Meet Franki Dammone, founder of the brilliant blog The Middle Mama. Mum to Mally and Sunday, her sit-on-the-fence take on parenting is honest, relatable and downright fun. Her passion for food grew from a young age, stirring pots of pasta at her dad’s Italian restaurant in Leeds and feasting on vognole around her Nonna’s table. Now residing in East London, Franki joins us to chat chilled pizza pitstops with the brood and build your own breakkies in the heart of Broadway Market…
1. I’d like a table for…
Some dim sum with my family on a Sunday please! Growing up, we went for dim sum in place of a Sunday roast every Sunday. It’s a tradition that my husband and I have carried on here in London with our family and anyone that wants to join us. Sunday’s wouldn’t be the same without dumplings and family now. My parents actually stopped off for dim sum on the way back from leaving the hospital after I was born so I think you could say, its a love affair that started very early!
2. Early-birds catch the coffee at…
Mare St Market in Hackney is a fab spot for morning coffee. It has lots of room for buggies, ample snack options from pastries to hot brunch and it’s dog friendly, which is great for us as we have a cheeky whippet! It can be hard to find places that are roomy enough for dogs and babies but this is definitely one of them. It’s a cool spot too and it’s right by Broadway Market, so perfect for weekends!
3. Best brunch with kids?
The Market Café on Broadway market does a build your own breakfast with the usual suspects like sausages, eggs and beans, which Mally can demolish. It’s a bit more of a child-friendly option to the fancy pants avocado laden brunches in the area and its dog friendly too!
4. Children’s menu must-visits…
The Duke of Richmond is one of our favourites for family dinners. It has a great kids menu during the week and kids eat free on Fridays! They’ve also just launched a Mum and Dad Lunch club every Thursday. Parents can get 2 courses plus a drink (including booze) for £15 and they put mats and toys down for the kids to play. Sweet Thursdays in De Beauvoir also provide a mat with toys at the back of the restaurant every day until 5pm and they do the amazing Neapolitan pizzas. It’s super chilled and child friendly.
5. Where do you grab a bite with mums en masse?
Bella Vita on Broadway Market. It has room for long tables and serves everything you need for mums and babes in once place. It’s super child friendly whilst still feeling like you’re having a lunch in a restaurant and not a play cafe. That probably explains why it’s totally full of mums at lunch time and early doors!
6. Hidden gem for treating tiny ones?
The Bread Station hidden behind London Fields it’s a nice alternative to the busy cafes of Broadway Market. It’s a danish bakery serving sandwiches, eggs and the most amazing cakes and pastries. The cinnamon buns are so yummy! There’s room for buggies (and dogs!) in there too. Toconoco off the canal in Haggerston is another hidden gem. It serves Japanese food and has a play kitchen and toys at the back to keep little ones entertained. The matcha blondies are delish and they do daily Japanese specials.
7. Best piece of advice for dining out with kids?
Be relaxed, don’t worry about them staying out past their bedtime or disrupting their routine. I find when we are most relaxed, we all have the most fun and it never makes any difference in the morning anyway. Also, it’s a bonus if they fall asleep on the journey home as you can miss doing bedtime! Oh, and don’t worry if you have to resort to technology! Happy baby, happy parents!
8. Date night – takeaway or take me out?
Date night. Although we definitely do takeaway more. Can I say both?
9. My earliest food memory…
I grew up in a seriously foodie family. My dad’s Italian restaurant in Leeds has been going for 43years so most of my memories growing up have something to do with food. From hanging around on weekends in the restaurant to eating pasta at my nonnas after school, food has been a hige part of my life for as long as I can remember. Italians take food and family very seriously. One early food memory are Christmas Eve’s in our Salumeria, which is kind of like an Italian version of a deli. The doors would close to customers and 40 of our family members would fill it for an Italian seafood feast.
10. Five mums, one table – who’s joining you?
Tricky! I’d probably just choose one. I never had the chance to meet my dads mum but I would have LOVED to. She was an Italian glam-ma and if I could have one dinner with anyone, it would be her at my grandads (now my Dads) restaurant so we could catch up over a glass of wine and a vongole.