I packed the family into the car on Sunday morning with the promise of great coffee (for my husband) and an even greater playground (for my toddler). I am pleased to say The Alley fulfilled both of these promises!
Tucked away on the campus of Northside Christian College, The Alley can be a little tricky to find - we drove straight past it at first!
Once you find it however, there's plenty of parking directly across from the cafe. We have early risers so arrived very shortly after it opened and had no problems getting a parking space however it did get full quite quickly as members of the church congregation arrived. Don't worry, there are plenty of additional carparks, they're just a little bit more of a walk - you might want to consider putting the kids in the pram if you don't manage to arrive early enough to park opposite.
Thankfully I had done a little research prior to going so knew that The Alley does not hold a food licence, although they do offer snacks such as muffins, cookies, croissants and sandwiches to satisfy any cravings you might have. The coffee however makes up for the lack of food- at least according to my husband it did (I had my usual black tea which was also great.) There's also Babycino's available for the kids as well as juice Pop-Tops.
Lets be honest though, good coffee is available a lot closer to home for us. The real reason we took a trip to The Alley and I'm guessing a big reason a lot of other mothers go too is the playground. It's like the heavens parted and answered the prayers of mothers across Brisbane. A playground that is fully fenced (with glass so you can keep an eye on your little one), no equipment high enough off the ground to pose a risk to climbers (like my toddler) and that also caters to children up to 5 years old!
It's good to note though that the play area, although under a large shade cloth (big thumbs up) is not fully undercover and therefore not completely water proof. It was lightly raining when we were there so it was fine but I would say during heavy rain, the playground wouldn't be useable.
And for those of us who have a toddler and a baby who doesn't love sitting in a high chair for long periods of time, there is an astro-turfed area soft enough to lay a blanket down and let little ones roll around and stretch their legs. They really have thought of everything and have also provided bench seating on two sides of the playground so parents don't have to sit on the ground with their bubs (unless you want to).
With a mostly toilet-trained toddler and a 6 month old, it was great to see toilet facilities very close by (sometimes the walk is just too far) and also with ramp access, so no problems if you do happen to have the pram. The toilets are huge, easily big enough for a pram and very clean. There is also a fold-down change table for babies.