So to celebrate my birthday which was well-forgotten by the majority of my family, especially my mom who didn’t even remember to call me the day after like my brother and sister-in-law, but like a whopping 2 or 3 weeks later! Safe to say I was annoyed and unreceptive to her apologies. Anyways, my brother wanted to take me out, but I had to share my celebration with Mother’s Day. Boohoo I said, but I did want to try out a restaurant off my “to-try list” which includes Osteria Mozza, Hatfields, The Bazaar, Melisse, and Jiraffe. My brother had already tried Melisse and was not that impressed and Osteria and Bazaar were booked, so Jiraffe it was.
The restaurant is located in Santa Monica, very close to 3rd street. It’s two stories which is interesting with a very relaxed decor. It doesn’t have that poshy weho or BH air, but still feels clean and nice. The menu was pretty straight forward, no tasting menus which disappointed me. I love tasting menus so I can get a variety of dishes to try from. They did have a pre-fixe menu which didn’t appear all that exciting.
Amuse bouche – some chilled bell pepper soup
It tasted like bell peppers but not in an enhancing way. It did not excite my mouth.
For my starter…
Sautéed Wild Pacific Shrimp – baby arugula, white beans, shaved fennel, and lemon vinaigrette
I apologize for the blurry pic, but I was still trying to fiddle with the camera…unsuccessfully obviously =( Anyways, this was probably the most delicious dish of the night. I am a HUGE fan of shrimp and these shrimp were PERFECTLY cooked, sweet, and tender. The little salad of arugula, white beans, and shaved fennel was a great accompaniment. The sweet savoriness of the shrimp was well complimented by the tang and crunch of the salad.
Unfortunately I cannot remember what this dish was =( It was given to us by mistake tho, and the waiter kindly let us have the dish on the house while we waited for the dish we actually ordered. I remember that white blob in the middle was burrata and it had such a smooth delicious creaminess which I’ve come to enjoy in this cheese now.
Purple Peruvian Gnocchi with rock shrimp, pearl onions, Mandarin tomato concassé, and herb-infused tomato nage
This what we actually ordered and it was soo good! The gnocchi were pillowy and soft and the cream sauce was not super heavy and the shrimp, well you know me and shrimp! All in all, light, creamy, flavorful!
On to the main courses!
Prime Caramelized Pork Chop served with long grain wild rice, smoked bacon, spiced apple chutney, and aged cider sauce
This This was definitely a reinvention of a classic american dish…i think. What do I know of classic american fare? Not like I ate that growing up! But I here about pork chops and apple sauce or apple something and I imagine this was supposed to be a take on that. The pork chops were so tender and juicy. I was not a fan of the wild rice as it usually is all hard and “full of texture.” I like my rice white and texturely homongenous. Overall, a solid entree.
New Zealand Lamb Rack served with yellowfin potato samosas, vegetable moussaka, and thyme-scented lamb jus
Some people don’t like lamb because of its gamey-ness, that particular “lamb” smell. I like that lamb taste. Lamb is also something special since I don’t cook it at all because of its priceyness over beef, chicken, and pork and because I’m not too familiar on how to prepare it. So when I get the opportunity to go out, I’ll usually order lamb over the more mundane beef and certainly over chicken. As you can see, the lamb was cooked perfectly medium rare and didn’t have too much fat on it. The side dishes had much to be desired. The vegetable moussaka was made of eggplants and squashes I think. It wasn’t that good. And the potato samosa was like mashed potatoes rolled like egg rolls. They were a better accompaniment, but not all that impressive.
Some halibut dish? Part of the special pre fixe menu for that evening. It was very moist, maybe too moist. I think it was undercooked in the center and my mom requested it be sent back to finish cooking. They graciously took it back, no questions ask. I forget if they gave us something on the house for such an egregious error.
We definitely went overboard with the dessert. Triple T (Terror from Toronto & Taiwan) and my mom ordered the pre fixe menu which came with a pretty simple but solid rasberry tart. I wanted something more decadent of course.
So I ordered Brioche Bread Pudding with chocolate chips, cranberries and homemade white chocolate ice cream. It wasn’t that impressive and frankly not that memorable.
Dumpling Man did not want bread pudding, so being the Dumpling Man he had to order some version of a molten lava cake. Behold! Chocolate Truffle Cake with tahitian vanilla bean ice cream and chocolate, raspberry sauce. Tasted pretty standard, and not that memorable.
Triple T and RCM (Root Canal Man) had to have the Duo of Crème Brulee tahitian vanilla and manjari chocolate served with fresh baked cookies of the day. It wasn’t the best creme brulee in my opinion. Not smooth enough, but it did have the perfect brulee, crispy and caramelized.
So although my reviews on the dessert seemed lackluster, I found the desserts pretty standard, neither bad nor out of this world but definitely a good way to end dinner.
As you can see the portions at JiRaffe are sizable, the quality is seasonable and fresh, and the taste is solid. I highly recommend this place for a nice occasion, especially if you hate small portions and feeling like you need to hit up the Kogi Taco Truck after dinner to fill up your still empty stomaches.
502 Santa Monica Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401