Guest Review by Local Mumbler, Tanya
It was a sunny Friday morning when we visited Willow Farm Cafe in York, the perfect weather to take advantage of the free outdoor play area. We arrived at 9.30 am and had our pick of the tables.
There is plenty of space to sit inside with room for pushchairs, highchairs etc, and a craft table to keep the kids entertained, handy for rainy weather.
There is also a covered outdoor seating area next to the under-fives play area, which is gated, so perfect to relax with a coffee and cake while the little ones play safely. My 3 year old loved playing on the small slide and in the ball pit. While my 9 month old enjoyed a fab selection of toys.
While the kids were occupied I browsed the breakfast menu. There is the usual type of breakfast items including a veggie breakfast, all reasonably priced and a children’s option for £3.75.
As well as lunch, snacks and cakes, Willow farm also do an afternoon tea, at the bargain price of £10 per person, presented on a mini picnic bench which looks super cute.
The Children’s menu has something to suit every little one.
After my relaxing cuppa, we headed outside. There’s some great equipment such as a big slide and swing for the older ones, ride ons for the little ones, a sandpit and best of all a bouncy castle – great fun. Once my oldest had worn himself out we left with a visit to the goats.
We easily spent a couple of hours at Willow Farm cafe, had lots of fun without breaking the bank. Plus the staff are so friendly and accommodating. It’s definitely worth a visit.
Willow Farm Cafe is situated on Wigginton Road and can also be reached by public transport. The number 40 bus stops nearby.
Willow Farm Cafe is currently open 7 days a week 9 am – 4 pm.
There is more information about Willow Farm Cafe here.
For more Mumbler reviews of things to do in and around York visit the Mumbler Review section here.
The Building & interior
As soon as you approach The Principal, its splendour is evident, and it doesn’t let you down inside. The surroundings are just beautiful and it really added to creating an extra special experience. There’s sofas and comfy seating to choose from, so the grandness doesn’t come as a sacrifice for comfort.
The staff were smart and attentive. Our waitress took note of our dietary requirements and altered the menu accordingly. She explained all the food, was friendly and informative and available if needed (that perfect balance of helpful but not intrusive, so we could enjoy our time). It turned out our waitress was unaware we were reviewing the afternoon tea, which I love as it removes any false niceties, but put simply, she couldn’t have done anything better.
The Starter (yes that’s right, this really was no ordinary afternoon tea) arrived in cute little teacups! Ours was substituted with a little salad (to suit us), but would ordinarily contain: White onion velouté (a tasty onion soup), Severn and Wye smoked salmon, parsley, lavish crisps and a Yorkshire Blue and chive tart.
It quickly became evident this was not the sort of afternoon tea even a competent person could knock up at home, this contained top chef prepared delights and was truly decadent.
The afternoon tea contained: Free-range egg mayonnaise and watercress sandwiches, Yorkshire ham and chutney sandwiches (alternatives were given for vegetarians). A trio of mini scones: plain, fruit, cherry and almond with raspberry jam and clotted cream. Deserts included: A chocolate and pistachio tart, vanilla panna cotta, a mint chocolate macaron, a lemon meringue éclair, apricot cheesecake and carrot cake. Apologies to anyone sticking to their New Year diet, but the cherry and almond scones were hands down the best scones I’ve ever tasted and each desert was, well, just amazing! I’m writing this desperately craving more!
A children’s afternoon tea is available (yes, we ditched the little ones and indulged and I have no regrets). However, a mummy daughter treat will definitely be planned (both of us getting dressed up so she feels all grown up and special!) The children’s afternoon tea menu (designed by local children) is available to view HERE along with the full afternoon tea menu.
So, if you haven’t guessed by this point WE LOVED IT! We would definitely recommend for a variety of occasions: a child free treat (like we had), a special mummy daughter (or daddy daughter/son experience), valentines date, mother day treat, an excuse to meet those friends you haven’t seen for a while (basically, think of any reason you can to get yourself there – you won’t regret it). They also cater for larger groups so perfect for a baby shower, or hen do type events. Someone was on a nearby table planning their wedding food and I know that will be just magical.
