Variety is the spice of life, and this counts no less for children. Kids’ menus aren’t what they used to be and the range of entertainment options available is enviable. From farm animals to kids’ discos – with their own DJ – the City of Gold has it all. Here are eight establishments that are the cream of the crop.
AJ’s in the Park (Craighall Park)
Proud of its tasty flame-grilled chicken, enormous outdoor play area for children and no-technology games policy, AJ’s is all about good old-fashioned outdoor fun to encourage vitality and physicality in its most adoring patrons: the kids.
Play area: There’s a partly covered outdoor play area, and an indoor option in case of rain. Outside, there are jumping castles, jungle gyms, YBIKEs to teach children balance, ponds, complimentary kites, soccer and rugby balls, cricket bats, and frisbees – all to use in the huge open space. There’s also a football field for kids to run. Inside the restaurant is a kiddies’ library.
Kid’s menu: There’s one big standard menu, but kids love the 100% pure beef or chicken mini-burgers and the wood-fired pizzas.
Changing facilities: There’s a separate changing facility where parents of young children can use complimentary baby powders, wet wipes and nappy bin. There are also changing mats.
Child minders: There are three child minders who are on duty on the same shift on weekends.
Anderson’s Nursery & Coffee Shop (Norwood)
Good coffee, pizzas, tramezinnis and other café fare, plus a tipple for the adults while the kids play, are all things to expect at this spot popular for after-school meals.
Play area: Inside, there’s a craft centre and outside, with a wall and fenced off and covered, there’s an area for children to play with Lego blocks, as well as jungle gyms and slides. Parents have a clear view of their children from where they’re seated. There’s also a gazebo where kids can play in inclement weather.
Kids’ menu: There is a separate kids’ menu that includes breakfast dishes and tasty treats for lunch, such as toasted cheese, hotdogs with chicken and cheese sauce, fish fingers, and mac and cheese. Each is served with either chips or salad.
Changing facilities: There’s a separate room near the restrooms with changing mats for babies and parents to have some privacy.
Child minders: One full time child minder.
Other: In the craft centre, children can create art by painting frames and flower pots. All staff here are well-trained and accustomed to dealing with children. They are open, friendly and accommodating to kids. Pets are also welcome here.
Expect scrumptious breakfast and a pizza menu that delights the senses, as well as all hands on deck to every kid’s needs. At Bambanani, parents and children are so greatly at ease that the grown-ups can even leave their little ones to play while they run errands.
Play area: The outdoor play area has a four-storey jungle gym. There’s also a TV room with games. A sweet-and-toy shop – with many imported toys – sweetens the deal.
Kid’s menu: Children have their own set menu that includes Argentinian fillets and chicken curry. Kkids get lucky packets when they make a booking.
Changing facilities: In both male and female restrooms.
Child minders: Three or more on each shift.
Other: All staff members are exceptionally good with kids and there are special activities for kids three times a week, such as puppetry, magician shows, a mobile zoo and a kiddies disco with its own DJ.
Gia’s on Montrose (Morningside)
Gia’s on Montrose is beloved for superb coffee and food, its wonderful nursery, and its laid-back and enchanting ambience.
Play area: There’s an outside play area, under awnings that can be opened to let in the winter sunshine. It’s very secure and parents are able to keep an eye on their children while they play at all times. The play area has a sandpit, jungle gym and a Wendy house.
Kids’ menu: It’s part of the standard set menu and has yummy treats like cheesy hot dogs, chicken nuggets, grilled chicken strips, and beef bangers – each served with chips – as well as penne Napoletana and sweet treats.
Changing facilities: Yes. There’s also a changing table made of a solid granite block.
Child minders: No.
Other: Parents are encouraged to organise their own kiddies’ activities to enjoy in the large space that they’re afforded by this lovely, large and energising setting.
Panettone (Zoo Lake)
With activities to stimulate children’s development both inside Panettone and outside in the vast play area, as well as slush puppys and soft-serve ice cream on offer, this is an ideal child-friendly spot.
Play area: There’s a large, entirely dedicated, covered outside section where kids can play on jungle gyms, a trampoline, or jumping castles. In the indoor area for children, kids are provided with little aprons and hats and can make their own pizzas or cookies.
Kid’s menu: Most popular on the kids’ menu are crumbed chicken strips, served with chips, cucumber and carrots sticks; Bambino burgers; and fish fingers.
Changing facilities: There are female and male bathrooms and a separate, unisex changing room.
Child minders: Three per shift on weekdays and five per shift on weekends.
Other: Every person who works here gets very involved with taking care of the kids’ needs, not just the child minders. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and on the weekends, kids eat for free. They can also paint a clay object.
The Place2B (Lanseria)
With race tracks, farm animals, a creative kids’ menu and child minders on request, this is indeed the place to be if you have kids.
Play area: There’s a jungle gym and race track outside, a shaded area with toys, and an indoor section of the restaurant where there’s a TV, games and colouring-in books. Push bikes and sand pit toys are available in the play area and patrons are welcome to bring their own bikes and balls. The outdoor play area is enclosed within a secure fence and gate.
Kid’s menu: The Place2B has a separate children’s menu, the highlights of which are Spag Bol, beef or chicken cheeseburgers with wedges, cheese grillers with potato smilies. There are also creative desserts like the Magic Snowball (an ice-cream ball with meringue and popping candy) and the Cookie Monster (a chocolate-chip cookie with marshmallow and chocolate sauce).
Changing facilities: Yes. Separate, near the restroom.
Child minders: They are arranged on request and for big group bookings of 30 or more. As the restaurant faces out onto a wide open area, parents can keep an eye on their children all the time.
Other: There are some farm animals. Children can feed the goats and horses, which are very friendly, and there are also rabbits and a one pot-belly pig. There’s also a soccer field – which is full size!
Tres Jolie (Ruimsing)
The types of cute dishes that kids love and idyllic, bucolic bliss in the city is what you get at Tres Jolie. A touch-and-feed animal farm and pony rides are just a few of the many extraordinary activities available for kids.
Play area: There’s a shaded, outdoor play area.
Kid’s menu: Tasty menu options for kids include toasted sarmies, viennas and chips, chicken strips, burgers, pizzas and chicken drumsticks grilled in a BBQ sauce.
Changing facilities: Yes. The bathrooms are unisex, so men and women can access the facilities.
Child minders: No, but the seating area is close to the playground so parents can keep an eye on their children as they dine.
Other: On offer are pony rides, camel rides, a fairground, sand art, face-painting, a touch-and-feed animal farm, sandpits, slides, swings, jumping castles, and lots of space for children to run free.