The Little Leaf and Bean, Blackwood

date of visit: Friday 11 May 2012

I’ve been to The Little Leaf and Bean (LLB) once before when, if I recall correctly, I had a coffee and a very good slice of a chocolate and vanilla cream cake. I also knew it was child friendly, so when it came to organising a play date (I never know if these are for the parents or the children …) it was an obvious choice.

The play date was set for 9am which was a brilliant idea until I turned up and realised I hadn’t had breakfast. LLB does all day breakfasts – I opted for the house made muesli which was supposed to come with vanilla yoghurt. I don’t like flavoured yoghurts so I asked if they had plain – unfortunately not, so it was just milk for me. The muesli came with the milk on the side, as well as a decoratively cut kiwi fruit. It cost $7.95 and, while it wasn’t a massive portion, it was big enough for my breakfast and it was really good muesli. Big brownie points for not making it too sweet.

The babies enjoyed fruit toast and baby cinos and, after a little walk, we came back and had cake (an orange-almond affair) and more coffees.

LLB has a (free) wireless hotspot and a good sized outdoor seating area. Inside it’s very cosy – some reasonably tightly packed tables and chairs and a couple of sofas tucked in a corner. All in all, a lot more friendly and welcoming than Artisan!

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Artisan Cafe, Blackwood

photo by emmapink

A relatively early morning coffee (and cake, of course) at the Artisan Café in Blackwood. I’d suggested it as an alternative to another Blackwood café, mainly because I like to try new places (er, yes, I’m a bit obsessed with that) and it seems to be quite well loved on Urban Spoon.

The café is a lovely spacious area, and there are plenty of outside tables. The chairs are even upholstered. How civilised. There was a high chair in place (we were three adults and three one year olds) and baby no 1 was part way through demolishing a croissant. It all augured so well.

Coffees and cakes ordered, it was then that the first mother to arrive commented on how unwelcoming the menu had been. And there, on I guess what might be called the menu’s frontispiece, was indeed a full page screed outlining the circumstances under which children and their parents or carers may be asked to leave the café.

Now let’s get this straight: this is a café. It’s not a fine dining establishment – it’s a café, where people go for coffee, cake and a chat.

One of these circumstances is an infant being ‘inconsolable’. Now, I’m not sure how many parents out there actually enjoy being out with an inconsolable child. Certainly not me. If my baby gets upset, or even a little tired or grizzly, I’m incredibly conscious of the fact that he might be disturbing others and there have been plenty of occasions where I’ve taken him for a walk around the block or rushed out to stock up on bananas to feed him. There was even one meal out, when he was very young, where Andy and I ate in shifts while the other walked him around the block and we left as soon as possible.

Of course, we all know that there are parents out there who would let their little treasures run amok, screaming and throwing food, and most people would consider that unacceptable. In those circumstances, I have no problems with staff asking those people and their children to leave. However, all that Artisan’s little list of rules did was make three paying customers feel uncomfortable and on edge every time one of their children made the tiniest peep.

Coffee and food wise: I ordered a cafe latte, a slice of panforte and a piece of Turkish delight. That little selection cost $7.10, which I thought was very reasonable – especially as it was all good and very prettily presented. The staff were friendly and efficient.

Such a shame about the attitude towards children.  It’s interesting to note that Artisan’s management feels no need to prescribe behaviour for adults – so if you want to go along, have a coffee and talk loudly down your phone, please feel free to do so.

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