Dining out with small children in tow is no picnic – it often seems easier to avoid central London altogether, or only brave places that parade their kid-friendly credentials while forgetting restaurants are meant to be fun for parents too. However, with an iCandy buggy light and narrow enough to squeeze onto public transport and among tightly packed tables, and a bit of research, you’d be surprised how easy it is to find a premier league London restaurant that welcomes kids. Here are my top picks for every occasion.

In association with iCandy

iCandy advertorial Squaremeal restaurant and bars guide 2016

Pictured at Nobu

Best for an early-bird breakfast: 

Duck & Waffle, City

Open 24 hours a day, it’s the perfect breakfast date for couples up at the crack of dawn. Watching the sun rise over London puts a fragmented night into perspective – if not, a Bloody Mary and a mighty plate of waffles might do the trick.

Best for weekend brunch: 

Roka, Canary Wharf

Weekday Canary Wharf is hurried business types, but weekends see a surprisingly relaxing place to brunch en famille. Roka has high chairs, change facilities and a spacious dining room, but it’s the kids’ brunch menu and soft-play area that score parent points.

Best for a quick bite: 

Princi, Soho

This patisserie-cum-pizzeria leaves frenetic Soho outside with its sleek, calming interior, while the menu is perfect pit-stop refreshment, with smaller portions available for toddlers. No high chairs, but in the pizzeria you can draw your buggy right up to the table – I use the elevators on my iCandy to bring the seat higher and closer, converting it into a high chair.

Best for a special occasion:

Nobu London, Park Lane 

Nobu is the savvy parent’s secret posh lunch, providing all the necessary amenities, as well as helpful staff happy to warm bottles or recommend child-approved dishes. Although dinner gets booked up well in advance, at lunchtime, same-day bookings are common.

Best for keeping them entertained:

Grain Store, King’s Cross

Bruno Loubet’s beautiful restaurant will get your kids one step closer to their five a day, with starters such as butternut squash ravioli. It boasts chic baby-change facilities, but its biggest asset is a terrace overlooking Granary Square’s fountains. When Oscar was too little for the water, I pulled up the extendable hood of my iCandy so he could nap in the shade.

iCandy buggy advertorial Squaremeal restaurants and bars guide 2016

Pictured at The Northall at Corinthia Hotel London

Best for afternoon tea:

Dean Street Townhouse, Soho

Behind the buzz of this Soho stalwart is a solid restaurant with gold-standard staff. The quirky afternoon tea is served in the lounge, which has ample room for strollers, plus comfortable armchairs and an informal yet elegant atmosphere.

Best when making a day of it:

The Ivy Market Grill, Covent Garden

This smart but more accessible version of The Ivy is popular with mums for mid-week lunch and families hitting tourist spots, so make sure you book ahead. The menu is comfort-food central,
so most dishes are perfect for sharing with a toddler, although brilliant staff are more than happy to heat up baby food.

Best for a hip meal with non-parents:

Bistrotheque, Bethnal Green

Recapture the leisurely dinners with friends you used to have at this trendy spot – the staff are very pro-kids. If I’m at a table, I pop Oscar into a high chair and fold up my iCandy Peach (it’s really easy and, once folded, is free-standing). But if your baby is napping in the buggy, order at the bar where there’s enough space to keep them close by.

Best kids’ menu:

The Northall at Corinthia Hotel London, Whitehall

Hotels are no strangers to kids, so they’re usually a good bet for a warm welcome. This luxury British restaurant rolls out the red carpet for families, with a lengthy three-course children’s menu (free for under-threes), acres of space to wheel through your iCandy and great staff.

Best for families with kids of all ages: 

Burger & Lobster, Mayfair

No reservations means arriving early or queuing, but it’s worth it: cool enough for teenagers, with high-quality cooking to please adults and all the kit babies need – high chairs fit to all tables and they can erect a portable changing table in the loo. Let the children split a burger, give the toddler a brioche to nibble on, and get messy – here, everyone wears a bib.

iCandy advertorial Squaremeal restaurant and bars guide 2016

Pictured at The Northall at Corinthia Hotel London

Click here for our full list of child-friendly dining options in London

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This article was first published in Squaremeal Restaurants + Bars guide 2016