It was smiles all round as the spirit of Thailand was to be found in abundance at Mere Green’s Giggling Squid, says Amy Norbury
My husband and I spent our honeymoon in Thailand some 10 years ago, travelling from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, to the foodie haven of Chiang Mai and onto a tranquil Andaman island paradise. So the Land of Smiles definitely holds a special place in our hearts.
As does the food. The fragrant curries, the spicy stir frys, oodles of noodles, and the mouth-watering treats found at little stalls on street corners and in packed markets, Thailand is world-renowned as a hotspot for foodies – and with good reason. Vibrant flavours sing in harmony as sweet, sharp and spicy come together to mesmerising effect.
So finding a place which brings that true taste of Thailand to these shores is always a treat. And Mere Green’s Giggling Squid proved to be a real treat indeed.
With restaurants all over the UK, Giggling Squid was founded by Thai native Pranee Laurillard to celebrate the food of her homeland and share her passion for Thai cuisine with UK diners.
So when J’AIME was invited to sample what the Mere Green restaurant has to offer, we couldn’t wait to take our taste buds on a trip down memory lane.
The first thing which strikes you about the Mere Green restaurant is the stunning decor, which captures the opulence of Thailand’s rich landscape.s are in abundance, from striking murals to flower walls and faux foliage at every turn – it’s an Insta-worthy setting of the highest order.
We were shown to a table situated inside its own giant flower-covered birdcage – perfect for a romantic dinner – and couldn’t resist a quick pic for the ‘gram.
Thai prawn crackers and a sweet chilli dipping sauce swiftly arrived courtesy of our lovely waitress for the evening Ida. These moreish morsels were perfect to nibble on while perusing the menus
First up, drinks – and I had to try one of Giggling Squid’s signature cocktails. The Silky Pink, £12.50, is a mouth-watering mix of vodka, Kwai Feh lychee liqueur, peach and jasmine green tea which was one of the best cocktails I’d had for some time, while the hubby was delighted with his favourite Thai beer, Chang.
The menu is an impressive tome which showcases traditional Thai favourites alongside dishes with a Giggling Squid twist. And everything sounds so delicious that narrowing down our choices proved to be a time-consuming exercise.
To start, we opted for a sharing platter in order to sample as many dishes as possible. And it had to be the Chang Mai platter, £17.50 for two, as it’s named for our favourite Thai destination. Featuring Hawker Moo Ping (or barbecued pork skewers), spring rolls, salt and pepper squid and Giggling wings, it was a bountiful feast indeed.
It would be impossible to choose a favourite, as each element was perfectly executed and full of flavour; the pork was juicy and tender, the wings oh-so sticky and indulgent, the veggie-packed spring rolls crisp and fresh. The salt and pepper squid is a Giggling Squid bestseller, and with good reason. The sweet squid was perfectly balanced by its lightly spiced coating, and the sizable pieces make for a generous portion.
When it came to the main event, I could eat there every day for a week and still not get through every dish which caught my eye. The duck confit, £17.95, and the Chubby Cheek pork, £15.50, both sounded delectable, as did the lamb shank Massaman, £18.95 – and that’s before we even ventured through the stir fry and noodle dishes.
But my husband, a stickler for tradition, judges any Thai restaurant on the strength of its green curry, so Thai green chicken curry, £12.95, it was. And Giggling Squid’s version was up there with the best we’ve had. Rich, creamy coconut milk, fragrant Thai spices and plentiful veg alongside the generous chunks of chicken made for a luscious dish; paired with unctuous coconut rice, it was the ultimate Thai comfort food.
Pad Thai is another firm favourite for us both, and Giggling Squid’s giant butterfly king prawn version, £16.95, took the dish to a whole new level. Flavoursome rice noodles mixed with tofu, beansprouts, sliced red onions, Thai chives and crunchy peanuts, were adorned with some of the biggest prawns we’d ever seen, elevating the humble noodle dish to majestic levels.
We couldn’t resist ordering a som tam papaya salad, £7.50, to accompany our main courses. This traditional Thai salad combines green papaya with fresh chilli, cherry tomatoes, dried shrimp and Thai garlic in a sweet and sour dressing made from palm sugar, lime juice and fish sauce. Tantalising the taste buds with its heat and tartness, it brought back memories of scoffing the dish in abundance at Thai beachside cafes and street markets during our trip.
The generous portions meant that dessert was not strictly necessary. However, a scoop or two of homemade ice cream was just what was needed after the fiery papaya salad, so we opted for black sesame and lychee yoghurt flavours, £4.95 each. Both were different and delicious, a lovely end to a fantastic feast.
Our love affair with Thai food remains strong after all these years, and until we manage to pay a return visit to the Land of Smiles, Giggling Squid is sure to become our go-to for a Thai fix.