Giggling Squid is a small chain of Thai restaurants, and we are lucky to have two locally; one in Sevenoaks and in Calverley Road, Tunbridge Wells which opened up while I was still working in the town, back in 2012.
I hadn’t been for a few years so when I was asked whether I’d like to visit and review the Giggling Squid Tunbridge Wells restaurant, I thought it was a great excuse to meet up with a friend for an evening out. My friend happens to be gluten intolerant so it also meant we could test out the Giggling Squid’s gluten free menu.
This is what we thought of our meal at Giggling Squid Tunbridge Wells.
The restaurant decor is lovely, with traditional wood panelling and wicker basket light fittings giving it a warm and inviting feeling. I think this also helps the acoustics and atmosphere in the restaurant, which are really important but often hard to get right.
With me going on holiday soon we thought we’d fit in a midweek meal straight after work, so we weren’t expecting it to be busy, however even with very few tables taken there was a lovely buzzy atmosphere. It’s quite rare to be able to relax and chat in a nearly empty restaurant and it can be off-putting, but we both noticed how nice it was.
The restaurant filled up and became much more lively as the evening went on but even so we felt like our table had enough privacy and we were able to hold a conversation and hear each other quite clearly.
The staff were lovely. While she was waiting for me my friend was brought a glass of water, and once I’d arrived we were seated very quickly.
The waiting staff brought drinks and prawn crackers (NB these aren’t gluten free) to the table quickly and there was no waiting around for orders to be taken or food to be brought out, even when a couple of large parties came into the restaurant.
Range of choice
The best thing about Giggling Squid Tunbridge Wells has to be the huge and varied menu, which you can see here.
There will be something for all palates, whether you like your food spicy or a little milder, curry with sauce or a noodle-based dish, and there is plenty of choice for specific diets including gluten free. There is a lovely range of fish dishes which is something I always look out for, and there are certain dishes picked out as chef’s recommendations if you’re not sure what to go for.
As well as food, the Giggling Squid has a tempting cocktail menu with house cocktails priced between £6 and £7, and a good wine menu. We went for one of the cheaper wines, a South African Chenin Blanc (£16.75) which was lovely with my fish-based meal.
I would definitely recommend getting some prawn crackers. They aren’t same as you might get from a Chinese takeaway, less greasy but crunchy and a little spicy; absolutely delicious. Be aware that these are added to your bill and not complimentary.
The starters span two pages of the menu; there is so much choice! I could have happily picked a few and eaten just that.
I went for the famed Salt & Pepper Squid and my friend decided to go for Tamarind Prawns.
The Salt & Pepper Squid, which is the chef’s choice and recommended by everyone who visits, came in a huge portion presented beautifully on a clam shell. It would definitely be enough for two to share!
The light batter was absolutely delicious; I’ve had battered calamari many times but this was very different; less chewy than I was expecting it to be and a beautiful flavour.
For my main course I went traditional, ordering a Butterfly King Prawn Pad Thai.
This was a huge portion; so big I barely got halfway through! The prawns were large and juicy and the noodles were flavoursome. If I had to make one criticism, I would have loved a finger bowl to wash my fingers after picking up the prawns, but apart from that I couldn’t fault it.
My friend went for the Red Duck Curry with lychees and pineapple, with a side of sticky rice (ordered separately) and again, the portion was huge! I’ve never seen her beaten by a meal, but even she had to admit defeat in the end. She said it had lots of beautiful flavours.
By dessert, we were feeling way too full for anything heavy.
I asked for a pineapple and coconut sorbet and when they brought it out, it was in two dishes – one with a wafer and one (gluten free portion) without – with two spoons, so we shared it and I’m glad we did. It was lovely and refreshing and helped to cut through the food we’d had.
We also shared a pot of Flora “Flowering” lotus flower and jasmine green tea which was the perfect end to our meal and pretty to boot.
All in all, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Giggling Squid Tunbridge Wells for a wonderful Thai meal.
In terms of value for money, the price is on a par with other restaurants in the area. It isn’t cheap eats, but you get a lot of food and I can’t fault it; it was delicious.
Visit at lunchtime for a good value lunch menu.
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We were given a complimentary meal at Giggling Squid Tunbridge Wells for the purposes of this review, but all words and opinions are mine and I loved it!