It was great to see a kids menu which didn’t just have the standard pizza & chips type combo featured too. Although that’s exactly what Lila wanted to have. The kids deal is £5.90 which includes a main course (7 options to choose from) a dessert, and a drink. Darcie played it safe and doubled up on carbs with Macaroni pasta and chips. Each of their mains came with a little side salad all cut up very small, perfect for little fingers.
The really friendly waitress suggested the girls has their main courses at the same time as our big bowl of nachos starter. This turned out to be a great strategy and once we were ready for our main event the girls we shovelling away chocolate brownie and ice cream. Result.
The Nachos portion was generous and came fully loaded with the sour cream, salsa, guacamole and jalapenos, just as you would expect. Delicious.
We decided to give the new additions to the menu a go. I had the Havana Club & Jerk glazed pork ribs with sweet potato fires. I love ribs, and these were delicious. Plenty of meat on them, really addictive dipping sauce and just the right amount of fries.
Dan tucked into the revived Chili Con Carne, which was served in a rustic bowl, complete with a lid. It looked lovely, and very homely. (Not that I have ever served anything with such style at home!) I managed to taste a bit before Hubster polished it off: I need the recipe. There were succulent pieces of beef which totally appealed to the carnivore in me. Thumbs up.
Darcie ate her entire plateful which isn’t the norm for her, this in itself is a reason to come back. The kid’s portion sizes were spot on it. The desserts were dented but the girls were beaten, it was a tough job, but I had to finish them off. Great brownie, and a lovely vanilla ice cream.
I must mention The Facilities, you can’t go out with small children and not pay them a visit. The cleaner the better and on some occasions they have been enough to put me off returning somewhere. So, the make or break was The Pit Stop. There was a separate baby changing room, it had plenty of space to host the toddler nappy party. And it was clean: hurrah. The main loos were also clean and would have had plenty of space to wheel the buggy in there had I needed too.
To conclude, we actually enjoyed ourselves as a family. Together. Out out!
The food was on point and is perfectly positioned to entice the family market. The staff are well versed in little people: buggys don’t scare them nor did the odd scream. There were plenty of menu options including gluten free and vegan, the food quality was great. The girls seemed occupied, happy and the prompt service meant boredom didn’t sweep in until Bill time. The meal came to £55 for the 4 of us, 2 courses each and drinks- including my boozy beverages.
Thank you Las Iguanas for showing us that we can socialise with our girls in public, and not just at the soft play café. We will be back.
7-8 Jubilee Street Brighton BN1 1GE
Tel: 01273 573 550 firstname.lastname@example.org
Mon-Sat 12-11pm Sun 12-10.30pm