Best places for family dining in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire
PUBLISHED: 11:04 20 October 2014 | UPDATED: 09:45 25 May 2018
Looking to enjoy a restaurant or pub visit with the whole family? Katy Eachus goes in search of places that satisfy everyone from tots to great-grandparents
Despite its grand surroundings, the Barn restaurant, just a short stroll from the mansion house, has a relaxed feel and families are welcome even in their wellies, so you can combine a meal with a walk by the beautiful lake across the road. On warm days eat on the terrace, gazing over the polo fields. Rustic yet modern, the interior features stone floors and fireplace and reclaimed oak dining tables. The main menu includes steak, roast lamb, cheeseburger, slow-cooked chicken and macaroni cheese. The Summer Salad menu available until 30 September includes hearty salads and desserts plus a Pimms or white wine spritzer for £22.50.
The Barn kids’ menu (under 5’s £4.95, 5-12 years £8.95 for three courses including drink) includes sandwiches, tomato soup or dips and crudités, burger, fish and chips, macaroni cheese, bangers and mash or spaghetti with tomato or bolognese sauce. These can be followed with ice cream with chocolate sauce and sprinkles, fluffy strawberry mousse and warm chocolate brownie. To add to the occasion children can enjoy a mocktail as well as milkshake, juice or squash.
My children love it here. They say it really feels like being in Italy, where we spend a lot of our time. Its central location makes it ideal when shopping or visiting the castle. There is a great choice of freshly-made dishes, using the best ingredients. Even the pizza dough is made fresh twice a day. The main menu includes pasta, meat and seafood dishes, pizza and calzone as well as some delicious salads and desserts. The children’s menu (up to 12 years, £5.95 for three courses) includes Napolitana pizza with choice of toppings, penne or spaghetti with choice of sauce or salads plus ice cream or fruit for dessert. Specific menus can be arranged for large groups.
Perfect for families without seeming overrun by children, this pub has a children’s play area and shady terrace at the back which seats 50 and a pretty garden and orchard at the front seating 120. The restaurant is warm and cosy in winter with comfortable leather dining chairs, rugs and exposed brick walls. The inn enjoys a peaceful country setting just four miles from Highclere Castle. It’s also handy for the Watermill Theatre and several golf courses so a meal here can easily be combined with other activities. The main menu includes steak, salads and some imaginative vegetarian options, and a wide choice of deserts including panna cotta, cheesecake and crumble. The children’s menu (dishes priced individually) includes fish, chips and peas; pasta (Bolognese or vegetarian); burger; sausages or scampi, with ice cream to follow.
Refurbished in March 2013, this hotel, which dates back to the 16th century, is a superb blend of rustic and modern and would be ideal for a family lunch or dinner. Camilla Silk from the Berkshire Life team loves eating here and says: “It’s great for all ages. The food’s fantastic and the staff are very friendly.” As well as the stylish main dining room there is a bar with open fireplace and a cosy snug with a chesterfield sofa, leather armchairs and flatscreen TV. There is a good selection on the main menu including steaks; smoked haddock fishcake with asparagus, poached egg and Hollandaise sauce; king prawn and crab linguine; and grilled chicken Caesar salad with anchovies, croutons, bacon and parmesan. On Sunday evenings there is a pizza menu. The children’s menu for £7 includes macaroni cheese, cheese burger and chips, sausage, peas and mash, battered fish with peas and chips or parmesan chicken and chips - followed by an ice cream cone. A varied set menu is available for groups of 12 or more, which could be ideal for a large family get-together.
You can expect a warm welcome here and delicious pub classics that change with the season. The little ones are well looked after as owner Stella Coulthurst and her team are proud that many main course dishes can be served as individually priced smaller versions for little ones. They ensure that ingredients such as pasta and simple sauces are to hand so that an appetising dish can be provided for picky tots. They’re also sympathetic to the dietary requirements some older guests may have – never be afraid to ask.
