Manoeuvring a bulky pram or a gaggle of children past tables can take all the fun out of a meal out, particularly if staff are giving you the evil eye for cluttering up their domain.
Here are our picks for friendly venues this Mother's Day, whether you're planning a treat for the mum in your life or searching for your own escape.
Old-school Pub Where: The Commercial Club Hotel 344 Nicholson St Fitzroy What: It's hard to find a country pub in the middle of town, but they do exist. The Commercial Club is a fine example. With home-style meals, a great range of beer, and plenty of nooks to sit in, this pub is ideal for a casual day out. Plenty of families visit here so you're almost guaranteed not to be the only ones with children. Cost: $4 (snacks) - $15 Bookings: 9419 1522
What: A barn-like beer hall that has kids in mind, Little Creatures features a play corner with books and toys, and booths to help with kid-wrangling. The food here, a bit above usual pub standards, makes the hall a bit more of a treat. Cost: $6 - $28 Bookings: 9417 5500 littlecreatures.com.au
Get Your Dumpling On Where: Camy Shanghai Noodle & Dumpling Restaurant 23-25 Tattersall's Lane CBD What: We're lucky enough to have many great dumpling places throughout Melbourne. Camy is one of the first and most basic, having served dumplings and noodles here long before the fashion caught on. The food is simple but nice, and the many tables on two levels means there's plenty of room for families. Cost: $6 - $15 Bookings: Not necessary
A Cultural Lunch Where: National Gallery Tea Room, Level 1
National Gallery of Victoria, 180 St Kilda Rd Southbank What: A café with a refined atmosphere, the National Gallery's Tea Room offers traditional fare, including Devonshire and High Teas. There is plenty of room for prams along the café extension overlooking the ground floor. Cost: $12 - $18 (a la carte), $15.50 - $80 (formal teas) Bookings: 8620 2431 www.ngv.vic.gov.au/visit/places-to-eat/the-tea-room
Cafe by the Sea Where: Fringe Cafe 73 Acland St St Kilda What: Many cafes in St Kilda are poky, but Fringe has both good coffee and plenty of room. A nice, simple alternative for a seaside trip, if the St Kilda Pavilion is full. Cost: $8 - $30 Bookings: 9593 8550
Fancy French Where: Madame Sou Sou 231 Brunswick St Fitzroy What: French restaurants are usually inaccessible to families, but Madame Sou Sou's outside area is quite family friendly. The Paris-style tables offer a nice place to relax and watch Brunswick Street's foot traffic. Cost: $5 - $42 Bookings: 9417 0400 www.madamesousou.com.au
A Meal in the Park Where: Fairfield Boat House
1 Fairfield Park Dr Fairfield What: Always popular, the Fairfield Boat House and Tea Gardens offers a nice mix of a day in the park and a family meal out. The Boat House specialises in old-world fare and was built with families in mind – plenty of room for kids to run around and wear themselves out. Cost: $6.50 - $32 Bookings: 9486 1501 www.fairfieldboathouse.com
Wild Card: Something completely different Where: The Yarra Glen Grand Hotel
19 Bell St Yarra Glen What: This picturesque pub is a good hour's drive from the Melbourne CBD, but well worth it. The kids can enjoy the countryside unrolling before them on the way there as you drive through the Yarra Valley. The pub itself combines an elegant setting with a traditional pub, and is popular with the locals. Play equipment is guaranteed to wear the kids out for the trip home. Cost: $7 - $15 (snacks), $7 - $32 Bookings: 9730 1230 www.yarravalleygrand.com.au