When I heard that Giraffe were opening a new restaurant in Grey’s Quarter (intu Eldon Square’s fancy new food court), I new someone who would be very excited to visit… My friend’s little girl is a big fan of anything to do with Giraffes and out of all the restaurants in Newcastle she chose to have her birthday meal at Giraffe during its opening week.
However, the feedback was mixed, the girls reported great food but a long wait on their orders and a few mix ups in the kitchen left them a little disappointed. Could it just be teething problems? I got the chance to find out for myself when I was invited along to do a review.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Giraffe, other than what my friend had told me and a very quick breakfast I’d had at an airport branch once, I didn’t know much about the company. The ‘world kitchen’ part of their name didn’t give me any clues either, it could have meant there was anything and everything on the menu. As it turns out, that’s part of Giraffe’s appeal!
James and I arrived on a rather busy Friday evening and were seated by the window overlooking Old Eldon Square, it was a perfect spot for people watching!
After much deliberation we chose starters of Prawn Saganaki and Salt & Pepper Squid. The king prawns in my Saganaki were smaller than expected but plump and very tasty, the saganaki sauce was a mixture of garlic, chilli, white wine & tomato sauce with crumbled feta; it was a perfect combination of some of my favourite ingredients. The yummy bread it was served with meant that I could mop up every last drop!
When James’ starter arrived I could see a little look of disappointment on his face (because it was smaller than mine)! Small but perfectly formed seemed to sum it up though and I was surprised by how much my other half raved about this simple dish; I’m not a big fan of squid but James said it was perfectly cooked and the lime and sweet chilli jam was an ideal accompaniment. He went as far to say it was some of the tastiest squid he’d ever had. Praise indeed from my foodie fella! Something tells me he’ll being ordering the share size portion next time, with no intention of actually sharing!
When it came to choosing a main I made myself dizzy as my eyes wandered from burgers to curry, across to pasta and then to burritos… Giraffe certainly caters for all tastes! I finally settled on the Lamb Tagine and the waitress confirmed I’d made a good choice by revealing it was her favourite dish on the menu.
The tagine was from the ‘Bowls for the Soul’ section of the menu and it certainly was a hearty dish! It was beautifully presented in a traditional earthenware pot but I could tell by the temperature of the pot that it hadn’t actually been used to cook the food in which was a shame. However, I’m pleased to say that the tagine was absolutely delicious and packed full of flavour. The lamb was tender enough to not even need chewing and the pistachio, almond and pomegranate topping added welcome colours and textures. The aroma of the dish was divine and I could tell that nearby diners had food envy! The meal was served with a generous portion of cous-cous and toasted flatbread, I struggled to finish it and almost asked for a doggy bag but James polished off what I couldn’t manage.
His main of American BBQ Beef Short Rib was a bit more like that type of meal we would have at home so not as impressive to look at as the tagine but equally satisfying. The beef rib on the bone was covered in a sweet, sticky sauce that cried out to be washed down with a beer (there’s an excellent drinks menu at Giraffe). It was served with BBQ beans, creamy slaw, skin-on fries and beer-battered onion rings. Aside from the mouth-watering meat, the beans were a highlight for James, I think he would have liked a few more of them as he said they really were yummy.
All in all, Giraffe was a pleasant surprise, the standard of the food was much higher than I expected and the service team definitely seemed to have sorted out any issues they may have had during their first few weeks; our experience was faultless.
Would I go back? Yes I would, it’s perfect for when there’s a big group of you and you all like different types of food and I reckon it would be an ideal place to visit with kids too. Giraffe may have lots of competition in Grey’s Quarter but I think it can hold it’s head high.
See what I did there? Giraffe… heads high, get it? OK I’ll go now!