Eating out as a family is something we actually do more often now the children are older, they can choose what they want from the menu and most of the time I know they will eat it, and they have a little more patience waiting for their food to arrive.
Recently we were invited to The Dog & Partridge in North Stifford, Essex to try out their family menu. This isn’t somewhere we have been to eat before, I knew the area as have a friend who lives nearby and it’s not too far away from Lakeside Shopping Centre.
It was in a very easy to find location, just off the off of the A13 and through a tiny and quaint village. There is a large car park area and a beer garden with children’s play area to the back. Straight away the kids wanted to play but we managed to coax them inside to choose their meals first.
Very pleasantly we were presented with a lovely extensive menu for both us adults and the children, with children meal deals costing only £4.99 which consisted of a main meal, dessert and a drink. Children’s main means came with a main dish, side dish and a vegetable choice which they could pick and mix from meaning the kids really could tailor their meals to their tastes.
After telling us what they wanted to eat the kids were desperate to head to the play area so we watched them from the window, and took this opportunity to order us adults a starter each thinking the kids wouldn’t notice as would still be outside. I would have felt a little easier letting the kids play outside had the play area been fenced off from the car park – it was set back well away from the cars and there were tables in the way so there was no way cars could have driven to the playground area however, having it fenced in would have settled my nerves. Of course Emmy and Harry are older so wouldn’t venture into the carpark, but younger children could do.
Like a homing beacon Harry has a nose for food and seemed to time it perfectly that he came back in as my Garlic Prawns arrived, these were served on a bed of garlic bread and were delicious, he happily helped me to finish them off (prawns are one of his favourite foods). Paul chose Grilled Lamb Kofta Kebabs which were served with naan bread, fresh tomato & red onion salsa and a cooling minted sour cream dip.
For our main courses, Emmy actually choosing from the adults menu as she really wanted a Jacket Potato with cheese and Beans, this also can with a salad costing only £3.69 which is almost half of the price it costs in cafes and pubs in our home town. Harry went with fish fingers, a jacket boat and corn on the cob.
Paul went with his default when in pubs of a classic burger with cheese and chips, no salad or extras – this is what he always orders when we eat out. I was excited to try out the Messy Mexican Chicken as it sounded rather interesting and tasty – it really was! A grilled chicken fillet smothered with chilli con carne, crushed tortilla, grated Cheddar cheese, guacamole, sour cream and jalapeños. Served with fajita spiced corn. It was so tasty in-fact I ended up sharing with the kids as they wanted to try it out, they aren’t usually fans of Mexican food but by mixing the rice into the chilli they helped me to clean the plate – not that I needed any help as I could have easily eaten it all.
Paul declared his burger delicious and the kids cleared their plates.
To entertain the children I had packed their tablets, not something I like to do but as we hadn’t been here before you never know how long service will be and it was a back-up in case needed to distract at any point. They didn’t leave my bag, instead we all played noughts and crosses on the paper the waitress provided, and when that ran out I asked if it would be OK to have a little more paper, going above and beyond they went to the office and printed off some colouring sheets for the kids which was a lovely thing to do and very much appreciated.
The staff from the waitress who showed us to our table, to the bar staff and were lovely and made a huge fuss of the children, and before you think this is because I was there to review the menu/pub it wasn’t because I never make that known until the end of our meals so it doesn’t sway our experience.
I also packed the children’s school reading books and a few stories into my bag, we had homework to do and it was a great chance while sitting down to do it, they didn’t want to read their books however Emmy and I took it in turns to read a story together, a few pages each which Harry was enjoying listening to. It was so nice to sit down together, without the usual distractions of home to do this together, and I almost burst with pride with the family sitting at the table next to us left, the Grandma came over especially to tell me how well behaved our children were and that they were a real joy to listen to. She then said she’d made her family stay longer as she was desperate to hear what happened next in our story and didn’t want it to end. Now if you know my children you’ll know this would have made me cry with tears of joy, and it did later on as they are in general loud and don’t sit still often.
For dessert the children had a decorate your own ice-cream which is a bowl of vanilla ice-cream, a mini packet of chocolate buttons, a pot of chocolate drops, mini marshmallows and a small tub of chocolate sauce – they had a great time making faces and creations to eat, smiling and giggling the whole time. I even had a dessert which I usually don’t do – profiteroles with ice-cream and cream and I also had 2 glasses of wine with my meal, the children had a drink and Paul had 2 bottles of coke.
Our whole bill for 2 starters, 4 mains, 3 desserts and 6 drinks, 2 of which were wine came in at under £50! It was £47.80 which is really reasonable, I’d go as far as saying cheap for a family of 4 dining out.
The whole meal was delicious and the staff so lovely that we are already planning our next trip. The Dog & Partridge is only a 5 minute drive from Lakeside Shopping Centre so would be a lovely place to shop after a shopping trip.
Disclaimer: We were provided with a family meal in return for an honest review, as always all thoughts and opinions are our own.