I live in Cork city centre, so spend the vast majority of my days wandering in and around the shops and side streets, wielding my not-so-tiny buggy with the tiny man inside. Generally we seem to follow the same pattern, occasionally meeting others for lunch, wandering around shops and looking at more things to clutter up the already overly-populated house with. (Homewares are my kryptonite. Especially the tiny tiny dishes).
Some shops make it easier than others for people with buggies, or children in general to come in. There are a few clothes shops in particular inaccessible due to the lack of a lift, or awkwardly narrow aisles – and yes, I have been that Mammy trying to balance the display I’ve just hit with the buggy, hoping and praying that it won’t come crashing down. Dorothy Perkins, I’m looking at you.
Where I’ve found it most awkward however is actually going for lunch, or for coffee, with tiny humans attached. Pre-baby, I could text around and organise a coffee without a thought for where we should go – sure, all we needed was two chairs, they didn’t need to be comfortable or easily accessible, and a lot of the time my shortness was the only obstacle holding me back from the high stools. These days, the priorities are a tad different. As bad as pulling a display in a shop down is, places with hot food and beverages become ultimately dangerous if there isn’t enough room or they aren’t properly accessible, and so planning a coffee date with friends becomes something of military precision – especially if you’re looking for somewhere with decent coffee. However, over the last few months I’ve found a few places which have been absolutely fantastic and baby/buggy friendly.
When I was in college, this was a sports bar. In its current form, it is still a bar but during the day serves a rather interesting menu – their sweet potato chips are to die for – and are extremely friendly towards buggies. There are two small steps (not the worst for the buggy steering by far) upon entrance, and they’ve always been quick to offer help with this. Theres a choice of different seating arrangements, we’ve always found an area down the back perfect for lunch with the buggy, or if its a nice day, which it has been quite a bit this summer, the outdoor area is absolutely lovely and is complete with a shaded area perfect for hiding away small eyes from the sun. They also serve Cork Coffee Roasters as their coffee, which is fantastic, as Cork Coffee Roasters themselves have the most anti-buggy set up I’ve ever seen (narrow, narrow cafe always overcrowded – its tough to manoeuvre even without a buggy) but have rather nice coffee. Quite a nice find.
Cafe Gusto, Lapps Quay
If you’re down that end of the city on a weekday before 4pm, Cafe Gusto is a lovely little pit stop. While having more reduced opening hours than its Washington St sister, it is infinitely easier to get around with a buggy and it is possible to sit on the high stools and have room for the buggy behind you. Alternatively, as with the last choice, if it is a sunny day there is a gorgeous outdoor area looking out onto the River Lee where you can sit and while the hours away. Their pastries are also lovely (Pre-diet me recommends the carrot cake with one of their lattes for a super happy experience).
It’s in the dead centre of town, serves a brunch until 4pm with the nicest sausages I’ve ever found in Cork, and you can browse baby clothes and makeup downstairs to your hearts content. I’ve been a fan of this place long before tiny tyrant came along, but it was only when I became one of the buggy wielders than I realised how good it was. There are lovely wide aisles, room to place buggies beside tables without getting in anybody’s way, and if you’ve got older kids as well as having a kids lunch special, they’ve got a somewhat play area corner. Do watch out for the predatory Pixi Foto reps who will tell you your child is gorgeous and ploy for your money (unless this is something you’re interested in). Another place perfect for tea and cake. I have also seen staff members being called to assist customers with their trays if they have a buggy with them – its not happened to me as I tend to leave the buggy with the other person while I go up and grab, but its good to note. My only downside to this place is that it taught me the fast way how to precisely steer the buggy – their lift exits off into the homewares department, into the many breakable crockery sets – I really do wonder about the thought behind that, putting narrow aisles with lots of expensive breakables in a place thats meant to be more accessible.. but apart from that, its a fab find.
Dunnes Stores cafe
Another department store cafe, this one is on the top floor of the shop, easily accessible via lift (or at a push those flat escalators). They’re absolutely lovely here and I’ve always found them really helpful. This one is definitely dependant on time of day as around lunch time it is packed, and can be difficult to find a place to sit with the buggy, but when its not bursting at the seams full there is plenty of room. They drop food to the table if they see you with a buggy, which is fab and means no trying to wrestle tray and buggy. Having used this as a pit stop many a time to feed tiny man, I’ve also been approached and asked if I’d like a top up on my tea or the food re-heated once I’d finished feeding, absolutely no rush on anyone to move on out as well which I found with some other places. Sandwiches, tea or cake readily available for reasonable prices as well.
Perry St Market Cafe
I’d never actually come across this place before another Mammy recommended it to me, it opened late last year in what is apparently a former night club, but is now serving as a rather lovely cafe. Big wide aisles mean this place is a hit with the buggy brigade as seen on any of my visits in there, as well as friendly staff and massive portions. Their main menu varies from day to day, but the real crown in their jewel is their dessert counter – absolutely unreal. Food is a bit more expensive than in other places mentioned, but I’ve not been disappointed yet.
Special Mention: Boots, Opera Lane
They don’t serve food, but they do have one of the best baby rooms I’ve ever seen – clean, no smell of dirty nappies like so many others, decorated with gorgeous pictures of Disney characters on the wall, calm music playing and best of all, free nappies and wipes. Feeding room and changing room in the one go. Staff are super friendly as well.
Those would be the top few places I’m likely to be found, buggy parked, coffee in hand. Have you got any suggestions? Leave a comment and share the wealth of knowledge!