I'm a big believer in taking the girls "out" for food, teaching table manners and appropriate behaviours in public is high on my list of lessons. There are the occasions when it all falls apart but most of the time its quite an enjoyable experience.
My local cafe know my girls by name and actually smile when we arrive, scoop up Evie for a cuddle and pass out complimentary marshmallows but unfortunately its not always like this elsewhere. I totally understand the whole eating out with kids debate but seriously if your respectful of others dining and clean up after any major mess they make it really isn't that hard. Little Eats has a great article here that I totally agree with - if fact while your there and your from Melbourne, pick out some great places to eat as well. Its usually the first place I look when brainstorming for a new place to visit.
We went to Cheeky Chino's over Easter break and all I can say is why hasn't someone done this before. Its totally a great place to start with, if your building your "eating out" confidence. What amazing service, yummy food and most importantly perfect coffee. There were TWO staff actually playing with the girls in the play area while the hubby and I had lunch and somebody helped me by taking the pram to the pram parking area and then helped set us up at the table. The food was just as good as any other high end "hipster" eatery and the fab kids menu had plenty of healthy choices (not a fried food to be seen). We enjoyed a delicious chicken sandwich and toasted foccacia, 4 coffees (yes we went back for seconds) and Lou enjoyed the choice of six different babychinos types and a yummy pink iced tea cake. The toilets are family friendly with a place to change nappies if needed.
They have thought of absolutely everything here including plastic cups for the water just for the kids and sanitiser for bare feet in the play area. They only negative I can see that once word gets out about this place I'm sure it will be packed daily.
We will be back very soon.