So, lets be honest, if you looked around, you could find a cheaper afternoon tea. This is far from an ordinary afternoon tea. The price included starters, a substantial afternoon tea (which will likely result in a doggy bag aswell) champagne (if chosen) and tea/coffee. Every part of the experience was superior to any afternoon tea I have had before, from the surroundings to the staff to the exquisite deserts. I WILL be returning as a fully paying customer with my little girl, as a special mummy daughter treat!
Here’s The Principal Hotel’s WEBSITE for all the information you need.
The Principal is situated right next to York Train station: Station Road, York, YO24 1AA
T: 01904 653681
N.B. Afternoon tea was kindly provided complementary (I know, tough job but someone’s got to do it!) However, no amount of cakes would ever be enough for us to write a dishonest review, therefore reviews contain our honest views and opinions and always will.
Photos are a mixture of ones from The Principal website and ones we took whilst on our visit.
Big Girl Days…
Like many of your children, my Eldest daughter, Edith, is starting school in 2 weeks. I have really mixed emotions about it all. On the one hand it’s my baby! Where did the last 4 1/2 years go, she’s so grown up! All the cliches are true people… cherish every moment.
But on the other hand… she’s SOOOO ready. She’s an October baby so will be one of the oldest in her year. Although her nursery, in my opinion, is second to none… I must admit that she’s own-grown the place now. She’s asking me more and more about how to write, read and all of the more academic things. I have never pushed this at all.. personally believing that they all develop at their own stage and let them lead on it… well she is well and truly ready now!
However, in order to prepare myself and make the most of it before my baby goes off into the big wide world all alone (dramatic… me?? I’ve told her she’ll always be my baby and, for now, she’s going with it!) I wanted to put in some time to have special ‘Big Girl’ days together.
So I had 5 days over the month of August planned to be just us 2… the miniest one is still in nursery so Edie we can enjoy each other’s company uninterrupted. Or so we thought….
A chance for a treat…
When The Rise at the Grand Hotel invited us to try out their new restaurant and claimed it was really child friendly I jumped at the chance… it would make the perfect destination for our first ‘Big Girls’ day out. What a treat!
The idea was to have a whole day out together… visiting lots of the fantastic family friendly places that York has to offer (luckily I know where to go to for ideas) with the lunch at The Rise in the middle… but my little one, Meggy, had other plans. The day before our first ‘Big Girls Day’ we got the dreaded call from nursery to say that Miniest Mumbler Meg had been sick.. which of course meant that she had to be off nursery for 48 hours! The poor little mite was really feeling sorry for herself so big cuddles were in order. Edith was pretty understanding really, given that I had been building up our ‘big girl days’ to the extreme! (Must remember… never reveal anything in advance!! Parenting basics!)
We got Edie dressed up for the occasion – in a pretty dress of her choice. She felt so special & grown up! I told her that we were going to a really lovely place and off we went.
We were able to park at the NCP just behind The Grand Hotel and even this part was exciting to her… and me! I forget how easy it is to park up and get into town without a push chair and toddler in tow.
On the walk to The Grand I was explaining to Edith that this was the very best hotel in York. We were greeted by a very friendly doorman there who let Edie try on his hat and took a photo.. she was in her element! There were smiles and kind faces all the way to the restaurant… so far so good!
On being seated at our table, Edie was presented with a colouring activity book and pencils. Now you’ll know if you eat out with kids that these are available (indeed essential) in all family friendly restaurants… however I have to say that this one was one of the best I’ve ever seen. It had a really great mix of colouring, puzzles and activities and suited all different age ranges as there were lots of more challenging puzzles to keep the older ones amused too.
We each got a menu and ordered our drinks. Edie chose sparkling water (then asked what it was, once the waiter had left… to which I replied ‘fizzy water’ and I could tell she was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t some sort of unicorn glittery liquid! Still she enjoyed it!)
