If we take Little Pickle to any playground, she will make a beeline for the swings, but at Cafe Odessa Mama it was Beanie-boy who spotted the aeroplane-shaped swing first. He had great fun pretending to be a pilot and he made all the appropriate zooming noises while imagining himself thousands of feet up in the air. He didn’t get to sit on it for long, his sister fairly quickly took possession, but he wasn’t bothered because there is so much else to do in the Cafe’s lovely garden.
There is a sand box with lots of toys to play with, a spiders-web style rope climbing frame, and a set of boards with wooden puzzles. Beanie-boy also really liked the hammock, which he found was a great way to deal with that post-lunch carbohydrate slump – I think Daddy wished there was a second hammock so he could have a proper sleep in the sunshine too.
There are no prizes for guessing that Cafe Odessa Mama serves food from Ukraine, but it also specialises in Jewish food from Odessa. We particularly liked the grilled meats and salads, and I would go back again just to eat the mint sauce that came with the lamb. My mother may not be Ukrainian or Jewish but it tasted just like the mint sauce she makes at home.
The café has what it describes as a kids menu but is really more of a list-of-items-from-the-main-menu-that-they-think-kids-might-like. It didn’t have anything on it that appealed to our two, but that was ok, because they did like both the pork ribs and the lamb chops that we ordered, and we managed to convince them that the fried potatoes with crackling were very thin French fries.
Usually when the waitress comes over and asks if we want dessert, I find myself glancing at the children and concluding that, tempting though dessert might be, the kids are far too fidgety and restless to sit in their chairs for any longer. But with a whole garden for them to play in, there was plenty of time to enjoy dessert so I opted for the lemon and poppy seed cake which was beautifully light and delicately flavoured. The children were so happy, there was even time for a leisurely pot of green tea.
We finally decided it was time to leave, but when we told Little Pickle she was less than impressed by our decision. “No” she said, and then concluding that it might be best to appeal to a wider audience she yelled the word again but this time in Russian: “Nyet!, Nyet!” I think she’ll be keen for us to make a return visit very soon!
Café Odessa Mama is at 5/ 10, Krivokolennyy Pereulok in the Chistye Prudy area of Moscow. It isn’t possible to book one of the outside tables (although you can book one inside) so we went mid-week and arrived just after midday to make sure we got a table right by the garden. The restaurant’s website is at www.cafeodessa.ru/eng/