Food: 8/10 Drink: 7/10 Atmosphere: 8/10 Price: ££
If the name isn’t enough to entice you in, The Giggling Squid’s exquisite Thai tapas certainly will.
Located in the heart of Clifton Village, the hunting ground of Bristol’s yummy mummies, The Giggling Squid is unassuming and modest from the outside. Fancy cafes and restaurants are two-a-penny in the BS8 postcode, often charging an unofficial ‘Clifton Village Added Tax’ for having the right location, but Giggling Squid has none of this pretentiousness.
Inside, the restaurant is decorated rustically with a welcoming, natural feel. One wall is covered with old oak beams, another with a homely bookshelf filled with comforting dog-eared copies of Harry Potter. It is stylish and down to earth. The staff greet you with a gracious smile and politely show you to your table (which should be booked in advance during peak hours as this restaurant does not need any help filling its limited space). A little while later after your table has read and re-read the menu, chosen, debated and then re-chosen your orders, the ever smiling waiter will return to take orders. Our chap was again polite and endearing, repeating our complicated order twice to make sure he had it correct.
The Giggling Squid’s menu of Thai treats makes making one’s mind up a real work out. It's an extensive list of simply enticing Thai quality. Reading through your taste buds begin to remind you why you chose not to have a big lunch that afternoon in preparation. After having eaten there twice, I would recommend the tapas option especially if eating in a small group. Between three of us we shared 12 tapas, with just enough room fit in ice cream afterwards. The salt and pepper deep fried squid is a real highlight. The veg tempura has a batter so light it makes it hard to believe you’ve ever enjoyed a greasy fish and chips. Honeyed duck, chicken satay, seared scallops, chilli garlic and ginger prawns. Thai pork dumplings. Tom Yum chicken. Shredded duck spring rolls. You get the picture?
The suggested tapas sets work well together and are not unreasonably priced. At around £10 for a set of four, you can take your parents or colleagues here without being embarrassed when the bill comes. These are the lunchtime prices and are very affordable for a midday treat. The evening menu is more extensive, but with an extra price tag attached. The seafood and the fish curries were particularly impressive, offering steamed or crispy fried sea bass, king prawns or scallops with the stickiest of sticky rice. I wouldn’t down play the interest of a duck Thai green curry, but the seafood and fish curries are the evening showstoppers. They are more expensive, coming in at around £13-15 a plate. They are the same good quality as the lunchtime menu but offer more of the tasty expensive ingredients. For best value for money, I recommend dining here during the day to take advantage of a very affordable, very delicious lunch. The set of four tapas is attractively served on a divided plate, similar to Indian thali, with the more saucy options arriving in their own small bowls. The portions are generously served and will go a fair distance to filling you up.
Perhaps the only down fall to Giggle Squids is the booze on offer. Whilst delicious, it is expensive. £30 a bottle makes you question just how much you really need a drink, which is a shame as the rest of the meal leaves you with no reservations what so ever. A delightful find however is their green iced tea cocktail. It’s non-alcoholic but don’t let that get in the way. It’s tasty and refreshing- if you’ve ever taken your parents out for lunch hung over this guy will get you back on track. Alternatively the passion fruit bellini laced with vodka and prosecco would potentially do the same job. All that about dogs and hairs, hey?
Not having a sweet tooth, I find pudding is often a limp add on to good grub. Not here however. After a short half-time pause, we rallied round and ordered ice cream to share. The black sesame is light and creamy, and you really can taste the sesame, it’s not just fancy restaurant talk. The lemongrass and basil sorbet is sharp, but acts a lovely palate cleanser. I was most tentatively intrigued by the rose yoghurt ice cream, believing flowers’ subtle take over of cuisine to be a beautiful but useless fad. This however worked well. Too well perhaps as one by one, having announced we were “Full to burst!” we each succumbed to brain freeze, stuffing ourselves full of ice cream.
A wonderful restaurant with tasty and interesting food served by charming staff. Go here to impress visiting parents with a walk around the beautiful Clifton surrounding and a wow them with this gem of Thai cuisine.
34 Princess Victoria Street, Clifton, BS8 4BZ