Freddie (4) and I had gone on an expedition to Kingston in search of a hippopotamus. Despite being set on the Thames and therefore near water, it was of course highly unlikely – if not impossible – that we would encounter a live member of the species there. But Freddie, who is gradually making a large collection of both farm and safari animals, was entranced by the BBC TV’s programme, the Natural World, on ‘Hippos: Africa’s River Giants’, narrated by David Attenborough, a few days ago. ‘We need to go to Bentalls to buy a hippo,’ he told me. For there is a good selection of Schleich little model animals there. And Freddie’s safari collection doesn’t yet contain a hippo.
It seemed a nice idea now we’re in school holiday time to make an outing of it and it’s always a delight to have some one-to-one time with my little grandson. I promised him a pizza lunch. For years there’s been a Rossopomodoro outlet in John Lewis and I’d heard their Neopolitan pizzas are good.
We went first in search of the hippo, didn’t find one and settled – after considerable deliberation – on a crocodile. It was a little too early for lunch after this so I suggested we went down to the riverside to see ducks, swans and boats. We did indeed see all these – Freddie was particularly excited by the many narrowboats and intrigued that you could live on them. We also passed lots of restaurants but still we made our way to John Lewis for the promised pizza. However, despite seeing Rossopomodoro there very recently, we found that it had gone, leaving just a cafe in its place and not an exciting option for a kids’ meal.
I persuaded Freddie that pizza would have to wait for another day and that we should go back to the riverside and choose a restaurant there. I looked at a couple but was uninspired by their kids’ menus. Then I saw Comptoir Libanais. ‘Do you have a kids’ menu?’ I asked the woman standing outside. And they did. Quite an exciting-sounding one, too.
Freddie opted to sit outside so we could watch the river and it was a great place to sit at lunchtime on a summer’s day – albeit a slightly windy and cloudy summer’s day. It felt quite holiday-ish to be by the water and there was plenty of activity on it, with large river boats carrying people up and down, lots of narrowboats slowly chugging along, and some canoes, which Freddie decided were having a race.
Our waitress brought a kids’ menu quickly with a pot of colouring crayons. On the other side of the menu were puzzles and drawings to colour in.
There was a good choice of food and it was great value at £5.95 for Main, Drink & Dessert.
Freddie, who loves chicken, opted for Grilled Chicken Wrap served with Hommos & Lebanese Fries.
It was a good-sized serving and when I cut open the wrap, there were large chunks of chicken inside in a sauce, with slices of tomato. He had Apple, Mint & Ginger ‘homemade’ lemonade with it (but there was a water choice too as well as milk and juice).
I decided to order the Mezze Platter for one (£9.95) which was a generous plate of mixed mezze – hommus, baba ganoush, tabbouleh, falafel, labneh, cheese samboussek, flatbread & pickles. I also had a small bottle of mineral water.
Freddie can’t read yet so wasn’t aware that I didn’t read out the sweeter options for dessert – like chocolate brownies and cheesecake – so settled happily for 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream. I had an espresso.
It was a great find and such a lovely location for a summer lunch. The inside was good too, decorated Lebanese style, making it a good place for winter as well. It was an excellent Kids’ Menu that would have satisfied a much older child. And importantly there’s good food for the grown-ups too. Freddie liked it as much as I did and is now keen to introduce Mummy and Daddy to it!
Total bill with drinks and service: £22.17.