We fell head over heels for 2018 Great British Bake Off contestant Dan Beasley-Harling when he graced our screens last year. Full-time dad to Constance and Barnaby, Dan showcased his flair for not only delicious bakes but making each sweet treat a feast for the eyes. His Instagram (@danbeasleyharling) has achieved a cult-following for his hypnotic mirror glazes, towering showstopper cakes and immaculate macaron.
From cakes galore for the whole family at Cutter and Squidge to hidden gem Sendero Coffee on Lavender Hill for a coffee pitstop post-school run, we took ten with Dan to discover his best bites with his family across London…
1. I’d like a table for…
Four, please. Myself, my husband Phil, and our two children, Constance aged 6, and Barnaby aged 3.
2. Early-birds catch the coffee at…
This is a really good tip for new parents: When the kids were younger I would often go through the McDonald’s drive through and grab coffee. You don’t have to get anyone out of the car, or park on double yellow lines, and the coffee is decent enough and inexpensive. Now the kids are a little older, I can pop into a regular coffee shop more easily, which usually means the Starbucks inside our local Sainsburys. If I have time to stop and relax without the kids, I like to go to Sendero Coffee on Lavender Hill on the way home from the school run. They serve fantastic coffee and pastries, in a gloriously peaceful atmosphere. On second thoughts, maybe I shouldn’t have told people about this one, and kept it all for myself!
3. Best brunch with kids?
A recent stand-out brunch was at Where The Pancakes Are, which is just a short walk from Waterloo Station. There are savoury and sweet options, so the grown ups can tuck into bacon and eggs, while the kids enjoy fruit and maple syrup. They serve a pastrami and gherkin pancake which sounds all kinds of wrong, but is just wonderful! Everybody left happy – what more could you ask for?!
4. Children’s menu must-visits…
I absolutely love Wahaca, so the fact that their children’s food there is top-notch is a huge boon. The ‘Build Your Own Tacos’ idea is wonderful, because it doubles up as an activity for the kids. Children seem to be far more excited about eating food that they’ve helped to prepare, so we rarely have to struggle through complaints about not wanting to eat their dinner.
5. Where do you grab a bite with mums en masse?
The Pear Tree Cafe in Battersea Park is an excellent choice. There’s obviously lots to do in the park, so you can wear the children out first. As well as coffee and cakes, and ice-cream in the summer, they have some wonderful savoury options suitable for adults and children. Pro tip: Bring some duck food with you, and if they kids get bored, you can let them feed the various waterfowl through the railings while you finish eating.
6. Hidden gem for treating tiny ones?
I first went to Cutter and Squidge about a year ago, for a pop-up Hello Kitty event, and fell in love with the place immediately. They often run events that are suitable for children, at the moment it’s ‘The Potion Room’ which is themed around schools and wizardry – make of that what you will! Even if you are not going to attend an event, there are lots of lovely little cakes and biscuits, brightly coloured and interesting, that little people can’t wait to get their hands on.
7. Best piece of advice for dining out with kids?
Wear them out first with a long walk, and try to discuss what they would like to eat and get them excited about it before you arrive at the restaurant. You can then get your order in fast before the colouring crayons lose their lustre, and reduce the risk of an embarrassing meltdown! We are fortunate that our children are usually well behaved in restaurants. I credit this with the fact that we all sit down to eat dinner together every night, so the children are accustomed to eating with adults and sitting quietly.
8. Date night – takeaway or take me out?
My husband and I like to go out together once a week, and often go to the Everyman Cinema. The theatres are comfortable, clean, and not overly busy. The food there is surprisingly good, especially the burgers. If we fancy something a bit more special, we sometimes head up to The Big Easy beforehand. They have menu deals every day, so you always leave pleasantly stuffed without breaking the bank. When we go out in town, we very often end up at Tonkotsu. It’s a tiny noodle bar, with excellent food and lightening fast service – perfect to grab a comforting bite before a show. If we’re in the mood for a takeaway, we like to order from Chipotle. The chicken tacos are excellent, and healthy too.
9. My earliest food memory…
I think my earliest food memory is of a birthday cake, probably from when I was turning 5. I had requested a cake shaped like a piano for some reason, and I remember that my mother had made the sheet music out of some uncooked lasagne sheets. I remember being absolutely determined to eat them, and doing so, despite my mother’s protestations!
10. Five mums, one table – who’s joining you?
To me, family is the most important thing. Firstly, I’d bring my own mother, Constance, and my sister-in-law, Rachel. When my husband and I had our kids, we held a ceremony to appoint two ‘Honorary Aunties’ to help us guide the children through life. Katie is one of my oldest friends, and mother to two children of her own, and Alison is one of Philip’s oldest friends, and a mother of three. Can I be the 5th mum?!