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Giggling Squid, Marlow

The Marlow favourite has had a reboot, so Muddy's Sophie popped in to stuff her face in the name of research.

THE LOWDOWN 

Pranee and Andy Laurillard started the Giggling Squid in a crumbling fish shack in Brighton back in 2002 and now have a chain of 30 Thai restaurants including spots in Marlow, Beaconsfield, Henley, Windsor and another in Oxford due to open this year. 

Banish all thoughts of a greasy Saturday night take-away – they’ve given Thai dining a face-lift with the inclusion of an inventive tapas-style menu. Which is a great idea – meaning lighter, more varied dishes that force you out of your green curry comfort zone.

To celebrate their fifth anniversary next month, the Marlow outpost, just off the main high street by Sainsbury’s, has undergone an extensive refurb to bring the interior design into line with its new openings.

 

THE VIBE

Give that interior designer a medal pronto! The new look really is show-stopping. The dull grey and purple furnishings have gone, replaced with a lively botanical theme with zings of hot pink and different textures such as exposed brickwork. Plus there’s shabby-chic mirrors, rustic table settings, exposed beams everywhere and lots of Insta-friendly faux flower panels in front of which to take selfies (vain, moi?). It’s fun, warm, vibrant and much more contemporary.

Despite being quite a narrow space, the tables are cleverly placed in a line which elongates the downstairs room and keeps it bright and airy. Plus there’s an upstairs area for the busier periods.

It was surprisingly buzzy for a Monday evening with most of the tables full of groups of friends enjoying a post-work dinner. The staff kept things relaxed by leaving us to eat in peace but kept the drinks flowing. It also felt authentic as they always said ‘kob kun ka’ when serving our food which meant I got to impress my date by translating (I travelled around Thailand during my gap year, yah!).

SCOFF & QUAFF

On the menu, the dish explanations are accompanied with sweet personal anecdotes which is a reminder that this is still a family business despite its success. The evening menu is extensive with every classic Thai dish you can think of, a few quirkier ones such as black sesame ice cream, plus gluten-free and kids’ options.

We started off with prawn crackers which are nothing like the polystyrene-packed ones you get from your local takeaway, instead spicy, thin and far more crisp. These were followed by deliciously comforting steamed pork dumplings, served with a light soy sauce.

The chefs will adjust the spice levels according to preference which came in handy as both my date and I ordered mild curries for our mains but we like it hot so a few chillies were chucked in for good measure. I had massaman which contains chicken, potato, onion and cashews and my date had paneang with chicken and peppers. Served with coconut rice, they arrived looking almost identical but the clever blend of spices meant that the taste could not have been more different – both were delicious but the paneang just pipped it.

Thailand is not renowned for its desserts but you can’t go wrong with a Prosecco and muddled berry cheesecake, or a chocolate bomb. Traditional, nope, but lovely just the same.

I was driving so couldn’t get stuck into the imaginative cocktail list sadly but next time the Thai G&T, with kaffir lime leaf and ginger-infused gin, has my name all over it.

 

OUT & ABOUT

Credit card burning a hole in your pocket? Take advantage of Marlow’s well-heeled high street boasting a Mint Velvet, Space NK, Jigsaw, White Company and Whistles. Interior mecca Home Barn is a short drive away and full of vintage and retro furnishings beloved by London stylists. For simpler (cheaper) kicks, there’s also a lovely circular walk that takes in both town and country.

 

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: Anyone who loves Thai food but struggles to find authentic versions of it around these parts. Also, veggies, vegans and gluten-free are all well catered for. And it works just as well for a date night or a big group meal.

Not for: Families with very young, fussy children. There is a children’s menu but it’s mini version of dishes like Pad Thai.

The damage: The lunchtime tapas set is very good value for money at £10.95 for four dishes. The evening menu is also reasonable with small plate starting at £5.95, mains ranging from £8.85 for a stir fry to £15.50 for duck confit, and desserts are all £5.95.

Giggling Squid, 24 West St, Marlow Bucks SL7 2NB. Tel: 01628 483047.

Don’t fancy Thai today? Find more great local restaurants in our FUN FINDER.

 

Words: Sophie Hadjikyriacos

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