The surroundings of Giggling Squid Brighton are charming, housed in one of those classically ramshackle fisherman cottages, that seem to narrow the further you go up, full of nooks, crannies and creaks. I visited on a particularly warm evening where the tables spilled out onto Market Street in the heart of the Lanes with live music and the bustle in the air.
This was Giggling Squid's first restaurant, open in 2002 and is now part of a flourishing chain with 18 locations and growing. Not that you'd know it. Attention to detail and care is still evident, particularly in the immaculate menus, beautifully designed and written, with most dishes containing a personal narrative from the owner. It's lovely, food should tell a story and always tastes better with one too.
We are not exactly overrun with good quality Thai food in the city (argue in the comments please!) so Giggling Squid is certainly up there if you were looking for a Thai meal. There is plenty of choice with some good ol' classics like Thai-style fish cakes, Tom Yum soup, Pad Thai and your Green Curries as well as some specialist dishes.
For starters we tuck into sweet, succulent roast duck slices served in romaine leaves with plenty of fresh, zingy flavour from matchsticks of ginger, chilli and celery. This was an ideal light starter served simply with a chilli dipping sauce.
I would have expected the Salt and Pepper squid to have been a little better, namesake and all. Unfortunately I had recently dined at Senor Buddha, where I had the best squid dish of my life I think. This one here was more what I would expect, slightly chewy, the flabby batter not as fine or crisp as it should be. Still a good plate but a little disappointing.
I should mention the prawn crackers though. I usually ignore these, they normally remind me of packaging filler material. But no, here these were crisp, full of flavour and just seem more wholesome, with a little kick of heat. As the menu is so long, I'd get an order of these and settle in for a read.
My main of "stand-up sea bass" arrived in a more relaxed lying down pose, but was dramatic and thoroughly enjoyable none the less. Filleted off the bone, this was fried along with the head for presentation. The juicy fillets themselves had been lightly battered and then had it all going on with the flavour; fresh chilli, fish sauce, lime, ginger, lemongrass and fish sauce. I loved it and wasn't disappointed with the level of heat from the spicy option but you can order a less fiery version.
My gorgeous dinner date (you now who you are!) went for the Thai staple pad gra pao, a stir fry of chilli and fragrant holy basil. The chicken was tender and the dish had a good depth with plenty of texture.
I don't tend to do dessert and certainly not Asian ones after having too many green wobbly disasters in the past, so you'll have to discover those yourself. But sweet treats here are limited anyway. You will find a good selection of ice cream and sorbet from the mighty Boho Gelato, including their bespoke black sesame flavour for this restaurant.
I really enjoyed my meal here and wondered why it had taken me so long to return - it's been years since my last visit. I will certainly be back to make a bigger dent in the menu for sure. Service was friendly and relaxed but professional.
Although we have more statement eats in Brighton, Giggling Squid sits comfortably in the reliable, good quality bracket of restaurants that shouldn't be sniffed at. Dinner with friends, a low key date night or relaxed lunch in central Brighton full of vibrant, fresh flavour? Then Giggling Squid is your cephalopod.
Giggling Squid Brighton
11 Market St, Brighton BN1 1HH
Giggling Squid Hove
129 Church Rd, Hove BN3 2AE
I was invited to review Giggling Squid. Words and thoughts, as always, are my own.