Pani’s Cafe was originally set up around 12 years ago by two brothers from Sardinia. It was one of the first Italian style cafes in the city and food is as authentic as you can get without getting on a plane.
So when my work colleagues from the PR agency wanted to catch up over a bite to eat, I could think of nowhere more fun for seven-month-old Cyrus. It would be somewhere he could develop his social skills and potentially try out the food too.
Pani’s is somewhere you can just drop by with the children, there’s no need to book and the waiters love to chat and interact with the young ones.
It is a family establishment so children are welcome any time of the day and I was helped through the door with our buggy on arrival – a nice touch.
There is plenty of space inside the cafe and as Master Cyrus was asleep, I decided to leave him in his pushchair. A friendly waiter did offer me a high chair though straight away.
Since one of the most celebrated Italian traditions is morning coffee, I opted for my daily dose. A waitress brought me a large Pani’s special cappuccino. A blend of two premier coffee beans and the freshest frothiest milk. (£2.20) It was so good, just the pick-me-up I needed, so I had two of them.
The restaurant’s decor had an inviting and relaxing cosmopolitan feel despite being busy with diners. It was great to be able to sit and watch the world go by for an hour as I waited for my colleagues to arrive and recover from night shift with my little night-owl. It also gave me plenty of time to browse the extensive lunch-time menu!
In terms of a children’s menu, there isn’t one because children are treated as adults and are offered plates from the main menu – in smaller portions if they are young. There are plenty of options on the main menu that may please a little one’s palate.
As time was tight, my colleagues and I just opted for just a main meal each. The food took about 10 minutes after we ordered and the service was very fast considering how packed the place was.
I ordered the Vegetable Lasagna (£4.75). It was fresh and the sauce was rich and creamy. The pasta layers simply melted in my mouth. It was packed with seasonal vegetables too and I’d definitely have it again. The portion size was just right as Cyrus stirred just as I was polishing it off.
Now I would add in here what dishes my friends had for lunch, but I’m not sure if it’s my age, new mum brain or the fact I had so much to catch up on that I forgot to write it down. I do know that both Anna and Sarah really enjoyed what they ordered however!
In all, Pani’s offers a typical Italian dining experience. Our waiter had a laid-back approach which was a whole lot more appetising to us as we were deep in conversation. He didn’t continuously quiz on on whether the food was good and showed professionalism, patience and kindness. He also made a fuss of young Cyrus.
Whilst I wouldn’t swap my time off with Cyrus, catching up with my colleagues over a meal was a truly great idea. It had been months since I’d left the office laden with flowers, good luck cards and cute outfits, but as a new mum over 40, part of my identity was still bound up in my career.
Our catch-up was a reminder of my own existence, to show colleagues that I was still interested in what was going on in the office and to keep me in the loop on important stuff!
We weren’t in a hurry to leave Pani’s, our waiter wasn’t either. There was no timer on our table like in some establishments I’ve dined at…although it did mean my colleagues were perhaps a little late back to the office. Apologies to the boss for that one!
QUICK TIP: The restaurant does have toilet and washbasin facilities, although it’s worth noting that there is no baby changing area. Make sure you’re prepared for this and do your best to take care of nappy situations before and/or after your meal. The restaurant does provide high chairs.