I remember the days, not so long ago, when I could meet my pals in a café and enjoy a proper chinwag. We could shoot the breeze for a couple of hours, and finish our drinks while they were still hot. Now that I’m a mum, I rarely get to finish a sentence, let alone my coffee. My friends and I are continually searching for somewhere to go that will cater for our wishes (cake and caffeine) as well as keep the kids happy.
When Café Play opened its doors on Princes Street last year, there was a palpable buzz of anticipation among Perth parents. Was Café Play what we had all been longing for? I arranged a playdate with my friend Claire to check it out. We travel not-so-light these days, with a two-year-old, a three-year-old, and a four-year-old between us. I could only hope that Café Play was up for the challenge.
On arrival, I was impressed by the large imaginary play area running down one side of the room (accessible for a small fee). It is colourful and enticing, and chock-a-block with toys. The kids headed in and, with the gate safely closed behind them, Claire and I were free to ensconce ourselves in the café seating alongside. It was a cold day and I lost no time ordering a hot chocolate with marshmallows and whipped cream, along with a yummy salted caramel and popcorn traybake. Although I was shamelessly indulging my sweet tooth, the café menu is extensive and full of nutritious options. There are Breakfast Bites, Little Lunches and Tasty Treats for the wee ones. Tapas - where they can pick five items from a list – is ideal for children who want to try a little of everything. Adults can choose a Wake Me Up Breakfast, a Leisurely Lunch or just unwind with a light refreshment. Gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options are available.
The children inevitably cottoned on that there was “snack!” on offer, and joined us for a babycino each. My little boy, James, refuelled with yoghurt and mini cheddars, and Claire’s wee ones enjoyed a late breakfast of granola, yoghurt and fruit. We appreciated the friendly and efficient table service – it’s often a lifesaver when your hands are full and your kids want to play rather than queue.
This parent-orientated approach underpins Café Play and is something the owner, Louisa, was determined to prioritise. As a parent of a young child herself, Louisa created Café Play with the clear intention to meet the needs of adults as well as youngsters. The whole premises are sparkling and well looked-after; no grubby handprints or well-licked toys festering here! The café décor is muted, not garish, and a spacious buggy park and plenty of high chairs help you settle in without any fuss. There is a cosy den with a sofa and easy chair, if you need a quiet moment to feed or calm your baby in peace.
A small gift shop allows you to pick up that last-minute birthday present. Board games and craft activities are a thoughtful addition for families with older children as well as tiny tots. The whole premises are sparkling and well looked-after; no grubby handprints or well-licked toys festering here!
James and his pre-school friends loved the kids’ play area. They were diverted by the ride-on cars, fancy dress, a wooden train track and much more. The play area is unsupervised, and you remain responsible for your child (I believe that’s a lifelong arrangement!) but they can’t get into too much trouble in Café Play. Usually, Claire and I are mid-gossip while Toby tumbles off a high surface and James throws himself against a sharp table edge. But we avoided any such mishaps here.
Look out for yoga classes for mums and babies, story time sessions, rhythm and rhyme, arts and crafts…and there is even more in the pipeline.
At the back of Café Play, you can find the bright and cheerful activity room. Louisa is rolling out a varied programme of workshops to be held in this space. Look out for yoga classes for mums and babies, story time sessions, rhythm and rhyme, arts and crafts…and there is even more in the pipeline. Her goal is to establish a community hub which is always evolving to meet the desires of her clientele, and which is welcoming to all.
Claire and I eventually had to rouse ourselves and bundle our assorted offspring into their multitudinous winter layers. We are accustomed to leaving public places issuing a stream of apologies for the rowdiness of our children, but this time there was no need. Once outside, Toby firmly asserted, “I love that café”, and I would consider that high praise…you can always trust a small child to be brutally honest!
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