"Always be nice to your children, as they're the ones who will choose your rest home," Phyllis Diller once said. Well it appears Sydneysiders are taking the advice. We're ditching the babysitters and eating out with our small people more than ever before. And it's going very well indeed.
No more pretending that nuggets, over-soaked spaghetti and green jelly are what young hearts and tummies desire. Instead, a swag of chefs are putting love into food for all, and even floor staff seem to be enjoying the new family-friendly vibe permeating the city's dining rooms.
"Looking after everyone in a restaurant is what hospitality is all about," says Massimo Mele, head chef at Paddington's chic neighbourhood Italian, La Scala. "It's about making people's day".
So, where do the kids particularly love these days? Who's welcoming them with open arms and glorious grub? Here's a starting list. Get ready…
La Scala on Jersey
Urbane and intimate, La Scala also manages an effortless warmth with families. Highlights of Chef Mele's kids' menu here are tender sirloin steak, salad and chippies, rainbow pasta with organic tomato sauce, plus the Nutella pizza for dessert. As lovely as the food is the cost. Monday to Friday before 7pm and on Saturday's until 6.30pm, under 12's receive a free meal from the kids' menu with every full priced adult meal ordered. Fantastico.
2A Jersey Rd, Paddington, 9357 0815
North Bondi Fish
Headlining the "kids' end" of Sydney's favourite playground, North Bondi Fish welcomes patrons and people-watchers of all ages. With fab food, scooter parking and one of the world's most famous sand pits out front, what's not to love? No surprises here that the kids' menu offers a cracking fish and chips, but its reign as top pick is under threat from the tasty little crab sliders. And just wait until you see the house-made popsicles. Hands off, Dad!
120 Ramsgate Avenue, Bondi Beach, 9130 3152
An unofficial survey regarding the favourite food of children confirms it; sausages are top dog. At Lowenbrau Keller, young sausage connoisseurs go crazy for the Gemischte Wurstplatte, a mixed sausage share platter. There's also the bargain-priced kids' menu to choose from. Book a table in the main room where lunch and dinner is accompanied by a traditional "oom pah-pah" band and the fun factor rates up there with the noise; high.
Cnr Playfair and Argyle streets, The Rocks, 9247 7785
Housed in a glorious old sandstone clubhouse, the kids at Burnt Orange feel like VIPs with a choice of lunch specials including a smartie cookie, plus a juice or milk drink for $15. The attention to detail here, with extras like old-fashioned paper straws, is super cute. Also on site is a boutique stocking children's clothing, books, toys and games. Combined with harbour views, the place should come with a "hard to resist" warning. Open daytime only.
1109 Middlehead Rd, Mosman, 9969 1020
Jones the Grocer
Does the thought of a kiddie catch-up in the city have you breaking out in a Mc Sweat? Jones the Grocer in Westfield has you covered. Kids at Jones choose from five luscious dishes at $10 each, with the Jones junior burger, the calamari, and croissant toastie (all with salad) winning over even our pickiest eaters. And then there's the fromagerie… say cheese everyone!
Shop 5018, Level 5, Westfield, Cnr Market and Castlereagh streets, CBD
WA Japanese Restaurant Cafe
Not only is Wa revered by locals for high quality and excellent value dining, but the kitchen opens at 5pm. Yes, that's right. You can be in and out, with the little fiends fed by six. Wa's menu is jam-packed with all the favourites , but the "Junga" kids can't go past their very own special "beetle" car bento box (the "kids' plate") with California rolls, tempura, chicken karage, gyoza and a toy to take home. Bookings here are a must.
63 Oxford Street, Bondi Junction, 9388 0404
Din Tai Fung
Roll over sushi, there's a new bite-sized favourite in town; dumplings. Translating to "small eats", Din Tai Fung is adored by small diners, and their favourite order is the Xiao Long Bao (little pork dumplings). In the World Square mothership, young impressionables can watch through glass as yummy little pillows are created by skilled hands, then steamed for precisely three minutes. The groovy "kids only" melamine crockery seals the deal.
Shop 11, Level 1, 644 George Street (World Square), Haymarket, 9264 6010
This self-declared "Community Hotel, a playground for everyone to enjoy" is true to its word. Grown-ups love that The Henson purchases from local suppliers where possible and makes most foods from scratch. The young ones love the play space, as well as selecting from one of the biggest kids' menus in town. Here, simple pleasures such as fried egg on toast, chicken tacos and ice-cream sandwich for pudding, rule.
91 Illawarra Road, Marrickville, 9569 5858
Cafe by day and buzzy neighbourhood fajita bar by night, Bench Cafe has become a firm family favourite for the Manly crowd. With relaxed seating in and outdoors, kids have a ball getting crafty with the delicious "do it yourself" fajita set, while parents indulge in a margarita or two. But the best news? On Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings between 5.30 and 6.30pm, the kids' fajita comes free. Arriba, yes it does.
3/11-27 Wentworth Street, Manly, 9976 5733
Sydney Tower Buffet
There's this little building, hidden away right in the centre of town and it's called Sydney Tower. Oh, you know the one? Well guess what, a trip up to the top isn't just for tourists. Thrilling for the juniors, and costing not much more than a basic visit, families can have lunch or dinner at the terrific self-select buffet, with more than 40 dishes to sample. Do it on a Monday or Tuesday, and the children eat free. It's about full stomachs, unbeatable views and big memories.
Reception Level 4, Sydney Westfield Centre, Between Pitt and Castlereagh streets, CBD, 8223 3800