10 of the best family-friendly restaurants in Scotland

Martha's

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Taking the kids along for a meal can be fraught with difficulties, as any parent knows. A dedicated children’s menu is only the starting point; there’s also the facilities, the ambience and the easy availability of ice-cream to think about.

So we asked Scotsman restaurant critic Gaby Soutar to choose 10 of the best places for to eat out with the family in Scotland…

Joseph Pearce's

Joseph Pearce’s

23 Elm Row, Edinburgh (0131-556 4140, www.bodabar .com)

How much? Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £37.90

Gaby says: “Joseph Pearce’s is unique (among the bars owned by Swedish couple Ann and Mike Christopherson) in that it’s child-friendly from 11am until 5pm (after that, there are bogeymen and a ticking crocodile on the door), and they provide a brightly-lit area on the mezzanine level where there is a play mat, toys, high-chairs and a microwave (for heating up baby food).”

“… Ach, to be honest, the grub isn’t mind-blowing here, although, I’ve heard that the snackier options, such as pancakes and brunches, are reliable. Still, it should be pointed out that this place is about much more than the food. When the kids try to cramp our style, you’ll find us at Joseph Pearce’s (with scrambled egg in our hair).”

Read the full review…

Museum Brasserie

Museum Brasserie

National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh (0300 123 6789, www.nms.ac.uk

How much? Lunch for three, without drinks, £52.75

Gaby says: “As I’d skipped my starter, I hoped that the corn-fed chicken paillard (£11.50) would be ample consolation. And it was. There was a soft and smokily chargrilled piece of poultry, which had been biffed down to a quarter of its width. It was dressed with an olive-oily take on Provençal sauce, with halved black olives, thyme sprigs and sundried tomato, as well as mixed leaves on the side. Like.”

Read the full review…

Porto & Fi

Porto & Fi

9 North Bank Street, Edinburgh (0131-225 9494, www.portofi.com)

How much? Lunch for three, excluding drinks, £57.60

Gaby says: “From their website, it’s not obvious that “family friendly” is their main schtick. However, I think that word spreads amongst parents, when a place (other than, say, a chain such as Pizza Express) has access for bulky prams, a kids’ menu and changing facilities. Their newest branch also boasts these things, plus decor that’s industrial (bare brick walls and metal piping), yet as cheerful as CBeebies (Perspex chairs with a grass motif, red pendant lampshades and pea-green paint).”

“…It’s not perfect here, but it’s still early days. Anyway, the real food critic, Edie, has the casting vote. Since she remained tantrum-free throughout our visit, I’ve got a feeling that she (and her minions) will be visiting Porto & Fi again.”

Martha's

Martha’s

142a St Vincent Street, Glasgow (0141-248 9771, www.mymarthas.co.uk)

How much? Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £24.25

Gaby says: “This “fast casual” style of eatery (a place that offers limited table service, but a better quality of food than your bog-standard fast food joint) operates on weekdays only. Its head chef is Alan Doig, formerly of Stravaigin, and they offer eco-friendly packaging by Vegware, utilise local suppliers, boast a seasonally changing menu and, when it comes to information, there’s stacks to digest.”

Read the full review…

Roamin' Nose

The Roamin’ Nose

14 Eyre Place, Edinburgh (0131-629 3135, www.theroaminnose.com)

How much? Lunch for four, excluding drinks, £46.15

Gaby says: “OK, the food at this place isn’t thrilling. It’s simple home-cooking and nothing to get excited about. But the prices. THE PRICES. Apart from at a low-cost taxidermist, where else can four people get stuffed for under £50? Surely it deserves a good name for that alone.”

Read the full review…

Whitmuir Organic Farm

Whitmuir Organic Farm

Lamancha, West Linton (01968 661908, www.whitmuirorganics.co.uk)

How much? Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £37.70

Gaby says: “Their organic lunch menu consists of one quite basic list, featuring baked tatties, croque monsieur and the like. There is also, however, a rather more sophisticated daily specials selection, from which we chose starters of cold asparagus salad (3.95) and moules mariniere (5.95). The Gallic influence is down to French chef Didier Nemesien.”

Read the full review…

Mimi's Bakehouse

Mimi’s Bakehouse

63 Shore, Edinburgh, (0131-555 5908, www.mimisbakehouse.com)

How much? Lunch for three, excluding drinks, £36.35

Gaby says: “The decor won’t appeal to everyone, with burlesque-y wallpaper, lipstick-coloured chandeliers, pink velveteen sofas, and marabou-fringed lamps. But it’s fun, and, count yourself lucky, it could have all been fuchsia. There is always a multitude of cakes on offer, scones and traybakes, as well as squishy desserts, all baked by the titular Mimi Phillips and her daughter, Gemma. For this is a proper family business. The other two kids, and pops, can be seen working the front of house.”

Read the full review…

La Favorita

La Favorita

325-331 Leith Walk, Edinburgh (0131-554 2430, www.la-favorita.com)

How much? Lunch for two, excluding drinks £41.25

Gaby says: “When Rolf and I made our reservation at La Favorita, the first pizzeria in Scotland to receive an AA rosette, we didn’t know that every Sunday equals Family Day. This, however, became hard to ignore once we’d taken our table and realised we were surrounded by tiny tots with knickerbocker-glory moustaches. Some were enjoying the entertainment, while others seemed slightly freaked out by the clown (a doppelganger for the Marquis of Bath).”

Read the full review…

Spoon Cafe Bistro

Spoon Cafe Bistro

6a Nicolson Street, Edinburgh (0131 557 4567, www.spooncafe.co.uk)

How much? Dinner for two excluding drinks £42.90

Gaby says: “This kitsch decor theme is a clue to the informality of this trendy place, which is the sister establishment to Spoon Cafe on Blackfriars Street (the owners of which also provide the catering for the Scottish Storytelling Centre). According to popular folklore, an earlier incarnation of this space was where JK Rowling penned the first Harry Potter book – although, mercifully, the new management here haven’t milked this fact for all it’s worth.”

Read the full review…

Earthy

Earthy

1-6 Canonmills Bridge, Edinburgh (0131-556 9696, www.earthy.co.uk)

How much? Lunch for two, excluding drinks, £35.35

Gaby says: “Earthy is the perfect name.It describes this independent business’s ethos of honest and wholesome food – well curated fruit, veg, meat and products that are locally, ethically and organically sourced. And Soily, Mulchy or Muddy just wouldn’t have the same ring… It’s taken them a couple of months to find a chef, but they’ve bagged Calum Evans of Edinburgh supper club Crescent Dining. Now they’re bashing out lunches, breakfasts, teas and dinners.”

Read the full review…

HAVE YOUR SAY

Do you have a favourite place to eat out with your kids? Share your tips in the comments below, on Twitter with #wow247 or Facebook

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Nick is an Edinburgh-based writer and editor, covering music, pop culture and comedy.