#153: Giraffe Restaurant (CLOSED)

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When I first heard about Giraffe Restaurant a couple months ago I was curious, mostly because the name really doesn’t tell you anything at all, unless of course they served tasty giraffe meat, which for the record I would totally try.  I looked into it briefly once or twice and skimmed over the menu.  Nothing really popped out at me at the time.  As I was looking over my list this week to figure out where to go next, I visited their website once more.  This time, however, a good portion of their menu sounded really appealing.  I must have been in the right mood to process it.  They are located at the corner of Fairway and Pleasant Grove, across from Nugget near Lowes.  They serve an interesting mix of American, Italian and Mediterranean cuisines.  American was represented by a burger, but most everything else seemed to be of the other two.

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I met up with my mother at 6PM for dinner.  I was a bit early.  From out front it looked like they had two entrances, neither of which is very clearly marked, they kind of blend into the glass front.  I took a gamble with the door on the right, underneath the main Giraffe signage.  This turned out to be the correct one.  I found myself in a little waiting area with some chairs, a copy of the menu on a table to the other side and a woman standing there ready to greet me.  The other door leads right into the middle of the dining room.  I told her I was waiting for one more and she asked if I would like to be seated or wait.  I chose to be seated and we rounded a small divider wall  and came back to the front by the windows where I was given a booth.  The dining room is very open as is the kitchen, which you can see most of from your seat.  The ceiling above this side was crazy high.  Behind me was one of several giraffe decorations and some plants sitting on what must have been a counter people sat at in whatever this place used to be.  There was just one other person in the dining room, sitting in the center at a small table.  Eventually he was joined by one more.  Another couple came in while I was waiting and had apparently been here before because the waitress said she remembered them.  Finally, a mother and daughter showed up, curious what kind of restaurant it was (I suspect most people in Roseville are wondering this when they see the name), then after looking at the menu for a moment took a seat.

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The waitress, who was the only person tending to the customers while I was there, brought me a large cup of ice water.  Soon my mom joined and she received water as well.  The waitress asked if we would like anything else to drink but we both stuck with water.  They have a very limited beverage selection right now.  According to their website they are waiting on their beer and wine public notice to be processed.  For the time being it’s soda, tea and coffee.  We went over the menu (which strangely opened like a wall calendar rather than like a book).  I think we both picked out an entree fairly quickly, and I then turned my attention to the starters.  I was curious about the “Chicken White Soup,” although by the time we were placing our order I forgot to ask about it.  Instead we ordered the Eggplant Dip (Roasted eggplant, onion, garlic and tomato with dairy sauce and pita bread)[$5.89].  For my entree I chose the Grilled Half Cornish Hen (Half a hen {13oz} with grilled tomato and sweet pepper, cup corn, garlic toast, with choice of pomegranate or mushroom sauce)[10.89].  I figured the mushroom sauce would probably be good although I was very curious about the pomegranate sauce and had planned on getting that.  I completely failed to notice that she didn’t ask me.  A minute after she had left she came back and very apologetically informed me that they were out of the pomegranate and asked if the mushroom was OK, so that’s how that worked itself out.

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Less than 10 minutes after we ordered we received an appetizer of fried pita chips with a white dipping sauce.  The chips were very crunchy and warm.  The sauce was light, cool and had a definite cucumber flavor to it.  She returned just a minute or two later with the eggplant dip and asked if we liked the sauce, then listed off some of it’s ingredients and compared it to Tzatziki sauce.  It was really good and this seemed to be a standard complimentary appetizer.  I saw her deliver one to each of the other tables.  Our eggplant dip was warm and was served with soft triangles of pita bread.  It was pretty difficult to scoop any of the dip up with the bread alone and we had to use one of our forks to assist.  Neither of us was really into this, but I think it’s because we’re not that crazy about eggplant (I’ve not had a lot of eggplant, so I didn’t really consider it when ordering it).  It wasn’t bad at all, in fact once the initial eggplant flavor in a bite subsided, allowing the other ingredients to shine, it was pretty decent.  While we finished all the pita bread, there was probably about half of the dip remaining.  Our waitress offered to bring more bread out when she came by to clear the two plates.

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It was roughly 15 minutes between when these appetizers first arrived and when the entrees came out.  The presentation was nice on both.  My moms Beef Stroganoff with Rotini (chopped beef, mushroom, bell pepper, white sauce and three-blended cheese with fresh herbs and vegetables)[$8.49] came in a big bowl that was mostly rim.  After digging in she realized that the bowl was deceptively deep and that there was considerably more there than we thought.  She ended up taking half of it to go for leftovers.  She said the beef was very tender and that overall the dish was quite good.

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My grilled half Cornish hen was quite large and covered in the white mushroom sauce.  The sauce had lots of good sized slices of mushrooms along with a full mushroom off to the side, next to a colorful trio of grilled veggies consisting of a big slice a zucchini, half a tomato and a full sweet pepper.  On the other side was a little cup of corn, topped with a bit of shredded cheese.  I took a bite of this and was surprised at how peppery it tasted, as if it had been covered in invisible black pepper(though some coarsely ground pepper was clearly visible, it just didn’t seem to match what I was tasting).  It was buttery and good, just wow, really peppery also.  Each of the veggies were soft from the grill and cut easily with my butter knife.  The zucchini and tomato were very tasty.  I didn’t get to the pepper before I started to get full.  The hen was outstanding.  Perfectly prepared, the white meat portions were moist and tender, and the dark meat was fatty and full of flavor.  A bit of delicious skin here and there and it was a real treat.  The mushroom sauce was better than I anticipated, it was very rich and the mushroom slices themselves were wonderful as well.

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The amount of meat was a lot more than expected and I had enough to take home for a small lunch tomorrow.  I might have attempted to eat it all there but after my mom had requested a container for hers, the waitress suggested dessert and described a special.  She was very soft spoken the entire time and so I didn’t catch the name of this dessert, only some of the description, and I had to have her repeat part of it again.  It was described as being similar to flan, which had me mostly in on that alone, with raspberry sauce on top.  I went ahead and ordered one.  It came out in a mug and appeared to be a white custard.  The raspberry sauce was drizzled on top in the shape of a heart.  It was pretty awesome.  My mom best described it as a very good vanilla bean ice cream, but not frozen.  It had the consistency of something between a mousse and creme brulee custard.  Overall, pretty amazing.  I asked her what it was afterwards and she told us Panna Cotta.  I’ve heard of it but I’ve pretty certain this was the first time I’ve ever had it.  I’m a fan.  I didn’t take the receipt with me but I think it was something like 5 or 6 bucks.

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So Giraffe Restaurant, an oddly named place with mixed cuisine.  Our waitress was excellent from start to finish and all the food was fresh and delicious.  Given the quality and portions I would say that the prices were extremely reasonable, even on the low side in some areas.  I would definitely return.

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One thought on “#153: Giraffe Restaurant (CLOSED)

  1. This place has some great cooking talent! I hope the Roseville-Rocklin crowd gives them a chance. And do try the Chicken White soup – very hearty and good. Everything tastes so “homemade” here, though they could try to make some flavors a bit bolder. And they STILL don’t have the pomegranate sauce for the game hen, but the mushroom sauce and entire dish was excellent. LAMB STEAK is da bomb! Better than rack of lamb because you get a generous slab of meat. Best lamb my wife has ever had! They need to put some branding on the exterior of the restaurant – even when open for business, the dark tinted windows and shades almost makes this place seem closed or vacant. Hope Giraffe does well!!

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