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Giraffe (Restaurant)

Picture of Giraffe in Stratford, London

304-305 The Loft, Westfield Stratford City, Stratford, London, E20 1ET
Cuisine: International
Tel: 020 3463 9808 | Email to Giraffe | Transport: Stratford | Write review

Giraffe Review

Best for: sizable portions of reliable, honest and good food.

Great: escape from the rest of 'Westfield Stratford' shopping centre.

Lurking just outside Stratford Station in east London, squatting amidst the cranes and the rubble of seemingly unending construction work, lies London's greatest monstrosity. It is an enormous, unending maze of waste; a labyrinth of crap.

I know what you’re thinking: Stratford means only one thing, the Olympics, and so I must surely be moments from abandoning any shadowy pretence of food criticism, and readying myself to deliver a scathing critique of the financial burden of hosting the Olympic games during economic Armageddon.

Well, in fact, the answer is no. I won't. However much I do love to occupy the moral high-ground - and there's high ground to be had here, most certainly - I must admit I have no quarrel with the Olympics in London. Believe you me, there shall be no greater joy to be had this Summer than that of pondering the consequences of a stray javelin impaling Lord Smugbastian Smug, however much the pleasure might have cost us.

The monstrosity here, therefore, is something else. It is something far darker and more terrifying than sport organised en masse, and they call it Westfield Stratford shopping centre. This is the abomination that so unforgivably swallowed up 175,000 square metres of East London last year, and heinously converted it into an enormous temple to the gods of retail. It is an unending mass of bright lights, unnervingly clean corridors, and loudspeakers blasting out that Cher Lloyd song that sounds weirdly like 'Oh My Darling Clementine'. To spend five minutes here is how I imagine insanity might feel; any more than that might just tip you over the edge.

It was in Westfield Stratford shopping centre, however, that I recently found myself in pursuit of a meal, and, in spite of surroundings that made me bewail the plight of contemporary man, doing so with excitement. I was off to investigate (they call this investigative journalism I believe) the newest branch of the restaurant chain Giraffe, who are said to be enjoying something of a renaissance.

Once more, I brought my rambunctious companion Will, who accompanies me on all of my investigatory outings. I like to think of us as a latter-day Sherlock Holmes and Watson, with Will, my gormless but well-meaning sidekick, trailing haplessly in my wake. Fantasy was given a rude awakening, however, when it was Will who posited that our fellow diners came here to eat and not shop, whilst I adamantly maintained that Giraffe was little more than a mid-shop pause.

“No shopping bags,” he noted conclusively as the starters arrived, evidence that a cursory scour around the room confirmed, thus proving my companion's deductions.

“Elementary,” I half-heartedly replied, staring morosely at the bottom of my recently emptied wine glass.

The fact that anyone should venture deep into Westfield Stratford shopping mall to eat is praise indeed, and over the course of our meal, Giraffe more-or-less bore this out. The wine-list was good without being excellent, and the food came in portions of considerable size and of pretty high-quality. I had a seriously hearty enchilada for my main, boasting an impressive array of strong flavours and a touch of spice, whilst Will's ribs were stacked high-enough to kill several ordinary men, though, sadly, did nothing but please the man who had just relegated me to the role of useless sidekick. As I expected, the desserts were a highlight; but then I have always been a sucker for a combination of ice-cream, waffle and banana that defies the objective analysis of culinary merit.

Overall, therefore, I was pleased and yet not transported by Giraffe. It has certainly improved; the casting-out of its faintly depressing family-friendly feel is a God-send, and although it sits high-above a Nando’s restaurant or a Pizza Express restaurant, it's yet to compete on a par with a good independent restaurant. Essentially, you know what to expect here: your food will be good, potentially very good, but it is unlikely to ever blow you away. I was never, for instance, transported from the fact that I was sitting in Westfield bloody Stratford bloody City bloody shopping mall.

In Giraffe's defence, however, my dislike of the Westfield building as a whole rendered this almost impossible from the outset, and that's not the restaurant's fault; for that you can blame Boris Johnson, or George Osborne, or whoever gave this bloody place the green light. Or me, for being such a snob.

In light of this final thought, I conclude by offering this Giraffe restaurant the highest praise I can: if ever, by some terrible stroke of fate, I find myself in Westfield Stratford shopping centre again, Giraffe is the first place I'll go. Assuming that someone has barred the exits, that is. And that they don't sell plastic explosives on the ground floor.
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  • Cuisine Type: International
  • Group: Giraffe

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Venue ID: 22760

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Loved

"Hi guys, I come here with my friends and have very good time. I like your place very much and is very good times. I come back when I can soon. Thank you very much." Which venue is this?

Hated

"Dreadful pub, run by people who have zero idea about hospitality or running a pub. Upon arrival we sat in the back garden that only had one other table occupied , when we tried to order off the lunch menu..." Which venue is this?

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