Dad review: Blue Boar Bar
Our Dad blogger checks out the new child-friendly menu at the Conrad London St James's Blue Boar Bar...
As we walked through the main hotel entrance to the Blue Boar Bar in the heart of Westminster we were first greeted by a doorman, followed by a man tuning his harp. Hmmm, our clothes have sick on, we’re soaked and our baby smells of poo. This is usually where the manager has a quiet word and smugly says we’re in the wrong place. Fortunately, not today.
After navigating our way through the hotel – there is a more direct entrance via Tothill St – we were pleasantly surprised to find a relaxed, friendly atmosphere where little rapscallions appeared to be tolerated. ‘A sophisticated take on the British traditional pub’ is how its own website describes it and this certainly rings true. The trendy décor – think lamps in tall boots, Chesterfield settees – help remind parents they’re not just parents, they’re adults too... and we found ourselves relaxing pretty quickly. There is enough space to feel you’re not a bother to other customers and enough room to park your pram.
Our three-year-old was hell-bent on grapes and our waitress went to great lengths to get him some even though there were none in the kitchen. With a smile too.
The Little Piglets menu for kids has four mains all at £10 each, as well as starter and dessert options. This is central London so if you’re not used to those prices that can feel steep for a kids meal. Of course, our boy didn’t want the mini burger or penne pasta from the specially designed menu and instead asked for cheesy pasta. After some deliberation the staff agreed and the quality of food is what comes through here: it’s the best cheesy pasta I’ve ever tasted and worth the price. How do I know? He didn’t finish it. Too many grapes.
The relaxed feel helped mask the 20 minute wait which, in another bar, may have felt like an age with kids in tow. A warning came with my boy’s macaroni cheese that the metal plate it was served on was hot; it was – just as described – really super hot, so some extra care was required to make sure tiny fingers weren't burned. Our task was made trickier when our little human was given big human cutlery, which is all they had.
For the adults the food was exceptional too. The meat platter was perfectly presented and had a range of meats from pork cheek fritters to chicken liver pate. If you order the chicken-in-a-basket, don’t think KFC. This isn’t that type of place. Four beautifully seasoned drumsticks in a metal serving dish with a tasty slaw accompaniment is what arrived. This place is about taste, flavour and quality, things that can be lost on kids but appreciated by parents. The apple crumble is, hand on heart, the best I have ever had.
Back in parent mode and doing a double toilet stop for a 10-week-old and my boy proved tricky. Baby changing was downstairs, back past the harpist and down the lift. The baby changing unit was in the open men’s toilets. Not a problem but unusual. The cleaner offered help which was nice. Don’t expect to dry your hands on paper or hot air, you get a fresh towel just for you, taken from a towel pyramid.
Be prepared to stock up on felt pens, puzzles and entertainment as there were none offered, but then if you’re with kids on a day out in London preparation is key anyway. Staff are welcoming of children and the menu has enough variety on it to cater for most kids. Food portions are a reasonable size and taste fantastic. If you’re ready for a drink then the rich variety of wines, locally brewed craft beers and ales is enough to tempt you in with or without kids.
The Blue Boar bar combines a relaxed atmosphere with quality food for the whole family. A hard balance to get right but one that’s certainly worth sampling.