Last night, I took my fiancé to Jiraffe for his birthday dinner. Because I live in Santa Monica and take the 5th St. exit off the 10, I drive past this restaurant all the time. One of my good foodie friends recommended it to me years ago, so, needless to say, I was excited to try it.
If for nothing more than the ambiance and decor, Jiraffe scored well in my book. From the quaint corner bar right by the entrance and three exquisite chandeliers that draw the eye to a lofted dining room, to the art, which was a mix of Parisian inspired photographs, which set the tone for French cuisine; Justin Long’s contemporary and almost Chagallian paintings; and themed giraffe art, the design of the restaurant was eclectic decor done right. It allowed me to settle into the Parisian atmosphere before remembering I could also people watch out the restaurant’s tall, arching windows while I dined in the heart of Santa Moinca. Beyond the decor, the friendly staff was polite and prompt.
We started our meal with some speciality cocktails. I ordered the kumquat gimlet, a “salad” beverage, which came adorned with lime, kumquat, and mint. It was as delicious as it sounds.
For dinner, my fiancé agreed to share a bunch of the vegetarian appetizers and an entrée with me. We had a number of tomato dishes throughout the night, and I enjoyed some of the best tomatoes I’ve had in a long time.
We started with the buratta and tomato tart and the baked caña de carbon or “aged Spanish goat cheese.” The tart had a flaky folio dough crust baked to perfection and was served a sprinkling of greens that balanced the cheese and tomato. The goat cheese was a perfect dish to split. A swirl of tomato, cheese, and spinach combined to create what felt like a home-cooked favorite.
We continued with the Margharita pizza ravioli, a somewhat standard ravioli dish that differentiated itself with a unique crunch from the garlic croutons. We also had a roasted pear salad with toasted hazelnuts that accentuated the richness of the blue cheese and pear.
Overall, I really enjoyed this restaurant, but I have to say honestly a bit more for the decor and the drinks than the food. However, I didn’t eat any meat or fish, so take that as you will. I also have to say, living in New Orleans spoiled me with dining, and I’m sad to say LA, once again, doesn’t quite live up to my high dining expectations.