I tried the new menu at Giggling Squid in Tunbridge Wells and the curry's out of this world

Reporter Mary Harris tried out the new parts of the menu at The Giggling Squid in Tunbridge Wells - Mary is sitting at the table with a black polo neck on, she has lots of food in front of her
Reporter Mary Harris tried out the new parts of the menu at The Giggling Squid in Tunbridge Wells -Credit:Reach plc

Giggling Squid in Tunbridge Wells has definitely made a home for itself here. So many places come and go in the town, but this restaurant has staying power - and your tastebuds will give you the answer as to why.

It's a simple formula, the food is just delicious, from the flavours, colours and aesthetic to the taste and texture. Added to that, the service was faultless and the place was so clean when I visited - and yes, I peered on the window sill looking for dust, and looked on the floor too.

In fact, it has had a refurbishment since last time I went, in relaxing sage hues with chandeliers. I appreciate when enough space is given between tables at restaurants. Nothing can deflate the excitement of going out for a meal more than being shown to a table exactly a knife's length from another table. Giggling Squid hasn't crammed in more people to boost sales.

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The Giggling Squid is one of those places in Tunbridge Wells where you can be pretty certain you are going to get a fantastic meal. I spent a blissful couple of hours on my own in the restaurant, arriving sharp at 6.30pm, and eating my way through as much on the menu as I could.

The refreshed menu has a plant-based starter which gives more choice to vegans. You can also "customise" your noodles and stir-fry meals, tailoring them to your taste, and there are new desserts. There is also the Spring Sips menu. The Thai Breeze (£9.95) sounded the perfect escape, described as a "citrusy treat for gin-lovers" and there was the tempting alcohol free Lychee Angel (£6.50).

But I went for ginger beer, which was light and refreshing and perfect with the curry. For starter, I had the Golden Money Bags, which are not new to the menu. They are lovely parcels of pastry with spiced chicken, herbs and vegetables. The pastry is so light and the homemade sweet chilli sauce is so moreish, I had two dishes.

I asked the supervisor Jack Evans for guidance with my main course and rice, and what a recommendation it was. I was almost weeping with delight when I lifted the lid off the pan to the Slow Cooked Jungle Curry (£16.95).

It looked like an artwork. Not the kind of artful dish you are scared almost to touch - but the kind you can not wait to eat. You often see words such as "tender" on menus, but the beef was melt in the mouth.

Seasoning was perfect and there was a lovely rolling heat which left my lips tingling and my face reddening. I loved the sprig of green peppercorns.

Jack recommended the Jasmine Rice (£3.50), which was beautifully fragrant. Not one speck of food was left in any vessel on my table. It was a blissful 30 minutes or so of savouring every mouthful - an advantage of eating alone, as you can focus entirely on the food.

For dessert, I opted for new options - and I am ashamed to say I ordered (and devoured) two - but they were described as "small" and they were cheaper than a regular sweet.

Again, they were so beautifully presented. I had the Mini Melting Heart Chocolate Dessert (£3.99), which had a lovely grown-up, earthy dark chocolate taste, AND the Mini Salted Caramel Souffle, (£3.99) which was feather light. I would recommend having both, as they complement each other.

Giggling Squid's culinary director Agnelo Pereira said: "We have continuously developed our menus since our first restaurant opened over 20 years ago. The new year is a great opportunity to reflect and look forwards, and with every year at Giggling Squid, we bring new dishes to life, based on what we love to share with our guests and what our customers come back for time after time. We can’t wait for our guests to try the newest additions to our menu.”

Something I also enjoyed was how professionally the restaurant was run. Jack was in charge that evening, who was really helpful with a warm smile, and there was an atmosphere that 'all was well' and that created a mood of relaxation in the restaurant.

Unflustered and friendly staff help diners decompress. I ended my evening there with a green tea which came in a stylish glass teapot, with small cup and saucer.

I just can not find fault with The Giggling Squid. But how could I almost forget to mention the signature prawn crackers and chilli dipping sauce? (£3.95)

They are so far removed from those white, sticky types. These are more substantial with a lovely baked flavour and with the chilli sauce, they are irresistible.

Hearing the chomp, chomp across many tables in the restaurant made me smile - clearly people loved them as much as me. Thank you to chefs Sagar, Tim and Mario for dishes I could eat every day of the week.

Giggling Squid said it had "given into fan demand" and had launched two new variations of its Sticky Chicken Dish. This is the Loaded Sticky Chicken and a vegan Sticky No Chicken Dish. These are only available through Deliveroo.

How to book a table at Giggling Squid in Tunbridge Wells

The varied menu has a competitively priced lunch menu and a more extensive evening offer, as well as a separate children menu.

  • Address: Giggling Squid, 57 Calverley Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN1 2UY

  • Book: Call the restaurant on 01892 545499

  • Parking: Crescent Road multi-storey car park is nearby TN1 2LU

  • Home order: via website here.

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