At some point in life as a London parent, it’s likely that you will find yourself amidst other herds grazing at a Giraffe restaurant.
With 36 branches around the country and voted Family-Friendly Restaurant Group of the Year by Restaurant Magazine, Giraffe has pretty much got the child-friendly eatery gig locked down.
So what is it about Giraffe that, like its namesake, keeps it head and shoulders above the pack?
On close analysis, they don’t offer much extra for kids other than what’s now standard in family restaurants. But what they do have is super sunny staff and a totally relaxed vibe that embraces everyone including bawling bubbas and rampant toddlers.
You’ll find the Babes brood at our Islington branch on a weekday for Giraffe Time (5-7pm) where there’s a set discount menu, along with half-price cocktails.
The boys can’t get enough of Giraffe, from its bright exterior and airy interior, to the thrill of leaving with a giraffe cocktail stick and an orange balloon. The kids’ menu offers hearty nosh (burgers, mash, meatballs etc.) at just over a fiver with dessert and they’re also flexible if you want to switch different items.
The adult menu is a mix of Afro, pan-Asian, Latin, American and European fare – a sort of global taste expedition that is constantly changing. This mostly works in their favour but can be disappointing when you’re looking forward to that delicious teriyaki salmon dish only to find it’s no longer on the menu.
My only gripe with the Islington branch is for ages they were using the baby-changing room as a stroller parking zone – mighty inconvenient when nappies were bursting. They seem to have stopped doing this now but that means you’ll have to fold your stroller at busier times.
Another popular branch is at the Southbank Centre, where there’s loads more room but you’ll likely find yourself queueing for a table. That said, during an extremely rushed Christmas period we felt well looked after and got seated much sooner than we anticipated.
Giraffe also runs frequent meal deals and promotions. From now until September you can get a second cinema ticket for half-price at Everyman Cinemas as well as 2 for 1 on mains at selected Giraffe restaurants. Visit the web site to download a voucher.
Bite Size Review
Giraffe is the ultimate family-friendly restaurant, offering a laidback and groovy atmosphere, balloons, crayons and giraffe sticks for kids and tasty food with a global flavour.
Facilities: highchair, baby-changing, kids’ menu, crayons/toys, stroller aisles
Giraffe is at 29-31 Essex Rd, N1 tel: 020 7359 5999 and at 36 branches around the UK.