I love taking the children out to eat, a restaurant who can cater for little ones and not patronise them, or us as parents, is a fantastic experience and why shouldn’t they enjoy the ambiance of a restaurant? But… It’s not every establishment that gets it right with children, even if they try, really hard! Chicken nuggets and chips is, well, just not good enough thanks. I want my children to enjoy a similar level of food to that of my own and I wouldn’t order insipid reconstituted chicken, would you?
Sitting down to eat good food with friends is a great pleasure in life don’t you think? To enjoy a meal over great conversation and a beer or two… Something to really be enjoyed. Well, I think so anyway and last weekend I got to do just that with my friends Katy from Modern Mummy and Alice from An Essex Wife. Katy and I had our two oldest and Alice brought both her girls; four children, in central London, on a Saturday lunch time… Were we mad? Or incredibly casually wonderful?
Luckily, I’m happy to report, it was the latter! And lunch in central with the girls young and old(er) was the best part of a pretty amazing day all round!
Pho, which has seven restaurants in London, one in Leeds and one in Brighton, invited us to try their new children’s menu in their Soho branch and I have to say, we were very lucky indeed because the food was an absolute treat, the children devoured everything brought to the table and us adults got to sample some of the pretty delicious menu on offer for grown ups too!
Vietnamese food is actually something I’ve not tried before, but now that I know, now that I have experienced it at Pho, it’s something I fully intend to revisit regularly. Healthy, filling and wowingly tasty! I am just a litle bit smitten really and so is Florence.
It was explained to us that the food all comes out mild with chillies, oils and everything else we needed to season our own dishes to our tastes. I love that and in itself it is perfect for children but Pho have gone one step further and created a menu most suitable to little taste buds. But I’ll come to the main courses in a bit…
We had a mix of delicious starters sent to the table for us to share and the children got just as stuck into these as we did! They simply couldn’t get enough of the Nem Nuong (grilled pork and lemongrass meatballs), we ordered five portions and they all went as quickly as they arrived! My favourite was the Nem hai san (crispy spring roll of tiger prawn, crab and pork) but I also fell hard for the Muc chien gion (tender friend baby squid with salt, pepper and lime dip).
Wonderfully fresh and superbly tasty starters at Pho!
And then it was on to the main course and choosing from the children’s menu. Florence chose Chicken Noodles which came with a sweet dipping sauce, round spaghetti like noodles, cucumber and pickles. She also chose Wok Fried Rice with Egg which is technically two dishes but she really wanted to try both and the prices are incredibly generous so I thought why not…
She got stuck in using her child friendly chop sticks (I also had to use these and STILL ended up asking for a fork so she did way better than me)!
I chose Pho Xao Thit Ga, which is wok fried flat noodles with chicken and prawn. I Love wok fried noodles but after seeing Katy’s noodle soup, the dish that the restaurant is actually named after, I wished I’d gone for that instead. Don’t get me wrong, mine was delicious but there was something about the soup which kept drawing me in… I will have the soup for certain next time but I did enjoy the unctious juicy prawns and amazingly fresh, sweet flavours of the flat noodles! Really and truly, I’m just a bit of a greedy so and so and wanted two dishes like Florence!
As you can see, I certainly didn’t make a bad choice but the food all looked and smelled so amazing that I got food envy!
All the while we were eating and chatting and drinking and eating some more, the children were doing the same. They’d been brought crayons at the beginning which Florence kept going back to but to be honest they were taking their time and loving the food too. It’s a very laid back restaurant. It’s busy and packed to the rafters on a Saturday lunch time but still somehow they made it feel calm and as if we had all the time in the world! We drank freshly squeezed juices (Florence thought the beetroot, carrot and apple was fab) and Vietnamese beers over a long and leisurely lunch. We’d actually turned up early and still they managed to seat us by the window all together and make the children feel incredibly welcome!
Such a relaxing and enjoyable lunch with the children!
When it came to deserts and teas I knew exactly what I was going to have, the Banh so-co-la truffle (chocolate truffle slab) served with green tea ice cream but we thought the children’s menu sounded less than inspiring. Ice cream or a piece of fruit. We decided on the girl’s behalf that the Pho ice creams wouldn’t cut it and asked if they just had something child friendly sounding like vanilla or chocolate. We were told they didn’t but that they would look into it for the future… It had to be one of their ice creams or a sorbet then.
In the end Florence chose strawberry and basil sorbet and I kept saying to her ‘It WILL have green bits in it’. I totally didn’t expect her to eat it but when I came she proved me wrong. Utterly, utterly wrong! She also ate half of my green tea ice cream and the other girls got stuck in to their parents deserts too! I apologise Pho, for having suggested you go down the chicken nugget route of children’s deserts, clearly you DO know what you’re talking about and please don’t get boring flaours, these are fab! Can I suggest just one thing though? That you do a mini truffle slab too…Florence ate quite a bit of mine and I feel a bit cheated, I’d rather she ordered her own next time and not have to share with me! (See, told you, greedy!)
Desert was perfect and the beautiful teas tasted as good as they look!
We also had beautiful and delicious teas to accompany desert and my lemongrass tea was perfect!
I have decided I’m really rather fond of Pho. Florence has decided that she is too! It was delicious food, served perfectly for children and adults and the restaurant was the perfect venue for lunch with friends and family.
With happy girls and happy parents we made our way to Covent Garden for a spot of retail therapy and a ride in a Tuk Tuk! With a cinema screening before our wonderful lunch and I think that’s what you can call the perfect London day!
Happy girls in London after a wonderful lunch at Pho!
We were asked to dine at Pho, Soho in return for an honest review.