You don’t have to look far to see that Exeter is fast becoming a city of chain restaurants – and if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll no doubt know that we do our best to support independent businesses wherever possible. However, we like to think that Giraffe World Kitchen in Princesshay is a little bit of an exception to many of the cities other chains.
For starters, Giraffe has been part of Exeter’s Princesshay from the very beginning – standing the test of time where many other restaurants have fallen short. Secondly, it offers a seriously diverse menu that we couldn’t resist giving a try…
A ‘World’ Menu
As the name suggests, Giraffe sells itself as something of a global affair. Take a quick glance at its extensive offerings and you’ll find everything from American short ribs to Japanese Katsu and spicy Mexican burritos. It’s rare to find such a diverse selection of food on one menu and when you’re a bit of a fussy eater this approach is very appealing indeed.
It took us a little time to chose what we wanted to order. So we kicked off our meal off with a couple of cocktails – including a Mango Colada (mango vodka, rum, coconut milk, pineapple and lime) and a non-alcoholic Strawberry Smash (soda with strawberry, lemon & mint). My Mango colada was SO good that i’d consider going back to order the drink alone, and for designated drivers you can’t go far wrong with the mocktails on offer.
By the time our waitress took our order we still hadn’t managed to decide what to eat, so we thought we’d start by sharing a couple of plates between us. First, we ordered Chicken Yaki Gyoza: fried chicken dumplings with orange miso glaze and a nouc cham sweet chilli dipping sauce.
I’ll be honest – when the plate first arrived, I didn’t have the highest hopes. However, it turned out that we both really enjoyed the crispy dumplings. They were packed with a yummy, fragrant filling and the chilli sauce went perfectly with them. In fact, they were so tasty, I don’t think i’ll share next time!
We also ordered some grilled halloumi skewers, which came on a bed of brown rice and quinoa tabbouleh. This plate was harder to share but it was very nicely presented. The halloumi wasn’t too salty – which was good – and it was nicely grilled on the outside while remaining soft in the middle. The rice and quinoa mix was tasty too, as it had a fresh, minty flavour that complimented the skewers well. Overall, we both agreed that the starters far exceeded our expectations.
For mains we both found something on the menu that we loved the sound of!
My dining partner opted for the Lamb Tagine – which came in a cute little terracotta tagine pot, along with pistachios, almonds and pomegranate seeds. This dish was served alongside couscous and some toasted flatbread. There was lots of plump pieces of lamb and the pistachios and pomegranate seeds looked like little jewels! Apparently, the lamb was very tasty and the texture of the couscous and seeds brought the whole dish together.
I opted for the Thai Duck Stir Fry – a loaded bowl of shredded duck and noodles with chilli jam, bok choy, crispy onions and wok-fried vegetables in teriyaki sauce. For me, this sort of dish is foodie heaven, and I was not disappointed. This stir fry was honestly just as good as eating out at any local Asian restaurant. There was plenty of duck, the vegetables were crispy and the sauce was not too overpowering. Giraffe don’t skimp on their portion sizes either. In fact, there was so much in my bowl that I had to ask for a takeaway box!
Time for Dessert
By the end of our mains we were both pretty stuffed; but we thought we could probably make room for a little churros to share!. These were just the right amount to share (without having to keep sneaky tabs on the other persons share) and they weren’t too stodgy, which is often an issue with this particular street food.
While the Princesshay restaurant scene appears to be suffering as the result of Exeter’s Queen Street, we were pleased to see that Giraffe had a steady stream of diners all evening. Nor where any of the customers the same! Over the course of our meal, we observed everything from small groups of university students to elderly couples and even solo diners. While Giraffe World Kitchen is ultimately one of many in a larger chain, we didn’t feel like we were given the standard chain service and throughout the evening our waitress was very attentive and extremely helpful.
Overall, we were really impressed with what Giraffe had to offer and we would definitely return again to sample more of their diverse menu. If you’re looking for good quality food at a reasonable price, you won’t go far wrong with this restaurant and there’s certainly something for everyone.