How I long for La Baita despite being only about a 40 min tube ride away. It really was my most beloved cafe, meeting and work space when I lived in SW6. Firstly, you can have all ages and a dozen buggies fit in their space if need be. They are kind to EVERYONE. I watched a father simply allow his son to knock over the house water pitcher all over the counter and the till without so much as an apology and they simply smiled and dealt with it very calmly and professionally. The loo can get crowded and a bit messy with kids as it is the busy Common but they do their best to keep it clean. Occasionally people with huge dogs show up and eat outside with their dogs off leash but in my two years of going there almost daily not once did I see a regular act irresponsibly as a pet owner. If you are squeamish about off leash dogs, this may not be the place for you. Once again the staff is very kind to dog owners as well as parents and the average park goer. Food is basic higher end cafe food with imported snacks, wafers, soft drinks and ice creams. I'm part Sicilian so I guess I relate the really nice Mediterranean vibe. Highly recommended.
Bang next to the bandstand on Clapham Common, run by a Sicilian family, this place is super-popular with local parents. Good coffee, good cakes, and very good icecream are all on offer. Expect lots of families and milling hordes of dogs; helpfully, on promising looking mornings they have a supply of high chairs in easy reach of the outdoor seating. On occasion I believe they also sell extra virgin olive oil from the family's own olive groves in the old country. On the downside, they can be a little slipshod with opening times very frustrating if you're an early riser like me, it is rather expensive, and in my experience they are not always particualrly polite. But then, on the latter point, the same could be said about many of the punters; there are a lot of ill-behaved and poorly supervised children in evidence, not to mention self-obsessed parents ( for example, I've had another parent try to push a door closed while I'm coming through it with my daughter in a push chair, been elbowed out of the way by folk to whom queing is clearly anathema, etc etc). But there you go; that's Nappy Valley for you.
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