See, I told you we’d get past Walthamstow one day. Granted, not very far past Walthamstow – in fact, just ten minutes down the Victoria Line – but it counts. We have friends in Highbury, who have nativised to the extent that they have four different types of milk in their fridge. I’d heard of a play cafe called Full of Beans, near Arsenal tube, and it seemed like the perfect place to have a child-friendly brunch that adults might enjoy too.
As a dual purpose cafe, it works quite well. The front section is the buggy park and serving area, with three tables to eat at, and then the back is the soft play area, with a load more tables. We picked the front, as the back was already packed out at 10:20 and Reuben at least is old enough to play on his own for a bit. As ever, we ended up kinda alternating who watched the kids and who got to sit and enjoy a coffee with friends, but both managed to have some relatively civilised socialising time.
As you can imagine, it was pretty busy. Apparently we’re not the only parents in need of caffeine on a Saturday morning. Because of that, service was a little slow – our friends’ coffees took about half an hour to come and then lacked a spoon. I asked for ketchup to go with my bacon toast and it never appeared….it was pretty tasty without ketchup but it felt like something was missing. Roo had the bacon toast too, in a child-size portion, and Nathan had a bacon and avocado sandwich which he seemed to enjoy. Eva wanted a croissant but they didn’t have any plain ones, so she had a pain au chocolat. The wonder of brunch – replacing lunch with something chocolatey. Works for her, that’s for sure.
Logistical issues aside, it was a lovely cafe. The coffee was good, the soft play was bright and clean, there were toys and dressing up clothes in between the two areas, which meant we could see Eva as she sat and played in the middle. The tabs came in the form of Ladybird books, which was a charming touch (and enabled us to learn a lot about lifeboat stations of the British Isles). Best of all, the tables had chalkboard tops and pots of chalk, which delighted toddlers and adults alike. The set up was really as perfect as you could ask for…the staffing just seemed a bit sparse. And I feared for the glass in the door every time it slammed (there was a notice up but no-one seemed to read it as they came in…weirdly, most people were quieter on the way out).
Later, we wandered through the Richard-Curtis-prettiness of Highbury Fields. That’s a place that needs some more exploring when it’s not pouring with freezing cold rain. There was a cafe, a seating area with lots of outdoor toys (think Cozy Coupes and the like) and a playground as well. I didn’t get pictures. It was really. really cold. The villagey centre of Highbury was pretty too, with expensive-looking delis and greengrocers all around. Definitely one to revisit in summer…