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Take the Family › Dea Birkett's Eating with Kids: Edinburgh

Dea Birkett's Eating with Kids: Edinburgh

My family’s heart is in its stomach. We love to eat. Food has built our young brood. My boyfriend wooed me in an Edinburgh curry house, already in those early, heady days realising that rogan josh was the way to win my affection.

Three kids later, memorable family occasions nearly always involve eating. But meals at home are one thing. Eating out in unfamiliar territory with kids is quite another. Often finding somewhere to sup is the biggest challenge for a travelling family. So, throwing weight loss to the wind, I’ve decided to dedicate this column to eating. And the start of this culinary journey is where our family commenced - Edinburgh.

Edinburgh is a classy city, so we didn’t expect it to excel at cheap child-friendly cafes. But we have discovered somewhere we’ve dubbed a ‘crossover’ restaurant - the Stockbridge Restaurant, decorated with brightly-coloured prints by Edinburgh painter Francis Cadell in a basement to the north of Edinburgh’s New Town.

Bestselling crossover books appeal to both adults and children; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is our favourite. Crossover performers like Madonna aim at the pre-teen and pre-menopausal market, encompassing all of my family. But restaurants often only satisfy a single generation. Fed up with finding nowhere decent to eat with their two young children and determined to get kids trying things, the Stockbridge’s owners Jane Walker and Jason Gallagher (she’s out front, he’s in the kitchen) have launched a Tots Taster Menu on the first Sunday of every month.

This Harry Potter of haute cuisine is crossover to the core. As adults indulge in delicious seared salmon or slow roasted pork from the Duke of Buccleuch’s estate, six small courses arrived at regular intervals for the kids, so they’re constantly amused. Their menu included ‘Halibut fishcake with lemon and Tarragon aioli’, ‘Fruit sticks with chocolate paint pots’ and ‘Babeliciouschino’ – hot chocolate and foam served in an expresso cup, so the kids can pretend to have coffee, too. And, surrounded by art, we were even encouraged to take the short journey to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, to see the real life Cadells displayed amongst other Scottish Colourists.

Sated with calories and culture, we retreated to the spa at The Balmoral, smack in the centre of town, where there’s treatments for all ages. The seven-year-old twins had a massage ‘to improve quality of sleep’ and ‘soothe the nervous system’, a treat for their shattered parents as well.  And I can let you in on some gourmet gossip. The Balmoral, which serves the finest cream teas in Scotland, will shortly be launching a special tea for kids, complete with tiered cake stands. Watch this space, if not your spare tyre.


By Dea Birkett

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