As was pointed out to me by some people at work, it is always worth being a bit weary about restaurants that offer lots of different foods from different places around the world. Obviously, one of the main reasons restaurants tend to stick to one theme, is because the ingredients are similar and the chef’s are specifically trained in that type of food. I’d been to Giraffe years ago, but it was the one in Lakeside, and they didn’t have such a varied menu then. I probably don’t have the best recollection of it because I’d no doubt dragged my ex around shopping all day and by that point we’d probably had a row over a potato or something.
However, I genuinely like Chelmsford. I’m not much for the clubbing there ( seriously, if you think Unit 7 in Basildon is chavvy take a night out in Chelmsford), but I like the shopping and the restaurants. We had to do a bit of shopping first, so we arrived at Giraffe around 5.30 for an early dinner, or late lunch depending on how you fancy looking at it.
The decor in Giraffe is quite bold, with a bit of a South American feel. It’s in a nice location near the canal, and they have tables outside that you can use for that 4 hours of Summer we get in the UK a year.
My first big surprise when I went into Giraffe, was how much they had updated the menu. Not only was the wine list a lot more up to date than when I went years ago, but also the food. I’m not a massive wine snob, and I probably couldn’t tell my Lanson from my Londis, but it’s nice to have a choice. Last time we went, I remember the menu being a bit simple. I think there was some pretty good burgers, but I don’t remember much else.
This time around, there was loads more on offer. The manager explained to me that they update the menu every six months, but I would wonder how they could better this one. The starters were hard to chose from for a start. The trouble is with starters, you usually fill yourself up and can’t eat the dinner (oh HELLO free salad bar at Harvester). I wanted something tasty, but light, so I opted for the Steamed Duck Gua Bao Buns.
Usually, when I eat anything remotely bready (like bread),for starters, I get too full to even consider my main meal. These little treats were perfect though. The steamed buns were light and fluffy, and the duck and the crunch of the vegetables complimented that perfectly.
My Mum went the whole hog, which is hilarious because she’s just like this tiny little woman that can eat for England. She had the Nachos, and thankfully Giraffe were super helpful when it came to her mega fussy requests.
For the mains, I really had a hard choice. There was so much on the menu I could’ve devoured, but my interest was well and truly piqued by the cheeky little addition of pomegranate in the Lamb Tagine, which wasn’t something I had come across before. If I’m being honest, a full pomegranite does quite freak me out. I don’t know why, I just think they are quite an aggressive fruit. Luckily, it wasn’t a full one, and the Lamb Tagine was beautifully seasoned with these, pistachios and almonds. One thing I like about dishes that incorporate things like this, isn’t just the balance of flavours, but also the balance of textures too. The Lamb Tagine was actually better than the Moroccan food I had in actual Morocco.
My Mum opted for the Chicken Milanese, which has always been a firm family favourite, although it was served with new potatoes rather than pasta. The sauce was bang on, I always find restaurants are very quick to over complicate the sauce with this dish by adding random items like a whole Lemon or a Fish or something, but this was simple and elegant. The new potatoes were also cooked in a really tasty garlic butter, which I obviously tried, and I’d highly recommend both dishes.
When it came to dessert time, I was glad I had my trusted dessert tester on hand. I don’t actually eat sweet food, and I can’t have too much dairy, so I had an Espresso Martini while my Mum went for the White Chocolate and Passionfruit Cheesecake.
As a sensible professional restaurant reviewer, it would of been rude not to try, and it was amazing. It could of made me feel a bit sad if I wasn’t a dessert person, if I didn’t have an amazing Espresso Martini in front of me. I’m a bit of a coffee lover, so not only did I like the taste, but it solved me one massive problem. You see when I drink, it’s safe to say, I get a tad sleepy. In fact, I have fallen asleep in some of Essex’s finest nightclubs and bars, a few in Thailand, several in Greece, a couple in London and on nearly every single flight I’ve been on. If only I had of known about these little miracles, I could’ve remained conscious for so much more of my social life!
Giraffe Chelmsford is on Springfield Road, and will cost you around £30 – £40 a head with drinks. You can find more information on their website.