I will hold my hands up and say that I'm one of those parents that rarely takes my children to soft play. I do feel a bit sorry for Jack being child number 3 at times as it wasn't always this way but now I'm into my 11th year of parenting, I can honestly think of better ways to spend our time. Heidi and Jack however LOVE IT and when I mentioned we had been invited to Brewers Fayre Derwent Crossing to check out their new kids play area they were literally jumping for joy. Seriously - you'd think these kids never went anywhere at times!
We hit lucky and visited on a teaching training day in Northumberland when Gateshead children were still at school so it was nice and quiet. First impressions were that the pub was HUGE - I think it was formerly Taybarns but I don't know what it used to be like inside. What I do know is that there is now a cosy bar area with a fire and a couple of pool tables and the interior was very warm and welcoming. Jack was particularly impressed with the electronic posters on the wall.
Say what you want about chains like Brewers Fayre but when you have kids, sometimes it's just easy to dine somewhere like this. The food is never going to be haute cuisine but it's budget friendly and to be honest, we've never had a bad meal at a Brewers Fayre. Yes it might be frozen and a lot of it is pre-prepared but you get what you pay for and you can't complain at two mains for £10 when you're on a budget.
The theme throughout the children's menu (and play area) is the Beano. The menu's are bright and fun and I like how there are photographs of every meal which makes it super easy for non-readers to browse and choose what they fancy. There are plenty of healthier options too with corn on the cob, veggie sticks, baked beans, peas or jacket potatoes all being offered as sides. At £3.99 for a main plus 75p for dessert, we thought this deal was excellent.
As I was ordering at the bar, Steve checked the kids into the play area. It's through a completely separate door so if you don't have kids, screaming children are unlikely to bother you :-) There are some tables in this area too and you can eat here so if you have very young children who need supervision, it is probably best to sit here. You can order food from the play area reception as well as the main bar and they have their own soft drinks for sale which is very convenient. Thankfully my days of chasing a toddler around a play area are over now and we were able to sit in the main restaurant and enjoy our drinks in peace whilst keeping an eye on the kids using the TV monitors that are dotted about.
The play area is £3 per child for 90 minutes worth of play. This doesn't change during peak times and considering our local soft play charges £9 on a Saturday, I think this works out as a good option. There is a member of staff in there but obviously it's common sense that you need to be responsible for your own children.
The kids described the play area as 'epic' with one of the fastest slides they'd ever been on. They loved the climbing nets and obstacles and didn't get bored at all, in fact we had to drag them out. There is also a TV den and a few toys and cars for smaller children. Harry (10) decided he was too old to play at first, preferring to share mine and Steve's starters and read his book at the table but once H&J told him how awesome it was, he couldn't resist joining them.
The soft play was in very good condition and I was very happy with my children playing in there.
We have still stuck to our resolution of switching fizzy drinks for water at home so when we're out, if we aren't drinking alcohol we do like to treat ourselves to a proper coke. Brewers Fayre Derwent Crossing have one of those fancy refillable machines where you touch the screen to pick your drink. £2.75 for unlimited refills is a good price I think - you can get refillable coffee too which is perfect for meeting up with your mum friends and kids for a catch up.
Our starters arrived and as Harry and Steve shared some Peri Peri Chicken Wings and discussed their latest Harry Potter theory, it suddenly dawned on me just how grown up Harry is now :-(
I went for the Tempura Prawns to start. They were actually better than expected and Harry couldn't resist stealing a couple.
With a slight rest between courses, it was soon time to collect our children from the play area as their lunch had arrived. Again, the food is honestly nothing to write home about but it was definitely worth the £3.99 price tag. Plus the kids loved it and that's what matters. I liked the Beano napkins and thought this was a nice attention to detail.
Chain pub food is rarely photogenic but I'm going to show you a pic anyway! haha! I have a real guilty pleasure for Smothered chicken when dining at this sort of restaurant and this one was just as expected. Filling, probably laden with calories but it hit the spot.
Steve went for the BBQ Pork ribs and we were really impressed with the portion size (it was huge). Steve's a real wings and ribs kind of man and despite being a complete food snob at times, he didn't have any complaints about today's offerings.
So I took the above pics on my DSLR but Steve just casually snapped this on his iPhone to share to Instagram. It's not fair that he's only been blogging two minutes but already takes better photos than me!!
The kids devoured their mains in double-quick time so they could run back to the play area ASAP. Steve and I were far too full to order dessert but the kids still had room and at only an additional 75p, I think it would be mad not to take Brewers Fayre up on this offer.
Heidi picked best I think with chocolate brownies, strawberries and marshmallows in their own dipping sauce - YUM! I tried the brownies myself and they were lovely and gooey.
Harry ordered chocolate pizza and I was slightly jealous - it looked like a little piece of chocolate heaven and was gone in no time.
Jack went for his favourite vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce - he's a creature of habit.
From Monday - Friday, 12noon - 6pm you can order two adult starters or desserts for £2.50 and two mains for £10.99 so excluding drinks, a 2 course lunch for a family of 2 adults and 3 children will cost just under £28. You really can't complain about that. Add another £9 for three kids' entry to the play area and about another £10 for drinks and it is a family afternoon out with food and drink for under £50 that the kids will really enjoy. Not bad at all.
Offers and Events at Derwent Crossing Brewers Fayre
*The Derwent Crossing Breakfast deal is fantastic and perfect for filling up before heading to the Metrocentre or a nice walk around Gibside. Adults can order an unlimited cooked breakfast (cooked to order - not from a buffet) and help themselves to unlimited pastries, fruits and cereals alongside refillable costa coffee and fresh juice for just £8.99 and 2 kids can eat free. See here for details.
*Festive Fayre is available for just £4.99 for 2 courses for kids and less than £11 for 2 course for adults - there aren't many places that will offer a Christmas family meal alongside a play area for this price. See here for details.
*Brewers Scare will be running over October Half term where there will be free crafts in the mornings and kids will receive a free Beano comic with their meal.
I know that Brewers Fayre isn't everyone's cup of tea and I get that but if you have children to entertain and limited funds, Derwent Crossing is a very good option. The kids loved the play area, enjoyed their lunch and it was a nice way to start our half term holidays.
Disclosure | We were invited to spend the afternoon at Derwent Crossing and received a complimentary lunch and entry to soft play in return for this review.