Ian Waller and his family enjoy an early evening meal at Giraffe in Bath

Eating out with children can be a challenge, both in terms of getting the right venue and also ensuring the food and the service take into account the needs and palates of younger diners. Fortunately for us, a recent family meal out at Giraffe in Bath couldn’t have gone better.

The event was one of those ‘Come on, let’s all have a treat’ type of evenings. My partner Ellen and I had had enjoyed a child-free lunch at Giraffe a week or so earlier and had been really impressed with the quality of the food (the Bombay Chicken Dahl was delicious!), as well as the friendly service. So it was time to let the children – five, nine and ten years old – in on the fun as well.

With five year old Joe insisting on wearing his best white shirt, we really hoped that he wouldn’t go for anything with a washing powder-resistant tomato sauce, and he duly helped out by instead choosing the chicken wrap from the Kids Menu (£4.50), while big brother Dan (nine) preferred the bangers, beans and chips (£4.50), and Eve (10) the cheese and tomato quesadilla (£3.95). And I have to say, ten out of ten to the excellent waitress, Sarah. Of course children never want exactly what it says on the menu – even so, Joe’s request for no mayo but more chips, Dan’s wanting no beans but – yes – more chips and Eve voicing her dislike of carrot sticks were all dealt with beautifully, with smiles, understanding and patience. Top marks Sarah…

giraffe Joe

Ellen and I meanwhile both chose a grilled sirloin (£15.95) each, preceded by starters of salt and pepper squid (really gorgeous and with a suitably icky value to make the children keen to try it) (£4.95) and prawn saganaki (£6.50).

On our arrival, as soon as we’d taken our seats, Sarah had been over with greetings for all and play sheets and crayons for the children, which were now doing their jobs keeping the children occupied while Ellen and I enjoyed a glass of Rioja each. It’s worth pointing out that Giraffe’s high ceilings and early evening background music can make it a loud and echoey venue, which might not be too great for quiet chats or a romantic evening for two. Still, for a family of five on a rare night out, it was fine.

By the time most of the colouring was complete and the quizzes answered, our food arrived, quickly followed by a big thumbs up from Joe and generous deluge of, yes, tomato sauce over the extra chips for a clearly impressed Dan. With fruit juices also from the kids menu being eagerly supped, the children were happy to feast and chat while Ellen and I loved the steaks, both for the quality of the taste and presentation, and also for the fact that we didn’t have to cook them or wash up afterwards.

Throughout our super-waitress was super attentive, happy with the children’s chatter and questions, and presenting each with a plastic giraffe as a souvenir of their visit.

Of course, as children get tired on a Friday evening, so their volume can increase and their manners occasionally get waylaid – and the nice thing was that the atmosphere in Giraffe is relaxed enough for such behaviour not to spoil the evening. This is a very family-friendly restaurant with a clear acceptance that children will be children.

With wraps, bangers, steaks and almost all of the extra chips dealt with, it was time for the desserts, meaning churros for Dan (£1.95), chocolate brownies for Eve (£2.50), Ellen and me (£5.50), and good old chocolate ice cream for Joe (£1.95). The whole experience had been excellent, with top-rate service complementing well-prepared and presented food, and the bill coming in just south of £100.

While we were out and on our way home before 7pm, Giraffe stays open until 11pm making it a perfect location for those rare child-free nights out as well, with the candles coming out and the music changing to give the place a more grown-up feel, although I’m not sure if you still get the colouring sheets and plastic giraffes…