I've long felt that when parents are away with their children one of the most stressful episodes of the day can be finding somewhere to eat where the menu suits the whole family, there are healthy options for the kids (not just orange food i.e. chicken nuggets and chips), a speed of service that suits the younger, less patient customer, and an atmosphere where you feel welcome as a family.
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When we arrived at Giovanni’s restaurant in Aviemore’s Macdonald resort it was clearly recently refurbished. One touch I particularly liked were the photos of children munching on lasagne, sooking up spaghetti and licking the bowl clean, decorating the walls. You can eat here as a couple, you can dine as a group of friends but, as a parent, I knew my little ones were welcome as the photos said it all. They instantly put me at ease. We’d booked a table for 5.30pm so the restaurant was busy, lots of families, with a relaxed, informal atmosphere.
FOOD – When we rocked up to Giovanni’s we were on the fifth meal of our trip. I confess the previous meals my kids had eaten comprised of pizza, fish goujons and chips, sausages and beans, then thankfully some lentil soup so I was dreading to discover a stereotyped kids’ menu of junk food. At Giovanni’s we weren’t handed a children’s menu, instead we were told we could order anything off the main menu as a half portion, at half the price, for our tots. I was delighted. Normal food for my children to enjoy.
Our kids happily shared our caprese salad starters, you can’t go far wrong with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella, then they ate their bodyweight of the Penne Alla Genovese which was basically a simple pasta with basil, parmesan, pine nuts and cream. This dish was a massive hit, our kids ate a LOT. We’d also ordered the Linguini Gamberi with prawns and cherry tomatoes as my toddler is currently intent on emptying the oceans of prawns. The menu did clearly say the dish contained chilli but whilst it was too spicy for our little ones I happily finished it off.
The children then had a scoop of ice-cream, we were on holiday after all, and I had a pretty mind-blowing tiramisu. It was Giovanni’s interpretation of tiramisu including a luscious zabaglione (egg yolk sauce) with chocolate chip chunks dotted through it as well as the signature coffee flavour. It really worked for me.
SERVICE – The restaurant was busy but service was swift. Yes, we naturally waited a little between courses but when Mr Baby decided it was time to take a walk around the restaurant nobody cared or batted an eyelid. He wasn’t the only baby doing this! At Giovanni’s you order drinks from the bar waiters and food from the restaurant waiters. Despite having a 50-50 chance of choosing the right person I never do – am I the only one? Mr Baby’s high chair was waiting for him when we arrived (rather than dad having to find a high chair and move the furniture around to make it fit whilst I hold onto two wriggling kids). A small detail like this is a nice touch when you book in advance, they know you’re coming and they know you’ve requested a high chair.
MEMORIES – My highlight of the night was overhearing a mother at the table next to me joking to her son to sit still and pretend he was enjoying himself. I laughed out loud and said we may very well be saying the same things to our unruly pair – all parents know what those moments feel like. Thankfully I can safely say both families ate well and had a relaxed evening.
The bottom line is that I’d happily make a point of eating at Giovanni’s the next time I’m in Aviemore. It’s probably not the cheapest Italian you’ll find in the town but with modern decor, good service, good food and a family friendly outlook it was exactly what we were looking for. And if you’re staying onsite it’s a bit of a no-brainer.
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