Giraffe, Cabot Circus: Review

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When I lived in London, Giraffe was a regular haunt for me – a trip to their Muswell Hill branch in 2004 was my first experience of the chain, which opened its first branch in 1998. It’s good to see that, despite being acquired by Tesco in 2013, the vibrancy, friendliness and diverse menu are all still there today.

Step into the Cabot Circus branch of Giraffe and you’ll see that “vibrant” is definitely the right choice of word: with Latin-style music, wicker lampshades, a wall of wooden planks partially painted in different colours and their “Love Eat Love” slogan in lights above the bar, it’s an environment that encourages you to have fun but doesn’t shove it down your throat.

 

Giraffe Cabot Circus - Interior 1

Giraffe Cabot Circus - Interior 2

 

Tables are either regular or booth-style, with most having a view of the open plan kitchen at the back of the restaurant. It’s the bar area that’s the central feature of the restaurant, though, and throughout the evening we saw plenty of theatre in the form of cocktails being created.

After being shown to our table by manager Vicki, we were told about the Bar Buddies scheme: from Sunday-Thursday from 5pm and Friday from 5pm to 7pm (excluding bank holidays), cocktails, beers and wines marked on the menu with the Bar Buddies logo are half price. This meant that while my Diet Coke remained priced at £2.45 (still very reasonable), Chris enjoyed two bottles of Red Stripe for £3.65 in total – not too bad at all…

The food menu is just as interesting: a real mix of dishes taking their inspiration from all over the globe. Asian, Mediterranean, Tex Mex…it’s probably a pretty good dining choice for big groups of people with different tastes, as there’s something for everyone.

We couldn’t pass up on the starters – especially with the lure of halloumi on the menu. The halloumi skewers (£3.85) were beautifully salty and cooked perfectly, with a fantastic texture. The salad with which they were served echoed the restaurant’s vibrancy and was very refreshing: crushed peas, slivers of courgette and fragrant shredded mint, along with a light drizzle of basil and parsley oil. Delicious – but I’m not sure why quite so much of the parsley garnish was needed…

 

Giraffe Cabot Circus - Halloumi Skewers

 

Chris, on the other hand, went for a meatier choice: the “Firecracker” chicken tenders (£5.35). With such a name, he was expecting a little more heat to the sesame-coated chicken strips, but they were cooked well nonetheless. The accompanying wasabi mayo had a beautiful kick, though, and the accompanying crunchy slaw was packed full of Asian flavours.

 

Giraffe Cabot Circus - Firecracker Chicken Tenders

 

My Piri Piri grilled 1/2 chicken main (£11.95) was fantastic: the meat itself still lovely and juicy, with a beautiful chargrilled flavour cutting through the fiery chilli, thyme and garlic marinade. It was great to have a little pot of the sauce to dip the chips into too: chips that were nicely cooked with a good crisp exterior, and I was pleased that the skins had been left on. The slaw was a refreshing antidote to the heat of the chicken too.

 

Giraffe Cabot Circus - Piri Piri Chicken

 

Chris was just as enamoured with his Mexican chicken burger (£11.50): the juiciy, chipotle-seasoned chicken cut into pieces rather than being served as one big fillet, making it easier to eat. While he would have preferred more cheese and guacamole, he was impressed with the generous quantity of spicy chorizo and the crunch and salsa-type flavour of the tomato and corn relish, and said that the seeded brioche bun was the perfect vessel for his burger, holding together well. More of those great chips for him too…

 

Giraffe Cabot Circus - Mexican Burger

 

We were too full to test out the dessert menu, but consisting of a range of fairly standard options, we didn’t feel that we’d missed out too much. The two dessert cocktails that they offer do sound good, though…

Throughout our meal, service was efficient yet very friendly and relaxed – we were made to feel really welcome and it was clear that the two members of staff with whom we had contact during our visit know how to read their customers. An enjoyable experience, with great food – Giraffe is, in my eyes, one of the most consistent chain restaurants, and we’ll definitely be back…

 

Please note: Our food and drinks were complimentary, but this in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.

 

 

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