A report out this week from the Soil Association and Organix has a lot to say about the standards of children's menus in UK restaurants. More than half of the 21 restaurant chains surveyed had a children's menu that had an overriding emphasis on burgers and sausages. More than a third did not include vegetables or salad in the majority of children's main meals, and around half didn't include fruit in any of their children's puddings. Where the food was sourced was also a mystery in around half of the restaurants. Only four out of 21 made and cooked the majority of children's food in their own kitchens.
Top of the league of restaurant chains that feed children well are Jamie's Italian, Wagamama and Wetherspoons. All of these names will appear in the new edition of Edinburgh for Under Fives, out next year. They're not in the current edition (as they're relatively new to Edinburgh), but what we do have is a list of much smaller cafes and restaurants in Edinburgh and its surrounds that do manage to feed children tasty yet healthy food, some of it (as with Craigie's Farm Cafe for example) locally sourced. Vittoria's (in Leith and on George IV Bridge) serves yummy pasta dishes with a side salad. The 'Make up your own lunchbox' option, which puts you in control of what ends up on your child's plate, can be found in and around the city, including at the Botanics' Terrace Cafe, the National Museum's Balcony Cafe and Dobbies Garden World near Dalkeith. North Berwick's Cake Cafe serves little fruit and veg pots for wee ones that are part of a wider children's menu that is fresh and interesting.
Remember, you can always ask about getting smaller portions of what's available for adults, too, if you're faced with nothing but burgers and bangers when it comes to the children's menu. It's all out there - it's just about being informed. Which is hopefully where we can help.
Have you found any cafes that have a brilliant children's menu? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and spill the beans!