This Northern Ireland restaurant just combined food with family fun

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As any parent knows, eating out with little people can be a fraught affair.

Whether they create a wasteland of splattered food on the floor, annoy the diners at the next table with a temper tantrum, or smear the nice starched white tablecloth with pasta sauce, there’s inevitably going to be a few edgy moments when kids are in tow.

But the Tap Room restaurant at Hilden Brewing Co, Lisburn, recently came up with a clever idea to keep our little timebombs of emotion and noise under control.

To celebrate the launch of its new Sunday brunch menu it teamed up with local arts and crafts company The Secret Door, run by Shirley Brown Camblin, to provide free workshops for children of all abilities aged 5 –15 years between 2pm and 4pm on Sunday afternoons.

As both my children love arts and crafts (and as I love food!) I took them along recently to dine and draw.

The Tap Room is the onsite restaurant at the Hilden Brewing Co., Ireland’s founding independent craft ale brewers, which was established by Ann and Seamus Scullion in 1981 in the courtyard of Hilden House, the former home of the Barbour linen barons. It’s a magnificent setting and a perfect spot for a lazy Sunday lunch.

The menu at the Tap Room is a delight, with a range of imaginative dishes, as well as some more familiar plates. To start I enjoyed a warm salad of roasted cauliflower, green beans, new potatoes and Cashel Blue dressing, which was delicious. My main of Belfast Blonde (one of Hilden’s iconic brews) battered fish and chips, crushed garden peas and homemade tartar sauce, was perfect.

My children, unbelievably fussy eaters, stuck with what they knew; sausage and chips for Hugh, and chicken and chips for Maria. Food was wolfed down quickly in anticipation of getting crafty.

And so, as we enjoyed the rest of our meal (in peace), our budding Picassos drew pictures, made creations out of paper cups and lollipop sticks, and had a thoroughly great time, with the ever-patient Sharon overseeing proceedings.

Incorporating food and family fun is a great idea; we all had a great time.

And in keeping with its family focus, Hilden Brewing Co. is holding a fun day in aid of local children’s charity Cash For Kids on Saturday, June 10, from 11am- 3pm. Get along if you can!