We find this authentic Italian café ideal for families. Really good food is served in a stylish environment with a relaxed feel. The children’s menu (£6.50 for three courses) has fun facts, puzzles and colour-in pictures. It invites them to make their own pasta dish from a choice of pasta and sauces for their main course. Alternatively they can choose Milanese di pollo (breaded chicken), spinach and ricotta ravioli or lasagna, with ice cream or fruit salad for dessert. Smaller versions of other dishes on the adult menu are also available, which is great for more adventurous youngsters.
In Marlow’s gorgeous high street this branch in a listed building is ideal for combining with a bit of shopping or a walk along the river. The interior has a wooden floor and wooden and upholstered furniture, step-free access and disabled facilities. There is a good selection of pizza, pasta and meat dishes on the main menu. Our children love the children’s menu (up to 11 years, £6.50 for three courses and a drink) – which includes garlic bread and bruschetta, pizza, pasta, and chicken salad and a hazelnut spread and banana mini calzone for dessert. There is also a Tiny Tots menu (up to 5 years, £3.50) with mini pizza or pasta with a choice of sauce and ice cream. Dishes can be ‘tweaked’ for children – just ask. The colour-in menus come with puzzles to keep the children entertained.
This pub on the edge of ancient Penn Wood is great for family walks and adventures. It has been awarded ‘family pub of the year’ many times by Chiltern District Council and is perfect for families who want children to be able to get down and play when they have finished eating, while the grown-ups catch up on conversation. The large, secure garden has a great range of outdoor play equipment. Baby changing faciltiies are good and nappies are provided. The children’s menu offers a very wide choice of food. Netmums reviews for this pub are very positive with visitors describing it as “fantastic” and “very family-friendly.”
Small, eccentric but enormously enjoyable for Roald Dahl fans of all ages, this café attached to the Roald Dahl museum, can be visited independently from the high street and is great for a light meal. Delumptious dishes based on Dahl stories include beanpopper pancakes, whizzpoppers, fizzy lifting drinks and snozzcumber sandwiches and Bogtrotter chocolate cake as well as a fine selection of jacket potatoes, soup, sandwiches and paninis. After eating, children can run around safely in the courtyard and at weekends listen to story telling there while adults reminisce.
As a family concern spanning the generations, The Bull is used to serving children and is a perfect choice for in introduction to fine dining (even with high chairs), or you might just like to try a cosy lunch. Dishes such as goujons of chicken can be served and the chefs will happily prepare ‘mini’ steak or grilled fish version of dishes on the main menu.
This very pretty pub two miles north of Aylesbury is surrounded by beautiful countryside and close to Bletchley Park. The restaurant only has space for 16 covers so you need to book but it would provide a lovely, intimate setting for a large family get-together.
The exterior has hanging baskets and flowers in summer while the cosy interior has an open fire and beams. Trip Advisor reviews praise the quality of the cooking and the friendliness of the staff. One diner says, “The welcome from John and Carol makes you feel very special and even when they are busy the service is outstanding.” Starters include warm goat’s cheese salad with poached pear and walnut oil dressing. Main courses include braised lamb shank, John’s steak and kidney pudding and roast salmon fillet with horseradish mash. Let them know if you have any special dietary requirements.
A really good, old-fashioned teashop with gorgeous scones, this tea room which opened last year is ideal for breakfast, brunch, lunch or afternoon tea. Food is served on vintage china, milkshakes in nostalgic glass jars, in very pretty, chintzy surroundings that will bring back childhood memories. Trip advisor reviewers praise the scrummy homemade cakes and loose leaf tea. The service is described as excellent and staff very friendly. General manager Michelle Hicker has recently introduced more vegetarian and gluten free options and hopes to sell champagne afternoon teas soon. Gift vouchers are available.
Yes, it’s part of a chain, but each Jamie restaurant is individually designed and offers celebrity chef food at affordable prices. The Milton Keynes restaurant at the heart of the centre is full of character with rustic features and huge windows. Pop in for a prosecco and nibbles at the bar or settle in for a full three course meal. Start with one of the generously proportioned meat, fish or veggie ‘planks’ to share and don’t miss the house made pasta dishes. Leave room for a sour cherry bakewell or brownie. The kids’ menu includes pasta, puppy dog (hot dog), fish fingers and mini sliders (organic chicken and beef patties) for £5.95 followed by fruit or ice cream for an extra 50p.