Bored of tepid turkey and bland brussel sprouts? The Giggling Squid’s special festive set menu makes a unique Thai alternative to the usual Christmas menu, as Sophie Ritchie discovers
December usually goes by in a blur of cranberry sauce, pub visits and family gatherings for me. It’s purely a month of festivities, food and more food.
And despite loving chicken’s more exotic cousin, there’s only so much turkey one can consume in a four-week space before you grow sick of seeing the same old bird.
So when I was invited to try Giggling Squid’s festive set menu, I took a break from tradition and arrived at Guildford’s petite outpost with a mixture of both relief and curiosity. And hunger pangs, of course.
Split into three sections (starters, mains and desserts) the festive offering conjures a blend of spice and flavour. And thankfully, there’s no pigs in blankets meets Thai sauce in sight.
Instead, authentic cuisine awaits – the set menu’s full of traditional sharing dishes with a little something for everyone – whether it’s meaty hake, spicy chicken or simply dressed to impress vegetables.
The festive menu clearly aims to cater for every appetite, which makes it a great choice for friends or families with picky eaters (unlike traditional Christmas spreads, where the vegetarian is usually presented with a sad looking nut roast or bowl of potatoes).
The Guildford venue is brimming with chatty diners, with every wooden seat in the small restaurant filled when we arrive on the weekday night.
A warm, cozy and inviting space, it seems many a festive catch-up is taking place around us as foodies swill wine and raise forks. This means the restaurant’s quite loud, but it’s fine if you don’t mind the hum of happy chatter.
I start with Grilled Aubergine and Garlic, which arrives as a little black plate of gleaming aubergine topped with fried garlic crumbs and thin slices of red chilli pepper. It’s spicy, firing up my mouth with each bite. It’s also quite small in size, but this is countered by the arrival of my hefty main.
For my entrée, I’ve also chosen to stick with something vegetarian. My Mix Bean, Coconut Tip and Young Kale Stir Fry is a mound of Thai veggies paired with a bowl of steamed rice.
It’s crunchy, comforting and also packs a punch – if it’s spice you like, you’ll love it. If your tastebuds are made of weaker stuff, make sure you’ve got a glass of water handy. Or a hose. Delicious nonetheless, the healthy stir fry is a vibrant flavour explosion that makes a welcome change to the usual traditional Christmas plate.
To finish the feast, I split a Mango and Lime Cheesecake and Coconut Pudding with my friend. The former is the prettiest dish of the night – a large bright slab of cheesecake split into two bright colours, topped with mint and designed for fork gliding.
The coconut pudding, which is made with coconut water rather than dairy, is served in a delicate ceramic bowl and looks much like a panna cotta.
Surrounded by creamy sweet ‘soup,’ the somewhat watery pudding is good for a light dessert – but it’s the sunshine cheesecake that steals the show.
The Wordrobe Verdict
If you can’t stomach the thought of turkey anymore or simply love flavoursome food, the Giggling Squid’s set festive menu is perfect for a unique take on Christmas feasting. One word – Thai-riffic.
Make it happen
The set menu is priced £at 29.95 per person. Includes three-courses and must be ordered prior to arriving. To find out more and make a booking, please click here.
Words by Sophie Ritchie, Editor