A warm glow invites you as you step inside Giraffe World Kitchen’s enticing frontage and see low hanging orange lights, worldly décor and earthy colours from the booths and tables in the restaurant. A modern, minimalist layout is supported by eye-catching artefacts and combines with instrumental ambient music to add a relaxing feel. Once seated, you’ll feel cosy and calm – something you wouldn’t necessarily expect from a glass-fronted building right in the middle of one of Exeter’s prime shopping locations.
Knowledgeable, friendly staff will guide you through the menu to help tame the sheer variety of menu choices, from Western dishes such as ribs and burgers, to Asian spice-infused concoctions, Greek flatbreads, Spanish tapas and so much more. Such a large selection gives you the chance to try dishes that you may have been on the fence about trying before; not having to fully commit to that particular style of cuisine for the entire meal means that you can always fall back on a firm favourite or another choice. With menu design assistance from the well-known Ben & Jerry’s – I’ve been assured there’s more than just the two of them – you’ll know you’re in safe hands whatever you choose.
The array of worldly ingredients are gathered right from the source. Partnerships with smallholders across the world have been created and fair trade agreements formed, including for their coffee beans. Staff are also regularly trained in coffee making techniques to keep their skills honed to be able to bring you the best.
To start, we selected the Yaki Gyozas (£5.95), a Japanese dish consisting of fried chicken dumplings glazed with orange & miso and served with a nuoc cham sweet chilli sauce, and the Greek Prawn Saganaki (£6.25), an attractively pan-served dish of king prawns in garlic, chilli, white wine, red onion and tomato sauce served with toasted flatbread. The saganaki sauce was full of flavour, beautifully balanced and had a crumbling of feta on top to give extra texture alongside the prawns. The dumplings paired surprisingly well with the saganaki, with the sweet chilli providing a welcome kick to the crispy exterior before meeting the tender chicken filling.
Selecting our mains was a challenge, I won’t lie. We ended up asking our server to come back when we raised our hand as we were taking so long but it seems that this is often the case here and was happily obliged. At no point did we ever feel rushed by staff who were happy to offer recommendations based on your likes and dislikes.
I chose the Lamb Tagine (£13.95) after seeing another diner tucking in across the restaurant and later found another two tables doing exactly the same! Our server told us that this dish is a firm favourite and, from the grand reveal on arrival, it was clear to see why. The excitement of the lid removal heightened the experience, revealing glistening pomegranates on top of a considerable sized serving of succulent Moroccan lamb in a rich, mildly spiced sauce on a bed of couscous. Our second choice was a Smoky Chicken Pide (£10.50). This Turkish take on the pizza was topped with grilled chicken, baby spinach, feta and roasted red pepper and shaped more like a boat than the round shape we’re used to normally. The bread was soft and not salty, rolled into a thin base with a plump crust for dipping.
Although less dessert choices than the mains, there was still a lot of variation with light or decadent choices depending on how you had fared from your earlier courses. Spanish Churros can be served for one (5 for £4.95) or make for a perfect sharer for just £2 more to give you double the amount. These come with a choice of Dulce de leche, orange chocolate dipping sauce or the option to go for both! We decided to offset these with the White Chocolate & Passion Fruit Cheesecake (£5.50) for a lighter flavour and texture.
A dining experience at Giraffe World Kitchen is like an adventure around the world in three courses. From our starters to our dessert we had travelled from Japan to Spain via eastern Europe and our palates had indulged a journey of flavours and textures. Eating here is exciting; the chance to discover flavour combinations and new ingredients is, for me, what makes food fun and interesting. Giraffe have confidently, and proudly, provided exactly that – a chance to taste the world.
Words and images: Jake Tucker
Visit Giraffe World Kitchen online at: www.giraffe.net