November 24 2017

SouthGate review: Giraffe World Kitchen

I first visited Giraffe World Kitchen – the bright, split-level Greenwich Village-style diner specialising in an eclectic range of globally-inspired grub – within it’s first month of opening, almost 8 years ago now. Back then, it really was the kind of restaurant experience that Bath had never really seen: buzzy but relaxing, fast and leisurely, family-friendly and yet somehow very grown up; it was, to misquote a very successful advertising campaign for another company, “your experience, your way.”

And time, it seems, has not wearied Giraffe. Despite the fact that a deluge of equally popular chains and franchises have sprung up dangerously close to this distinctive diner’s territory in and around SouthGate since it opened, it still remains to be as hugely popular and consistently satisfying as it was when it first poked its neck into Bath.

We took to a table near the back of the restaurant beyond the very inviting bar, because I can never resist those utterly reassuring (think about it) views past the pass, into the kitchen. The mezzanine level is, however, an equally tempting option, offering a bird’s eye view of proceedings from lots of low-lit, snuggle-up banquettes and lots of groovy, moody modern artwork on the walls. Anyway… as we perused the menu, something very special about the overall Giraffe experience became patently clear. Not only do the genuinely friendly staff know details regarding every single corner of the far-flung menu, but they happily volunteer really helpful, ‘insider’ information as you embark on your decision-making voyage. While we got on with the task in hand, the bar folk effortlessly, cheerfully created a bespoke daiquiri (in keeping with the party-on vibe, cocktails go large here) to Mr Pig’s specific requirements. As we ordered, our smiley server let us know that the chicken in one of our starter choices was made from thigh meat, so likely to be dark pink in the middle, while yet another recommended a beef patty supplement to go with Mr Pig’s choice of burger as the brisket comes pulled and he wanted something to get his teeth into (Mr Pig, it seemed, had his attention-grabbing fussy kid hat on for this particular jaunt.) In short, you can tell that the shiny happy people who work here clearly love what they do and go the extra mile to maintain the lovely environment they do it in, too. Refreshing? Most definitely. And so it came to pass that we started our Giraffe feast on a very happy note, because the surroundings really are comfortably lively, and the vibrant food satisfyingly gratifying too.

In keeping with current flexible menu trends, Giraffe offer deals on their World Tapas selection (3 for £14.95; 5 for £24.95). We opted for 3 to share in place of formal starters (as we’ve established, this is not a ‘formal’ kinda place): crispy salt and pepper squid with a sticky chilli jam; Asian fried chicken served with a honey and soy dip; duck Gua Bao buns. And oh, our selection proved to be a very cheerful little flavour-party indeed – moist squid morsels wrapped in a properly crispy jackets; tender chicken infused with intrinsic Far Eastern flavours; supremely comforting little pillows of steamed dough wrapped around piquant shreds of duck.

On from this, I opted for a Spicy Rice Bowl with a king prawn supplement because, to my mind, we don’t get enough opportunity to eat Korean-inspired food in our neck of the woods – and this zingingly fresh incarnation of the genre (think, origins of bibimbap, but not as fiery, nor as oily) most certainly didn’t disappoint: a huge, steaming bowl of soft brown rice muddled up with loads of sugar snap peas, crispy onions, red pepper strips and plump, juicy prawns, infused with soy sauce and topped, in true Korean fashion, with a fried egg. Mr Pig, meanwhile, most surely satisfied his meaty urges for the foreseeable future with a massive Texan BBQ Brisket Burger drenched with smoked cheddar cheese and smoky chipotle, accompanied by fab fries, positively salacious ‘slaw and perfect pickles, and supplemented (as per our recommendation) with an extra beef patty. Even after all this indulgence, he couldn’t resist an ice cream sundae at the finishing line (salted caramel ice cream; loads of sauce; caramel popcorn; like, OMG! Sundaes were most definitely not this salacious when I was a kid.) So then I forced us to have Espresso Martinis too, because I am not a kid anymore… and they were very, very good indeed.

And indeed, so too is Giraffe very good indeed; stick your neck out next time you’re strolling around SouthGate.

The small print: breakfast is served every day, and includes £5 Happy Brekkie options all week until noon, NY Deli sandwiches, pancake stacks and loads of healthy options, while brunch is long’n’lazy: dishes such as steak’n’eggs and Huevos Rancheros are served all the through until 5pm. Elsewhere, huge, imaginative fresh salads snuggle up very comfortably alongside all manner of dishes to suit all appetites, including excellent vegetarian/vegan options, with gluten free options scattered hither and thither through the whole range. Expect to pay between circa £8-£16 for a main course, and bear in mind that portions are generous, to say the least. The Kids Menu brings a main course, a dessert and a drink to the table all day, every day for £6, or free (yes, free!) when their accompanying adult orders a full-price adult main course at the weekend. The cocktail menu is massive and includes 2-4-1 deals, and wine/beer fans most certainly won’t be disappointed either. Wallet-friendly deals and promotions on both food and drink about – sign up for the Giraffe Club newsletter via the website and/or keep an eye on the posters displayed in the restaurant. Or ask your server! As we’ve established, they’re very happy to help.

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