Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The hunt for baby friendly

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

This quote has often been on my mind in my lifetime and a recent dining experience brought it to mind again.

Over the last six months my social life has been mainly limited to spending time with my "mummy friends". Don't get me wrong,  I love this and love spending time with them.  We started off meeting in the same place quite frequently, well it was summer, the sun was shining and most of us could walk there. It was perfect.

Then the weather got less fantastic, boredom set in and so began the hunt for "baby friendly" venues to devour cake. Not massively difficult normally,  but there is always at least three of us, with babies, prams etc.... It ain't that easy.

I foolishly assumed that if a place has highchairs they will be welcoming. WELCOMING and able actually. Wrong!

One of the first places we went to wasn't too bad. The warm and friendly delight of Clervaux. We had a Groupon voucher and I popped in the day before to let them know we were intending to redeem it. The cafe hosts NCT mother and baby meetups, so they're definitely welcoming. Just a bit of a shame that noise carries so much in there and it's quite hard to negotiate prams in there when they're busy.

The second place (Robineau) is the subject of my recent fool me reminder. We turned up one morning, four of us with babies and three prams between us. As I was first there I asked for highchairs and the lady I spoke to was happy to rearrange seats and tables and fetch high chairs etc. Sadly the waiter was less than impressed.

As usual the food was delicious but the service was sketchy. As the babies were finished eating we asked for the high chairs to be taken away, there really wasn't much room and we didn't want to get in people's way.  We laid a blanket on the floor in our little space and let the babies sit and play on that. It kept them quiet and happy and didn't disturb anyone. The service was really slow and the attitude of the waiter was unhelpful. 

One of our group doesn't drink tea or coffee and she'd asked to swap the drink on a set menu for Orange juice.  This was initially met with a negative as it was a set menu and they weren't prepared to change anything. When challenged we were told that it would be more expensive so they couldn't do it. They were pushed to check this and suddenly orange juice was not a problem!  When it came to paying it took ages to get the bill and longer to pay. By this time it was nearly lunchtime and it starting to get busy,  you'd think they'd be wanting to give us a swift exit. We uhmed and ahhed about going back, but as it's the only cafe in the village where rhyme time is, it really was that or nothing. 

So we went back a couple of weeks later, this time, only the three of us and we didn't need highchairs. We were shown to our seats very quickly and we settled the boys in to their blanket on the floor and perused the menu. We waited and waited and people arriving were having their orders taken. Eventually we enquired and we quickly were seen to after that.

The order was served fairly quickly but again we struggled to get the bill paid.  We moved to the shop at the front and found a waitress running after us asking ud to pay the bill.  I joked that we weren't running out and the waitress tried to downplay it but I don't think she was too impressed.  

They fooled me twice and now I know that just because they have high chairs it doesn't mean that they are baby friendly. 

In fact one of the best experiences I had was visiting a little vegetarian cafe in town at the back of a health food shop. It was tiny, no highchairs, but they were so accomodating in moving furniture to be able to get the pram in and checked we were happy.

Now we just need to find somewhere like that but with more room for 4/5 of us. 

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