Food: The Alternative Date Night at The Pantry

The Pantry, Edinburgh Life with kids

I know lots of parents who still go out regularly. They still know the best place for dinner. Or where to get the best cocktail in town. They have a wardrobe bursting forth with suitable attire. I just would not have a clue.

It’s not that I’m against going out by any means. It’s just not really on my agenda.

Since having the kids I’ve just found I don’t find it as fun as I once did. Although Thomas is now sleeping through as well – getting both kids to sleep to begin with can be tricky. So often when I’m out in the evening I find myself worrying about how they’re getting on.

Once you factor in things like the cost of drinks, dinner, and the inevitable taxi home it becomes quite expensive. On finding myself in a restaurant before Christmas with tepid food, high noise levels, and annoyingly leery men – I did kind of wonder why I had bothered.

The company I was meeting there was wonderful – it’s just the setting wasn’t for me.

This got me thinking about alternative date nights. I still really enjoy eating out – especially when I know the food is going to be good. But equally, I don’t want to be condemned to a life of ‘kid friendly’ chain restaurants. Or even for the kids to be in our faces the whole time.

On pondering what ‘Edinburgh with Kids’ really meant to me, there was a single word that kept ringing out: Brunch.

Brunch is my new alternative form of a dinner date. It’s food that I’m guaranteed to enjoy, it’s unusual to involve lots of booze so I can drive, and I adore good coffee.

My added caveat for good brunch however is children’s entertainment. Given that Grandma is not always in the North, I don’t always have childcare in the mornings. That means the kids have to come with – not exactly perfect for a romantic date. This is where a space that is child friendly comes in – they need to be able to play happily, so I don’t have to worry, and I can actually chat to my husband.

The solution in Edinburgh is thankfully just on our doorstep. I absolutely adore The Pantry in Stockbridge for all these reasons:

The food is epic

A recent addition to The Pantry menu is the new brunch ‘picky plate.’ This is where you get to pick three options from a selection of nine. I’ve really been trying eat clean fresh foods recently so this is a great option for me. It feels totally gluttonous but is actually really healthy – win win.

 

Heritage carrot salad - The Pantry, Edinburgh with Kids

 

As an example, this is heritage carrot salad – as far away from ‘rabbit food’ as you can get yet totally clean and lovely! Lurking in the background is a bowel of kale with chilli and peanut and yellow lentil dahl. Amazing.

 

Waffles, The Pantry, Edinburgh with Kids

 

However, given that the weather in Edinburgh is sometimes a bit cold and grey – waffles are still needed on occasion. I think this is probably one of their most ordered items on their menu. Sometimes you just need that treat and this doesn’t disappoint.

The coffee is delicious

Coffee, The Pantry, Edinburgh with Kids

 

The first time I went to The Pantry was on maternity leave with my beautiful friend Jen. We had an amazing lunch and then ordered a coffee to go. I remember she ordered a gingerbread latte which I hadn’t tried before so opted for the same. It was so good. I still remember the first sip of that coffee a year later.

It’s popular

This might sound like an odd one – but I like that you have to wait to get a table sometimes. It makes me feel like I’m not old and totally out of it. There are loads of people – just like me – brunching with their kids in tow. I’m not just some grump refusing to go out. I just dine out in the day rather than at night.

The kids love the play area

Finally, they have a play area bursting with toys that the kids love. The Pantry have recently revamped this area and the cutest mural of Stockbridge market. It’s fenced off from the rest of the restaurant so their not in any ones way and there is loads to keep them occupied. Last time we were there we actually had a hard time getting Katie to agree to leave. It took a shameful amount of bribery and coercion with kinder eggs.

Lots of brunch places in Edinburgh offer a small selection of toys but it’s rare to find something that occupies them for a considerable length of time – combined with the other afore mentioned benefits!

Booking at The Pantry is possible during the week – and on weekends it’s definitely worth popping in to try and grab a table. I’ve found they always do their best to get you in ASAP – we sometimes just have to wonder down to the market in the meantime.

Do you still go out to dinner? Or have you too found an alternative date night? I’d love to hear from you over on the Facebook page or in the comments below.

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