There are plenty of reasons why I hold brunch to high ideals: mainly because it usually befits a lie-in, but still means you get to eat all the delectable options that a proper breakfasts provides. Frankly if I can avoid it, I don’t want to get up early on a Saturday and I still have nightmares from when a café-that-shall-remain-nameless cruelly robbed me of a sausage sandwich because it designated them breakfast foods and stopped serving after 11am. Brunch, brunch lets you have a lie in and a fry-up and that, my friends, is a pretty good start to the day in my books.
Recently, I met my friend Erica in Birmingham Grand Central to check out Giraffe’s brunch offerings. I’ve eaten lunch at the one in Solihull a few times and wondered why they’d never made it to Birmingham before now, but looks like Birmingham Grand Central is a pretty good spot. There are a bunch of Giraffe restaurants around the country and they’re a sort of light, casual dining which is family-friendly but without feeling like a crèche.
The menu has always interested me, because I can never quite work out what they’re going for. The dishes span a range of cuisines from Turkish bread to Tuscan meatballs, Japanese gyoza to TexMex burritos but without getting too experimental. It’s a sort of introduction to world food without the more ‘out there’ stuff, but all from sunny climates meaning the plate usually looks fairly colourful.
For brunch I figured it only right and proper to try the Full Brunch, which comes with smoky bacon, herbed pork sausage, baked beans, eggs (fried or scrambled), potato wedges and sourdough toast. As far as Full Brunches go it’s a good one, the bacon and sausage were both tasted like they were good quality and the sausage was suitably dense and meaty. I was also pleased to see that the baked beans arrived in a separate dish, so as not to make everything else soggy. The scrambled egg was delicious, but the presentation of them sat on top of the sourdough toast meant it was a little soft by the time I’d excavated it and this was a shame as the flavour was delicious. The potato wedges were nice, but a little unnecessary; there was plenty of food that didn’t need bulking out by them, although mushrooms or more space for the toast would’ve been preferable. But all in all, a good brunch.
Erica went for the Surf’s Up Sarnie, which I half expected to be something with smoke salmon or fish fingers, but turned out to be smoky bacon, avocado, fried egg, baby gem, tomato and mustard mayo, nestled between sourdough toast. It looked messy but Erica enjoyed it and that’s the main thing really.
And because one brunch dish each isn’t enough, and they’d added a few new dishes onto the menu we also tried the Shakshouka, a classic Middle Eastern breakfast dish of spicy egg and tomato which is ideal for brunch. It’s a relatively simple one pot dish, and Giraffe’s arrives in that said one-pot, which means it is made up fresh. And it’s delicious; sweet tomatoes, slightly spicy with baked eggs whose yolks beg to be popped by the Turkish bread its served with. It feels like a healthier brunch option, if that’s your thing – or you can add chorizo to it, which I think would be an entirely great idea.
By this point Erica and I had sat nattering and eating too much food, so we thought we’d try out some of the cocktails Giraffe offers. As someone that’s drunk too many cocktails to keep count of I’m always a bit wary of places that serve cocktails as an add on, as I tend to find the technical ability isn’t always there. We had a couple of issues with the Mango Colada that Erica ordered, but I was impressed by how the staff handled it, replacing it with no fuss. Actually, I’d been people watching whilst we were there and the staff seemed on point the entire time, which is refreshing to see as they were very busy.
Overall it was a pleasant experience, one I’d be fine to return to. I always think the food court at Birmingham Grand Central was an odd choice, design-wise, but sat in the booth at Giraffe it feels less like a canteen and the buzz of the shoppers gives a night background hum. Sure I’m not sure it’s somewhere you’d want to go on a date, but for a brunch with friends, food with the family or a quick bite before your train home it works and it’s handy.
Giraffe Restaurant, Dining Terrace, Birmingham Grand Central, Birmingham, B2 4XJ.
Disclosure: I was invited down to check out the brunch offerings and the food was complimentary but this doesn’t affect my opinion. Previous visits to Giraffe in Solihull were paid for by my mum, as compensation for dragging me round clothes shops.