London’s Best Museum Cafés For Children
The V&A, Kensington
There are several places to eat and drink across the V&A’s seven miles of galleries. Most impressive is the museum’s Members’ Room, which is housed in a converted top-lit gallery on the top floor of Aston Webb’s Grade I-listed 1909 wing. Now a dedicated space for V&A members, guests and their little ones, customers can enjoy a full range of casual and formal dining options provided by Benugo, including hot and cold breakfast options, lunch and childrens’ choices, plus an all-day café including cakes and cream teas. Non-members can make the most of the outdoors by eating in the courtyard Garden Café, which is open year-round (weather dependent in December and January) or head to the Victorian-era Gamble Room Café for coffees, pastries, salads, sandwiches and scones. Those looking ahead should get excited about the reopening of the Young V&A in east London next summer.
Garden Museum, Lambeth
One of our favourites on this list, the Garden Museum’s award-winning Garden Café is housed in a beaten-bronze pavilion. The restaurant’s interiors are inspired by its leafy surroundings, as is its menu, which is currently looked after by George Ryle, formerly of Primeur and Padella, who serves a weekly changing modern-British and European selection of seasonal dishes – think hake with girolles, leeks and lardo; lamb leg and caponata; hazelnut cake with poached plums and Chantilly cream; and doughnuts with milk ice-cream and chocolate sauce. The café is open seven days a week for lunch, and also serves coffee, tea, cakes and biscuits throughout the day – which is probably your best bet if you’ve got young children in tow.
Tate Modern, Bankside
The Tate Modern’s sky-high Kitchen & Bar themes a number of dishes around its current roster of exhibitions – right now, visitors can enjoy a Provence-inspired dish in celebration of the Cezanne exhibition. For those with older children who want to do their own thing, the Espresso Bar on level three is open for drinks and snacks, including a pick-and-mix kids lunch offer, where children can choose a sandwich, fruit and a snack.
Whitechapel Gallery, Whitechapel
If you like an early start, look into booking an exhibition at east London’s Whitechapel Gallery. Its in-house restaurant Townsend offers a breakfast menu made up of inspired takes on English classics. Taking pride of place is the Townsend breakfast bun, which includes a Paddock Farm sausage patty, hash brown and fried duck egg topped with homemade brown sauce, served on a soft white roll. On the lighter end, there’s poached berries, yoghurt and toasted oats. The restaurant is also open for lunch and dinner.
Natural History Museum, Kensington
One of the best kids-friendly restaurants at the Natural History Museum is the T Rex Restaurant. Here, guests can enjoy pizzas, salads, toasted sandwiches and puddings, while special kids' meal boxes are also available. For something a little more sophisticated, The Anning Rooms is a members-only restaurant and lounge. Located over two floors in the iconic Waterhouse Towers at the centre of the museum, these rooms are a lovely place to have lunch – on the adult menu, we love the look of the smoked haddock and salmon fishcake with cajun trinity salad and Old Bay remoulade.
Museum Of The Home, Hoxton
Formerly the Geffrye Museum, the Museum of the Home started life as a museum of furniture and woodwork in 1914 and became a resource for local workers in the East End furniture industry. Over the years, the museum has evolved and expanded, showcasing paintings, furniture and decorated arts in the context of different imagined living rooms. New for 2022 is bakery and café, Humdingers Shoreditch. Head baker Oscar serves tapas for lunch and dinner seven days a week, with dishes including Spanish charcuterie boards, patatas bravas, seafood and veggie paella and slow-cooked Iberico pulled pork. Alongside tapas, there is a range of child-friendly pastries, cakes and sandwiches – plus excellent coffee for the parents.
National Army Museum, Chelsea
The National Army Museum is a fun, interactive space for everyone. Families can explore the galleries and develop new skills at the Play Base – whether your child wants to take on the soft play assault course, climb aboard a truck or prepare ‘scoff’ in the cookhouse. The Cookhouse Café is a great place to refuel during a busy day out. As well as whole-leaf tea and hand-roasted coffee for the adults, there are plenty of tasty, seasonal dishes for children. It’s also worth knowing that the museum specialises in childrens’ birthday parties.
Tate Britain, Pimlico
Right now, the best thing to see at the Tate Britain is Lynette Yiadom-Boakye's 2020 major survey, which was sadly cut short by lockdown. After viewing her excellent paintings, families can visit the Djanogly Café on the lower floor to enjoy fresh sandwiches, salads, cakes, loose-leaf Jing teas and Tate roasted coffee. The kids pick-and-mix lunch offer includes a sandwich, fruit and a snack, highchairs are available and families can eat packed lunches outside the gallery entrances or in Millbank Gardens if the weather’s dry.
Pitzhanger Manor, Ealing
Pitzhanger Gallery is a beautiful space flooded with natural light that presents three exhibitions a year and Pitzhanger Pantry is its kiosk café in Walpole Park, located beside the playground next to its education space, The Rickyard. The pantry is operated by a small, family-run company called Roots & Berries which serves coffee (using beans by Curious Roo roasters), hot food, freshly baked croissants, tea and Jude’s ice-cream.
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