The Giggling Squid has the last laugh: Thai food at its best

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!


Gluten Free Greek at El Greco


If you’ve read any of my other blog posts then you will most likely come to realise that I love Greece and Greek food. I have spent many happy holidays over my lifetime visiting the beautiful islands and sampling all of the local dishes, including rabbit stews and goat which are popular specialities on the island of Rhodes. However, I have never visited a Greek restaurant in England before, mainly due to the fact that I never really feel like the quality of food is going to live up to that in places like Rhodes.

I recently took a trip to a little Greek restaurant in Stratford-upon-Avon named El Greco after receiving some glowing reviews from people I know. My cousin even told me that they served the best Calamari that she had ever tasted outside of Greece and so it was only apt that I went and taste tested the food for myself.

Within the first few minutes I was already quizzing the waitress on what was gluten. wheat and milk free. I was a little hesitant as she didn’t seem to be completely sure and I had that worrying feeling that this was going to be a night of playing Russian Roulette with my food, but thankfully she went off and came back with a gluten free menu to set my mind at rest. There is a big choice of starters, appetisers, mains and desserts on the menu, but I chose the Mezze so that I’d be able to try a selection of dishes all at once.

I opted for the Dolmades, which is the stuffed vine leaves, Chicken Souvlaki, the slow cooked beef stew Stifado, as well as the Greek sausage Loukanika, which I was surprised to learn was gluten free as I often steer clear of it when in Greece just in case it contains rusk. I couldn’t have the Calamari due to the breadcrumbs, but I was pleased that there were so many other dishes on offer to tickle my fancy.

I had greedily thought that if these dishes didn’t fill me up then I would order more later, but the chefs don’t skimp on size and I was full to the brim after dipping in and out of all the dishes. If you know Greek food well then you will know that it is simple, no fuss food that does the job and El Greco was no exception.

The sausage for me was a little spicy tasting –  I have always found that foreign meat doesn’t quite live up to its British equivalents anyway so this wasn’t exactly a surprise, but that said it was nice to be able to have it on my plate. The Dolmades and Chicken Souvlaki were lovely, but the one dish that really stood out for me was the Beef Stifado as I believe that slow cooking meat and its juices really makes a dish taste a whole lot better than one that hasn’t had time to stew for long.

Overall, the food was typically Greek. If you’re looking for fancy food then you won’t get it here, but it is wholesome, hearty food that fills you up and is reasonably priced considering how many dishes you get to sample. If you’re ever looking to relive your memories of a Greek holiday by means of food or simply want to try something different for an evening out, El Greco is the place to go.