Hungry student Lily-May Brimson goes in search of a menu that caters to different tastes and diets. The Giggling Squid at Bluecoat House in Bath is part of an up-and-coming family of Thai restaurants, and Lily visited the restaurant to find out what’s on offer.
Walking into Giggling Squid I was met by a staff member who showed me to my seat and bestowed me with wine. I asked for some vegan options and was presented with a vast menu bearing plenty of animal-free food.
The restaurant inside is beautiful, running with an airy and floral theme, and I fell in love with the walls which were covered with gorgeous pink flowers. The setting in Bluecoat House made it look a little out of my league, but, to my purse’s delight, their prices matched my budget.
After much deliberation, I opted for the ‘Two Dish Meal Combi’ which allowed me to choose from a big selection of dishes from curries to noodles. I ordered the Corn Fritters and Thai Green Curry which came with a choice of mixed vegetables, all for the small price of £7.95. The food arrived, and I dove straight in without hesitation.
I dipped my vegan corn fritters in the soy and chilli sauce and my whole day brightened. I continued to the curry – coconutty but spicy, giving a nice kick to my taste buds and warmth in my stomach. The vegetables were cooked perfectly and complemented every bite. It was great to have such a big variety of vegan dishes on the menu, because I’m so used to choosing between two options, one of which is always a salad. And I’m not really a salad type of girl. For me, it’s all about wholesome and hearty meals that are healthy but flavoursome. At the Giggling Squid, all the dishes were endowed with their own individual and extravagant Thai flavours which fulfilled my vegan dreams.
I wanted to know more about the restaurant and its dynamics. There are quite a few branches dotted around the UK, including a Giggling Squid in Bristol which is extremely popular on Trip Advisor. To get the inside scoop, I approached one employee, Pranne, to find out more.
Lily: What is your favourite thing about cooking Thai cuisine?
Pranne: All the different ingredients and flavour combinations. It’s exciting!
L: As your restaurant business is growing, do you aim to individualise each restaurant or maintain a generalised feel and approach to your food and customer service?
P: Oh no, we never approach anything in a ‘generalised’ way! I hate the thought of that. Of course, there are strands of Giggling Squid that run through everything we do. Our food must be exceptional, and our service needs to be personable so guests get a warm feeling whenever they eat with us but a brand is a living breathing thing. It should evolve naturally. Each of our Giggling Squids is special in its own right.
L: With the current trends concerning sustainability and the environment, do you aim to be a green restaurant and a restaurant that can produce dedicated vegetarian/vegan options with as much passion as you do for your other dishes?
P: Definitely, our veggie and vegan guests should have a wonderful time with us. Same as any other guests. I’m particularly excited about the vegetables we’re bringing onto the new menu. There are so many lovely fresh flavours!
L: What would you say is the most popular vegetarian and vegan dish on your menu?
P: Favourites like our Thai Green Curry will always be hugely popular, but I think our new crispy Pak Maew starter with peanut sauce will go down a treat!
L: Where are your products and ingredients sourced? Do you try to get in local produce or do you have to reach out further for traditional Thai ingredients?
P: Some of our ingredients are very specialist Thai – for example, a leafy green called Pak Maew that we are proud to feature on our new menu. An ingredient like this is hard to find even in Thailand but we want to take our guests on a journey of discovery so we get it sent over. Other products, we source from England. Our wine comes from a lovely, small shop next to our Giggling Squid in Hove – the owner’s kept us topped up with wine since day 1 so we have a longstanding relationship. It really does depend on what we’re sourcing. For us, quality is paramount.
L: I’ve noticed that you like combining British culture with Thai cuisine, is this something that interests and inspires you for your menus?
P: I think it’s a natural combination – rather than a concerted effort to combine the two. I try not to overthink the brand.
L: Finally, what does your Bath branch have to offer to the city?
P: A lot (I hope!) We absolutely love the grade II listed building and location. We fell in love with Bluecoat House as soon as we saw it. The restaurant has bags of character and charm. We’ve since decorated it with hand painted stencils combined with bold, floral wallpaper and two large decorative “aviaries” which guests love to sit in. There are lots going on with the design – definitely a feast for the eyes! It’s also our first Giggling Squid to have its own separate lounge and bar area where you can enjoy street food style snacks and carefully curated cocktails.
The Giggling Squid is a great Thai restaurant for both lunch and dinner. I’d happily pay an extra few pounds for a once-in-a-while treat. Even better – I managed to have an affordable lunch in a sand-coloured Palladian building without feeling like a poor and desolate student.