I’ve mentioned the Parkside Cafe in my eating out section as a decent place to eat. We were there again on Sunday and we had such a nice time that I thought they deserved a post of their own. The building they’re in was a Chinese restaurant for years, and they’ve been open about 18 months. Our big kids went with their other parents before we went there and came back with good reports, so we tried it out and were mostly pleasantly surprised.
The decor is tidy and warm with some exposed brickwork and pipes to add some character. The floor is wooden and the counter area attractive and efficiently set up. The cafe area isn’t large, but they manage to fit a reasonable number of tables in. We take our small boys with us, and they can be a little challenging in a nice quiet space filled with grown-ups trying to enjoy a quiet latte and brunch. There is no ‘kids’ corner in the cafe and so on the surface (perhaps deliberately!) it is not kid friendly.
The menu is small, but has all the normal breakfast favourites. They offer gluten-free bread and alternatives to a number of their dishes and are very happy to tell you whether something is or can be made gluten-free. The flavours in some of the dishes are lovely, and we have only had one disappointing meal there (some ordinary blueberry pancakes). The service is very fast – especially for the kids’ food. They have a separate kids menu which includes pancakes with ice cream and maple syrup, fish finger toasted sandwiches and a number of other items. My small kids vary between these two options while our 15-year old has a partiality for the fish finger sandwiches 🙂 We’ve been there repeatedly, once with a large group, and the service was just as efficient. As a nice gluten-free thing, they always have at least one sweet biscuit or slice on the counter, often two.
What sets Parkside apart from many other cafes that we have been to is how friendly the staff are and how wonderful and patient they are with our boys. Both our boys like to poke their noses into the very accessible kitchen. They like to ask questions. They like to know what is going on. From time to time they send their drinks flying, make a noise or a mess. We have never once felt unwelcome in this cafe, no matter how the boys are behaving. On those occasions when the boys do look in the kitchen, the staff there very patiently chase them out, telling them why they shouldn’t be there.
Even better? The staff remember that our small boys like their hot chocolates in a takeaway cup. That one likes only white marshmallows and one likes only pink marshmallows. If one of us goes in with the older kids and not the small boys, or only one parent goes in with them, they always ask after the other kids or parent. This is really impressive given that we are only there every 6 or 8 weeks. They really make us feel welcome and in a cafe today, that is a rarity. I appreciate that my small boys are memorable, but the staff here really seem to make an effort to remember and welcome their regular customers. Combined with the prompt service and well-cooked food, this makes Parkside a cut above your normal suburban cafe. Now if I can just get them to mark gluten-free options on their menu, all will be good!