Tognini's Cafe at the State Library of Queensland was one of our favourites when my boys were younger. Tognini's served good adult food and quality kids' food that was a lot better than chicken nuggets and the like.
We hadn't been to Tognini's in ages, so we set off for a school-holiday visit this week feeling excited. Imagine our surprise when we got there and found out that Tognini's is now The Library Cafe. A friendly waitress explained that it changed names (and management) in late 2010.
Undaunted, we joined the hordes of other school-holiday patrons and put our orders in. The menu hadn't changed a lot from the Tognini's days -- quiches, lasagne and other mains from around $15, gourmet burgers (chicken/lamb/vego) for around $16, and gourmet pizzas for $17. A cabinet had plenty of salads, paninis and cakes to choose from. You can also buy tea, coffee, beer and wine.
Kids' meals included pies and sausage rolls, kids' pizzas, toasted sandwiches, and healthy wraps ($4.80 to $7).
I ordered a meatball baguette ($9.90) and my boys chose ham and cheese toasted sandwiches ($5) and a little cupcake each ($2.30). This was their favourite Tognini's meal when they were younger, and they were looking forward to revisiting the past.
We were catching a free movie that started at 1pm and put our orders in at 12.20pm, quietly confident that we could eat and make our movie in time. But the lunchtime influx of families was huge, and we were a long way down the list. Our cakes came immediately, but our mains still hadn't turned up by 12.45. Desperate, the boys ended up eating their cakes (which they enjoyed), and we were all relieved when our mains finally came at 12.50pm.
My baguette was good, and the boys had a taste and liked it. But they were a bit disappointed by their sandwiches. There was nothing actually wrong with them, except that they weren't as good as they used to be -- or at least not as good as my boys remembered. I have to say that they didn't look the same as they used to. I have a feeling that Tognini's prided itself on using better-than-average bread and fillings, whereas these ones used your absolutely standard sliced white, processed ham and cheese squares.
Still, they did the job, though my 10-year-old wasn't full afterwards (and had to be topped up later). Evidently, what fills up a little boy isn't enough for a bigger boy. I also noticed that the kids' pizzas on the neighbouring table were very small. I think it's safe to say that the kids' menu is very much geared to small children (up to about 6 or 7 at the oldest), who make up the bulk of patrons at The Corner (the State Library's children's area, right across from the cafe).
We finished eating at three minutes before the hour. Before we scuttled off to our movie, I quickly chatted to a mum at another table and asked for her verdict on the cup of coffee she was drinking. She rated it 'not bad' and gave it a 6.5 or 7 out of 10.
Overall, we enjoyed our meal at The Library Cafe, and I think it's a good place to go with children if you're in the library/gallery precinct. The kids' menu is still better than average (if perhaps not quite as good as it used to be), the adult choices are interesting, and its pleasant outdoor area can cope with lots of people.
My only words of warning would be to expect a substantial wait if you're visiting the cafe during school holidays or kids' events and, if you've got an older child, you might need to order from the adult menu to fill them up.
We visited the Library Cafe again over the 2012 Christmas holidays, and the food seemed to have improved a bit, while prices had also risen a little. Still a good place to take your kids to eat if you're in the vicinity.
We always had family gatherings at the GOMA cafe, but found last week that it had gone upmarket, so goodbye to a pleasant riverside venue, child-friendly and affordable. The new arrangement was almost deserted.