How we brunched:
I like to think so far Amy and I have given the impression of being cool London people. We know all the trendy food joints and always have a brunch reservation on a Saturday morning. We have classy drinks with friends on a Saturday evening, and at about 11am we stumble, bleary eyed but surprisingly together, into Soho or Shoreditch and order something that is a little bit above your standard fry-up.
So one weekend, we did all this, and we went to Gail’s Kitchen, and everything was going to plan. It was August bank holiday, and Notting Hill Carnival weekend. Our plans were to visit it on the Monday – the coolest day. So we enjoyed our leisurely Sunday brunch, met a few friends in the afternoon, went home and ordered Chinese and got an early night.
When we woke up, at our 8am “get a good spot at the carnival” alarms, it was raining. No, that’s an understatement. It felt a little like the apocalypse. We’re talking Noah’s flood here. Amy tentatively texted me from her bedroom:
“…how are you feeling?”
“Um… not sure…”
“I could probably stay in bed a little longer?”
“Me too. It’s not like we’ll miss the carnival if we don’t get up right now.”
When we woke up again at 11, it was still raining. We had no food in the flat.
“I guess we should get brunch?”
We had no reservations. Everywhere was too far away in the rain, everywhere was full on a rainy bank holiday Monday in August. We ended up walking to Wilton Rd in Victoria and fal ling upon the branch of Giraffe that is always full of tourists from the hotel opposite.
I do like Giraffe. You know what you’re going to get. I’ve had brunch there a couple of times. The service there ranges from awful to mediocre, but the food is alright. The pancakes will keep you going all day, and this time I ordered a simple two poached eggs, bacon and sourdough toast. The eggs tasted vinegary, but the yolk was runny, the toast was good, the bacon was, well, bacon.
We never went to the carnival. Drenched, sitting in a chain restaurant next to one of busiest stations in London, eating food we could have cooked better ourselves, we felt strongly that we were not cool enough for the carnival. Maybe next year.
Rain is the worst. It’s terrible in this first real week of October, now that summer has finally disappeared and I am driving home from work in the dark, and it was terrible when we went to Giraffe in Victoria. Anyone who pretends that rain is somehow cleansing or therapeutic – I’m looking at you, entire cast of The Notebook – has clearly never had to spend all day feeling their feet slowly get Trench Foot as they walk around a city in wet socks, listening to the squelch of their boots, finally drying out during a brief break in a pub, and then getting drenched by a car as it goes through a particularly oceanic puddle.
Okay, so that didn’t happen on the day we went to Giraffe, but it has happened to me before. I hate the rain. It’s not romantic and it’s not soothing, it’s just wet and cold and crap.
So on the day we went to Giraffe, as Hattie has already told you, it was raining pretty hard. The prospect of eating brunch and then spending all day on the sofa watching Pretty Little Liars, pretending we were in California, and definitely NOT going to a carnival with hundreds of other people feeling my soul dampen by the minute was a pretty appealing one.
Considering everything outside was so terrible, I was pretty sure about what I needed from this brunch: bacon. Also sausages. Oh, and eggs, obviously. The fact that the Giraffe Full Brunch comes with chunky potato wedges is a pretty special bonus.
I ordered it without baked beans though. I’m not a monster.
The food pretty much spoke for itself. Nothing was particularly amazing about it, but it was all cooked properly, and it’s hard to make bacon, sausage and eggs disgusting. There was probably a little too much sourdough, because once you ate the first bit with the egg on top, there was a whole other dry slice to get through and nothing to soak up*, so I ended up leaving it.
The one thing I was a particular fan of were the drinks – the latte was perfect for a rainy day (did I mention I hate rain?) – and I finished with a pot of “Moroccan” fresh mint tea. I don’t know why they had to put “Moroccan” in quotation marks like Morocco isn’t a real place, but it was good tea and it came in a cool looking pot, so I was happy.
That is, until we finished and I had to go back outside.
*Hattie: “That’s why people order the baked beans, Amy, so they have something to soak up with the sourdough!”
2.5/5 – Going with 100% average.
2.5/5 – BAKED BEANS ARE NOT AN OPTION, HATTIE. But the rest of the food was fine.
4/5 – A fair amount of choice, but I do feel like every time I visit the thing I most want isn’t there.
4/5 – They manage to get a lot of very different options into a medium sized menu, so there’s a good chance there’ll be something you fancy.
5/5 – I think the drinks are the best part of Giraffe, really great smoothies, a whole range of coffees, teas and cocktails.
5/5 – So far agreed on everything. What a team.
0/5 – Not really any options here I’m afraid.
0/5 – Where is the cake? Sad face.
2/5 – They try, but it is so undeniably chain-y.
3/5 – I quite like where they’re going with it, but I’m not sure where that is.
3.5/5 – It’s not that expensive, but neither is the food that good, and plenty of non-chains do nicer food at similar prices.
4/5 – I got a lot of food for the money I paid, and it’s wasn’t the worst brunch ever.
2/5 – On this occasion not terrible, but I have had the worst waitstaff ever at this restaurant (forgetting things and just generally being rude).
3/5 – Based on this experience alone (and not that time that the hot waiter in Giraffe refused to get our bill while he flirted with some other girls even though we had theatre tickets. Not that we’re bitter about it) the service was fine.
– Social Media
3.5/5 – They have twitter and facebook and are pretty friendly for a chain restaurant.
3/5 They fav’d my tweet, but no RT or mention even though I was perfectly complimentary. Could try harder.
Total points: 47
Cool teapot: 4/5
Bonus points: 4