We were in London last week with Katy from Modern Mummy in search of some very special things to do as tourists in our capital (as families) for the first time. Both Katy and I are ex London dwellers so to be visiting as tourists doesn’t come naturally and it was a strange feeling taking a tour of the Globe and looking at London with fresh eyes. As a Londoner we rush past the beauty and awe of the city missing the land marks (seen them all before) and just try to get to the place we’re going with as little difficulty as possible. Visiting for a mini break as we were and I found myself really looking, pointing out the landmarks and enjoying London in this unfamiliar way.
We’ve been past the Royal Albert Hall many times and though I’m not saying we never noticed it (you can’t but help), I never really stopped to look or savour. I’ve even been to see a show there and yes, I noticed the stunning, I did realise but I took it in a way that meant I could come back tomorrow if I so wished. Katy and I decided that for this trip we were really going to drink it in. We don’t usually but visits to our old patch are few these days and we didn’t want to miss the tricks.
So we didn’t just walk past the Royal Albert Hall on this occasion and although it was far too late in the day to take the children to see a performance, we went in to have a look. A look and somethign to eat. I’ve never done this before even when I have been to see something in the hall and it felt very special. I had wrongly assumed the restaurant would be priced well out of my budget and supposed that it wouldn’t be at all child friendly but I’m very glad we tried it and very pleased too that I had been so incorrect in my judgement.
When we arrived at Verdi, which has a new children’s menu proving it absolutely welcoming to the little ones, it was busy with pre-show diners and very, very loud. Despite the atmosphere we were shown to a giant table with room around us to move. We’d been somewhere rather adult in the day time for afternoon tea where the children had not been made welcome by other patrons and I was a tad concerned the same would be said for Verdi but again my predictions were proved amiss. The other people, laughing, eating, enjoying and waiting for their show seemed extremely happy to see us as if children of an eve in the restaurant is commonplace, what they’d expected and despite a small melt down from one of our little diners (we’d been out all day, were tired and it was inevitable that at least one of them would have a bit of a reaction), we were complimented on their behaviour (after the minor tears upon our entrance the children were very calm with drawing packs on their menus having been made to feel comfortable in their surroundings by the staff) and it was noted by one table how lovely it was to see children being brought to the Royal Albert Hall.
And it IS a lovely thing to do. It’s something a bit different and definitely an event they will remember. The building is beautiful from the outside in with many interesting features to see in the architecture. It wasn’t just popping to any old restaurant and was, instead, an event in itself. But, as I mentioned, the prices were rather regular and what you’d expect from an Italian restaurant with a children’s menu while the food was delicious, well thought out for all and a relaxing evening ensued with wine (for Katy and I), fresh juices for the children and lots of laughs and we ate our three courses of deliciousness.
Portions were huge and I was pleased to see that the children were not fobbed off with ‘kiddie fodder’! They were offered starters of garlic bread, arancini balls or mozzarella followed by pizza or pasta and gelato in many flavours. Katy and I chose starters to share of gamberi in pancetta (garlic prawns) and an adult portion of the arancini Siciliana which came with the most delicious tomato and garlic sauce (lots of garlic, love it) and we followed that with a delicious salad (Burrata con prosciutto di parma) for Katy and the Branzino scottato (Pan-seared seabass, asparagus wrapped in pancetta, caponata and asparagus sauce) for me. I’d not known what the Caponata was but our waitress explained it’s a rattatouille with celery) and everything was utterly tempting.
We drank house white and red, too tired to choose from the menu, and the white was just to my taste. Not too sweet but in no way dry, easily drinkable and hitting all the right notes to relax and enjoy. The children wnjoyed their pizza (which had been made into the shape of a bunny for Easter) and pasta and all mixed and matched so that they got to try a little of everything. I love that they have these experiences, are so comfortable when eating out even in an unfamilar setting and it’s wonderful that they will grown up with this kind of dining being the norm for them.
The children’s food was brought out slightly ahead of ours which was welcome in many ways. Mostly the children were hungry and couldn’t wait much longer despite having nibbled on bread sticks as their food was being cooked and probably more importantly so that when our food arrived we didn’t have to worry so much about them knowing they were already eating. By the time desert came the children were more than ready for their hazelnut and chocolate (Nutella as we billed it to them) gelato and silence was noted for a second time throughout our meal, the first having been when the whole restaurant upped and left to take their seats for the show.
Katy and I finished our meal with a glass of limoncello accompanied by Bigne alla crema (profiteroles filled with flavoured cream). We chose two each as we were very full but needed a sweet hit and then, when we were all almost unable to move, we weaved our way through the streets of London back to our hotel. Tourists for the night and very pleased about it actually.
Verdi Italian Kitchen is not only an experience but something to be savoured. The children loved it and the food was fantastic so we can’t complain, would absolutely go back and highly recommend it. I would say that if you can avoid busy times like just before a show then perhaps do try. It was fine but much more relaxed once everyone else had gone into the theatre. I would also say that Verdi could use an extra toilet for children to use. There are two for the whole restaurant which although seems intimiate is actually rather large rolling around the building making its size deceptive. The other diners may have ben very pleased to see our children but they weren’t in the mindset to notice little ones hopping about desperate and offer them their place in the queue. With four children between us we did stand for quite some time in the toilet queue throughout the evening and I think a special bathroom for families only might be a welcome addition.
Verdi is the perfect place for a bite to eat after a day spent at the Science and Natural History museums as it is just around the corner and opposite Kensington Gardens where the Princess Diana Memorial Playground can be found. It’s definitely a place for families.
We were asked to review Verdi at the Royal Albert Hall honestly and received our meal on the house.