Hello, all you cave-dwelling hermits! Yes, I’m addressing you, the people who just have crawled out of the cave for the first time since 1968 and have just discovered this thing we call The Internet. Because you are probably the only people I haven’t yet bored stupid with my quest to find London’s Most Toddler-Friendly Cafe. So, I hope you catch up with the cafes I’ve gone to so far, and the world in general…cause a lot has changed in the last 45 years. Did you know you can order pizza online now? And there are loads of videos of dogs falling into swimming pools. It’s amazing.
To those already up to speed – today, my quest took me to Beckenham. Neighbour of Bromley, often confused with Bexleyheath and place about which I knew very little. Now I know a little more. And one of the things I know is that it’s home to two places with similar names – Deli Nene and Nene Restaurant. You may encounter similar difficulties if you visit Beckenhem. They are both on the High Street, but the High Street is a very long and twisty road. There is much potential for confusion. We eventually stumbled on Del Nene more by luck than Google Maps, and a quick glance at the play area at the back reassured me we had found the place that LWAT reader Helen had recommended.
It’s designed to accommodate kids. The play area is the size of a bedroom, and so lots of space to let off steam. There’s a kids menu with pasta, pizza and toasties and lots of highchairs. The cafe is organised into three sections – a small front bit with a counter, the middle bit with shelves full of child-friendly deli goods and a back room, with tables and the play area. That effectively means that all the parents go into the back room and let the childless folk enjoy their coffee in peace at the front. There’s a ramp down to the back room, for easy buggy access and, of course, baby changing facilities.
Roo’s favourite thing was this play tent, into which he disappeared for a long time with some cuddly vegetables and a little girl called Evie. I have no idea what they were doing in there, but there were no tears so it must have been OK.
Eva’s favourite bit was a cuddly Macca Pacca and an Ernie that played electric guitar:
Service was very quick, and our toasties and smoothies were tasty. So tasty that Eva nabbed my toasty off me and downed my smoothie too (she was meant to be sharing with Reuben but these things never quite work out). The kids both appreciated their pastas, though the portions were big enough that I could have split one between the two of them.
So, they played a bit, ate lunch, played a bit more, came back for cake, played some more. We nabbed the table right next to the play area so could just sit there and watch them. And eat apple pie and honey layer cake:
Cause it’s a cafe you can’t really stay there all afternoon – they really need to keep tables turning over and it really filled up around 1:30 when it started raining outside. We’d spotted people in costume giving out balloons as part of the Beckenham Heritage Trail, and when we got back to the car we discovered that it was all part of a bigger festival thing.
There was a ferris wheel, a carousel and someone called Dave doing cowboy tricks on a real horse:
At one point, they asked for volunteers to help with the “shooting”. Reuben stuck his hand up very high, but we were relieved when the compère deemed him a bit too small to take part. The demonstration involved small children holding up balloons on metal stakes and staying very still while Dave the Cowboy rode round and shot the balloons. I can’t imagine Reuben staying still long enough to have a balloon shot off a pole and it’s highly likely he would have been trampled by an agitated horse.
We compensated him by letting him have a go on the mini carousel thing:
while I watched a girl band on the stage who reminded me a lot of The Pippettes. The announcer heavily implied that they were actually The Andrews Sisters but I’m pretty sure they’re a bit young to be the real Andrews Sisters…
Or maybe they’re just well preserved, a la Stephanie in LazyTown?
On the way home, SatNav took us a creative and imaginative route that bore no resemblance to the way we’d come, but it did mean I got to see these lovely autumn-y trees in Dulwich Village:
VERDICT: It’s says it’s child-friendly and I’m not going to argue. A great place for lunch or a snack with toddlers.