Giraffe Restaurant

Restaurant: Giraffe
Cuisine: West Coast/Seafood/Pacific Northwest
Last visited: December 19, 2010
Location: White Rock, BC
Address: 15053 Marine Drive
Price Range:

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: n/a
Service: n/a
Ambiance: n/a
Overall: n/a
Additional comments:

  • Executive Chef David Chow (Dubrulle Culinary Institute)
  • Fine dining
  • Focus on West Coast/seafood
  • Familiar to locals and tourists
  • Globally/fusion inspired menu
  • Creative/Fresh/gourmet homemade
  • Great view of waterfront
  • Small/intimate/cozy dining area
  • Beautiful intimate patio
  • Seasonal menu
  • Weekly specials
  • Sustainable seafood
  • Lunch Thurs.-Sat. 11:30am
  • Dinner M-Sun. 5:30pm
  • Sunday brunch 11am

**Recommendations: Lamb is a favourite. I also like their crispy crab wontons, chicken flippers, steamed Salt Spring mussels, and from their specials this week the Steelhead Trout. The brunch is also worth checking out.

I’ve been to Giraffe probably a dozen times now, if not more. It’s my reliable West Coast fine dining restaurant in the Surrey/White Rock suburbs. I’m incredibly biased though because the Executive Chef David Chow is my best friend’s brother. Therefore we’re almost related so I’m not going to rate anything on this post. Feel free to check out their rating on Urbanspoon though because I’m not the only one that thinks it’s great. It has a strong standing and loyal customers for good reason too. (He’s also making a gourmet Dungeness Crab Eggs Benedict for Christmas brunch this year and there’s no way I’m risking any chance of losing my invitation to that ;))

This is actually my second post for Giraffe, and my first one was on Sunday brunch there – see here. This post is specifically on the specials available this week only so if you see something you like I recommend making a reservation and trying it before Christmas Eve (this Friday). I know this sounds very promotional, and there was a family discount, but be sure there were no expectations for a post. I simply enjoyed my Steelhead Trout dinner special and people expressed interest in the Bruleed Banana Bread so I’m just sharing my experience. As always my posts are very centered around the food.

My best friend and I had actually just finished a Christmas high tea at Tracycakes Bakery just down the street and we decided to take a 2 hour break eating break before dinner. At this point, you’ll only be shocked if you don’t know us, or at least me by now.

On the table:

Complimentary Bread (Photo from previous dinner)

  • It’s always a regular white bread or sourdough, and then a sun-dried tomato bread.
  • It’s not made in house, but it’s from Hillcrest Bakery & Deli just up the street.
  • I’ve always liked the sun-dried tomato bread, it’s quite traditional in texture, but I love the tangy flavour and dried herbs.

Grilled Pineapple & Scallop Salad – n/a

  • With pickled red onion, shaved fennel with citrus soy vinaigrette $13
  • It came with 4 medium sized seared scallops and a well dressed salad.
  • The citrus soy sauce was actually much tangier and more pickled in flavour than the pickled red onions. It was quite a zesty and light salad, yet still substantial from the scallops and pineapples.

  • There was a layer of thinly sliced grilled pineapples at the bottom and I was surprised to find so many. There was at least 5 and I originally expected it to be served like a salsa on top of the scallops, but I actually enjoyed it this way because I got even more pineapple flavour.
  • The pineapples actually could have been a dressing alone they had so much flavour. They were incredibly sweet especially since they were grilled, but the pickled citrus dressing helped balance it out and together it created a citrus zing.
  • It reminded me of Hawaii and I wanted to throw some Macadamia nuts in it too, however that would be risky because the scallops were already being out shined a bit.

