FAMILY-FRIENDLY IS NOT necessarily always a positive recommendation when it comes to dining. After all, it could herald a drab children’s menu of chicken nuggets or chips, or signal hordes of screaming infants and tearaway toddlers? Well, you can banish any such fears if you’re planning a family visit to Giraffe, the name apparently chosen because giraffes have the largest hearts of all land animals: the philosophy at Giraffe is definitely service with a smile and the food is an enticing and exciting global mix of different world foods. The ambiance is relaxed and friendly, with a mix of tables and booths, the latter being the seating preference if you have a child who like to go walkies, as you can give them an inside seat which makes escape more challenging.
The main menu (there is also a delicious looking breakfast and brunch offering) has a huge choice of starters, salads, burgers and mains with favourites from the all corners of the world: choose from a Califoranian Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Felafel Burger and Farmers Market Vegetable Burrito, to name a few.
We started with a selection of nibbles, or absolute favourite being the Edamame, wok-fried soy beans and pods with soy, chilli and mirin, though the chicken potstickers (fried chicken dumplings) were deemed rather crispy rather than sticky. Children are also served first, which helps to combat boredom and fidgeting, so while the grown-ups dipped into the tasty starters, four-year-old Joe tucked into his 100 per cent British Burger and Chips (£3.95) and his big sister Grace sampled the Salmon Fingers, swapping the mash for chips too (£4.25), washed down with fresh fruit smoothie (there are six to choose from).
The adult mains received a slightly mixed review: the 220g rib eye was a tad fatty in the Good Old Steak and Chips (£14.95), and the Jambalaya Meatballs (£8.95) didn't pack quite enough punch for our liking. The Vietnamese Chicken, Prawn & Vermicelli Salad (£9.95) was the favourite – sprightly, fresh and full of zing.
While we were still tucking in, the children were ready for their ice cream “with soul”. By the time we were finished, Joe had become so cosy in his corner, with his little belly satisfied, that he fell asleep and had to be carried home. In these tough times, Giraffe is a happy success story: they have just received the well-deserved accolade Best Family Restaurant at Restaurant magazine’s awards – and a big heap of that ongoing success has to be down to their big hearts.
Giraffe, Muswell Hill Broadway, London N10 1DH, tel: 020 8883 4463;
Open Mon–Friday 8am–11pm; Sat and Sun from 9am. Branches nationwide