WHEN it comes to authentic Thai dining at a chain restaurant, it doesn’t, in my opinion, come much better than Giggling Squid.
So I didn’t need asking twice when I was invited to head down to their newest venue, in The Royal Priors in Leamington.
Bold flavours and exotic ingredients take their inspiration from the Thai traditions and legends and have their own personality and story to tell, celebrating the abundance of ingredients found across Thailand.
I was told: “Giggling Squid is all about how people eat their food and spend their mealtimes in Thailand. Generous food to share and celebrate together, whether you have more adventurous tastes or prefer something simple and satisfying; an all-involved, love of food, living for flavour, being together experience.”
I’d say, based on my experience, that sounds like a fair assessment.
Reason to celebrate then as locals can now enjoy in the vibrant Giggling Squid menu, which is cooked by expert Thai chefs and served with true Thai generosity.
Our party kicked off this feast with Chicken Satay, Pork Dumplings and the Sharing Platter for two. (Don’t judge – there were four of us!)
While all were flavoursome, it was the platter which won the highest praise – and are definitely the dish of choice for the hungry diner!
With 18 dishes to choose from, I guarantee there’ll be something for even the fussier of diners – I know because we had one with us.
And if decision making isn’t your strong point, you’ll be challenged by the Mains menu which offers nearly 30 dishes – all equally tempting.
We opted for the Wholesome Cashew Stir Fry (with chicken); Sticky Chicken Stir Fry, Chubby Cheek Pork and Crying Beef. Be warned though this is served on the rare side despite not being asked your preference. I guess this is how they recommend it be taken. Regardless, rare may not be to everyone’s taste although, luckily, in this instance, it was still devoured.
Desserts here are all about quality over quantity which is fine by me. And those of us who left enough room were rewarded by the indulgence of Melting Heart Chocolate Dessert and Sweet Heavens Above Trio (a mini Salted Caramel Souffle, Melting Heart Chocolate Dessert and Pineapple and Coconut Finger.) Delicious.
Other options include Caramelised Mango Cake, Prosecco and Muddled Berry Cheesecake, Coconut Pudding with Berry Compote and a variety of exotic ice creams.
Other stand-outs on the creative evening include Samui Zingy Prawns (prawns with a fresh, citrusy sauce), Betel Leaf & Ginger Lime Salmon Morsels (salmon pieces nestled in lemongrass, lime cubes, ginger and roasted shredded coconut wrapped in betel leaf) and Pad Cha, a popular Thai seafood stir fry with a fiery flavour combination of pounded chilli, garlic, thinly sliced krachai and fresh peppercorns delivers a zingy punch of flavours.
A dedicated vegan menu and wine list is also available alongside a large selection of vegetarian dishes.
The popular tapas lunch menu offers an extensive selection of small plates and includes Giggling Squid favourite Salt & Pepper Squid alongside the fiery Som Tam Papaya Salad and the Big Flavour Mushroom Larb (a speciality salad from Isan Province with juicy, exotic mushrooms tossed in fresh mint, dried chilli flakes, ground toasted rice and shallots).
A welcome change from other high street offerings, families will be able to enjoy the ‘Little Tapas for Little People’ menu (£5.99 for two dishes) with the option to add a pudding for £1.99. Designed to encourage children to be more adventurous with their food choices, the menu features smaller versions of popular dishes including Chicken Satay, Pork Dumplings and Pad Thai.
Giggling Squid’s fresh and stylish interior, celebrates its ingredients from the sea and land while including a subtle hint of Thai. Hand-pressed flowers in vintage frames and hand-painted stencils combine with bold, floral wallpapers to add a subtle splash of colour. It really is one of the most stylish and comfortable High Street restaurants I’ve experienced.
Prices for main courses range from £10-£16.50 and in that sense, are perhaps not suited to all pockets. (A three-course meal for a family of four will carry a not insignificant price tag.) However, if it’s authentic tasty Thai food at its best that you’re craving, it’s worth every last penny.