Friday, 28 January 2011

The Ashmolean - basement cafe

Baby about town is a fan of culture with dining, so squealed with excitement at the thought of food in the Ashmolean.  Admittedly last time I went around the museum I slept the whole time, but you soak up knowledge while you sleep, don't you?
The cafe downstairs (or down lift) is, in some ways, a very baby friendly place.  Plenty of high chairs (and rather nice Tripp Trapp ones at that) and excellent baby changing available, you'd think it was the ideal place.  However, we did find a few problems, Mummy, Daddy and me.  
1) The lifts are bizarrely small and very slow.  Given the money recently put into the museum I wonder why some wasn't spent on making access a bit easier for us babies and for other people who need lifts too.  It took us about 20 minutes to get from the top floor back down, simply because the lift took ages to arrive and was filled by 2 or 3 people!
2) Collecting your food and drink at the counter is fine in theory, but Mummy says it's quite hard to juggle when she's pushing or carrying me too.  I quite like it as I can grab bits of food or play that game where you try and knock the drink onto the floor.
3) It's noisy.  Actually, this is quite a good thing because people aren't bothered if a baby or two decide to do some shouting or singing.  It can be a bit difficult to calm us babies down though if there's echoey clattering going on.

We didn't have food on this occasion.  Mummy had a very nice coffee and I chewed over a rice cake or two.  She did say she thought I would like the food there and that we'd return some time soon - when she can face using the slow, small lifts again or brings me in a baby carrier.

So I can't rate the food (yet! - watch this space), but as a place to go:

Baby friendly ratings
Changing: 4/5 - 1 baby changing table in the disabled toilet, so sometimes have to wait
Seating: 5/5 (loads of nice, wooden high chairs)
Food: ? Watch this space!
Atmosphere: 4/5 - friendly, but a bit noisy sometimes
Overall baby friendliness: 3/5 - Relaxed, but difficult to carry food / drinks AND a baby!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Cafe Coco (Frideswide Square)

Cocos has closed.  Mummy was a bit disappointed not to have it when my new baby sister came along, but I've been along to its replacement - a Korean restaurant - with Daddy.  The potato noodles are something special...  However, we didn't really test it for baby and toddler friendliness, so watch this space...

A handy cafe, my mummy says, near to the train station and the many bus stops on Frideswide Square. She's rather fond of the pizzas, the coffee and the chocolate brownies. I gather the Bloody Marys are pretty good too (although I'm not sure quite what these are - don't fancy them myself).

Babies and children are often to be seen in Cafe Coco, dining out or just chilling out - it's a laid back place where an after lunch chat can last a while (or do my mummy and daddy just talk to much?).

I like watching what's going on across the cafe, which is spacious and well run. There are plenty high chairs and the staff are happy to re-arrange the chairs to accommodate push chairs. Mind you, last time I ventured to Cocos, I tried out my new chariot - I think daddy calls it a rucksack - that was a pretty comfy ride there and stowed nicely down the side of my table.

But I digress.

The pizza crusts are tasty and with a few toppings thrown my way, I've always been happy with the food. If I were being picky, I would say that it'd be nice if there were a few more sides of veg available, but honestly I've never gone hungry at Cocos.

Baby friendly ratings:

Baby friendly ratings
Changing: 4/5 - 1 baby changing table in the disabled toilet, so sometimes have to wait
Seating: 5/5 (loads of high chairs)
Food: 3/5 (quality is great, but limited on choice for a baby watching her salt intake. Plenty pizza, also meat and fish available)
Atmosphere: 5/5
Overall baby friendliness: 4/5 - Welcoming and accommodating

Rainbow House

One of my favourite city spots is the private babies' club found at the Wesley Memorial Hall (New Inn Hall St) on Wednesday to Fridays during term.
Known as Rainbow House, this exclusive drop in is for pre-schoolers only. They can take an adult or two in with them, which I've found comes in handy for picking up the essentials: food, drink and a toy or book or two.

Essentially, Rainbow House is a baby cafe, with a range of seating for little bottoms including beanbags and highchairs and enough books and toys to keep any discerning baby or toddler happy. Long tables with adult seating ensures a sociable atmosphere and pushchairs line the walls. It's not a quiet, relaxing place, but more of a buzzy vibe, with plenty to do for toddlers - and plenty to watch for babies.

Food is cheap and basic: baked spuds, pizza, toasties - you get the picture. Available in adult or children's portions, it's cooked quickly and brought to your table. The volunteers who run the show do a good job of welcoming babies and adults alike. When it's not too busy, they always make a bit of a fuss of me, which is always welcome by a sociable young baby like me. Adults are asked to clear up a bit after themselves, and any little crumbs the babies might drop.

Baby changing is provided.

Baby friendly ratings
Changing: 5/5 (2 changing mats provided alongside sinks)
Seating: 5/5 (loads of high chairs)
Food: 4/5 (it's not haute cuisine, but it's cheap and it fills you up!)
Atmosphere: 5/5
Overall baby friendliness: 5+/5 - I love love love Rainbow House!