Thought your ‘eating with kids’ options at the Waterfront were just a pizza or KFC?  It’s time for a change as The Bar & Canteen opens its doors to families with a special early dining ‘kids eat free’ offer between 5 and 7pm Monday to Saturday.  We sent Kate Summers and family to investigate.
The Thursday after-school swimming lessons at the Aquasplash can’t really be described as a highlight of my week.  For a start, the steamy hot swimming pool air always makes my hair frizz, and trying to wave cheerily at the children as they splash and splutter up and down the pool whilst not losing my place in The Girl who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest is quite a juggling act. And then walking out into the cold air, the first thing the kids say is “Mum – can we go to Pizza Hut?” The answer’s normally no – I’m a bit snobby about chain restaurants – and so there’s sulks and stony silences all the way home.  
Thankfully, I’ve discovered a solution.  The previously child-free The Bar & Canteen has turned family friendly with a meal deal that’ll feed your kids for free.  Turn up for supper with the kids between 5pm and 7pm, Monday to Saturday and the children’s meals are free when the adults order a main course*.  It’s a winner – The Bar is stylish and swish, it gives the children a proper restaurant experience, the food’s great, and I can order myself a large glass of Pinot Grigio.  
It was great to walk straight out of the Aquasplash and into The Bar, and get out of the cold and settle into their comfortable sofas. The kids got a chance to wind down after their five lengths of front crawl while I emailed James (there’s wi-fi) and told him to meet us at The Bar for supper after he finished work.
Ever since The Bar opened back in 2003, it’s brought a touch of city cool to St Helier.  Sleek and sophisticated, its big airy bar and restaurant area is a welcome change from most of town’s small restaurants.  And as for the food, well it’s ‘upmarket bar’ style – think a bit Slug and Lettuce, All Bar One-ish – with a contemporary spin on traditional dishes.  There’s seafood chowder, stilton rarebit, beef chilli with a hint of chocolate, steaks, seabass, Malaysian coconut local mussels and some delicious-sounding brown sugar, chilli and bourbon barbecue pork ribs.  
Five o’clock is a good time to go to The Bar with the children; the restaurant’s quiet and you can take your time relaxing on the sofa and reading through the menu while the waiter brings your drinks over to you.  If it’s a weekday, there’s the option to take advantage of the fixed price menu – two courses for £13.50, three courses for 17.50 – or you can just go à la carte.  James chose the 10oz rump steak with green peppercorn sauce – he could also have had BBQ sauce or marmite butter, and I went for the piri piri king prawns.  Kids get a choice of smaller versions of some of the adult meals – Cumberland sausage and mash, a steak burger, jerk spiced chicken breast burger, beer-battered cod or scampi tails with chips.   We were taken over to the restaurant area when our food was ready – that’s a nice touch for families and avoided the kids getting too fidgety at the table.  The restaurant space is at the far end of the bar, and feels very contemporary, with large wooden tables, chic lighting and statement artwork on the walls.  The children loved being taken somewhere ‘really posh’ as they described it – and it was certainly worlds away from KFC!  Our food arrived swiftly – a huge plate of steak for James with grilled baby tomatoes still on the vine, beer battered onion rings, sautéed mushrooms and a generous portion of chunky chips with a whole jug of pepper sauce to pour over the steak.  My piri piri king prawns came on two skewers, along with a pot of spicy salsa, jasmine rice and a crunchy Asian slaw-style cooling salad.  They were delicious – and super-spicy – definitely one to pick if you like it hot.  The kids’ meals went down well too, with plenty of sausages and mash for the youngest, and a steak burger (which the chef turned into a cheeseburger for us without any fuss), chips and salad for the oldest.
And if you’ve got a sweet tooth, save space for the desserts. The vanilla cheesecake came highly recommended by our waiter – and rightly so.  It’s served with white chocolate and red berries and it’s absolutely delicious.  Be prepared to fight for it though, everyone seems to want a spoonful.  There’s also hot chocolate brownie on the menu, and Jersey ice-cream, and for the youngest (who was starting to doze off at the table), the chef sorted out a mini serving of orange sorbet.  
With its soft music, buzzy atmosphere and swish surroundings, The Bar is a great way of taking your children out to a smart restaurant that’ll cater for them with easy, kid-friendly favourites that are a step up from chicken nuggets and chips.  And it’s perfect for a post-swimming supper or dinner after the cinema, just steps away from the Aquasplash and Cineworld, with early family dining.  It’s going to be an amazing place to head in the summer, when you can eat out on the huge al fresco terrace with its views right out over St Aubin’s bay.   And I can’t wait until the children are just a bit older, and I can send them off to the cinema with their friends while I stay chilling out with a few post-dinner cocktails at The Bar…

The Bar
The Waterfront Centre
St Helier
Tel: 789431
www.taste2day.com
Open 11am – 11pm every day.
Food served 12-3pm and 6-9pm Mon-Thurs, 12-9pm Fri to Sun.
Family meal deal – Monday to Saturday 5pm – 7pm.  
Fixed price menu – Monday to Friday 5pm – 7pm (£13.50 for 2 courses, £17.50 for 3 courses)
Children permitted in the bar until 9pm.

*Ok, so you can’t take the whole swimming class with you… the small print states each child accompanied by an adult eats a free kids’ main course when the adult orders a main course.  The offer’s only valid for tables of up to 4 adults and 4 children, and can’t be used in conjunction with any other promotional offer."