Monday, 6 December 2010

Giraffe review - Islington baby friendly restaurant


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Address: 29-31 Essex Road,
London N1 2SA
Tel: 020 7359 5999
Nearest Tube station: Angel

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: Below £15 pp
Service charge: 12.5%
Taste: ***
Service: ****
Ambience: ***
I never thought that I'll say this but Giraffe actually serves quite an ok breakfast. Yes, there's some hesitation in my claim for Giraffe will never have the rustic charm of S&M, the innovation of Caravan and the earthiness of Food Lab. Yet, all things considered, Giraffe is a good package. Especially for a pair of parents who can barely keep their eyes open and a fidgety little screamer.

"I miss their Giraffe's huevos rancheros," KL mentioned over email. I actually had to google to confirm that's not another flavour of nachos. I unwillingly went along while Wife was a bit more adventurous. "Come on, it can't be that bad, can it?" she quipped. I still couldn't get over the fact that Giraffe once served green curry masquerading as Malaysian laksa. But that was almost a lifetime ago so I strapped the little one on and trudged along.

There's this thing about smiling going on at Giraffe. If you have been to the branch over at Islington's Essex Road, you'll know what I mean. There's this short passage about people smiling about and smiles being contagious (like the winter bug that's going on), that sort of thing. It is almost tacky if not for the fact that the staff at Giraffe actually believe in it. There were smiles all around and there was this certain upbeat spirit - all three times we were there. It was somewhat contagious. I found myself grinning absentmindedly at the stack of pancakes placed in front of me during my last visit. The fact that a waitress said that the Little One was cute and she made her feel like having a kid as well certainly helped. Believe me, parents are suckers for this sort of thing.

Another thing that struck me was that it was almost mandatory to have a baby/toddler/kid with you during weekend breakfast. Giraffe, at least the branch at Islington, seemed like a refuge for parents with kids. As if to prove that point, there was two tall stacks of baby chair strategically placed beside the kitchen door ready for deployment at a moment's notice. Coming in with a huge buggy? No worries, the staff would be more than willing to reconfigure the seating arrangement to accommodate you. Every so often, a staff would be making rounds distributing Giraffe orange coloured helium filled balloon. Oh, did I mention the baby changing room?

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Where was I again? Ah, the huevos rancheros. At £7.75, it was quite a bit. A generous slice of chorizo, black beans, cheddar cheese, avocado and tomato salsa with two free range eggs (fried or scrambled), all on a warm tortilla. Make no mistake, it was not gourmet food but the Mexican breakfast was a welcome change (and healthier for that matter) to your typical English version. Wife was full of praise for it but I suspect she was trying to make me feel guilty about my full brunch plate.

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My full brunch plate (£7.75) though a bit more expensive than the S&M equivalent across the road, turned out much better and consistently so too (I have experienced varying standards at S&M). A single Cumberland sausage slightly burnt, scrambled eggs, Heinz baked beans (at least they are being honest), potato wedges, toasts and a couple rashes of bacon made up the dish. A arteriole congestion compared to the huevos rancheros. I just adore the crisp wedges and cheese infused scrambled eggs for this one.

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We ordered stack of pancakes (£6.25) to share as well. It came with slices of ripen bananas sandwiched between pancakes, a handful of blueberry sprinkled on the surface and a bottle of maple syrup, the pancakes were a joy. Thotse light pancakes turned out better than those served at the adjacent Diner, which tasted almost floury.  

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Giraffe's one of the few places that I actually left smiling. Like I said, it wasn't just the food, it never has been. It was really the entire package. Other than the 5 tried and tested baby friendly places in the vicinity of Angel Islington, I believe we have another winner here. The only thing lacking is perhaps a small play area for toddlers. I'm getting a bit spoilt, aren't I?

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4 comments:

Su-Lin said...

You need to try the huevos rancheros at Taqueria! They're more like the real deal than the Giraffe version.

C K said...

@Su-Lin,
Hey, thanks for the heads up. I'm not very into healthy breakfast. Given a choice, I'll go for hearty food over chopped up tomatoes and avocados. I was practically surviving on ghee soaked prata back home every single morning! :)

Wife would be more interested in this though. Right, perhaps we would head towards Taqueria then...

Krista from Passport Delicious said...

Some of the best scrambled eggs I've had to this day were at the Giraffe in Spitafields. Not too wet, not too dry. Just perfectly done. And fluffy! My guess is that a place like Giraffe is exactly the type of place that would attract what I'd call a short-order cool. Someone experienced in breakfast-y type things. So I'm with ya.

C K said...

@Krista,
I'm beginning to think that I'm the only one who likes scrambled eggs at Giraffe... :)

Hey, love the makeover at your site!