Giraffe World Kitchen, Princesshay by Chris Gower

Tel: 01392 494 222  Princesshay, Exeter, EX1 1GE @giraffetweet

Princesshay Shopping Centre is the gleaming modern jewel in the centre of Exeter’s shopping experience.  With restaurants and fine High Street names, it replaced the tattered pre-war complex that some of us Exonians still remember with a bizarre nostalgic fondness.

When the modern Princesshay opened, with it also opened Giraffe with its slightly westernised versions of world specialities, it was the start of the arrival of the big chain restaurants in Exeter.

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I have a few good memories of Giraffe when it first opened, and I even wrote a review quite a few years ago for my old blog Veget8.  Naturally since then it has moved on and changed, and it was great to be invited along to have a look at what has changed since it first opened back in 2007.

Since my first visit all those years ago, it has rebranded itself as Giraffe World Kitchen which has helped solidify itself as a place to go to get a wide range or world cuisine offerings, all of them excellent value.

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Not much has changed as far as the building itself.  Three of the four walls are fronted with glass giving an excellent vista of passing shoppers and part of the ancient city wall. There is al fresco dining available, perfect for whiling away a summer evening.

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As chain restaurants go this is certainly one of my favorites in Exeter.  It is casual dining at its most casual, with a fantastic menu that covers all continents it is also excellent value given many main meals are under £10.

We kicked proceedings off with bottle of Rosé wine and an Espresso Martini £6.95 (Absolut Vanilla vodka, Kahlua liqueur and a fresh espresso shot over ice) which was a perfect start to our enjoyable meal.

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For starters Tori went for Steamed Duck Gua Bao Buns £6.95 (soft steamed buns filled with crispy shredded duck, cucumber, peanuts, spring onion and rich hoisin sauce) and I predictably went for Nachos £7.95 (black bean chilli, Monterey Jack, guacamole, sour cream, jalapenos and chipotle).

The Steamed Duck Gua Bao Buns were a definite hit with the other side of the table. We had first been properly introduced with Bao Buns at the Absurd Bird blogger night a couple of years ago, and this was another chance to try this oriental culinary staple.  I was very happy with my large mountain of Nachos, well seasoned and cooked well.

For our mains we were both in need of Bowl For Soul food!  Tori went for the Katsu Chicken £11.95 (breaded chicken and noodles in a mild peanut & coconut sauce, with bok choy, tenderstem broccoli and wok-fried vegetables) and I couldn’t help myself but went for the Thai Duck Stir Fry £10.95  (shredded duck and noodles with chilli jam, bok choy, crispy onions and wok-fried vegetables in teriyaki sauce).

The menu is incredibly diverse. It truly represents a classic dish from each continent of the world – they are also going to lengths to cater for those of us with dietary requirements too.

The food was well cooked and tasty – the menu itself is fantastic value for money, and even though the cost is on the lower end of the spectrum, it didn’t effect the quality or portions.

We went for desserts too, a lovely finish to a satisfying experience.

Tori went for a Whoopie Cookie £4.95 (speculoos biscuit ice cream sandwiched between chocolate cookies. With chocolate sauce, caramel popcorn and pretzels) and I plumped for the  Salted Caramel Sundae £5.95 (salted caramel ice cream layered with caramel popcorn and pretzel pieces).

So they ran out of pretzels, but instead we got double popcorn on our dessert.

Paul and Tom were amazing in their service, so helpful and friendly throughout the whole evening.  The evening service seemed quiet and surprisingly so for one of Exeter’s better chain restaurants which is a telling tale of restaurants throughout the city, whether a big High Street name or a unique independent.

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Giraffe World Kitchen is a good casual dining restaurant which presents excellent value for money, their menu is well thought out and not overly pricey.  Perfect for lunch, coffee or a nice evening meal.

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This meal was paid for by Giraffe World Kitchens but the opinions expressed here are independent of influence from the restaurant.

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The Jasmine Thai Restaurant, 153 Fore Street

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I’ve been meaning to write a review about Jasmine’s Thai restaurant since I first visited in April, so when I made my third visit last week I knew I had to find time to rave about it. A little out of the city centre, tucked away on South Street, you wouldn’t think much of this Asian eatery from the outside, with a simple exterior and a few neighbouring scruffy shop you can easily miss it, however once inside, you’re transported in to a sleek and stylish restaurant. Each time I’ve visited, both week nights and weekends, this place has had a lively atmosphere, the tables filled with cheerful customers.

On our third visit we were shown by one of the friendly waitresses to our table on the raised seating platform which, showered in sunlight by the large dome sky light, sets a light and spacious ambiance. Browsing through the menu, the options are endless, with all the Thai classics in there, including green, massaman and jungle curry and some intriguing and inventive specials such as the crispy deep fried sea bass. Although I love to try new things there was no question to what I was going to order, my all-time favourite dish pad thai, and as a family we also decided to share one of the starter platters.

The service can be a little slow here at busy times and we had to wave down one of the waitresses to the table, though when she did come over to take our order she was very apologetic and we weren’t in any rush. Along with the food I ordered a medium glass of rose, which was slightly pricey at around £4.50, but was a nice bottle. The foods not cheap here either, with my pad thai costing £10.95, however the quality of the food make it well worth the expense for a special occasion.

Our mixed platter starter arrived at our table swiftly after we ordered and included a selection of Asian appetisers, including prawn toast, satay chicken skewers; prawn cakes, spring rolls and a range of dips. Each was a delicious as the last, but by favourite was probably the prawn cakes dipped in the tangy sweet chilli sauce. The platters are also pretty filling, so if you don’t have a massive appetite, try sharing a platter for two between four of you. Our main courses again arrived quickly after our table was cleared; each dish was presented beautifully with vegetables carved into flowers dressing the plates. My chicken pad thai certainly didn’t disappoint, although the portion looks small, it was extremely filling, with plenty of succulent chicken pieces entwined with the sweet and salty noodles and fried vegetables. The rest of the family enjoyed their meals too, and having a little taste of each I can say the curries were fantastic!

EE RecommendsAlthough the service can be a little slow and the prices are a little higher than other Asian restaurants, I still couldn’t recommend anywhere higher than Jasmine’s. The foods delicious and authentically Thai, the waitresses are some of the kindest waiting staff I’ve ever encountered and the restaurant provides a beautiful and relaxed setting to your meal. They even give you After Eights with your bill, what more could you want!?

153 Fore Street

Exeter
Devon
EX4 3AT

Telephone: 01392 689988

Jasmine Thai on Urbanspoon