Fun at The Kids’ Table
Make pub lunches your own again with this free entertainment for kids at this brilliant Surrey pub.
Pub lunches always used to be one of my favourite things to do on a weekend. A group of friends, a bottle of wine (or more), good food and no washing up. But now they’re fraught affairs filled with arguments, stress and tears, and that’s before we’ve even left the house.
Of course, we’re no different from any other family with young children – frantically stuffing bags with changes of clothes, colouring books, pencils, an iPad, drinks, snacks and anything else that may enable us to get to the end of a sentence uninterrupted.
But even then, it’s unlikely both of us will get to finish our meal while it’s still hot as we’ll be called upon to come to the aid of our four or seven-year-old.
Which is where The Kids’ Table comes to the rescue. This ingenious idea is popping up all around Surrey and was set up by Sarah Frow, who also struggled to find somewhere to eat that would work for both children and adults.
The idea is that you arrive as a family, order your food and when the kids have eaten their full, they run off to be entertained with crafts, colouring and face painting by fully-trained professionals.
It sounded idyllic, so we called on some friends with similar aged children and booked ourselves into The Chequers pub in Walton-on-the-Hill. After a run around Box Hill (only a few miles away) we brought our hungry, tired children to the pub. Aged between seven and four, they disappeared immediately into the playground area to clamber on the equipment, while we perused the menu and had a drink.
With delicious roasts on a Sunday, a burger shack in the garden and a full range of kids’ meals, everyone found something to eat – even when we surprised staff with a last-minute dairy free/gluten free request.
The Kids’ Table opens at 1pm so after the children had gobbled down lunch (a kid’s size roast dinner for two and chicken, chips and peas for the others), they headed for the craft area. It was a bit busy, so our lot happily disappeared off to the play area again while they waited.
When they took their turn at the table, Rob, one of the staff, explained the crafts on offer. They could make a globe, an animal mask, paper ice-lollies or ice-creams or simply do some colouring. Wisely our children chose to do all of it. So, we headed back to our nearby table to finish our lunch undisturbed and even had a grown-up conversation that didn’t involve talking about Paw Patrol characters. I managed to eat my delicious roast beef dinner complete with goose-fat potatoes and parsnip puree while it was still hot. Plus, we had time to order and eat dessert before the kids had even clocked what we were doing.
The children nipped back to show us what they’d made every five minutes or so, before heading straight back to get onto their next craft project. Our friends’ son, who has autism, was well looked after too, which meant our friends had a well needed 20 minutes or more off as their happy little boy was indulged by Rob, who let him make bunting out of dinosaur colouring-in pictures and a ‘string’ ice-lolly.
We couldn’t quite believe how well it had all worked out. The Kids’ Table took away the pressure ofF being constantly ‘on’ but it also meant we could be part of our children’s experience as we were just at a nearby table.
Of course, a beautiful pub garden, delicious food and friendly, helpful staff all helped, but we’ll definitely be coming back.
Words: Debbi Marco