Giggling Squid Tunbridge Wells
57 Calverley Road Tunbridge Wells TN1 2UY
www.gigglingsquid.com/ 01892 545499
Andy Laurilland and his wife Pranee are the couple trying to establish the first national chain of Thai restaurants with their Giggling Squid brand. According to the Big Hositality website their mission is to set up 80 sites in the next seven years which is an ambitious target especially for a cuisine that takes some skill both in the cooking and presentation. So far they have outlets in Brighton, Crawley,Henley, Hove, Maidstone, Marlow, Reigate, Stratford and Tunbridge Wells and it is to the latter branch that we have been invited on a sunny early autumn Friday lunchtime.
The restaurant is full and buzzing when we arrive full of well-heeled locals many of whom seem to be enjoying the lunchtime tapas menu. The interior is brick and distressed wood with traditional Thai baskets hanging from the walls.
We ordered from the a la carte menu starting with an excellent Tom Kha soup (£6.95).
This is a coconut- infused version of the classic Tom Yum soup. Unlike some versions found in British Thai restaurants it was not too sweet and was authentically spiced. It was fragrant and hot but with the coconut taking the edge of the chilli.
Salt and pepper squid (£6.95) was hot and fresh from the fryer with the squid being juicy and appropriately spicy-a really authentic taste of street food.
Our first main dish was Koong Chu Chi (£13.95) which was a dish of butterflied and deep fried king prawn with coconut and chilli sauce. It was really tasty, freshly cooked and beautifully presented.
Pad Cha (£12.95) was a seafood stir-fry full of scallops, prawns, mussels, squid, bunches of peppercorns and chilli. It was hot and satisfying with all the flavours coming through.
For a side dish we ordered a stir-fried Glorious Morning (£6) known to the Thais as Pak Boong. It is a staple Thai green veg and a real mark of authenticity as it is difficult to find outside of London’s Chinatown.
Black Sesame Ice cream was cooling after the chilli heat but Sweet Sticky Rice Banana Parcel was the highlight of the dessert menu. It is a classic Thai pudding and this was a great version.
I have been to Thailand a few times but La Hedonista was born there and the food at Giggling Squid seemed authentic, freshly prepared with charming service from the Thai staff. Will they be able to keep the quality up as the group expands? Well only time will tell but right now they are doing a good job.
Disclosure: The Hedonist was a guest of Giggling Squid