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Wipe that smirk off your face you sniggering cephalopod, there’s nothing funny about one of my reviews! Wait, I mean that, well… oh tentacles! Well, I’m a sucker for a good joke. Tat wasn’t one. One of a fast growing chain of restaurants, Norwich’s branch of Te Giggling Squid opened in early September in the grand setting of 24 Tombland, the former home of La Tasca. Founded in 2008 the chain now boasts 17 branches with more planned. I was keen to try their Tai cuisine but curious if it would feel like a fresh addition to Norwich’s dining culture or just another chain restaurant.


THE GIGGLING SQUID


THE ATMOSPHERE Gosh it’s pretty, like the inside of nice people’s houses. You know, the ones where they ask you to take your shoes off when you come in to keep the carpet clean. Not like your house, Outline reader (or potting shed, or park bench or hole in the ground with corrugated iron ‘roof’… wherever you happen to live). It’s not like my house either, where you might want to put something over your shoes to stop them getting dirty. No, this place is airy, open, welcoming, beautiful (not like that sewage outlet pipe you call a flat).


I’ve reviewed chain restaurants in the past. Tey often feel soulless, like they’re working from a script written by someone who hasn’t set foot in the place. Tey can execute their orders perfectly and still feel somewhat lacking in heart. I’m pleased to say this wasn’t the case here. Tere is definitely a uniform identity to their brand but by opening in such a characterful and historic building and letting these features shine through the restaurant retains its charming uniqueness. Te historic building boasts stained glass and a ground floor dining room that opens up in its centre to the balcony of the restaurant above. A trellis is created from the thick oak supporting pillars with vines and flowers woven delicately around it and the balcony balustrade above. What I’m trying to say is that’s it pretty... well... pretty.


24 / November 2016/outlineonline.co.uk


THE MAIN EVENT If I have one weakness it’s prawn crackers. Tat and setting fire to those warehouses. I’d left my matches at home so ordered some prawn crackers while looking over the menu. Te lunch menu is small but full of options with a number of main dishes and their Tai tapas – it’s like La Tasca never went away! Tere are six set tapas selections, each coming with four different dishes, and a wider tapas menu for you to mix and match from. Te vegetarian came with a green vegetable curry, nice and spicy Tai flavours with coconut milk and large pieces of broccoli, carrot and cauliflower. Stir fried vegetables in ginger was a sweet and tasty broth filled with bok choy, cauliflower, mushroom, broccoli, beansprouts and carrot. It felt clean and warming on a cold day. Te vegetable spring rolls were fine but drenched in sweet chili sauce - it felt like it would have been better for this to be in a side dish for you to use to your own tastes.


I went for the Lamb Massaman Curry. A deliciously creamy curry sauce in a deep bowl swimming with chunky vegetables and sweet, chewy lamb chunks. Cinnamon and cumin add enjoyable undertones to the spicy mouthfuls. Cashew nuts are another source of sweetness in this lovely dish.


Te evening menu is broader with a larger selection of main dishes. I was particularly


impressed with the affordability of the restaurant with large, filling and tasty meals coming in at a very reasonable price.


PUD After our spicy and sticky main meals a selection of ice creams and sorbets was an ideal way to end our lunch, cleansing our palates and soothing our tingling tongues. Brighton rose was a beautiful flavour that invoked Turkish Delight. Te lemongrass and basil sorbet is a sharp acidic with a penetrating herby second flavour, and cut through the cloying curry sauces of our mains. Te black sesame ice cream was our favourite, and gave an incongruous and interesting savoury flavour in an otherwise sweet dessert.


OVERALL An increasing number of chains is a sign of a vibrant and healthy food scene in the city, one that is still growing. Te Giggling Squid is a lovely alternative to more conventional western offerings and has the look and feel of a place for special occasions at a price you can enjoy any day of the week.


JAMES MACDONALD


VENUE FODDER VALUE OVERALL


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