BY PALOMA LACY
Wimbledon Village is a hotbed of desirable restaurants, so to sing the praises of one in particular is high praise indeed.
Giggling Squid is an oasis of calm, carefully created by bringing the outside, inside.
Sitting at my table, I’m surrounded by foliage adorning the metal partitions between tables, with bold palm print on the wall opposite.
Even in deepest mid-winter, the restaurant is warm and alive with the most vivid colour scheme.
I’m sure diners don’t come for the décor alone, as I was quickly to discover, but a
convivial atmosphere certainly helps when it comes to drawing in the punters.
I arrived at 12.30pm on a Thursday to find a half-packed house, not easy to do, with so much competition around.
The reason for the flock soon became clear – this is Thai food at its best, and there isn’t much waiting around.
Joined by my mum, a staunch vegetarian, and a toddler daughter, this wasn’t an easy crowd to please, but Giggling Squid managed to create two happy customers out of them, with no trouble at all.
Little Tapas For Little People is a quirky range of dishes – choose two for £5.99, which we did. Chicken satay and vegetable fried rice, with a tofu included, went
down very well with my little person.
A near master at feeding herself, she loved the opportunity to dip chicken into the peanut sauce, and this was soon joined by individual spring rolls, each one well and truly dunked. Spring rolls were an additional £1.99.
Thai food is undoubtedly tasty, but it’s also pretty healthy, so consumption comes without the guilt associated with some cuisines.
Vegetarian phad thai (£8.95) made for the ideal one plate lunch, and despite the huge amount of vegetables threaded through the noodles, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to order pak choi and tender stem broccoli (£4.50).
It’s not that easy to come by pak choi, and this dish didn’t disappoint – super fresh, cooked al dente – one portion was almost not enough.
My mum is not one much for dining out, except on special occasions, preferring the comfort of her own home, but Giggling Squid has a new fan.
She opted for the Vegetarian set menu – Thai green curry, stir fried vegetables, jasmine rice and spring rolls (£10.95).
Mum made light work of it and was impressed by the cooking.
There are quite a few menus to choose from, which I always think must be particularly tough on the kitchen, but seems to work here, if the speed at which tables were being served was anything to go by.
As well as the tapas-style lunch menu, there’s also one for the festive season, with
appropriately named dishes such as Bags of Gold – crispy golden brown parcels filled with Thai-spiced chicken, herbs and vegetables.
Merry Mussels, a bowl of plump, succulent mussels in a delicate green curry sauce with Thali shallots, crushed garlic, coriander, lime leaves and galangal, is another
example. Perhaps best of all, there’s not a turkey in sight.
Instead, Crispy Christmas Duck – made with fresh star fruit, tamarind and green peppercorns.
I liked the sound of Festive Sticky Chicken – with the inclusion of seasonal ingredients, chestnuts, red dates and lotus seeds.
The menu has a surprisingly large section dedicated to vegans, which has no doubt added to the restaurant’s popularity.
Desserts, which we didn’t partake in, were more interesting than you might
expect from an Asian restaurant, often where fresh fruit is king.
Caramelised Mango Cake, Prosecco and Muddled Berry Cheesecake, and Coconut
Pudding would all have done the trick nicely.
26 High Street Wimbledon,
Wimbledon, SW19 5BY.