With a young family, I'm always on the lookout for really kiddy-friendly cafes, and on this one I have a very mixed opinion.
After a lovely walk in Karangahake Gorge, we were hungry, and Talisman Cafe seemed like an ideal choice, right across the road from the walkway carpark. A fantastic location that must bring them loads of super hungry clientelle.
We liked the fact that they had a garden area, where kids could stretch their legs while waiting for food, and it was good safety feature that they had a gate on the entrance, separating explorative little patrons from the super busy state highway.
However, the weather turned a bit chilly, so we decided to sit indoors. There was a little toy corner, with a supply of activities to occupy the littlies, and a fish tank with a live eel to watch. However, there were also lots of arts and crafts for sale, many of which were within easy reach of little hands, and a small sign stating that any breakages were to be paid for. And the fire which was keeping things cozy inside could also be a hazard for littlies.
The food consisted of a selection of cabinet food, as well as a blackboard menu. And there was a kids menu, which combined child-orientated food, with a drink, for $10.00.
On arrival, I felt pressured to order quickly, as the area around the front counter was rather cramped, and we were blocking the entrance and exit for other patrons, as we perused the menu. I ordered a panini and side salad, my husband had beef nachos, and the kids ordered childrens meals, with cafe style drinks.
There was another family eating lunch with young children while we were there, and I supose it didnt bode well that as we were taking our seats, the adults from that group were chasing up their food order for their hungry child who was getting fidgety with the wait.
The wait staff seemed to be coming and going in a constant procession from the kitchen, despite there only being four tables occupied. However, on one of their passings, the waiter informed us that there was a 'high chair over the otherside of the room if we wanted to use it for our baby', leaving my husband to try and navigate his way with it through the clutter of tables, arts and crafts.
Our food didn't take too long to come. My husbands nachos looked like they had been zapped in the microwave, and he said they were very bland in flavour...certainly not served with lashings of sour cream and cheese that he's experienced at other cafes. It was obvious that someone had put effort into my salad garnishing, as it looked pretty, however, the mediteranian vege panini was certainly nothing to write home about. But the kids all seemed to enjoy their meals.
However, after we had finished our meals, there was still no sign of any of our drinks. We mentioned this to a passing waiter, who checked on things and reported back that they were almost made...about 10 minutes later they finally turned up...
By then, our kids were getting rather fidgety and impatient, not to mention thirsty, so we pretty much skulled them, and headed off. Again, my iced coffee could only be described as average.
Earlier, we had talked about enjoying some cakes or slices for dessert, but opted not to, based on our experiences.