Spot Check: Smollensky's Balloon

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Smart urbanites will allow for the disparity between adult and infant energy levels by booking a table at Smollensky's. Saturday and Sunday lunchtimes are aimed at people with kids, which sounds like pure hell.

In fact, it's one of the most civilised experiences you can have with a child. The basement of this Mayfair restaurant is kitted out with wipe-clean banquettes and paper tablecloths, and children have separate menus so you don't have to make do with chicken nuggets.

But, best of all, they understand that no one under seven has ever sat still for more than 10 minutes on the trot.

So although the service is leisurely you don't have to deal with someone drumming their heels and going 'When's it time to go hooooome'.

Instead, ankle-biters can wander off and have faces painted (pounds 1.50), be regaled with card tricks and - bliss of blisses - be taken away between 2.30 and 3pm to watch a Punch and Judy show.

The food is a bit steakish, but pleasantly so, and is unlikely to set you back less than pounds 20-a-head for three courses.

But for a couple of hours of behaving like an adult without having to get a babysitter, it's worth it.

Smollensky's Balloon, 1 Dover St, W1 (071-491 1199)