April 24, 2010

Little Eats

When I first discovered Little Eats it was one of those ‘I wish I’d thought of that’ moments.

In my first 18 months of motherhood, I visited so many cafes, either catching up with friends or following through on the promise of a babychino after an outing. Indeed, my daughter became such a chino connoisseur that she developed a three point check system. Chocolate on top, check! Spoon, check! Marshmallows, 1,2, check! A startled waiter got a serious dressing down from her one day for failing to provide the marshmallows on the side. Move over Gordon Ramsay!

But as any parent will tell you, a good kid-friendly café is not just about the babychinos. Highchairs, pram access, change table, kids menu, play area, crayons, atmosphere, friendliness of staff – these are all things you have to consider when you take young kids into a café and they are not easy to assess from a quick peek in the door or from your standard café review. This is when a visit to the Little Eats website could seriously make your day.

Searchable by area (north, south, east, west, out of town, other), Little Eats rate cafés out of five milkshakes with five meaning that it ticks all the boxes for parents and children alike. For each café, they provide basic info, a child-friendly checklist, a short ‘soundbite review’ and then a more detailed review which includes their own personal experience and the overall ‘vibe’ of the place.

Often the reviews are a little too amicable (four milkshakes seem popular) and it would be good to have multiple search options, but overall I find this website really appealing. There is something in reviewer Jemma’s style that makes you crave that special moment with your little one when their top lip is covered in milk froth and they’ve just set their eyes on a “teeny tiny little mini cupcake”. And as a mother, there is nothing better when you’re feeling sleep deprived and a little removed from society, than to get out for a good coffee and a tasty treat in a nice and welcoming environment.

Little Eat’s reviews are particularly focused on the good years for café outings – under two years old and one child only. But from the information provided it is pretty easy to assess whether a café is going to be the right choice for you and your brood. They also include some dinner suggestions which are handy, and their out of town reviews may provide inspiration for a day trip or even a trip to Bali.

So now I can refrain from pouring over the Epicure section of The Age every week and living vicariously through the reviews of uber cool and so not child-friendly cafes and restaurants. Instead I can visit the Little Eats website and find myself a nice workable option to try out with the kids. Lets just hope they have marshmallows!

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