First published on 20 Aug 2010. Updated on 11 Aug 2011.
Run around free
Red Star Kids running past carts filled with dumplings and chicken feet, popping their heads up from underneath the white tablecloths, and even trying to make their way onto the stage: none of this is unlikely to turn waiters’ heads in this long-standing dim sum establishment. After over 30 years’ experience dodging the little ones, it will take more than a few hyperactive tots to shock these guys. Added bonus: the bathroom is set up with baby-changing tables.
Rochester Park Cafe Bio-coolers and fans set the temperature and the lush surroundings set the mood at this outdoor café. But it’s The Playhouse that will set the pace. Mum and Dad can sit back and chillax while the kids run wild in the two-storey bungalow of marvellous mayhem. The first floor is set up for the under-seven crowd with a play kitchen and slide into a pool of balls; the bigger kids (under 12s) get promoted to upstairs, with its PlayStation and Wii ready to go.
The Tanglin Tree The soupe du jour can be preceded by a climb up to the second floor of the brightly coloured playhouse and the ice-cream sundae, followed by some make-believe in the sandpit. The Australian fare is available for all; however the organic beers are reserved for adults only. No age limit; adult supervision is required.
Learn a little something
Guan Hoe Soon Guan Hoe Soon is the oldest Peranakan restaurant in Singapore, dishing out the local goodness since 1954. In addition to what could arguably be deemed as the city’s best babi panggang – and one of the few places to serve this pork dish on the island – there is also something to be said for the restaurant’s educational value. Bring the kids over to the old-fashioned chest showcasing Peranakan antiques, with items like traditional bowls and spoons on display.
Hard Rock The kids’ menu at this going-on-40 café offers more than just a selection of smaller world-famous burgers. The paper menu is covered in save-the-planet activities to keep them busy – colouring in the globe, mazes that lead to rainforests and recycling pop quizzes. A balloon, a Hard Rock button and crayons are included. The best part? Hard Rock donates $0.50 to The Garden City Fund for each menu that the kids’ have filled in. Parents can sit back and soak in tunes to relive their carefree adolescence – while feeling proud their offspring is making a difference. For ages 12 and under.
Poison Ivy Bistro Stroll down the butterfly trail or visit the monitor lizards hiding away in the Bollywood Veggies’ wild sanctuary, but before any of this, make sure everyone eats their greens. All Halal-certified, the dishes include home-made banana bread and papaya salad topped with flowers – all picked fresh from the farm.
Basilico Wrap up the weekend with an Italian spread filled with antipasti, gourmet pizzas and top-grade meat carvings laid out for the entire family. Homemade gelato – flavours include passionfruit, pistachio and fig – adds a perfect final touch. Best part? Some peace and quiet. Espresso in hand, enjoy the peace while the little ones jump around in Kids’ Corner, bouncy castle included (pictured above). Level 2, The Regent Singapore, One Cuscaden Rd (6725 3232). $29++ per child. For ages 4-12.
FREE Brussels Sprouts In this Belgian bistro, Mum and Dad can pick from over 20 varieties of mussels cooked up in the classic vin blanc (white wine, butter and onion) or poulette (mushrooms, cream and chicken stock) styles, or go for a local twist with a chilli padi, coriander, curry and lime sauce. With kids under 10 eating free at weekends (Fri, Sat & Sun, noon-3pm), you’ll have enough loot left to choose one of their 120 bubbly beers. But careful now, the sugar rush created from their free-flow soft drinks may eliminate any nap time.
Gordon Grill A fine-dining restaurant known for its refined elegance and classy dishes – think Wagyu beef and Hokkaido scallops – doesn’t exactly scream kid-friendly but it’s never too early to begin nurturing a gifted gourmet. The three-course lunch ($38++) and six-course dinner ($60++) menus for kids are scaled down, but in no way dumbed down. Choices like marinated king crab with avocado purée and gazpacho sherbet, and a chocolate hazelnut tart with orange ice cream, are sure to mature those taste buds. For ages 7-11.