Children are our future, believed Whitney Houston, but what the otherwise sagacious singer failed to mention was that having children can also seriously narrow your dining options. Nobody wants to be “that family” with the screaming kid ruining everyone else’s quiet evening, and delicious as that asparagus and quail’s egg torte may be, good luck with convincing the little one to put it anywhere near his mouth. Fortunately, Edinburgh has no shortage of child-friendly restaurants to choose from – here are five of our favourites.
Cosmo, Omni Centre
With all the ambience of a Russian steel foundry readying for war, all-you-can eat buffet Cosmo isn’t the place to go with a lover or a hangover. But its round-the-world offering – not to mention the bottomless ice-cream counter – is virtually guaranteed to cater to even the pickiest of palates and leave even the fussiest of Little Lord Fauntleroys full to the brim. It’s a dark, clattery, frenetic eating-factory that might leave you with post-traumatic stress disorder, but it’s right next door to the cinema, it’s cost-effective and kids absolutely love it.
Hemma, Holyrood Road
Part of Edinburgh’s disproportionately large portfolio of Swedish bars, Hemma on Holyrood Road cannily pushes the boat out to attract parents and their young children during the day to keep the tills ringing before the office workers and students arrive in the evening. As well as toys and a play area for the little ones, there’s a generous kids’ menu with healthy options such as Cullen skink, veggie sticks and smoked trout on offer. On top of that, bar staff are cheery and welcoming, and the floor-to-ceiling glass and bright decor make this a pleasant place to stop for a coffee or something stronger when you have a young child in tow.
Scran & Scallie, Comely Bank Road
In times gone by, when children were supposed to be seen and not heard, the very idea of taking one of the little devils within 100 miles of a Michelin-starred restaurant would have caused monocles to plop into cups of Earl Grey across the city. Today, happily, things are a little more laid-back. It might not be a Michelin starred restaurant per se, but the two men behind the Scran & Scallie [scranandscallie.com] gastropub’s menu, Tom Kitchin and Dominic Jack, know a thing or two about the accolade. The food might be a touch pricey, but you get what you pay for. The Stockbridge restaurant offers a mercifully sound-proofed soft play area for young children and a dedicated children’s menu, so it’s ideal for family special occasions.
Porto & Fi, Newhaven Main Street
Family-run seaside eatery Porto & Fi has become something of the go-to place for fish and chips in the Newhaven area. But the children’s menu offers a lot more than that, with fish goujons, pasta, a mini burger and sausage and mash available to choose from. With a drink and an ice-cream cone to finish, a kids’ meal comes in at just under six pounds. Also on offer are delicious milkshakes and an array of cakes, making the bistro an ideal refuelling stop on a family day by the sea.
La Favorita, Leith Walk
Other pizza restaurants are available, but La Favorita on Leith Walk has become something of an Edinburgh institution since opening a decade ago. A large range of superb pizzas cooked in a log-fired oven, an extensive kids’ menu, an eye-popping list of some quite spectacular sundaes and waiters who seem to love nothing better than making a theatrical Italian fuss of children make La Favorita a pretty safe bet for a family-friendly meal or kids’ party.