Much on the menu to explore, and plenty of reasons to be cheerful
‘Staggeringly good Thai food’? That’s a bold proclamation indeed. But Giggling Squid substantiates its manifesto courtesy of myriad fresh dishes created from myriad fresh ingredients that dominate the menus in an environment that tastefully blends both old and new world design inspirations to uniquely bright’n’breezy effect within the elegant confines of Bluecoat House.
This Grade ii-listed cornerstone of the Saw Close redevelopment has fortunately retained its subtly imposting exterior… but there’s a distinctly modern party going on inside aided and abetted by cheerful staff, a stylish little lounge area, centre-stage tables in gazebos that look like beautiful bird cages in the main dining room and vibrant exotic blooms creeping up intricate trellises on the walls. An imaginative children’s menu keeps the little people happy, lots of lively veggie/vegan/gluten-free options make sure everybody can join in the fun, there’s a flurry of really good cocktails on the extensive drinks menu… and if you want your grub to go, there’s a takeaway menu too; gosh, talk about all bases covered!
At lunchtime, a well-balanced range of well-priced tapas ‘sets’/light lunch set menus includes the One Big Dish option (Thai curries and stir-fries, served with rice) and the two-dish Meal Combis (tapas followed by Thai soup or a curry, or Pad Thai, or a stir-fry) – seriously, if you can’t find something to give you your lunch break a lift here, you’re just being silly. But for the purposes of this review, the main courses are the main event – especially as a new seasonal menus has just been launched, with an emphasis on ‘mood-boosting food’ (read our news story on this initiative here.)
In a vain attempt to cover all bases, we started our jig with the merry molusc with Chai Nat Pomelo and Roasted Duck. Pomelo: think, grapefruit without the bitter edge, or orange without the over-sweet tendency, or a much more interesting version of lemon. Think pomelo, then have it at Giggling Squid teamed with sweet, soft slivers of velvety duck and sweet, soft chilli jam. Similarly seductive, the Mah Kwan Pepper Pork Belly: sticky, sweet morsels of sticky, sweet pork laden with the complex tang of lesser-spotted Mah Kwan pepper, resulting in a heady combination of rich, umami indulgence, succulent and subtly spicy, and very, very moreish.
Appetite thoroughly whetted, we moved on to main courses of Bold Krachai Prawns – plump, juicy king prawns bathed in a super-fragrant, deeply satisfying combination of piquant krachai (part of the ginger family), galangal, turmeric root and more, bold in the friendliest possible way, invigorating without being pushy – and decadent, indulgent Duck Confit, crisp on the outside and meltingly soft within, offset by the kind of sweet/sour complexity that only tamarind can bring to a prandial party. We did, of course, order a portion of rice to accompany our main courses, along with a side order of Ruby Noodle Pad Kimao: a life-affirming, throughly invigorating super-pretty celebration of beetroot so good that, the very next day, I went back to Giggling Squid for lunch and enjoyed it as a vegan main course.
Having said that, it’s a wonder that I could eat the following day at all, given that we lingered long enough to indulge in a sticky, fruity caramelised mango cake and the Sweet Heavens Above Trio, which featured an amazing salted caramel souffle, a rich mini (but not that mini!) Melting Heart Chocolate Dessert and a pineapple and coconut finger.
Whenever we visit Giggling Squid we vow to return again and again and again – which we do, rather a lot, because there’s so much on the menu to explore… and plenty of reasons to be cheerful here.
Giggling Squid: get jiggy with it.
- Free wifi available ,
- Gluten free options ,
- Baby changing facilities