Giggling Squid Chichester
Sally Thomson headed to the restaurant causing a real buzz in Chichester – the recently opened Giggling Squid.
Some twenty years ago I ventured with my 8 year-old daughter to Thailand – it was the first time I had been on holiday without the rest of the family. It was a huge adventure for us, and despite being daunting, we enjoyed it so much that we subsequently returned during the years that followed and indeed one which are intending to repeat early next year.
Thailand is still a firm favourite holiday destination and part of the enjoyment of holidaying in this fabulous country is the food, so when we were asked to visit the Giggling Squid in Chichester, we were more than ready to sample those evocative flavours of one of our favourite countries.
We arrived for lunch and were welcomed by Ed, Emma and the team. The immediate feeling you have on arrival is that the restaurant is fresh and extremely pretty. The walls are lined with beautiful prints and there are orchids everywhere (very much as you would find hanging from the palm trees in Thailand).
Before long, we found ourselves seated in a very comfortable banquet and within an instant we were offered drinks and a pile of freshly fried Prawn Crackers! The perfect savoury snack to get our tastebuds tingling.
Giggling Squid, created by Pranee Laurillard and her husband Andy, is called such after one of their children was given the name as a tease. Pranee has put her heart into each of their restaurants and the menu has notes and musings from her – from what each dish reminds her of, experiences she’s shared with her husband and to how some of the dishes are traditionally eaten. Personality oozes from the pores of this place, and the fantastic front of house team only continue that welcoming vibe.
The Chichester restaurant has only been open for a few months and Ed was happy to say that they were always busy. Within a quarter of an hour guests were quickly filling up the restaurant, so I would suggest that a booking is essential if you do not want to be disappointed.
After much deliberation we started to make our choices. I settled for a dish that was an absolute favourite on my last trip to Thailand – Chilli and Basil Gra Pao with beef – a staple Thai stir fry using chilli and holy basil, spiked with hot spice and served with sticky rice. I’m pleased to say that it more than delivered on authentic flavour and its hefty spice was cut through by the salty tang of fish sauce and a gentle background sweetness.
One thing I do have is food envy – that sinking feeling that your companion has ordered something you might enjoy more. Nothing kills the atmosphere of an enjoyable experience like being out-ordered – that’s why Giggling Squid’s menu of shareable Thai tapas is an absolute god-send. Dishes include the classic (and bloomin’ delicious) Salt and Pepper Squid – a must, fresh Seared Scallops with Spicy Lime Dressing, Spring Rolls and Satay, a rich but seriously tasty Sleeping Honey Duck and the favourite Pork Ribs.
If you’re very much a starter and main kind of person though, the menu is bursting with options, taking in the best Thai classic dishes and bringing in some Western twists. From bowls of steaming noodles, nose-clearing curries and hot and spicy stir fries, there is something to please every palette.
The other side of the table, after perusing the menu for a long time, settled for a big bowl of Pad Thai. Call him conventional if you want, but sometimes it’s the classics that really hit the spot, and this one didn’t fail, with a complex host of flavours and great crunch of peanut to boot.
The children are well looked after too. They call their menus Little Tapas for Little People. Here they can mix and match small plates and there is plenty to choose from. My grandson chose Grilled pork on skewers with dipping sauce and Chicken satay and peanut sauce and finished off with two scoops of vanilla ice cream.
There was just enough room left to sample some amazing ice cream flavours – Black Sesame and Jasmine with Toasted Rice – a superb end to a fantastic meal. I’ll be back soon to get my Thai fix – a little easier than heading to Thailand, but just as tasty. Having said that will be more than happy to have a few more giggles with the squid.
For more information, or to book online, please head to the website, or give them a call on 01243 532163.
Find the Giggling Squid, Chichester at 8 Eastgate Square, Unicorn House, Chichester, West Susses PO19 1JN