Like many a British person, I shamelessly admit that my first experience of Thai food was out of a jar. Served alongside sloppy rice and with an overpowering pong of lemongrass, which by the way I absolutely despise, I wasn’t really feeling this new cuisine, despite the fact that Thai restaurants were popping up left, right and centre in towns and cities across the UK. Countless Instagram pictures of colourful broths, noodles and seafood convinced me that maybe I hadn’t really made time for authenticity, and so my Thai foodie trail began.
On a trip to Portugal last October, I went to my first, and what I so gullibly claimed to be the best, Thai restaurant in Europe. Language barriers aside, I opted for a green curry, which tickled the taste buds and allowed me to come away with a new appreciation for this far flung corner of the world cuisine.
It was then with great excitement that I booked a table at The Giggling Squid in the historic town of Stratford-upon-Avon recently. Tripadvisor reviews were good, they did a gluten free menu and a suitably large range of options, plus, I couldn’t fault the drinks menu…always a key priority!
We were sat at a nice cosy table by the window and I was given the gluten free bible, which contained not one, but three pages of options for me. To be quite frank, I am now so unacquainted to having a large option of dishes, that in the end Mr Eeny Meeny Miny Moe had to step in and choose for me.
To kickstart the show, I opted for the Roast Duck & Pomelo Salad, combined with Jicama, fine beans, coriander and lightly fried Pak Maew, which they claim to be a ‘newly discovered ingredient,’ by the chefs or moreover by the world, I’m not sure, but hey ho they’d thrown it in the mix for good measure. The duck, in my opinion was to die for. Despite the fact that I absolutely adore duck, I often find that chefs can over cook it, undercook it, not fry the fat enough, or simply forget to add depth of flavour in. This on the other hand, combined with the sweet ingredients and a spicy chilli kick, was a taste sensation.
For mains, I strayed from the ever so popular Red or Green Thai curries and chose the Massaman curry with Jasmin rice, alongside what I can only describe as being really tender cuts of fresh beef. The dish combined coconut milk and dry spices such as cumin, cinnamon and star anise. After gobbling up a large plateful of spicy duck, the sweet and mild taste of coconut milk came as a welcoming relief to my fiery palate. Any more spice from my starter and I’d have had to down a jug full of water. I was so full from the large quantities that I couldn’t even finish my curry, but two hours later I was regretting my decision to not find extra room in my belly for it.
Overall, the Giggling Squid was a delight from start to finish. In fact, I’ve already told everyone I know about it and am planning a second visit. Question is, what do I order next time? There were so many tempting dishes on the menu that I’m not sure I could choose just one!