Whenever I hear that a well-loved local is getting a makeover I experience a certain amount of trepidation. Will I still find it a comfortable ... Read Feature
Giggling Squid : It was the Monday that the Beast from the East had sidled its way into the British Isles and Nappy Valley was shivering under icy grey skies and hunkering down for a cosy night in. But not me and my two intrepid friends. We set out to brave the wilds of Wimbledon Village and see off those Siberian winds with a warming Thai. Who needs the East when you can have the Far East?
As soon as we walked into the Giggling Squid it was clear we’d arrived in a gorgeous oasis of calm and light. The walls are adorned with fake (but lovely silk fake, not nasty plastic fake) flowers, the ceilings hung with a mix of glass and crystal pendants, the walls a light grey (distressed) and the tables filled with stylish and simple crockery, and surrounded by women. In fact, on that particular night the ratio of women to men was approximately 35:2. It seems we weren’t the only intrepid ones. The Giggling Squid appeals to the women of SW19 and beyond.
It was a good start which only got better. Prawn crackers and white wine arrived quickly and with a smile. The prawn crackers were warm. Warm and really really good. I would have gladly had a basket to myself but I have been taught that it’s nice to share, even your most favourite things, so share I did. Crunchy and then meltingly delicious with a good dollop of sweet chilli dipping sauce. We may have been on the brink of Snowmageddon but I didn’t have a care in the world with a basket of these within easy reach.
It’s a big menu with plenty of choice and a good range of the classics we all know and love, served with a distinctly fresh and contemporary look and flavour. We started with Salt & Pepper Squid which was very good indeed. Just the right level of crispiness and seasoning. The Seared Scallops could have done with a bit more searing and seasoning, but conversely the Yummy Duck Spring Rolls were appropriately-named and packed with flavour, overflowing with melt-in-the mouth shredded duck and crunchy salad.
For the mains we stuck to the things we love – forgive us, it was a freezing Monday and comfort food was a must. The Thai Green Curry was absolutely delicious. Creamy coconut sauce, delicate flavours, really good. We went for the Sticky Rice to go with it which came in a cute little straw basket so the aesthetics, so good upon arrival, continued on the table. Pad Thai (how could we not?) was excellent too. We went for the prawn version and we weren’t disappointed. Juicy prawns adorned a tasty pile of noodles which had just the right level of bite and gooeyness. Took me right back to my local in West London in the early ‘Noughties’ where the food was cooked in a flaming wok in front on your eyes and most things cost £4 (those were the days). This flavour matched that, which told me it was an authentic Pad Thai and spot on. The Crispy Chicken Stir Fry was similarly good and incredibly moreish, and Stir Fry Pak Choi & Tenderstems had just the right bite and vitamin-giving tastiness.
Clean plates all round meant we were allowed pudding, and so we tried some of the more unusual flavours of ice cream, freshly made in-house – Jasmine and Toasted Rice ice cream was unusual and strangely good, and the Lychee Yoghurt ice cream was delicate and a refreshing way to round off the meal. A lovely pot of jasmine tea to pour into the gorgeous little pottery cups was the perfect finish.
It was a great meal and a lovely place to spend a girls’ night. We were the last to leave which I can confidently put down to perfect company (you know who you are), and a lovely atmosphere with plenty of mmm’ing and ahh’ing over the food. Style and substance meet in equal measure in this corner of SW19, much like the match of the Beast from the East and the warmth and flavours of the Far East. I know whose side I’m on. I’d take a Thai from the Giggling Squid any day.
Managing Editor, Charlotte Peterson visited The Giggling Squid, 26 High Street, Wimbledon, SW19 5BY. Tel: 020 8946 4196 www.gigglingsquid.com/restaurant/wimbledon/