since last summer's intro to giraffe world kitchen, i've been a fan. normally one to shy away from chains, i was hesitant at first but once through the door and with a chance to peruse a menu with my own two eyes, i was hooked. the hint is in the name really: world kitchen. from starters to sides and everything in between, there are endless cuisines to sample, from almost every corner of the world. and for someone like me, who likes to eat a variety of fresh, tasty food - and quick, this is a massive selling point.
so, when i heard about the re-brand at the restaurant in victoria, i wanted to see for myself. and, because galentine's day, and i hadn't seen her in about a hundred months, i took bex along for the ride. cocktails and catch-ups were the order of the day. plus, like, whatever tasties were new on the menu, that is (the menu changes every few months, so i didn't look ahead just in case it had changed again!).
i was running super early, so i grabbed a table and people watched over a happy-hour cocktail while i waited. the bramble garden is a long-time favourite (gin, cucumber, apple, blackberries and elderflower served with soda) of mine, so i started there. at £5 a pop until 7pm, i figured it was a pretty great way to get into the mood! i obviously also perused the menu while i waited, and i was pleasantly surprised to see that once again, it lived up to the promise of offering a global variety of dishes. from starters, sharers and mains, burgers, sides and salads, there was so much choice, from all over the world. and... it was mega colourful! total win in my book!
last time 'round we opted for standard american fare, and regretted it. this time? we went all out. with bex arrived and another round of cocktails ordered (cuban mojito for me and whisky cooler for her), we got some starters in. i led the charge with king prawn tacos (two soft tortillas filled with guacamole, sour cream, chipotle and three succulent king prawns) and a side of topped home fries (skin-on potato chunks with pulled beef brisket and melted monterray jack cheese on top). risky business, ordering two starters, but.. i just couldn't decide! and rightly so, because both dishes were as tasty as the other.
the tacos had a little too much "filler" for my liking - what i think was cabbage, but what i wish was lettuce, filled the bottom the the taco, where more of the other toppings could have lived. other than that, the combo of chipotle and sour cream with fresh prawns was pretty fantastic on a cold winters night. but the topped fries? they were the real winners. cheesy and beefy, and perfectly crispy potatoes, this side was all i could ever want. it combines just about everything i love: cheese, potatoes and bbq beef. i tried to share them with bex, but i just.. couldn't.
our mains came out farrrr too quickly - at our original request, but we were so full from the generous starters. honestly, i was satisfied from the first course, which says a lot about the portion sizes. nevertheless, we persisted. i'd ordered the lamb tagine (though i did want to order something classic like a burger or the short-rib or steak, but you know, variety is the spice of life), which came on a bed of cous cous with pistachios, almonds and pomegranate seeds, and a side of crusty flatbread. seriously, so much food!
the best i could do was pick at it, sadly. i ate all the meat and pomegranate seeds because they were such amazingly contrasting flavours - the hearty, spicy meat in gravy and the sweet, cold seeds that were an explosion of happiness in my mouth, but the cous cous was too filling for me to eat too much of. a shame, because the dish was bloody terrific, and i would 100% eat again.
then! as if that wasn't uncomfortable enough, they brought over the dessert menu! at this point i was bursting at the seams, and quite sure i could not eat another thing. but. but then i saw salted caramel sundae and i'm afraid the decision was taken out of my hands. it had friggen pretzels in it, with caramel friggen sauce! i mean, what choice did i have?! of course, i didn't finish it, but i sure as shit ate enough to really want to throw it all back up so i could a) be more comfortable, and b) eat it all again.
but hollllly smokes. the restaurant has definitely changed from last summer, in my opinion. what i once thought was a family-friendly, cheap-and-cheerful, meal-deal chain has really proven me wrong. the restaurant was filled with couples enjoying early valentine's meals, and groups of gals out celebrating galentine's - as we were, over a few cocktails. it seems to grown up a little with the re-brand, and i for one and way on board with this transformation.
so, tell me: when are we catching up over happy hour drinks? see you there!
*our meals were complimentary, but all images and thoughts are my own*