How to survive eating out with a small child, aged two-and-three-quarters

H and I used to dine out in style. It was quiet, relaxed, calm and romantic.

Now we usually dine “off-peak” with our little partner in crime. Gone are the days of dinner-dates at 8pm. H and I now go out only when we know a restaurant isn’t busy … for fear of little meltdowns.

That said, we were invited out to experience Sachins in Forth Banks, Newcastle recently – which is a child-friendly Punjabi and Indian establishment with parking – and certainly a notch up on our usual weekend fish and chip joint down by the sea.

On arrival we were a little worried about ordering a table for 2.5, but it was clear as soon as we were seated that Sachins’ restaurant owner Bob Arora didn’t mind having children around. In fact, there was a booster-seat with little C’s name on it. H and I were even treated to the ‘candle-lit’ experience at just after 7pm that we usually reserve for date night.

Now normally we feed little C first because the last thing we want is to have a cranky, hungry child at the dining table. Our waiter didn’t disappoint. He knew only too well the urgency of the situation and served up a bowl of poppadoms almost immediately.

While I had brought plenty of distractions in the form of toys with me, little C was far more interested in the friendly waiter, who certainly put fun on the menu for him. While Sachins doesn’t have sippy-cup approved (baby-changing) amenities, our host could not have done more to cater for little C. Both the ambience and food was great.

Bob Arora of Sachins Restaurant in Newcastle

Sachins specialises in distinctive and vibrantly spicy cuisine which has been a hit in the city for the past 30 years. There were so many exciting dishes on the menu, it was hard to decide … especially since time was tight!

My Tandoori Mushroom (£5.95) was really satisfying. The dish was full of spicy flavour and served with red peppers. H’s Seekh Kebab (£5.95) packed some surprising heat and was neatly served on a bed of salad and chargrilled onions. A taste sensation.

Next I ordered a Peshawari Nan (£2.95) and H opted for a Garlic Nan (£2.95). We both ordered the Mushroom Pulao rice (£3.50) to go with our main dishes – the Chingri Makhani (£12.95) which was comforting, having been tossed in butter and cooked with tomatoes and fresh yoghurt. It provided a real delicious diversity of Punjabi spices.

Little C meanwhile made quick work of the pickle tray by sopping it up with scraps of poppadom before eating a bowl full of basmati rice.  It was a clear winner and he certainly needed a nap after that.

NB: Toddlers don’t have a lot of patience and for the sake of other patrons, we kept our visit to an hour. We also wiped down the booster seat and picked up the poppadoms from the floor!

One thing’s for sure, we are glad we got to dine out as a family somewhere that doesn’t just serve chips and chicken nuggets. H and I got to have an actual conversation and we are already salivating for an encore. Thank you Sachins! 10/10

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