Who needs Mary Poppins ?

I like to think that I understand restaurant etiquette well enough that I don’t end up embarrassing myself in front of even the most critical of waiters or sommeliers. I put that down to a combination of having eaten out in restaurants a lot in my time (watch and learn) but, more importantly, from my parents who taught me good table manners from an early age. It’s kind of built into me that you don’t put your elbows on the table, you hold your knife in one hand and fork in the other (and don’t, for heaven’s sake, keep swapping them over as the American’s do), and move your fork to your mouth and not the other way around. You would not believe the number of people that I’ve seen in some of the best restaurants in the world incapable of adhering to these simple guidelines.

So I also pride myself that, as my kids grow up, they will be imbued with good table manners. I think there’s no better test of what you’ve drilled into them at home than to take them to a restaurant to put it all into practice. This is no mean feat of course, given the overwhelming distractions that most restaurants throw in their direction : other kids, chatty waitresses, wine. Oh no, that last one’s daddy’s.

We took the kids to Giraffe on Saturday (http://www.giraffe.net/) which I have to say was a total surprise. Any restaurant named after a wild animal would instantly say to me “children’s parties” and the commensurate noise and disarray. Furthermore, it would also say to me that the restaurant’s focus is exclusively children so parents would end up with sub-standard, mass-produced pap. Well, I have to say, none of my assumptions were correct.

Yes, Giraffe did have lots of kids in it, but then most high street restaurants on a Saturday lunchtime probably would. What’s nice about Giraffe is that you don’t really feel like it’s a restaurant designed with kids in mind. The menu is well thought out with lots of freshly made offerings. Sure, you’re not going to find fois gras, but that’s not what this is about. This is about being served great tasting, freshly made food whether you’re 7 or 70. I indulged my childhood (this was a secret table-manners test after all) with a fish finger sandwich which obviously had freshly made tartare sauce on it, and was completed with beefsteak tomatoes and proper “floppy” lettuce (as my wife would put it). The kids’ food was outstanding, right down to the artisan rolls and home-cut fries. Service was great without the sort of obsequious servility I usually associate with this sort of place – a la TGI Fridays – and was attentive and efficient. Giraffe must be doing something right given we arrived at 12.30 and from that point forwards, every table was full and we saw many people being turned away. Excellent.

All that said, don’t assume Giraffe is only for people with kids. Their brunch / breakfasts looked amazing and we saw plenty of twentysomething couples enjoying a relaxing Saturday morning with the papers. Certainly somewhere I’ll be going back to before too long.

And, of course, my kids were impeccably behaved. No need for Mary Poppins to make a flying visit.

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One response to this post.

  1. At last, someone comes up with the \”right\” aesnwr!

    Reply

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