Enter our competition to win a meal at a Giggling Squid That restaurant near you or a takeaway.
Liz Nicholls has lunch & a few extras at Giggling Squid in Jericho & offers you the chance to win a meal for yourself
I’m writing this from my bed, where I have just gobbled my third bowlful of piping hot chicken Paneang with jasmine rice scooped up with lacy, crunchy prawn crackers.
This particular “bed picnic” – a scene of pure, indulgent daylight slobbery – represents my third Giggling Squid meal in as many weeks. And I’m encouraging you to indulge in the same without shame or judgement, in your PJs or your glad rags – whatever you prefer.
I’d heard so many fellow Asian food obsessives rave about how Giggling Squid’s informal, friendly “Thai tapas” concept always made for a reliably good meal out. But, seeing as I don’t go out much, and have a little black book of local Thai food favourites on speed-dial (east Oxford is spoilt for choice), I’d never ventured out west to seek it out… Until earlier this month when I was invited to lunch at the Jericho branch (on the site of the old Loch Fyne restaurant). And what a breath of fresh air amid these weird, stultified times. Exotic blooms cheer you up from all angles in this eclectic, airy space, where the waltzer-style banquette booths make socially distanced dining feel luxurious, alongside the warmest Thai welcome. The hospitality industry has taken such a battering lately so when you’re dazzled by smiley, sunny service you feel you notice this more – or is that just me? I was the World’s Worst Waitress in my youth (I even slopped soup down someone’s back once) so respect is due to those who manage to do it well, especially now.
I have now chomped my way through a lot of the dishes on the menu (or at least those on the spicier end of the spectrum) & can report my tried & trusted favourites. The Hawker-style Moo Ping (marinated pork skewers with tamarind sauce, £5.95) are joyful, juicy & addictive, bringing back memories of Bangkok jaunts. The pork dumplings (also £5.95) are steamed plump parcels of rich, meaty joy, with a nice kick of ginger in the dip. I am somewhat obsessed with pork dumplings & was very impressed by these, in their little wicker basket; in fact my pal & I bartered favours to nab the last one. For nutritious, mineral-rich cruciferous vegetables that actually feel like a treat, I absolutely love the Giggling Squid incarnation of the old classic chilli basil Gra Po (£9.50 for the vegetable). The pot of Home Comfort minced beef & aubergine (£10.50) blew both of our minds slightly, too – we asked for it extra spicy & it was a cracker. I’m mad for Paneang, too, and the aforementioned chicken version gained top marks from me, for its tender strips of meat and the zesty zang of the lime leaves.
Portions are generous, prices are reasonable, in my opinion, and the vital extra ingredient is the love that’s gone into this building this brand, created by Thai-born Pranee Laurillard and her husband Andrew and named after the nickname for one of their children. Lots of the dishes have little notes from Pranee (the Gra Pho, for example, is her go-to dish for when she doesn’t know what else to rustle up for her family, which makes me wish I was married to her, if I’m honest) which make you feel even more hungry. If you do book a meal in-house do treat yourself to a cocktail or two, such as the Thai Sambai (Mekhong rum and lime juice infused with Thai basil, £7.25) which really puts a pep in your step & adds to the “occasion” feel of Giggling Squid that’s lacking in some of the smaller indies. There are great “box” deals and if you have a doggie bag to take home, or order a Deliveroo, as I did that marvellous hungover Sunday, it arrives in a gorgeous floral bag, as if you’ve been to a swish boutique. How you consume the contents, and whether or not you even bother to get cutlery, is your call.
There are 36 Giggling Squid restaurants, including in Beaconsfield, Esher, Henley, Marlow, Windsor & Wokingham. We’ve teamed up with the Giggling Squid team to offer one lucky winner a £50 voucher to enjoy a takeaway or meal out. Please enter before Tuesday, 15th December.