Wagamama – Cardinal Walk
Credited with bringing the Japanese noodle bar into the mainstream, Wagamama still does exactly what it says on the tin. The menu is dominated by noodles – mostly wok-fried or in broth – and portions are generous throughout. It’s not expensive, although Westminster is not known for its cheap eats in particular. Mains offer the best value for money for adults, and for kids the all-inclusive menu offers a drink, main and a pudding for around a fiver. Staff are great at sorting kids out and rush to bring ‘Phil and Teds’ style clip-on high-chairs to contain your little ones.
Giraffe – Wilton Rd
With its crowd-pleasing menu, Giraffe has something for everyone. Starting early for breakfast, choose from healthy porridge or a full brunch with bacon, sausage, egg and beans. For lunch or dinner try any of the stacked-high burgers or maybe a gourmet fresh salad, market fish of the day, sharing mezze plates, stir-fries, BBQ ribs and more – all to the sounds of spirited world music. The kids menu is well planned with healthy options in the majority and staff provide crayons and doodle pads to keep them occupied.
Strada – West End
Strada is another family-friendly chain of restaurants, and this branch is one of many Stradas in centralLondon. It’s basically a posher version of Pizza Express, but it has a better selection of pastas and more choices for kids. A nice feature, when you’re trying to keep the kids from running round the restaurant, are the banquette tables – jam your nippers on the inside, get them some crostini to nibble on, order yourself a wine, and relax.
Pizza Express – Millbank
If you live inLondon and you have kids you will probably not have been able to avoid Pizza Express – the highly successful chain of cheapish pizza restaurants. The choice of pizzas is huge, kids are entertained with coloured pencils and doodle pads and high-chairs are quickly located. Staff do not object to your little ones sharing a pizza with you, but in our experience the kids meals are well-priced and arrive quickly. Tell your kids to leave room for the delicious chocolate ice cream included in the price.
The Wash House cafe – The Abbey Centre
The Wash House cafe is located inside The Abbey Centre, a community centre close to Westminster Abbey. The cafe has to be one of the best-kept secret lunch-spots inWestminster, offering fresh food at a reasonable price. Daily lunch specials cost around a fiver, and include kid-friendly choices such as sandwiches, jacket potatoes, and home-made soups. All food is prepared on site with a resident chef. Make sure you get there early for a spot on the sunny balcony.
The Regency Café
The Regency Café is a bit off the beaten track, but it’s undoubtedly one of the culinary jewels inWestminster’s crown. First there’s the 1940s original tiled interior, large windows and classic sign, which have featured in car adverts and the film Layer Cake. Then there’s the moulded seating, and the prices – main dishes don’t cost much more than a fiver and the bread and butter pudding under £2. Get there early though, as it’s popular – by 12.30 and you should be OK. Be warned as the Café is not open Saturday afternoons or Sundays.
The Cookbook Café is for grown-ups really, but the ‘Market Table’ buffet-style lunches will appeal to finicky kids as there’s bound to be something they like on the menu. The food is generally lovely and the prices won’t break the bank either. The Café is famous for its cookbooks, all available for you to read, if your kids let you! They’re all here: from Jamie and Nigella to dear old Mrs Beeton herself. Pile your plate high fresh salads, antipasti, charcuterie, home-made breads and all manner of seasonal goodies. Leave room for a tempting tapas-style pud or two.
Hummus Bros – Soho
If you and your kids love hummus, then this is the restaurant for you. Hummus Bros basically serves you freshly-prepared home-made hummus with mouth watering toppings, scooped off with your own individual bowl of warm pitta bread, and accompanied by refreshing salads and juices. It’s great value for money, and it’s popular, so rock up early to get your seat, and warn your kids that they can’t have chips, pizza, burgers, chocolate and other nasties in advance!
The area aroundVictoriais not great for cafés and restaurants, unless you’re happy with one of the chains inCardinal Place. Enter Pimlico Fresh – a new(ish) cafe selling good quality fresh food, all simply prepared. There is a delicious selection of breakfast and lunch items on the menu and everything is fresh and tasty. The Antipodean staff are friendly and bring an up-beat vibe to the place. Get there early though, as dining is communal.