Monday, July 16, 2012

Oxford Guide: Child friendly cafes

No matter how strong the craving, walking into an unfamiliar cafe with a baby or toddler in tow can often spell disaster. Whether it's a mum who needs to breast feed, a toddler in need of a high chair or a teeny tiny squawker, the thought of it all can sometimes seem so hard that you'd rather stay at home. However, once you've discovered a few places with all the right ingredients, I hope you'll feel differently. Here are a few of my favorites:

 Maison Blanc (St Giles). One sniff in Raymond Blanc's authentic French Boulangerie and Pâtisserie and you'll be hooked. Go on, treat yourself, you know you desrve it! (Tip: avoid visiting during the early morning rush. Service is slow at the best of times and a disaster for tetchy tots.)

Summertown Wine Cafe (Summertown). This is SO much more than a wine bar. Venture inside during daylight hours and you will be very pleasantly surprised! Bonus: You'll find the SWC nestled amongst some of my favorite stores in Oxford. (Designer fashion + vintage interiors + art gallery + wine bar = heaven). Tip: JoJo Maman Bébé & M&S on Banbury Rd also provide excellent baby changing facilities.  

Queens Bakery on Windmill Rd (Headington), is cheap as chips and has stacks of cute cakes made especially for kids. My friend Kate, (who's a mother of three), assures me that she can push her side by side buggy through the door with ease and never worries about taking up too much space. The interior is a little dated, but when you can get a decent coffee, three little treats for your munchkins and change from 5 quid, who cares?!

Modern Art Oxford (City Centre). The Missing Bean and Zappi's are my favorites for coffee, but Modern Art Oxford ain't bad. Accessed via St Ebbe's Street, MAO offers a fantastic family friendly cafe, complete with free Wi-Fi, daily newspapers, highchairs and baby changing facilities. Admission to the gallery is free and there are even free art activities every Saturday between 1-3pm. (Tip: The basement is great for nursing mums). 

The Barefoot Books - Storyteller's Cafe (Summertown). Three words: Coolest place ever!  
(Tip: Check out Barefoot Books website for a calendar of daily events). 

G&D's Ice Cream Cafe (Cowley). I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! As far as babies and toddlers are concerned, this place is the bomb. There's loads of room for buggies, a del- icious selection of bagels and brownies, and baby changing facilities for mums AND dads. Order a coffee if you must, but can you really resist G&D's famous 'Oxford Blue'? (Tip: If you need a highchair, just ask - they're hidden behind the counter). 

The Jam Factory (City Centre). Paddington Bear would have loved this place, but Frank Cooper’s famous Marmalade Factory is no more. Today it is home to a spacious, uber-cool restaurant, gallery, cafe and bar. As you can see from the photo, it is VERY family friendly. Bonus: All the cakes are home-baked by the owner's mum! (mmmmm)

Ashmolean Dining Room (City Centre). Sound formal? Don't worry, it's a piece of cake. Speaking of which, next time you and your little one/s are visiting the Ashmolean, plan your trip around after- noon tea, served daily (except Mondays) between 3-6pm on the roof top terrace. (Tip: The lift is tiny, so it's a bit tricky with buggies, but my friend Zoe assures me it is perfectly doable!)

There's also another cafe in the basement. It's busier and noisier than The Dining Room, but as I am sure you are aware, this is not necessarily a bad thing! Bonus: Kiddy meals, high chairs and baby changing facilities are available at both cafes and entry to the museum is free. 

That's all for now my poppets. Where do you and your little ones love to hang out? Come on, spill, who makes the best babychino in town?

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