Ask, London

Ask is one of those places where you meet friends after work on a Thursday evening to catch up with good food and a glass of Prosecco. To be honest, it’s never really been on our agenda to have a family meal here.
When I think of Ask, I automatically picture twinkling candles and rows of tables for two with wine glasses set out. Sharing platters galore and large white echoey establishments as couples lean in across the table deep in conversation and gazing into the eyes of each other.

As opposed to my life, Austyn flicking food everywhere and screaming because he has flicked his food everywhere, the older two arguing about absolutely nothing whatsoever.

Then comes the time to play musical chairs because that one wanted that seat and that one didn’t want that seat. But in the process of moving to a new chair, that is identical to the original chair they were already sat in, they knock all the drinks over and cause a complete commotion. Meanwhile, Beard is now losing his shit, shouting at them and vowing we are never going out in public ever again, and I’m downing my glass of wine before promptly pouring another one.

Ahhhhh, family life at its finest.

I can’t believe we are about to review Ask Italian as a family…

We were greeted by a lovely waiter who cleared an area to store our buggy and mountains of shopping in preparation for our weekend at Camp Bestival, away from the other diners I might add. Naturally, we didn’t want to upset any cooing couples, so we came along for lunch. However, despite this, it was busy and brimming with young families, which I was pretty surprised by.

The kid’s menu is fun and has a reasonable selection for a little under £7/ The menu has all the usuals you’d expect – crunchy crudités to start followed by pizza or pasta OR their all-new Dip & Dunk Pasta; unfortunately this wasn’t on the menu when we visited, but it sounds like something kids will go crazy for; dip your pasta into tasty tomato sauce then dunk into grated cheese.

The little ones can choose from pasta cartwheels or cheese and tomato filled tortellini. They also offer a gluten-free pizza which is perfect for Finn, who is currently trialling a new diet to see if it improves his health.
But where Ask really excels is with the kid’s pudding. Ice cream, fruit, ice lolly or, wait for it, a chocolate pizza with marshmallows and strawberries! The boys went mad for it, and it’s a great way to say, “eat all your dinner, or they’ll be no pudding.”

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The problem I find when dining out with Austyn is what he will have to eat. He doesn’t like anything with a tomato-based sauce, and equally, he’s too little to warrant a meal from the children’s menu. Usually, I would share, but I am in selfish Mummy mode and want nothing but Arrabbiata, which will set his nappy on fire should he have one mouthful. So I call over our amiable waiter, “I know this is cheeky but is there any chance you could do my baby the tiniest of tiny portions of your pesto pasta – I mean just literally three small spoonfuls? Of course, I will pay for this, but he won’t eat anything we are eating, and everything on the children’s menu is tomato-based which he will refuse.” Awaiting the “no sorry madam, that’s not company policy”, he checks with the manager. Seconds later, “yes, of course, that is absolutely no problem at all – will he eat our standard Purple Basil Pesto Genovese, or would he prefer it plain?”
Wow, this is a first – not only are they facilitating a baby’s/Mums requests, but they altered the recipe. I like this place.

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The food arrives in an amount of time that lets you know the food is fresh, but not too long that you’re salivating to the point of swallowing your food whole when it arrives. The wine is chilled, Beards beer is reasonably priced for a bottled Italian beverage, and the kid’s water is, as expected, tastes of water. It’s cold and doesn’t contain lemon; just how they like it. They even heated Austyn’s milk to an acceptable temperature as opposed to molten lava, like other restaurants.

As previously mentioned, we visited for lunch on a Saturday, so it was bustling and there was enough noise to dampen the original noises I feared would disturb others. Siblings arguing and Austyn chucking food while I tried to reason with the beast.

The staff were attentive, the produce was fresh, the food was perfectly cooked, and it was presented beautifully not just slopped on the plate. Furthermore, the price was far less than what we expected – it was worth every penny, and we would thoroughly recommend it to any family who think they can’t venture to anywhere other than Pizza Express with kids in tow.