The first time we heard of Giraffe was in Blackheath before we went to Zippo’s Circus. We hadn’t planned to dine here, but we stumbled across it because everywhere was packed and you had to book in advance. However, Giraffe was operating a queuing system, and when a table became available, you were seated. Perfect.
The kids were pretty disheartened by the kid’s menu because everything sounded “healthy” apparently. **queue me rolling my eyes and picturing their future of two fatties trying to rock themselves off the sofa to go and get more cake from the cupboard. Queue Beard moaning “brilliant, so this is going to be a complete waste of money”**
According to Josh and Finn, the reason they knew it was all healthy is that they used words like “crunchy” and “fresh” and “skin-on-fries”. They then asked if we thought they were stupid by trying to trick them into their 5-a-day in one sitting.
When looking at the menu, yes it did sound healthy and wholesome, but they still had wraps and burgers and pasta – I really didn’t see what the big deal was, but I think all they wanted was a nasty old McDonalds. No way.
So to keep them happy we bypassed the children’s menu and went for World Tapas and a few sides (including skin-on-fries which they loved) but secretly thinking that there wasn’t going to be enough and we would need to order another 5 of the sharers but how wrong were we!? The portion size was more than adequate for the 4 of us – this is the night that Josh discovered his true love for Edamame – so we did have to order one more of that due to consumption – who said healthy was yucky hey Josh?
We had a lovely meal but didn’t realise that Giraffe was actually a chain of restaurants (we had never seen another one) so a few years later when one opened in our local town centre, we were more than happy to go along on Josh’s birthday and review our experience.
Welcome Giraffe, Bromley! We called in advance, despite wanted a table quite early midweek, as there were a few of us (10 in total), plus we needed to have a quiet table not near the toilets, away from the bar, relatively close to the door but not too close… The joys of Autism. Plus room for a snoozing baby in a pram.
The staff, although busy, were very attentive. Greeting the birthday boy and seating him at the head of the table while accommodating Austyn who was sleeping in his pram.
Our orders were taken, and within moments drinks arrived, followed by starters – of course, we had to order more Edamame (yet again), and before our mains being served we had a trio of staff around our table… Thinking the worst, as us Brits do, I asked what the problem was and was politely informed that word on the street, was that it was someone’s birthday and the head chef, manager and supervisor would like to toast Josh and give him his very own Giraffe lanyard that all the staff had signed! They presented him with a hot chocolate (they did offer a smoothie, but he just cannot stand the texture of smoothies, so this was his alternative) and sat with him at the edge of the kitchen so he could watch his main being prepared. Subsequently, they then escorted him back to the table where he devoured his rather impressive burger (from the kid’s menu might I add, ya know the one that was far too healthy for them? Yeah, that one.) **queue rolling of eyes**
Naturally, everyone was completely full to the brim after our banquet of sharing starters and huge tasty mains, but what does every first world idiot do after all that? Order dessert.
Moments later, tadaaar, yet again the Giraffe staff pulled out all the stops! Huddled around our table 75% of the team, including bar staff, came and sang happy birthday to him with staff members encouraging other tables to join in. With rapturous applause, he blew out his candles and for the first time in a long time, let out a big grin.
For us, Giraffe wasn’t just about going out for a meal for our sons birthday. It wasn’t about enjoying a meal and not having to do the washing up.
It was about Josh being able to relax in a restaurant rather than being on edge all the time. Being Autistic he struggles to be the centre of attention, let alone being in a busy, noisy environment with people nearby who he doesn’t know and where lots is going on. It wasn’t too long ago when we would organise a meal, and he would spend the duration under the table with headphones on, unable to communicate or alternatively completely overcompensating by getting verbal diarrhoea and becoming hyper. Equally, as he’s got older, we’ve splashed out on things we thought he would love only to be told he couldn’t cope with the social situation which of course would end up in a row between Beard and I (once the kids had gone to bed) about what a waste of time, money and effort that was.
Tonight was different, tonight Josh loved Giraffe because not only was the food good, not only was the decor good, but the staff went above and beyond anywhere I have ever known. We are now regular customers. Thank you x