Just as 'Groupon' plays a part in introducing people to local businesses – cafés and restaurants – tempting the public with daily deals and discount prices, 'Voucher Codes' pulls together 'free voucher codes and exclusive discounts'* for the majority of the mainstream 'chain' restaurants and bars which exist in City Centres across the UK. Not one to turn down a bargain, I often frequent this site and in this instance snapped up a two-for-one offer for my favourite 'chain' restaurant, 'Giraffe' – the only one, in my opinion that has retained a true sense of originality despite feeding the masses...
Date and Time: Tuesday 26th April 2011, 19:00
Name of Establishment: Giraffe*
Location: Top Floor, Cabot Circus, Bristol
Reason for Visit: The end of a hectic day-trip to the seaside with The Boy!
What I like about Giraffe is the smiley service you receive as soon as you walk through the door; staff are chatty and relaxed which makes for a friendly space, ever apparent from the onset of your visit. This occasion was no exception as typically, Giraffe was bright and buzzing with conversation against the subtlety of the background 'world music'. With it's overarching global theme, colourful décor and original art work, Giraffe seems to dissolve any prior stress and encourages diners to focus on its ethos, 'Love Eat Live' – a motto which adorns its restaurants and encapsulates all aspects of the establishment and most importantly, the content of the menu.
Food here is imaginative and dishes are packed full of high-quality ingredients. The Boy and I shared edamame (£4.65) to start which is served as pods which you have to pull open with your teeth, (probably not the best idea if you're at Giraffe on a first date!) The glaze in which the edamame is wok-fried is made up of soy, chilli and mirin (a Japanese rice-wine) – this is indisputably the star of this dish with its sweet, sticky texture, subtle heat and salty-tang.
For my main course, I chose the BBQ Chicken and Smoked Cheddar Quesadilla (£8.25) from the menu's Mexicana section. This was aesthetically presented on a wooden board yet didn't leave a lot of room for knife and fork manoeuvre! That aside, there were some lovely flavours on offer here; the black bean chilli was the most prominent and I enjoyed the earthy warmth of this alongside the cooler spice of the ranchera salsa in contrast to the sweetness of the well-marinated chicken. I was pleased that the cheddar had been used subtly as had it been 'oozing' from the tortilla as the menu suggested, I feel it would have clashed with the creamy richness of the chipotle aioli accompaniment. All in all, I enjoyed this dish and It was certainly a generous portion - I had to ask The Boy to help me out!
The Hot Thai Duck Stir Fry (£9.95) was well-received by The Boy. With its punchy flavours that come through in bursts, (the menu states; shredded BBQ duck, bok choy, thai basil, mushrooms, red pepper, egg noodles and bean sprouts, topped with chilli jam, crispy shallots, spring onion and red chilli) this is certainly a dish which engages all your taste-buds, treating you to a variety of different tastes and textures, followed by a rather satisfying warmth which stays with you until dessert! I did wonder whether there was almost too much going on here (perhaps, I mused, Giraffe were throwing together a multitude of ingredients for the sake of it) but The Boy assured me that each element was vital – and as this is his tried and tested favourite from the menu, he should know! We didn't have room for dessert during this visit but I can report (from prior experience) that the Milky Bubble Double Chocolate Cheesecake is to die for – have a look at Giraffe's interactive website for more information.
|Hot Thai Duck Stir-Fry|
I think it's notable that The Boy and I have never visited Giraffe without a voucher in hand so perhaps its therefore fair to say that if you were to dine à la carte, it would be a fairy expensive experience. That said, you needn't let that hold you back - on the evening of our visit, The Boy and I could have taken advantage of a number of deals – 'Bar Buddies' (50% off a selection of alcoholic beverages including some lovely-sounding cocktails), 'Burger Tuesday' (where all burgers from the main menu are just £5) and if we had arrived a little earlier, the £8.45 starter and main course combo which runs daily from 4:00pm – 7:00pm. For the record, you may also want to check out Giraffe's 'Wake Up Wednesdays' where coffees are served up to 10:30am at 50p each. At that price and with free Wi-Fi and a tempting breakfast menu to boot (think Stacked Blueberry and Banana pancakes with maple syrup), it would be rude not to!
I will certainly return to Giraffe, these guys really work hard to deliver well thought-out food and attentive service. I think that the Bristol branch needs to revise its seating which is quite uncomfortable and hard in places but still, I can never resist a bargain and with the abundance of money-saving options on offer here, I will always have a reason to come back!
And now for the second opinion...
The Boy gave Giraffe 9/10 and in three words, described his experience as a 'feast of flavours!'