I’ve been on a bit of a Thai food tip recently, Cafe Chilli and Kanok Thai have both had recent visits, so when an invitation came up to review Giggling Squid’s Christmas menu, I ho ho ho hot-footed it down there (that was terrible, shut up Rosie).
It’s traditional Thai food for the English palate, in relaxed and informal surroundings. Great for groups, families or tables of two, I can’t imagine an audience it wouldn’t please so it’s easy to see why they’re constantly expanding, with nearly 20 sites open and more planned for 2017.
It’s probably my fourth visit to their Brighton branch but I’ve not written about it since 2012 (review here), and it was my first time eating supper here, having previously always visited at lunch time.
I like the fact that there’s not even the slightest nod to traditional Christmas food, no turkey shoehorned in awkwardly anywhere, no out of place mincemeat dessert, etc. Purists will probably object (you should hear the outcry at my work about the lack of turkey dinner on offer at the restaurant we’ve booked), but it will appeal to those looking for something a bit different.
Check out the full selection of Christmas menus, lunch and dinner, here.
Salt & Pepper squid
I’m going to say something controversial now, but the crisp coating of the salt and pepper squid tasted familiar, really familiar, it took a few pieces to put my finger on it, but then it came to me…. KFC hot wings. Probably not what the chef had in mind whilst he was lovingly creating this recipe, but the overall effect was delicious, the portion size was fine as part of a set menu, but I can imagine at its full price (£6.95) five pieces would illicit a raised eyebrow or two.
Chu Chi Sea Bass
I find poached fish can be a little underwhelming in this context but the crispy coating gave the delicate sea bass some welcome texture and absorbed the rich flavours of the red curry perfectly.
Lamb shank Massaman curry and coconut rice
The curry was incredible, a definite highlight of the meal. The slightest nudge of my knife and fork sent all the meat sliding from the bone, the vegetables had retained some bite and the fragrant curry sauce had a scattering of crunchy cashews that brought the whole thing together perfectly. Coupled with the excellent sticky coconut rice, I was in Thai food heaven.
Pad Thai with prawns and Papaya salad
I ordered these as sides to our main course, as I was keen to see how their version of these Thai staple dishes would come out. My friend, who has a Thai street food business, says that she can tell the cut of a restaurant’s jib, entirely on the standard of Pad Thai they make. She wasn’t eating with me that night, but it got a thumbs up from me.
I’ve eaten a lot of papaya salads in Brighton and I hate to say it, but none of them even come close to the standard of the one at Pho, Giggling Squid’s (£6.95) included. It was nice enough, but the dressing was a bit OTT both in quantity and flavour, leaving the shredded veg very slightly slimy.
My first thought on seeing this was, the nineties called, they’d like their garnish back….
I’m being mean, other than the entirely unneccessary accoutrements this was good. Rich chocolate mousse on a crisp base and cream served two ways – what’s not to like? If you want something a bit less full on then I’d recommend some of their icecream, brought in from the fabulous Boho Gelato.
Re the service, it’s always hard to get a true sense of what’s what when you’re in on an invite*. The lady looking after us was visibly nervous – sweet, attentive and accommodating, but absolutely quaking in her boots, bless her.
There’s nothing to suggest at all that the service wouldn’t have been fantastic had I have been an ordinary punter, but as a former waitress, it is a big factor for me, it’s one of the main reasons I only accept a fraction of the invitations I get to review. I want the same authentic experience a paying customer would have, and with the best will in the world, you’re never going to get that if your booking is strictly managed by a PR company and/or the restaurant owner .
I will continue on my mission to find Brighton’s ultimate Thai restaurant (Tootkas, Papaya, Hungry monkey and Mye Mye are all on my to-do list) but in the meantime I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Giggling Squid, or go back myself. Sometimes it’s nice to know what you’re getting and this place seems to consistently deliver..
Where are you going for festive meals out? Have you been to Giggling Squid? Post in the comments section or hit me up on my social networks (links below).
*any meals which were free of charge are clearly stated or marked with an asterisk, you can read my full disclaimer here.