It’s cold outside, time for a curry

What more can you want on a cold wintery evening than a first-class curry. Discover award-winning Punjabi cuisine in a hidden part of London. Shhh don’t tell everyone!

www.foodandflavour.co.uk/2017/01/31/curry-with-character

Photos by Steven Joyce
Gails, Exmouth Market

A parents guide to Top Ten coffee shops, EC1

Top Ten Coffee shops for mums and babies in EC1, Islington, London

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A guide to the best coffee shops in EC1, we’ve checked out all the important things that help make meeting friends and babies so much easier and fun; baby change facilities, highchairs, decaf coffee, cakes, and babycinos, of which my 2 1/2 year old daughter is a mean critic.

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Ground Control, Amwell Street

Some of the best coffee in the neighbourhood, they take their coffee very, very seriously. Small inside so no room for buggies but the outside area has a couple of tables, space for prams, and railings to contain little ones in the summer.  Some very delicious home made cakes and croissants are hard to resist on the counter. If you’re breastfeeding or pregnant and off caffeine, this is one of the best decaf coffees in town. Water served with coffee.
Toilet but no baby changing, no highchairs.
Free babycinos, thoughtfully served at a lower temperature.

Gails, Exmouth Market

TGails, Exmouth Markethis place is almost the perfect place for mums and children. The coffee is always great here and there is a delicious variety of cakes, bread, sandwiches and croissants. Their cherry chocolate scones are possibly the best thing I’ve ever tasted. Help yourself to water. There is a little bit of space for prams, a fabulous long bench, some low chairs (although on wheels which is difficult for little ones) but once you’ve made camp, it can be a great place to spend some time and have a good natter. The downsides are, it can get crowded (especially after Harriettes sing-along kick out) and the surrounding cool customers don’t always appreciate little ones being… little ones. Great decaf coffee.
Babycinos 50p
Excellent baby changing facilities

Cafe Nero, Exmouth Market

Cafe Nero, Exmouth MarketYou can always get a table here but if you can get the sofas here then you’re in a good place. I’m not a fan of the coffee here but good herbal teas, soft drinks, frappacinos, sandwiches, cakes and most importantly the babycinos are free. Space for a few buggies and help yourself to water. The door is quite often left open so not great if you’ve got a young toddler who loves exploring.
Good baby changing facilities
Babycinos FREE

Eshk, Goswell Street

Lots of fabulous sofas in this very cool, independent Clerkenwell coffee house. But as such it is always busy so good luck getting a sofa seat as they are in great demand by the laptop coffee guzzlers. I like this place because its buzzy, good music so you don’t feel like you’re disturbing the peace. Great sandwiches and cakes on offer too. Help yourself to water.
No baby changing. Babycinos 50p

Look Mum No Hands, City Road

I can always find an excuse to pop in here this cool London establishment for a coffee. I don’t know why I love this place but it grabbed my attention from the day it opened. The service is always slow, there is no space for buggies, it’s always busy. But there is a delicious, healthy menu, great coffee, free magazines, water available. Designed for bike couriers I don’t think i’ve ever seen a courier in the place but its got some great cycle paraphernalia around and a cool hip crowd, inevitably tapping away on their laptops. Oh to have nothing to do all day!
Quirky baby changing facilities but incredibly they do have them

Emporium Cafe, Upper street, Highbury and Islington end

Emporium, Upper StreetOk, so strictly speaking this one is in N1, but it is a brilliant place to meet up with other mums. Spacious, so room for buggies, lots of tables and chairs. Whilst the coffee isn’t memorable they offer hot food, served quickly and easy to eat which is a bonus when you have to grab mouthfuls between breastfeeding, changing nappies, or chasing down a toddler.
Baby changing facilities, slightly on the small side
Highchairs available

Pret, St John Street

Pret, St John StreetThere are so many Prets that you probably know their menu already. The one near Angel is relatively less busy than the others so there are often good booth seats and plenty of space for buggies. And you can’t go wrong with their chocolate covered rice cakes and popcorn for lower calorie snacks. Service is really friendly for a chain and babycino refills served with a smile.
Babycinos: FREE
Highchairs
Great baby changing facilities in large disabled toilet.

Fix, Whitecross Street

Very cool, fabulous sofas, but it’s hard work competing with the laptop loungers to get a seat in this place. A nice independent serving good coffee so worth going if you can go when it’s not so busy.
No baby changing

Costa, Barbican

The counter is in the barbican foyer so this one is a great place for big groups to meet, with buggies as there is masses of space, lots of seats, and a child friendly crowd who don’t seem too bothered by littles ones making noise. Lots of space for toddlers to run and roam inside on rainy days, nice outside area, although a little scary with the water having no railings if you have a todder. There are two disabled toilets on the ground floor and one in the Barbican cafe has baby changing facilities.

Sweet, Exmouth Market

The most amazing hot and cold food, great coffee and free babycinos makes this place a winner. The downside is the seating inside isn’t family friendly with high tables and tall stools. Also, cakes in the window are displayed with easy acess for little people and at little people height. So my tip is not to order anything from the bottom shelf that might have had sticky toddler fingers on! Great if you can get a table outside in the summer or don’t mind a bit of fresh air and keeping a close eye on little ones near the road.
Babycinos: FREE

Save it for date night!
Caravan

This is on the list in case you’re tempted to try it. I have done, a couple of times but all it really does is make me yearn for the child free responsibility free days of my 20s. A mecca for all things cool but probably the most un-friendly place for kids in town. No space for buggies. My advice – save it for date night or go to the Kings Cross one!
No baby changing
Babycinos a whopping £1.50