The picturesque town of Guildford in Surrey is home to medieval Guildford Castle built shortly after the 1066 invasion of England by William the Conqueror. It was a beautiful summer’s afternoon as we sat within the castle grounds on the grass, taking it in turns to run around after our toddler. The castle is still stunning, and sits within beautiful landscaped gardens on the edge of the town. It’s extremely close to the hustle and bustle of the shops and restaurants, and in particular, the popular chain restaurant, ASK Italian, where we had an early dinner reservation.
Is ASK a toddler-friendly restaurant?
Our table was booked for 5pm, and my sister’s family were joining us for dinner. We’d planned to go along to sample the brand new kids’ men, where this summer, each main meal includes a free side dish of peas. Loving it – ASK encouraging our little ones to eat their 5-a-day!
There were eight of us: three children under six, a baby, and four adults. As we took the short walk along the cobbled streets from the castle to the restaurant, we wondered how well our rowdy and over-excited party of small children would be received. My husband and I also wondered how well they would cater for allergens, with me and my daughter being dairy and soya free.
On arrival we were met with a friendly welcome, and to my relief, the restaurant was fairly empty, so the carnage of small children having dinner in public could commence. The waiter poured each of us a shot of pink lemonade into a cute soda tumbler shot glass. Of course, one of those tumblers became the first casualty of the evening as my enthusiastic daughter accidentally dropped and smashed hers on the table. Oops.
Allergens & dietary requirements
ASK Italian’s website displays the range of menus available at the restaurant, with fabulous options for kids, vegans and vegetarians. There’s a detailed allergen menu that tells you exactly what’s in each dish, which is a really useful tool in planning ahead. The waiter was well-versed in their dairy and soya free options, and each specific menu was available to leaf through on request.
Hidden veggies and 5-a-day
There was plenty of choice for dairy and soya free options for adults – as well as children. The kids’ menu is a bit of a pick n mix, which allows you to adapt a meal to meet any special dietary requirements. Our kids got stuck in, enjoying the many delicious hidden veggies in their meals. The ‘Brilliant Bolognese’ was a highlight with my niece, while the ‘Smiley Face Pizza’ went down a storm with my six-year old nephew – a margarita pizza topped with cucumber eyes, a tomato nose and a very cute pepper smile. Down the hatch!
Us adults indulged in seafood pastas, pizzas and chicken dishes – I looked on with a jealous longing at the cheesy pizza my husband sank his teeth into – breastfeeding my 13 week old CMPA baby meant no dairy for me. My husband did remark on the size of the adult pizza being a little on the small side, but he’s a big rugby playing forward and eats us out of house and home on a daily basis.
There were a variety of appetising options in terms of desserts – even being DF and SF. I opted for the vegan chocolate tart – it did not disappoint. Dessert was a real highlight for me, being a complete chocoholic with very few options to satisfy my cravings of late! My DF daughter enjoyed a mango and raspberry sorbet combo, while my niece and nephew feasted on chocolate pizzas (yep, you heard me right!) and brownies, while the others were sensible and had coffee.
The easy-breezy laid back atmosphere at ASK Italian coupled with the early start time meant us adults we were able to have a fun and relaxed meal (well, as relaxed as it can be with toddlers on board!). The kids enjoyed being somewhere new, the service was attentive, the food tasty, and the meals arrived promptly so everybody was kept happy. Unlike so many other family outings, this was a resounding success all round.
Ps – the wine list was also delicious!