The Giggling Squid, Harborne

It’s more than 20 years since founders Andy and Pranee launched Giggling Squid from a tiny kitchen in Brighton, now they’ve 50-ish restaurants across the UK with two sites on our patch.

We hadn’t been to either the Harborne or Mere Green restaurants before, so thought it was time to pop along. We chose Harborne for no other reason than it’s closer, but as a chain the experience is presumably the same.

First up, the intriguing name has nothing to do with the food and is the nickname of one of Andy and Pranee’s children. Now grown-up, they no doubt shun the moniker, Giggling Squid. The décor is girlie and pretty – lots of faux blooms and pastels and a bit different to your average Thai restaurant – something Pranee wanted to achieve.

The menu is hefty and in the interest of trying as many dishes as possible – not because we’re greedy but for your benefit, you understand – we chose a series of small plates. We were in for a quick lunch and the small plates suited that. All the dishes arrived at the same time and fairly promptly.

The two seafood dishes were the stand-outs, with the One Bite Salmon dish in particular being superb. A mouthful of salmon with heady flavours of ginger, lemongrass, lime and chilli drizzled with a salty-sweet dressing wrapped in a betel leaf tasted just great. The other winner was a succulent Samui butterflied prawn dish with a delicious zingy citrus sauce.

Chicken satay was a bit underwhelming while duck spring rolls were tasty and a new caramelised pork belly dish achieved the perfect flavour trio of sweet, sour and heat. Giggling wings did what they said on the tin – sticky, sweet and meaty – while the Golden Money Bags were a hit, filled with Thai spiced chicken and plenty of herbs – particularly good when dunked in a sweet chilli sauce.

We regretted not ordering a zingy papaya salad to balance the richness and sweetness of the other dishes, so our advice would be to lose the satay in favour of something a bit fresher on the palate.

All-in-all, it’s a nice place – the environment is lovely, and the staff were enthusiastic and warm. There’s stiff competition for great Thai food in the city and while we might not travel for Giggling Squid, as a local restaurant it does the job sweetly.

THE GIGGLING SQUID, 183 High Street, Harborne, B17 9QE. Tel: 0121 817 7555