Hangouts

Enjoy a munchkin-free lunch courtesy of Bertie & Boo’s supervised playroom

Older kids can be left under the watchful eye of the playroom supervisor while their parents do their thing

What?: I was pleasantly surprised by this chilled play cafe, which I’d suspected might be a bit twee given the very silly name. We recently visited Bertie & Boo’s coffee shop in Balham, which was perfectly nice although we were all a bit freaked out by the staff uniform, which was a vaguely creepy matching-waistcoat-and-hat-barbershop-quartet situation that I didn’t particularly want to encounter again. On top of that there isn’t a huge amount of online information on this branch, which is one of three Bertie & Boo venues along with the coffee shop and an ‘Adventure Island’ in Balham, so we had no idea what to expect, other than waistcoats.

When we got to the restaurant we were warmly welcomed by the friendly staff, who, thank God, were not wearing waistcoats. Or hats. The decor, while nothing special, was totally inoffensive. Most of the seating was pretty conservative with plain wooden tables and comfy dining chairs, while one area was set up to look like a train with the booths forming the ‘carriages’ and a ‘tunnel’ painted on the wall with chalkboard paint. Super-cute for kids, but yeah, this was hardly Bob Bob Ricard.

The supervised playroom was large, safe, well-stocked and relatively clean, and housed a cute play kitchen, some giant soft-play bricks, a couple of ride-ons and a dressing-up box, as well as a mini cinema showing one film per day. There was also a stereo blaring out some very questionable music.

Where?: Bertie & Boo’s Restaurant & Play sits at the quiet southern end of Battersea’s chichi Northcote Road, a 13-minute walk from Wandsworth Common (mainline), 15 from Clapham Junction (mainline, Ginger) and 18 from Clapham South (Northern).

Facilities: Large, supervised, toy-packed playroom; good kids’ menu with main, dessert and drink for £6.99; high chairs; separate baby-change toilet.

Best Bits: While under-twos must be accompanied by their adult, older kids can be left under the watchful eye of the playroom supervisor while their parents do their thing. Everything felt very efficient and well-organised; the supervisor on duty was lovely and attentive, kids were labelled with their name and table to stop weirdos from walking off with them willy-nilly, and a bell was rung whenever a child wanted to be freed from the play prison.

Worst Bits: Perhaps not the most stylish play cafe in the entire world when you compare it with some of the others we’ve been to. The music in the playroom was mildly headache-inducing but maybe I’m just really old. Bab seemed to enjoy it anyway.

Would We Come Back?: This is a massive schlep from home but we visited with a friend who lives in deepest, darkest Surrey and would definitely meet her here again as it’s a great midway point. As you may have gathered if you read a lot of my posts, I tend to avoid places that proclaim themselves ‘family-friendly’ like the plague, because it usually means that they’re great for kids but painfully awful for adults. I was totally convinced that this was going to be one of those, but we honestly all had a really lovely time. The food was plentiful and delicious – so much so that Bab actually ate something for once, which is nothing short of a miracle, plus the playroom kept her occupied so me and my friend could drink wine undisturbed by whines (we didn’t actually drink wine, but the point is we could have done).

www.bertieandboo.com

Bab indulges in some light housework at Bertie & Boo Restaurant & Play, Battersea 

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