Maggie Walsh samples the food at Reigate's newest eatery
Reigate has recently welcomed a new addition to its ever-growing restaurant scene. Following much anticipation, local diners were delighted when Thai eatery, the Giggling Squid finally threw open its tentacles to lure them in mid July. The longer than expected wait for the opening was due to building delays caused by the discovery of a tunnel beneath the listed 250 year old property on the High Street. The discovery meant the lower floor of the building was remodeled (it was originally to be the kitchen), to incorporate a viewing window, allowing diners to see the extent of the cavern below the building for themselves.
Formally Puccino Café, the building had lain empty for a number of years, before restauranteers, husband and wife team Andrew and Pranee Laurillard, put up a £350,000 investment to bring a touch of modern Asian cuisine to Surrey. Giggling Squid is the couple’s sixth restaurant - part of their growing empire, which started in Hove, Sussex in 2009.
In a relatively short period time, the pair has established a reputation for producing authentic, rustic Thai cooking with an emphasis on street food and coastal specialties, influenced naturally by Pranee’s upbringing. Their chefs use fresh ingredients and source their products locally when possible.
Lucky to be guests on the opening night, my partner Paul and myself headed into Reigate. As we walked along the High Street we recalled our last rather disappointing meal in this listed building when it housed Puccino’s many years ago. What was to be a quick Christmas Eve lunch with two very young, over excited children turned into a three-hour disaster of poor service and not very good food. Paul didn’t even have time to purchase his last minute Christmas gifts as the meal took so long– evident by my rather lacking pile under the tree the next morning – but that’s another story.
This time it was just the two of us dining out. As we walked through the door we had a warm welcome from Pranee who sat us in the window seats and offered us a Tiger Beer – bringing back fond memories of our youth travelling across Thailand.
Andrew then appeared with a very reasonable wine list and menu, and he proceeded to explain the trauma and yet excitement of finding the tunnel beneath his restaurant, and the logistics of modeling the venu within a listed building. He then left to tend to his other guests while we chose our drinks and fare for the evening ahead.
We were not to be disappointed. For starters Paul opted for an old favourite, spring rolls, while I chose seared scallops - served in two shells dressed with ground fresh chili, nampla and lime juice. Delicious! Our taste buds were then taken to another level as we both opted for Sea Bass Pad Cha as a main course. Crispy fried sea bass fillet topped with aromatic spicy Thai herbs and a sauce garnished with basil leaves -cooked to perfection. We were full, but the flavours had us hankering for more and we agreed we’d certainly be returning to the Giggling Squid to sample more. To round off our evening, we shared a light refreshing sorbet – perfect for what was a warm summer’s evening. The whole meal was a delightful experience washed down with a perfect house white wine. H
For a simple but delicious meal out I’d certainly recommend the Giggling Squid. And, if you’d prefer a night in, you can also sample this tantalizing menu with their takeaway service. My next take out in will be from here, when I will try the restaurant’s signature dish "Giggling Squid" - steamed baby squid filled with minced chicken, squid and herbs with basil and chili.
I am also tempted to try the lunchtime specials – the Giggling Squids tasting 'sets' or Thai tapas seem an excellent way to try lots of different dishes in one go.