With so few upmarket restaurants that cater for families and children, something like Melville’s Bambanani may be the answer.
Upon arrival, a staff member unlocks the childproof gate in front of the building. They’re there to ensure that your child is signed in and cannot leave without your permission. Saturday Citizen photographer Alaister Russell is interrogated as he arrives a man on his own, entering a children’s restaurant with a camera is hardly the sort of thing such a venue will allow.
The entire place is child friendly, with non-slip mats on the ramps (no stairs – good!), and child minders everywhere making sure everyone is safe and enjoying themselves. Bambanani boasts an impressive three-storey jungle gym and plastic ball pit, imported from China by owner and founder Caryn Cohen. With over 12 minders on the weekend, and an average of seven in the week, there is added peace of mind in that all helpers have received CPR training.
There is more than enough to keep the children playing all day, from a miniature shopping centre to sand art, pottery classes and a movie night every Wednesday. Moms and dads can relax knowing their child is safe, and enjoy coffee with friends or catching up on e-mails using the free Wi-Fi.
The food is delightful and healthy (well, besides the cake and other sweet treats), generally avoiding synthetic flavourings and food additives. The kitchen also offers gluten free and vegan styled food.
Regrettably, though, there’s a minimum R50 spend per person for food and drink, which may deter patrons who’d like to just pop in for a drink.