Catching up with family and friends is one of the joys of the festive season, as long as you don't have to cook a feast for each and every gathering. If your December is already looking like a whirlwind of lunches and dinners, Natascha Mirosch recommends some pre-festive dining at one of these family-friendly restaurants.
191 Musgrave Rd, Red Hill, (07) 3369 7417
Everything about this place is genuine and hospitable, from the greeting to the Italian food. It's a large, attractive space with room to tuck a bigger table down the back if you think things might get rowdy. The owners are from Rome, so expect Roman specialities such as coda alla vaccinara or pan-fried polenta gnocchi. But the menu has something to suit all tastes, from excellent pizza to a range of pasta that won't break the bank.
Baguette Bar Bistro
150 Racecourse Road, Ascot, (07) 32686168
This suburban perennial has been around for decades but we (and all its many regulars) still love it. Why? It's friendly and the menu changes often enough to keep frequent diners interested but not so often that you'll find your favourite has disappeared for good. Well-spaced tables and a family-friendly attitude mean you can bring your well-behaved little ones too.
4/828 Sandgate Road, Clayfield, (07) 3256 1901
It feels like dining in someone's living room. Someone who can cook very, very well. All the pasta is made in house and the dishes are far more imaginative than the usual spag bol/Neapolitana standards. (The prices hover a fair way above your casual Italian joint, too.) Pasta also comes in children's sizes. There's always a warm welcome from the owner.
850 Mount Cotton Rd, Mount Cotton, (07) 3206 2999
Perfect for a Sunday afternoon family lunch, this semi-rural restaurant in a winery is well used to larger tables of families. It can get noisy inside, so book on the outside terrace and take in the views all the way to Moreton Bay. Seafood is a speciality, but there's a broad menu that will appeal to all. Challenge the in-laws to a game of bocce on the green or have a post-lunch drink at the cellar bar afterwards.
85 Kent Road, Wooloowin, (07) 3857 5118
Set in a pretty suburban ex-shop front, Rhubarb Rhubarb is French accented, but with a menu that will appeal to the whole family (including those members who usually walk out of restaurants complaining they're hungry). Children have a choice of protein on their own set menu, which includes house-made ice-cream. One room has an open kitchen presided over by the owner/chef, the other, slightly more serene, has scarlet accents and, at night, candle-lit tables.
What's your favourite family-friendly restaurant in Brisbane?