I don’t know about you, but ever since the birth of our son, eating out has more often than not felt like a race against the clock. Our little lad has just turned 3 and things are getting (slightly) better, but nevertheless, my husband and I often spend our time in restaurants hurriedly knocking back scalding hot drinks and inhaling whole plates of food. This is of course all whilst rummaging in our bags for stickers, crayons, an iPad, a hair clip, anything (!) that will delay our son’s inevitable cutlery drum solo and attempted pole-vault across the table until after we’ve asked for the bill. Hardly relaxing. Therefore, the thought of going for brunch in midlevels at Rosie Jean’s – which bills itself as being a ‘family-orientated’ cafe – sounded like a huge treat.
And rather pleasingly, it really was. As soon as we slid open the door and stepped into the vintage, cute interior, our son instantly ‘got’ that this was not just somewhere where he would need to be seen and not heard, but somewhere he belonged. In fact, embracing childhood seems to be what Rosie Jean’s is all about. From the doll’s house, spinning tops and Legos in the corner, to the lemons riding on their own big wheel display, right down to the ‘tuck-shop’ sweets on the shelf and the framed children’s puffin story books on the walls – this place not only makes children feel at home, but also captures something of the nostalgic essence of childhood from a bygone age (particularly, if like me, you happened to be brought up in Britain in the 1970s/80s).
And so, as my son set about exploring the little treasure trove of toys and books, we strategically decided to take a table on the terrace, under the shade of a large umbrella, thus affording us a view of both the indoor and outdoor play areas. We then took a shockingly leisurely look at the menu before heading over to the counter to place our order.
During the short wait for our buzzer to beep so we could collect our food, our son was totally spoilt for choice in terms of entertainment. Not only were there more toys and a miniature wooden kitchen on the terrace, but as we were there on the weekend, he also had the Woodland School playground next door at his disposal with an array of small climbing frames and slides, trikes and balls – all for the modest extra sum of $20 in the honesty box.
We were a little concerned that today our main struggle would be getting our son to come back and join us for our meal with so many other distractions to hand. However, once he caught sight of his frothy, milk “fluffy” covered in sprinkles in a gorgeous, little blue cup (to match his Daddy’s cappuccino), he was back at the table in a shot. The fluffy was happily slurped down, as was my husband’s cappuccino – which although really looked the business, wasn’t quite rich and creamy enough to be truly outstanding. It was, nonetheless, respectable. The real star of our drinks, however, turned out to be my Refresher juice, made from apples, pears, cucumber, baby spinach, broccoli and lime. The texture was good and the flavour hit the right balance between the sweetness of the fruits, the earthiness of the veg and the tang of the lime. Even better was the fact that my little lad insisted on polishing it off (and then requested more) – trying to get him in the same room as a green vegetable, let alone consume one, is a massive achievement.
The food menu at Rosie Jean’s mainly consists of the traditional British café fare of cooked breakfasts, soups, sandwiches, pies and cakes, and a small selection of pizzas too. This might suggest that the food is on the slightly stodgy side – but in fact my husband’s choice of the salmon, spicy avocado and cucumber open sandwich served on a good wholemeal sourdough bread, was simple, fresh and healthy. Our only slight complaint was that, for our tastes, the avocado could have done with more of a kick. It had to be said that my pancakes with blueberries and honey were a little less virtuous, but were yummy all the same and met with both me and my son’s approval!
As our son was somewhere between breakfast and lunch (alas not being quite sophisticated enough yet to grasp the concept of brunch), we decided against ordering a main meal from the lovely little children’s menu, but instead let him scavenge from our plates whilst also nibbling on his own mini-cupcake. His cake was moist and chocolatey (you understand, of course, I had to taste it purely for research purposes!) and it was soon gobbled down, before he decided he’d had enough of sitting still and went off to play…
And so for a rare twenty minutes or so, my husband and I were able to kick-back, have a chat and enjoy a generous slice of carrot cake, without a sticker book or an episode of Peppa Pig in sight. Bliss.
Super child-friendly! The staff are warm and welcoming, helping out mums struggling with strollers and providing bowls of hot water to warm bottles of milk. The food menu certainly isn’t extensive or ground-breaking, but offers simple, classic choices which make it a fuss-free place to dine with kids.
Oh and perhaps this is a little too much detail, but the toilet is a delight (I seriously had to stop myself from taking a picture)! There is a big person and little person’s toilet side by side, which is truly brilliant if you happen to have a toilet training toddler, and of course, there is a changing table too.
This isn’t the place for you if you’re looking for contemplative silence. Along with the general noise of children (those little rascals) whilst sitting on the terrace, you can’t escape the fact that you are a stone’s throw from Central, with all the traffic and building noise that that entails.
Yes, of course – lots! Plus mini picnic benches.
Yes, featuring healthy options such as vegetable sticks and hummus and yoghurt with fruit, as well as favourites such as gingerbread men and cookies on a stick.
Competitively priced compared to most large coffee chains in Hong Kong – and given all the extra child-friendly stuff here, I’d say it was pretty good value.
Rosie Jean’s is open from 7.30am – 6pm daily, with the next-door school playground accessible after 4.45pm weekdays and all day on the weekends.
Rosie Jean’s Cafe, 119 Caine Road, Mid-Levels, Central, Hong Kong, 2549 9718; www.rosiejeanscafe.com