I've not done a restaurant review before, so I was delighted when vouchercodes.co.uk got in touch to ask if I'd like to do one of their 'Fuss Free Dining Reports. Basically, they want to know which restaurants are really child-friendly, which ones represent best value for money and which make for the best meal out for the entire family. And they're paying too so there's no question of getting an utterly impartial assessment. Not that there would be anyway. If you don't believe me, just look what I said about this.
Anyway, without turning all 'Winners Dinnners' on you, here's a fuss-free report on our local Prezzo. We chose this chain as there's one handy for us and we like Italian food. And as the first test, I didn't book. We just strolled in last Saturday lunchtime needing a table for three plus space for a pushchair. No problem! We were seated within minutes without so much as a second glance. There was none of the huffing and puffing you sometimes get if you appear at the door with a pushchair in tow. So far, so good.
Menus were delivered - including a neat little fold-up one for Charlie which doubles as a colouring book. Drinks were ordered; choices were made. And they weren't easy ones. The menu is varied and extensive. There are all the Italian favourites including pizzas of various provenances, a full range of pasta dishes as well as grills. To start, Sarah chose the grilled goats cheese with plum tomatoes and caramelised onions. I plumped for the tiger prawns with garlic, chilli and spinach.
Meanwhile, Charlie was entertaining himself colouring in the children's menu, which offers a choice of garlic bread or garlic bread with cheese as a starter and main courses of either pizza (with pepperoni, mushroom or pineapple topping), pasta (bolognese, tomato or carbonara sauces), spaghetti with meatballs or oven roasted chicken wings plus a scoop of ice-cream for dessert and a drink - all for just £4.95! And these are no mere 'tiddlers' portions either. Just look at Charlie's pizza:
Ok, so he may not have finished it but at least we know there's a menu here that will keep him going for a few more years. I'm not sure if there's an age limit on the Prezzo children's menu but I reckon this would satisfy most appetites right up to - and in some cases, including - the ravenous teenage years. Anyway, while he munched through his pizza, Sarah enjoyed a rather special dish of wild mushroom girasolle (below) while I had pollo gorgonzola.
By now, feeling distinctly full, Sarah and I might have called it a day but Charlie still had his ice-cream course to come and it seemed a shame to let him eat his pudding on his own, so we kept him company with a portion of milk-chocolate fudge cake (as much fudge as cake - 'for a chocoholic that's pretty good' was Sarah's judgement) and a vanilla pannacotta.
Meanwhile, Eloise slept through the whole thing. But her time will come. Because we'll certainly be back, and I can wholeheartedly recommend Prezzo as being both great value for money as well as friendly and accommodating to children. The food was good, the service excellent and the ambience perfectly suited to both family and non-family dining. The colouring pack kept Charlie entertained while we were waiting (which was never very long) and the whole experience was both 'fuss free' and extremely enjoyable.
Sarah and I awarded them the full 25 out of 25 on the score sheet - there really wasn't anything that could have been improved. And Charlie was perfectly satisfied, so I'm sure - if he could - he'd do the same.