Going out for a meal with your kids doesn't have to mean a migraine-inducing experience in some tacky pleasuredome with nothing to sustain you but a lukewarm burger and soggy chips.

Restaurateur and father-of-two Fred Taylor was having such a hard time finding somewhere decent to eat - and where he felt welcome with his young family - that he decided that when he opened his latest venture, RK Stanley's in Soho, he'd make it child-friendly.

"There is this awful English idea that children should be seen and not heard. It's crazy. When I was a child I actually ate out a lot with my parents and I'd like my children to be able to do the same.

"We don't have balloons or entertainers," explains Fred who has attracted families by letting children eat for free on Saturdays. "Just good food, decent baby-changing facilities and plenty of space for kids to enjoy themselves."

And RK Stanley's is not alone. A growing number of West End restaurants are realising that appealing to families, particularly at weekends, makes good business sense.

"Traditionally Sunday was our quietest day, but then last September we launched a Kids' Sunday Brunch," says Kelly Luchford, press director at Bank, the 200-seat restaurant on the edge of Covent Garden, which offers weekend children's menus and free goodie bags to keep the little ones amused. And the result of their innovation?

"Trade has trebled."

Where little ones are promised a big welcome

Bank: 1 Kingsway, WC2 (0171- 379 9797) pounds 6.95 children's menu on both Saturdays and Sundays plus free goodie bags with stickers, crayons, and pictures of the chef to colour in!

RK Stanley's: 6 Little Portland St W1 (0171-462 0099) Children eat free on Saturdays (12-3.30pm) but owner Fred Taylor stresses they are welcome during the week as well. "We had quite a few kids in at half-term with their dads and it was great."

Coast: 26B Albermarle St W1 (0171-495 5999) Children under 10 eat for free at weekends (12-3.30pm) at this modern British restaurant. They also promise a supply of crayons and colouring books.

One Lawn Terrace: Blackheath, SE3 (0181-355 1110) On a Sunday (12-2pm), this new South London restaurant has the ultimate carrot for parents - nannies who supervise colouring and board games in the atrium adjoining the restaurant. Parents may even manage a conversation lasting more than two minutes.

Frederick's: Camden Passage, Islington N1 (0171-359 2888)

Sunday lunch kids' menu pounds 5.95

Bluebird: 350 King's Road, SW3 (0171-559 1000) Pictured above

Both the Conran cafe and upstairs restaurant have children's menus at weekends.