Dungeness Crab Fettuccine – n/a

  • With peppers, asparagus and a lemon parsley cream $17
  • This was quite a simple cream sauce fettuccine with fresh and tender shaved asparagus and sweet red bell peppers. There was a subtle hint of lemon that brought out a freshness rather than a tanginess.
  • My favourite part was the juicy dungeness crab which was easily seasoned and coated with the light cream sauce. The cream sauce isn’t that rich or thick, so it’s actually not that hearty especially for a fettuccine.
  • I would enjoy this more as a starter size, which I kind of did because I shared it with my friend.

**Seared Steelhead Trout – n/a

  • With a Green goddess dressing and pesto lemon orzo $24
  • Rarely am I most impressed with the main, and I totally was in this case. This dish reminded me of a new age and reinvented salmon with lemon dill sauce.
  • Despite the sauce being an old fashioned forgotten sauce, it actually worked really well and the dish was presented modern.
  • This Steelhead Trout was executed perfectly, skin on, crispy, flavourful, flaky and moist. It was perfectly cooked and seasoned and incredibly juicy.
  • The skin was very crispy and almost nutty and the flavour of the trout was fresh and it tastes like a slightly milder salmon if you’ve never had it.
  • The sauce was made with 5 different herbs, and what I could taste was the dill first, followed by terragon, parsley and chives. My palette couldn’t get the other herbs though. It was almost like a thin lemon dill ranch dressing meets a pesto cream and it’s quite tangy and herby.
  • The orzo was lemony and fresh and well flavoured, although a bit soft… mind you they were super busy that night with Christmas parties.
  • The lemon dill Green goddess dressing and the pesto went together very well and I actually enjoyed the fish with or without the sauces.
  • I always love the variety of veggies here. They’re local and fresh and always cooked perfectly. From beets, baby carrots, red peppers, brocollini and green beans, there’s always at least 3-4 seasonal varieties on my plate.


All desserts are actually made in house and it’s quite surprising considering how small the restaurant is.

**Banana Bread – n/a

  • Cinnamon butter brulee, mocha gelato $9
  • This was very creative because of the brulee technique which I’ve never seen done on a loaf of bread. Brilliant. Also, I’m about 95% sold with just the idea of putting ice cream or gelato on any warm baked good.
  • It reminded me of banana bread french toast and it was actually similar to the one Jethro’s Fine Grub serves for brunch.
  • This one was much more of a dessert though, and instead of a crispy egg batter it had a crispy thin sugar crust and then a nice cinnamon flavour that wasn’t overwhelming.
  • The banana bread is dense and it wasn’t too sweet or even very banana-y but the caramel sauce added a nice sweetness and richness and I enjoyed it.
  • I’m going to put a shameless plug in here, but this would have been super delicious with my Follow Me Foodie Maple Cinnamon Creme Brulee gelato available until Jan. 8, 2011 at Bella Gelateria… it really would have though! 🙂

This is a dessert sampler platter I had in the summer. I won’t write too much about it since the desserts have now changed, but it gives you an idea.

Dessert Sampler Platter

  • Cheesecake – White Chocolate, almond shortbread crust, raspberry coulis
  • Creme Brulee – There’s always a version of this on the menu.
  • Chocolate Torte – There’s usually something like this as well.
  • Assorted shortbread cookies.
  • Assorted gelato & sorbet – these are ordered in, and in the summer they get them next door from Dolce Gelato – the best gelato shop before Bella Gelateria came along.

This is another dessert I had in the summer, but again their menus are seasonal and change often.

Lemon Tart

  • With Raspberry coulis and sorbet $9

Complimentary After Dinner Chocolate Giraffes

  • These are their iconic chocolate giraffes they give to everyone at the end of the meal.
  • It’s delicious dark Belgian chocolate and they’re custom made by Daniel’s Chocolates.


Giraffe on Urbanspoon


  • Jim says:

    Is this meal complimentary?

  • Bow says:

    Another fine dining experience outside of Vancouver or Richmond…very nice. Not a fan of citrus soy salad dressing but that’s my bias ; lovely looking fettucine, I love good pasta. I see you didn’t neglect dessert. Still don’t know where you pack all this food…

  • Mijune says:

    @Jim – No, this meal was not complimentary. I noted that in the introduction “I know this sounds very promotional, and there was a family discount, but be sure there were no expectations for a post.”

