We love to eat out as a family. We’ve always enjoyed it, even before our kids became proper foodies. But since they’ve started declining children’s menus and choosing ribeye steaks and lobster thermidors instead (not daft, my kids), we’ve had to make dining out a less frequent treat. Which means we’re very choosy about where we go. It’s got to be good.
One cuisine we all love is Thai food. Give us a menu containing spring rolls, or salt and pepper squid, and we’re right there. It’s one of the reasons I’ve wanted to take my family to Giggling Squid ever since it opened last summer in our nearby town of Harpenden (there’s a chain across the country though, so do check out where your nearest Giggling Squid is). During the day there’s a ‘tapas’ menu in operation, which allows everyone to choose their favourite nibbles, from Thai pork dumplings to the most delicious chicken satay I’ve ever tasted!
Having devoured plate loads of these little appetisers at the opening party last year, I was desperate to bring my family back. I knew Evan in particular would want to try the fried prawns in ginger, and Maddie is a big fan of tempura vegetables. So when Giggling Squid invited us to do a review of the restaurant just ahead of my birthday in December, I knew this was the moment.
Let me first say how beautiful the décor is at Giggling Squid Harpenden. There is a stunning pink and aqua wall mural (totally my colours!) that climbs from the ground floor atrium restaurant, right up to the dining area above. During the day, and on a summer’s evening, the light from the tall front windows makes you feel like you could be on holiday in an exotic location as you eat, adding to how special this place seems.
As we’d booked an evening meal in December, we ate from the dinner menu, which included some of the tapas items as starters, and then some main dishes. Our server took our orders of jasmine rice, and all our favourites, and recommended some things we would never have thought to choose. We all shared a wonderfully crunchy but tender black pepper soft shell crab, with flavours of garlic and coriander, alongside the recommended crispy pak maew – a plate of tempura green leaves I’d never heard of before, that were delicious! These moo ping pork skewers were also quickly polished off by everyone.
Although they’re not usually fans of a children’s menu, the Giggling Squid kids options really appealed to my two. They were able to choose 2 dishes each, from spring rolls, pork dumplings or skewers, chicken satay, egg or Pad Thai noodles, and fried rice and Massaman curry. Evan went for the curry and pork dumplings, whilst Maddie chose the satay and spring rolls. Children’s menus come with plenty of plain or sticky rice, so there’s enough to keep even the most anti-spice child happy.
Meantime, I went to town with a chicken Pad Khing, purported to cure the cough that was threatening to take hold on me – it didn’t, but it was gorgeous nonetheless! Jason asked for a recommendation, and chose this Fishing Village – a spicy red coconut milk curry of seafood and shellfish that he devoured and declared incredible.
There are still so many times on the Giggling Squid menu that I want to try, that I suspect we will return many times over the next year. It might be because of how the menu is written – it’s like reading a lovely recipe book, full of the owner’s personal reasons for including particular dishes. Next time we visit, I’m definitely going to try the Crying Beef, and indulge in a Glorious Morning, followed by her husband’s favourite molten chocolate dessert!
Advertisement feature: our meal at Giggling Squid Harpenden was complimentary for the purposes of this review. All images and opinion is our own, and we really loved the restaurant – we’ll be going back! Visit Giggling Squid to find your nearest restaurant and book.