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Lovely to sit outside, if it's not too giraffe-ty!
Giraffe Restaurants (London)
Member Name: magenta23
Giraffe Restaurants (London)
Advantages: Good food, fast service, lots of choice
Disadvantages: Some of the staff and the food 'trying to hard'
I'm reviewing this under 'Giraffe Restaurants London,' though it's mainly focussed on the Walton on Thames branch, which is just down the river a little!
Giraffe.. I'd never heard of the place until we got one near to us in Walton on Thames, I wanted to straight away as I liked the name! We've been back quite a few times since, most recently a glorious sunny May bank Holiday, where we sat outside...and watched the traffic. Well, you can't have everything!
Looking at the website I see they are ever expanding and are up to 28 branches, mainly in the south of England, however I've not (yet) tried any other branch but this one. They have a relaxed style, and have the 'world' theme, world music and world cuisine. Well, 'world' cuisine for the masses anyway.
We went there for a proper lunch but they are forever advertising the fact they do breakfasts, snacks and encourage you to just pop in for coffee or cocktail. I know many eateries offer this but it's one of the few places I know where I'd feel comfortable doing so. The place really is chilled. Whatsmore they aren't that badly priced, the Walton one is right round the corner from Starbucks and Costa and they undercut them on all drinks. I might make this my local 'coffee' shop as well as restaurant.
As I mentioned they are open for drinks, and drinks you must try. They have an extensive cocktail menu, being adventurous I stayed away from my usual 'Margarita' and tried an 'Appletini'.. I'd seen JD and Turk drink these on Scrubs but had never been anywhere that served them here to try them! I'm in love with 'Appletinis' now. In fact our table did pretty well at sampling the cocktail menu, though before you assume we were a load of drunks they weren't all boozy. The fruity non alcoholic cocktails also just hit the spot on a sunny day.
We were served by about three different members of staff throughout our meal, which I don't object to, the place was busy and we were taken care of and served at a brisk pace which is all that matters. This company however clearly drum into their staff to be happy cheery and super helpful, and sometimes it just seems like they are trying too hard. The waitress that served us more than any was just that. I find people who bubbling over with personality like that exhausting... maybe I'm just a moody cow!
Anyway, we ordered our drinks and mains and as with all restaurants now they always ask if you want extras to get you to part with more money. She offered us garlic bread to start, two of us wanted it, two didn't so she said she'd bring us one of thier 'really nice cheesy garlic breads to share.' Only two of the (addmittedly rather fussy) friends I was with didn't like cheese. Why offer one thing then when the customer says yes, change it to something else?!
Onto mains.. the food as I mentioned is 'world' food so there's pretty much something for everyone. They really have tried to not leave anyone out there so you can have 'English' Sirloin Steak, 'Thai' Duck Stir Fry, Enchiladas if you're in a Mexican mood, Curry, Sushi and even a Chicken Shnitzel Burger. I've had their Prawn Mango Salad and Enchiladas in the past and I recommend either. This time around I thought I'd see how Giraffe fared on my favourite -Ribs.
The food came quickly and we all enjoyed what we had. The 'Thai Duck Stir Fry' was a hit and my two friends that ordered the 'Chicken Shitzel Burgers' got through them eventually, they looked really good but as my friend said 'I can't eat that, it's a big as my head!' My ribs were good, the meat was cooked well however, I felt the marinade wasn't as rich and sticky as it could have been. I've had better elsewhere. The ribs are described on the menu as being served with 'the house slaw.' I love Coleslaw so it sounded good to me. What I actually got was a lettuce leaf with what I can only describe as a purple blob on it. We commented that it looked like the Milka Cow had left us a little pat. I guess they put beetroot in their 'slaw'. A bit of a bizarre thing to do I thought, I hate beetroot and I think it's quite a aquired taste. It certainly didn't make thier 'slaw' look appetising either.
After the 'purple pat' incident, we felt we needed something sweeter and the puddings here were to die for! I always look at the puddings before I start my meal so I know what to leave room for. True to form I went for chocolate. Their Chocolate Brownie is gorgeous, served with ice cream, and if that wasn't calorific enough they poured over a good puddle of chocolate sauce. (I decided not to look up the calories on this one like I did after going to Pizza Express! I think it's better not to know!) Two of my friends shared a huge 'Rocky Road Sundae' which was ice cream, marshmallows, brownie and all other manner of decadance in a sundae glass. It must have been good as I've not seen a battle of the spoons like it! Maybe 'fought over' is a better phrase to use than 'shared!'
Bill for four with cocktials and three courses (though we shared the first) came to £120. The cocktails were £4-£7 each so you can see that the food was fairly reasonable. If you are visited a Giraffe, expect to pay £7-£11 for your mains, starters and pudding around £5 or less. Also, they do deals during the week where if you get there early evening they do two courses for £7.95. Various offers go on throughout the week so it's work seeing what's what. Also, I would recommend visiting their website and signing up to their newsletter, I often get sent print off vouchers for two for one meals or drinks.
For more info visit www.giraffe.net
They also have a list of branches here to see if there is one near you.
Summary: Nice chilled place for drinks or food.