Mar 23, 2014

A Busy Weekend. SSG's Definitive Guide To Dining Out With A Toddler.

The storm clouds are rumbling as I type this evening but gee, it was a spectacular Sunday in Sydney.

We were at Birkenhead Point today for lunch and a bit of a browse.

Picture perfect blue skies and fluffy clouds were framed by the floor length shop windows.  That luminous natural light that you get on days like this shone over my favourite cafe in the entire complex - Charlie Lovett.  My find of the day was frozen spinach for 99 cents at Aldi.  My mum and aunty are more patient shoppers than I am and were rewarded with a blouse at the DJs warehouse and novels at the nearby bookstore.  Toddler SSG was content with lunch overlooking the marina and a run alongside the boats afterwards.

I sometimes think that my weekends are actually busier than the working week.  Chores, activities, getting out and about.  I mostly get there in the end but it's often a bit touch and go.

In the midst of the chaos, taking a moment to focus on that view at lunch today or the live jazz that played as I regrouped for the weekly grocery shop are the little things I like to do to help me not be a slave to my watch and to do list.  There will forever be a million things that I need to have had done yesterday but the time to enjoy today is now.

I said goodbye to the rental Corolla yesterday.  It even came with a Thrifty branded car seat for Toddler SSG.  While I'm excited to have my car back with both rear view mirrors, I'm beginning to miss just how confident I was with reverse parking the Corolla.

Friday night saw me attempt something I never thought I'd ever do - take Toddler SSG into the CBD for dinner.  My brother and sister in law were here for the weekend and as they were staying at the Shangri-La, we decided to have dinner there.  Everyone ended up having a fabulous evening and everything went to plan.  Does this now entitle me to now write a parenting post about it?  You betcha.

I may be smug but I am also very self aware.  The outfit I wore to dinner was both right and wrong.

Dress - Moschino, wedges - Rockport, horn bangle - Mai Tai Collection, obligatory 'it could be a long night' hair lacky worn as a bracelet - Priceline.

Right because I wore wedges instead of heels.  I'm pondering my collection of spendy shoe boxes and shoe bags and wondering when and if I'll ever wear any of them ever again....  But I digress.  A fancy night out with a toddler requires you to have both the illusion of longer legs thanks to heels but also the ability to run sprint and lunge at short notice.  More about this later.

The dress wasn't a great idea frankly, see the sprint and lunge issue and add the need to kneel and crouch.  It did look nice though and leopard is a print I'll always have a fondness for.

Like real estate, stepping out with a toddler is all about location, location, location.  Hotels and other places with wheelchair access are perfect because there will be plenty of space for exploration and that pram.  If you do decide to taxi it in, maxi taxis are great if you can snag one.  All you have to do is wheel your pram in up the ramp into the boot.   No need to fiddle around trying to fold your pram on a busy street or driveway.

Specific details about location to consider are:

Hotel Lobbies

Toddler SSG making friends with the concierge.

Plush carpet alternating with shiny marble under your feet, friendly staff and guests who all tell you how cute sir is looking this evening, a birds eye view of the buzzing taxi rank and its very climbable golden luggage trolleys - it's Toddler Shangri-La as is.

Oh I forgot.  The floral arrangements.  Oh, the floral arrangements.  Lifting each and every perfectly centred glass bowl in the path of your toddler.  Multiple times.  If you haven't worked up an appetite for dinner already, you'll get one just by keeping the flowers safe.

Pristine Conditions for Stair Case Exploring

Polo - Cotton On Kids, skinny jeans - Next, sandals - Clarks.  With a mother who often wears her skinnies with Birkis, the jeans and sandal situation will not be a surprise to you.

Hotels do a superior winding stair case.  The kind you'd be struggling to replicate at home. Conveniently carpeted for maximal comfort when crawling up / stumbling down, numerous and with in built safety grips.  What better way to work off some of that energy from that pre dinner nap?

Shiny things that light up

ATM machines, the lights on the lift buttons.  As an added bonus, obliging guests may even invite your toddler to press the lift buttons for them and reward your unusually compliant child with a thumbs up and smile.

There's Something For Everyone At A Buffet

Hotels really can be a home away from home.  An Ikea table setting for one at Cafe Mix at the Shangri-La.  Surreal, I know.

Ever wanted to know what toddlers eat at seafood buffets?  Basically, foods from the neutral spectrum of the colour wheel - naan, water crackers, the middle of dinner rolls and banana.  Onion bhajis are fine too.  There were issues with the melon not being ripe enough.  

Thank you to the chef manning the fondue station for cutting Toddler SSG's banana for him.

And thank you, Mr Chandon for this celebratory Friday night glass of bubbles with bonus rock melon cube.

The adults were in prawn, crab and oyster heaven.

Special mention has to go to the desserts which were the nicest I've ever eaten at a hotel buffet.

The chocolate mousse cake was rich, as light as air and trod the fine line between taste and texture so perfectly, one slice really didn't feel like that much in my stomach.

Which is why I had room for a slice of the cheesecake as well.  You know how hotel cheesecakes often have that thick, rock hard biscuit base that's often caked in butter?  Well, the Shangri-La's was none of these things.

It's just as well I was doing laps of the lounge area outside the restaurant with Toddler SSG in between courses.  It turned out to be an excellent way of finding room for all the desserts on my plate and a bit of my mum's lemon meringue tart.

I ended the night with enough of a sugar rush to get me through the rest of the weekend.

And Toddler SSG managed to squeeze in a little nap while we waited for a taxi home.

Toddler naps on location.  Always a sure sign that a good time was had by all.

Have you had a night out with your little one recently?  Were you rewarded with a solid night's sleep afterward?


  1. Oh gosh how cute is Toddler SSG running around Shangri-La? Looks like you had a fab night!


  2. What a lovely outing.
    The Shangri-La is lovely. I love a hotel buffet especially when it is a good one.

    1. It's well worth the effort, C. Best hotel buffet I've had in a while.

      SSG xxx

  3. You look fabulous, as does that buffet. We take the boys out every few weeks for a meal somewhere. It is NEVER relaxing. It helps if there is a dedicated children's area/ play area. McDonalds is onto something. Junk food, toy and playground. But I'd much prefer the Shangri-La!

    1. Thank you, HIH! Maccas is a big hit here too.

      SSG xxx

  4. SSG Toddler is so cute!!! Love your posts because I'm local to all these places too so it's fun to read about the shops and places you've been visiting :)


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