New Giggling Squid restaurant in Chichester - a chic dining experience
The arrival of a new restaurant in town wasn't in itself enough to tempt me to visit.
But the location certainly was.
The Giggling Squid has been established in the former offices of the Chichester Observer at Unicorn House in Eastgate Square.
For years they were a second home - simplistically decorated to run an efficient newspaper business.
Now the ground floor has been transformed into a chic dining experience.
The contrast could not be more striking.
The decor is simply stunning - adorned with floral displays and motifs which transport you not merely to the outdoors but to a fragrant Thailand environment which reflects the mood and tone of the menu.
The staff were amazingly welcoming too.
Manager Helen greeted us at the door. While Mary-Jo looked after us at the table.
It was good to experience such high quality training. She already knew the menu inside-out and spoke with sufficient and justified confidence to let me trust her with most of my choices.
I am no fan of squid, giggling or otherwise, so agreed only to a cautious taste of the signature salt and pepper dish. I am told by my family who accompanied that it was the best they had ever had.
But the offering is broad enough to accommodate all tastes.
There is a varied selection of seafood, meat, curry, noodles and stir fry options. Street food style snacks and carefully curated cocktails are also available in the exclusive separate lounge and bar.
The extensive evening menu includes popular Giggling staples such as crispy duck spring rolls and Lamb shank Massaman curry alongside some showstoppers such as the Black pepper soft shell crab; Thai-style cod and Crying Beef (grilled sirloin marinated in Thai herbs accompanied by a spicy dipping sauce).
The wine list was well balanced with the food and sensibly priced. I chose a bottle of the Chablis and was not disappointed.
Like all Giggling Squids, the Chichester restaurant has its own individual character and charm designed by founder Pranee Laurillard.
Beautifully soft leather banquette seating creates a stylish setting, whilst hand-painted framed stencils combined with bold, floral wallpaper and artwork add a splash of defining colour.
A large decorative aviary offers a grandeur befitting of the restaurant’s home and a stunning light installation filled with decorative flowers. The casual lounge showcases plush, coloured sofas, which add a modern retro touch and create a chic setting for light bites and cocktails.
Owned by Thai-born Pranee Laurillard and her husband Andy, Giggling Squid - the nickname of one of their three children - was founded in the basement of a tiny fisherman’s cottage, now the Brighton restaurant, where dreams of replicating a little taste of home became a reality.
The couple opened their first site in Hove in 2009 and have gone on to establish a strong reputation for authentic Thai cooking with an emphasis on signature curries and coastal specialities. The launch of Chichester takes the family of restaurants to 25.
What a pity it hadn’t been on the ground floor when I worked in the newsroom above for so many years.
We might have all gone to work with a slightly stronger spring in our step.