There were coloured pens on the table but no colouring sheets . When I dug in my bag for a colouring book the waiter stopped me. ‘Here you can colour on the tablecloth,’ he said. ‘Grown ups, too, we like to encourage the creative spirit.’
After days of eating bread and ham from the supermarket it was good to go out and eat a hot meal (the main downside of living out of hotels is not being able to cook). And La Cucina del Garga, with its child-friendly relaxed attitude was just the sort of place we were looking for to accommodate our boisterous toddlers.
The restaurant is tucked away down a narrow, nondescript street just metres from the grand central market and is a bright and colourful place with other visitor’s tablecloth art adorning the walls and forming the lamp shades. The menu is simple – just two sides of A4 and consists of a good selection of interesting appetisers, pasta and main courses.
With the children in mind we opted for some creamy polenta with crispy kale, a sausage and sage pasta and chicken breast with avocado and truffle salt. The portions were good, shareable sizes – and the restaurant was happy for us to do so, providing extra plates when necessary. The flavours were stimulating enough to please the grownups, while familiar enough to please the kids. The welcome glass of prosecco made it easier to deal with the children’s demands – and the fact the kids had had a two-hour siesta made the whole evening possible.
Italians eat late by british standards. When we arrived just before 8pm the place was empty, but when we left at 9.30pm it was packed. Many restaurants do not open lunch time, or serve a dramatically different menu. We manage by putting both children to bed for a couple of hours at 1.30 pm (on days when we are not moving hotels) and then letting them stay up til 10pm or later. The problem is that it never seems to give us the lie in it promises and instead we end up with very grouchy children the next day!