The first time we heard of Giraffe was in Blackheath before we went to Zippo’s Circus. We hadn’t planned to dine there, 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.
According to Josh and Finn, the reason they knew it was all healthy is that they used words like “crunchy”, “fresh”, and “skin-on-fries”. They then asked if we thought they were stupid by tricking them into their 5-a-day in one sitting.
When looking at the menu from a child’s perspective, yes, it did sound healthy and wholesome, but they still had wraps, burgers and pasta – I didn’t see what the big deal was.
We bypassed the children’s menu and went for World Tapas and a few sides, including skin-on-fries which they loved! The portion sizes were more than adequate for the 4 of us, and 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, not realising that Giraffe was a chain of restaurants, as we had never seen another one before. 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.
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. Not a lot to ask for!
The staff, although busy, were very attentive. They all greeted the birthday boy and seated him at the head of the table while accommodating Austyn, who was sleeping in his pram.
Our order was taken, and within moments our drinks arrived. Promptly followed by starters not too long after. Before our mains were 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 sat with him at the edge of the kitchen, chatting and watching his main being prepared.
They then escorted him back to the table, where he devoured his rather impressive burger while looking very content and happy.
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 Josh, 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 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 it was.
Tonight was different; tonight, Josh loved his birthday meal. He 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