The kids menu was the perfect balance of tasty and different yet still safe…. Edie chose The Rise Mac and Cheese (which apparently was better than mums… I’ll try not to be offended!) I had the choice of a few smaller dishes or the Market Place Menu… I’ve never been able to choose 1 thing from menus… I’m easily tempted… so went for 3 smaller dishes. And wow I’m glad I did… I went for:
FRIED DUCK EGG, WILD MUSHROOMS, SPINACH AND TRUFFLE DRESSING
DRESSED WHITBY CRAB, APPLE PICKLED CUCUMBER AND WHITE BALSAMIC
MARINATED ARTICHOKE, SUN BLUSHED TOMATOES AND YORKSHIRE FETTLE SALAD
Oh my goodness it was all absolutely DELICIOUS! Seriously one of the best meals I’ve enjoyed in York. The dishes were small but perfectly formed and full of flavour. It was so nice to be able to eat out in a place, with my Mini Mumbler, and still enjoy a really high quality meal… empty plates all round at the end!
You can see the full menu HERE
The prices for the small dishes were mainly between £5-£10.. with plenty of choice around the £6-£8 mark. And here is the best bit… for the Month of August, KIDS EAT FREE!
Before desert we had to take a break… because Edith couldn’t wait any longer for the challenge we had read in her activity book…. we had to find the BEE hidden in the hotel. We had a clue and it took a while (and I’ll admit… we had to ask for help!) but we found it. I won’t spoil it for you.. go search for yourself.
I was so pleasantly surprised at how friendly ALL of the staff were – especially towards Edith as she was hurtling through the hotel and up the stairs to find the bee (Stairs like the Queen’s according to her!) of course she had to go ALL THE WAY to the top… 5 floors… she had such an adventure hunting for this bee!
After that we well and truly earned the pudding (5 floors easily cancels out Churros and Chocolate right?)
We really did have such a special lunch out – the perfect big girls time together and a treat before Edith starts school. I’d highly recommend this to any parent wanting to make some lovely memories with their children before school starts and actually having a really nice time and delicious food yourself too!
Children Eat Free at The Rise Restaurant, Terrace and Bar
One child per one paying adult dines free throughout August. Three small plates or one larger plate to be ordered by an adult to allow for one child free meal. Subject to availability. A child is classed as 12 years or under.
See WEBSITE for all the details.
We were invited along to Piccolino to try the lunchtime menu last week. We were having a rare child free day – we try to get a ‘Date Day’ in once a month if we can – so off we went, very much looking forward to the prospect of eating a full meal, uninterrupted and relaxed!
I had been to Piccolino before but not for about 8 years – before the children were on the scene and we used to take for granted how easy it was to eat out when we wanted (budget permitting of course!)
It is interesting how I look at everything now through different eyes – although we were on a ‘grown up’ day, I also wanted to check it out for if/how suitable it would be to come back with our Mini Mumblers… and of course to review it for all of you. I was looking for how much space there was for buggies – whether the staff seemed friendly enough to welcome little ones and the availability of high chairs / nappy changing facilities etc. and I have to say we were very happy on all fronts here! I wouldn’t previously have considered it when thinking of eating out with my girls but having seen it again, there is really no reason why not and we’ll certainly be going back with the whole family.
They had a great ‘Bambini’ menu with a lovely selection of choices. Much more interesting than the standard fish fingers or Cheese Sandwiches that are on offer in so many places – but would have been big hits with our girls…. you can’t go wrong with a good Pizza or Pasta! But there were also options like calamari and risotto on this menu so it wasn’t too standard if your little ones want to try something new.
The adult menu all sounded delicious and, as always, I found it difficult to choose so we agreed to share (i.e. double up for the taste buds!) We got a starter to share, a main each and a dessert to share (more about that in a moment…. OMG I’m still dreaming about it!)
The food was so delicious and we felt it was really great value – £17 for 2 courses or £22 for 3. It felt like it was more than worth paying this for the quality of food we got on the day.
Some other things worth mentioning is that they have a private dining room which is often hired out for private parties, including Baby Showers. It is right on the river so a lovely view of the bridge and your own space to party.
So that dessert… I went for a tiramisu and it was to die for…. wow! I highly recommend you give this place a visit if only to sample this!
Whether it’s for a date with your other half, or for a meal with the whole family, I’d highly recommend Piccolino as a Mumbler Friendly place to eat in York.
Picollino is situated on 18 Bridge St, York, YO1 6DA
T: 01904 521 155