    @Bow – lol trust me… I can tell where it goes! Have you been dining in White Rock before? It’s probably a bit far for you, but there’s some impressive places there. I haven’t really found anything amazing in terms of fine dining in Surrey yet though.

  • Inspector Stanley says:

    MJ – what you missed was trying the lobster ravioli. Last year, I met the chef (David) and asked him if he could make me something special with the local seafood and to my delight , he made me probably one of my best meals. They are extremely accommodating and affordable. The food is just decadent. Don’t be afraid to tell the host or chef that you are celebrating a special evening and they will go out of their way to make that evening a memorable one with both their service and food. It may be a bit far for us Vancouverite’s, but definitely worth the drive. Go walk the beach, build up an appetitie, go say HI to Rice Honeywell (don’t know him but seems like a real nice guy at Five Corners) and then dine a Giraffe’s.

    Here we go….

    Giraffe Restaurant – Inspection Report

    Inspection Information:
    Facility Type: Restaurant
    Inspection type: Routine
    Inspection date: November 04, 2010
    Number of critical violations: 0
    Number of non-critical violations: 2

    This facility was given a low hazard rating. Low: the food premises was found to be in general compliance with the Food Premies Regulation and was adhering to good food handling practices. The Public Health Inspector believes there are no issues related to food safety that would require immediate correction.

  • Mijune says:

    @Inspector Stanley – lollll… your comments are hilarious. So I missed out huh? Lobster gnocchi was on my list, but they chef recommended ordering the specials since they won’t always be there. Alright then, I better go back for that lobster dish! Although it’s a gnocchi now and not a ravioli. I’m not surprised by the clean inspections report either… this place is a real gem! Thanks for telling me all those insider tips! I thought I knew them all under the circumstances but I guess I don’t! 🙂 Great to know they treat everyone the same!

  • godzilla says:

    Giraffe is our go to place down in White Rock. Love going down to the beach for a walk after we dine.

  • Mijune says:

    @godzilla – nice go to choice! It’s mine as well, for obvious reasons though. I love going next door to the gelato place after dinner in the summer 🙂 … but the walk makes sense as well lol… ohhhh or I should walk along the beach WITH gelato… even better!

  • Marilyn Koyanagi says:

    Last night, my husband, son and I had dinner at Giraffe’s. It is the worst meal any of us have had in a very long time. My husband’s calamari appetizer was soggy which was not surprising as it was served on a bed of very over dressed caesar salad. The worst part was the stringy bits. It had obviously not been cleaned properly. My son’s appetizer was a goat cheese fondue. The cheese was pleasant but for dipping it was accompanied by 3 asparagus spears, 3 teaspoon size artichoke hearts and 3 small toast triangles. Maybe he was supposed to eat the rest of the cheese with a spoon. For mains, I ordered the filet mignon. It came with a teaspoon size clump of blue cheese topped by a few diced strawberries that had no taste whatsoever. The filet itself had a line of gristle that ran down one side and it was best described as chewy. My potato butter puree was watery and cold as were the green beans. The carrots, which everyone had, were not cooked and my sliced beets tasted like they came straight out of a can. My husband ordered the Pot-Au-Feu with scallops, prawns, dungeness crab, mussels in a tomato saffron broth. There was no broth which explains why it was not served in a bowl. The only identifiable seafood was one scallop and one prawn with most of the shell still in tact. They were both rubbery and tasted old and his vegetables were cold. My son’s duck which was deglazed with bourbon, maple syrup and butter looked and tasted as though cold maple syrup had been poured over it. It was so sickly sweet he could not eat it. When he told the waitress, she brought him a small dish of strawberry compote to help the taste. His potatoes and vegetables were also cold. Service was mediocre at best and we will not be back.

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