Michelle Grady finds out that serving great Thai food is certainly no laughing matter to the team at the Giggling Squid’s latest opening in Clifton…
With 12 successful restaurants (and counting) in its portfolio, Giggling Squid certainly seems to be doing something right, so it was with much excitement that I headed to the launch night at its latest venture in Clifton to find out for myself why this popular chain is thriving.
The Bristol restaurant’s prime location will certainly help to entice peckish locals and tourists through its doors – sitting pretty in the heart of Clifton Village, this contemporary restaurant fits right in, among the independent boutiques and trendy coffee shops. Being just a short walk from one of the city’s main attractions – the Clifton Suspension Bridge – surely won’t hurt either. Yet location counts for nothing if the food isn’t up to scratch – if my evening there was anything to go by, Giggling Squid has nothing to worry about in that respect.
Making a good first impression is a must for any restaurant, especially on a launch night, and the Giggling Squid certainly impressed us from the get-go. The decor is stylish yet simple, chic but unpretentious, and modern with classic touches, and strikes the perfect balance between smart and casual – it’s the kind of place that will as much appeal to the laid-back lunchtime crowd as it will those after a romantic evening dining spot. It being the opening evening, we were only offered a shortened version of the full menu to choose from, but, although we had fewer options than usual, it didn’t make deciding any easier – everything sounded so very tempting.
We began by crunching our way through the delightfully crisp prawn crackers with a sweet chilli dip, and before we knew it our appetisingly presented starters arrived at our table. I plumped for the chicken satay, featuring succulent grilled marinated chicken served on skewers. Although the satay sauce is typically the star of this dish (and Giggling Squid’s was undoubtedly delicious) the cucumber and shallot relish really stood out for me – it was at once tart, sweet, zingy and fresh, and really rather moreish. My dining companion’s choice of corn cakes (sweetcorn mixed with red curry paste and fragrant lime leaves) was given an enthusiastic thumbs-up, which, as he’s not really a fan of sweetcorn, was testament to how much flavour the Giggling Squid chefs managed to pack into these delectable round bites.
I couldn’t resist trying Giggling Squid’s version of the Thai green curry, so, shortly after our starter plates were whisked away and our wine glasses topped up with a crisp white, a cute little pot of this classic dish was served up alongside a plate of steaming-hot sticky rice. Fragrant, light and filled with tender chicken and crisp vegetables, it was subtly flavoured yet packed a punch – in my opinion, the perfect Thai green curry. My companion went for another Thai favourite, chicken pad Thai, which boasted a similarly deft combination of delicate seasoning and piquant spice.
Although we sampled traditional cuisine, Giggling Squid’s menu offers so much more than the usual Thai fare (although it does that very well indeed too). Dishes inspired by Thai street food, fantastic fresh fish and seafood, and inventive Thai tapas all feature on the comprehensive bill of fare. Although there is certainly no shortage of eating-out options in and around Clifton, I think Giggling Squid can more than hold its own amongst them and is sure to become a firm favourite with Thai food aficionados.
Out and about in Bristol? Here’s something to get your mouth watering…
Top parent-friendly restaurants in Bristol and Bath
Get involved: Bristol to launch first steampunk bar
Bristol’s best newbies
What’s it like dining at Aquila? Sian has the low-down