Lil Sis is what you’d call a cautious eater. Convincing her to try something new can feel like I’m asking her to conduct a death-defying stunt. Underwater. With her hands tied behind her back.
When we first visited Giggling Squid Marlow last year I wasn’t sure how much she’d eat – if anything. Which is why I was so thrilled when she got stuck into the dishes we’d selected, and announced: ‘Can we come back here again?!’
Granted, she didn’t love EVERYTHING she tried, but, for a girl who’d happily live on tomatoes and chicken goujons for the rest of her life if I let her, this was a massive result and I was really proud of her for stepping outside her cuisine comfort zone.
Which is why we were really excited to get invited back again, this time to the brand-new Giggling Squid restaurant in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.
As with Marlow, the first thing that struck us was the prettiness of the restaurant. Located in the historic Old Town – a charming muddle of medieval, Georgian and mock Tudor architecture – the restaurant is in a Grade II-listed building that has been brought back to life by the distinctively delightful Giggling Squid design.
Part French bistro, part cosy English cottage, the interior beautifully blends the traditional original fittings with a fresh, contemporary feel that’s gorgeously glamorous, without being intimidating.
The staff – just like in Marlow – greeted us with big smiles, showing us to our table in the ground level dining room. I loved they’d retained the original gnarled wooden beams but brought new life into the heritage building, with oak flooring inlaid with geometric tiles, soft pendant lighting and apple-green banquettes.
We sat down to peruse the menu and quickly realised the hard part wouldn’t be deciding which dishes to order, but how to narrow our choices down.
Finally, we decided on a selection of tapas: Thai chicken wings, chicken satay, lime and chilli beef, sleeping honey duck, salt and pepper squid and (of course) rice. The girls selected from the dedicated menu of Thai food for kids: spring rolls, Thai pork dumplings, chicken fried rice, spicy rice and plain noodles.
The dishes started coming out within 15 minutes, steam tendrils curling upwards and smelling so divine my mouth started watering before they’d even been set down. We chose to share, sampling morsels from each plate. Each bite was bursting with flavour and yummier than the last – sweet, then sour, then salty, then a burst of heat.
They were all so delicious, but if I had to pick a favourite I’d have to say the Thai chicken wings, which were juicy and sticky and perfectly seasoned. A close second was the lime and chilli beef – the tartness of the citrus blending so seamlessly with the heat of the chilli – and I can’t overlook the salt and pepper squid, one of my all-time favourite Asian dishes. Their version strikes just the right balance between salty and umami, with a crispy outer shell and tender squid ring inside.
The dishes just kept coming until we had to rearrange the table to fit them all in. Conversation literally stopped as we tucked in, except for all the ‘Mmmmmmm!’ sounds.
I sneaked a look Lil Sis and saw her winding noodles around her fork. She tried some plain and chicken rice and even took a few bites out of a spring roll. It may not sound like much, but for my reluctant eater, it was huge. ‘I really like it here,’ she announced. ‘The people are lovely and their rice is really yummy.’
And that was BEFORE the ice cream arrived…
I was already nicely full from our Thai tapas, but couldn’t resist ordering the Molten Chocolate dessert, which was served warm, with vanilla ice cream. Oh. Migod. A little on the naughty side, yes, but totally worth the calories.
By the time I’d washed it all down with a lovely glass of Apello New Zealand sauvignon blanc, I was as full as a googy egg – which is a strange Australian way of saying ‘completely and utterly stuffed’.
We left smiling, and already looking forward to our next visit.
• a big thank you to Giggling Squid Beaconsfield for hosting our lovely family lunch