The eldest was pleased with her lemonade and strawberry Bellini to match my sparkling wine and blackberry one, and we agreed that Bellinis are a Good Thing. We started our meal with some of the yummy salads, cous cous, meat, fish and cheese from the central wooden table, followed by a waffle and a pancake cooked in front of us by a multi-tasking chef at the marble-topped cooking station. Lucia, our charming waitress, then brought us three hot dishes to share. The fish casserole and vegetable tagine with cous cous were excellent – I can’t vouch for the organic chicken dish as I don’t eat meat, but I’m sure it was as delicious as everything else I tasted.
The eldest then joined in with sisters Kristina and Teodora Petrovic for the kids’ cooking session – the theme this week was eggs. Kindly pastry chef Mark Cutamora talked about eggs and then gave each of the girls a chocolate one to decorate with sweets. He deftly demonstrated how to stick sweets onto the eggs using melted chocolate as the glue, applied with the fingers. The girls all decorated their eggs very carefully and each received a Cookbook Cafe box to take their creation home, together with the chef’s hats they’d worn. I’m not sure how this would work with very young children, especially if they were too young to take part. The sessions are aimed at children aged 5 – 8.
The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly. Lucia found a candle and a piece of cake for the Petrovic sisters to carry to their family table for their Dad’s birthday, and she told me that sometimes children help the staff mix and serve the Bellinis. We couldn’t leave without tasting some of the tiny, tempting puddings on offer. My favourite was an airy raspberry brûlée served in an espresso cup, while the eldest loved the flour-less chocolate cake, which she said was like a gooey chocolate brownie.
All in all I’d say that being plied with delicious food and drink by thoughtful staff is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon with your children and I highly recommend it. All the better if there’s some chocolate decorating thrown in. I don’t think we’ll get away with leaving the boys at home next time though.
The family travel lowdown: The Cookbook Cafe is at London’s InterContinental Park Lane hotel and has been awarded three stars by the UK Sustainable Restaurant Association for its locally sourced menu. We were guests of the Cafe and our brunch was free of charge but it costs £49 per person, £25 for under 17s, £15 for under 12’s and is free for under 6’s. This price includes unlimited Crémant sparkling wine, Bellinis, soft drinks, tea and coffee. The Kids Cook sessions runs twice a month during Saturday brunch, cost £10 per child and should be booked in advance.