A child unfriendly restaurant could be a positive thing. If you don’t have children or want to escape your own children and other people’s for a night a restaurant which positively discourages kids could only be a good thing. But if you do want to bring your baby or child along to eat out with you, I wouldn’t recommend Fatto, the Italian “bar and cantina” at the Arts Centre, Melbourne. The restaurant is a lot more casual than the short lived Trocadero, which it replaces at the complex but not so laid back that it welcomes children.
I went there for an early dinner with my friend Claire and our babies. We had a 5.30pm booking (who else but parents would eat at that time!) and were told we had to be done by 7pm. I’d asked when booking if it was ok to bring the babies and was told it was although there were no highchairs. I explained there would be two prams so an outside table would be best or one with a lot of space. But when we arrived with prams in tow the waitress gave me a look as if I had just asked her to pick her nose and eat it and spent ages “setting up” a table inside. The restaurant was empty apart from a few couples but she said all the spacious, vacant, outdoor tables were unavailable.
Our table turned out to be restaurant Siberia, in the far corner next to the toilets and necessitating manouvering the prams past every other table in the restaurant to get in and out. Throughout our meal the babies were really well behaved and didn’t cry or disturb the other diners at all but the wait staff couldn’t really have been more unfriendly if they tried.
It’s a shame because the food was excellent. Tiny little crisp arancini balls were gooey and soft inside with a comfort food combination of salted cod and risotto rice ($13). Octopus ($8) was meltingly tender served in a slick of oil with warm salty olives and chilli.
The pasta was simple and elegant. Egg yolk yellow strands of spaghettini were topped with delicate flakes of spanner crab and crusty fried breadcrumbs ($26) while fluffy squares of gnocchi ($25) sopped up the rich juices of rabbit wrapped in prosciutto and cooked with Marsala. Fatto is a great restaurant, as long as you don’t try to bring your kids.
Details: Fatto Bar & Cantina, River Terrace, Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne (Ph 03 8698 8800) Open 11am – late.
Children: No. Children are allowed but this is not a kid friendly restaurant.