ITALIAN and Thai are two of the best travelled cuisines in the world, and Warwick boasts fine examples of both. The festive season means Christmas menus, and both Ask Italian and the Giggling Squid offer excellent alternatives to the British traditional.
Ask Italian, in Warwick’s High Street, offers three different three course festive menu options – Classico (£18.95), Festivo (£22.95), and Super Festivo (£24.95). There’s also the Festivo lunch option of two courses for £14.95.
Ask Italian have branches up and down the country, and just glancing through the festive offerings it’s not hard to understand their popularity. It’s based on the simple premise that the best and freshest ingredients make for the best dishes.
We chose the Super Festivo menu – which includes a glass of Prosecco to start and a Frangelico Hazelnut Liquer to finish – and the only headache we had with the menu was what to choose.
After much deliberation it was Melanzane Al Forno for me – a gorgeous lasagne-like dish of aubergine slices with rich tomato and béchamel sauces and mozzarella – while for the good lady it was the moreish Garlic Bread Speciale – melted mozzarella, Fontal and Grana Padano cheeses inside a superb Italian folded bread.
I followed with one of the festive specials, opting for the Baked Meatballs Giganti, and they certainly lived up to their name. Five hearty pork and beef meatballs in a rich spicy tomato sauce, topped with torn buffalo mozzarella and served with no less than four pieces of warm rosemary and sea salt bread. The lady went for the superb Pollo Proscuiutto – moist chicken, sage and Fontal cheese wrapped in smoked prosciutto, and served with roasted new potatoes, broccoli and a chicken broth.
Make no mistake the dishes are generous, but how can you not find room for another festive special in the Chocolate Profiterole Grande – a large indulgent choux pastry bun filled with two large scoops of hazelnut gelato, and all covered in a rich, but not overly sweet, chocolate sauce. The lady decided on Salted Caramel Gelato Gondola – featuring salted caramel, vanilla and espresso ice creams topped with chocolate coated coffee beans and crispy biscuits and served with a jug of salted caramel sauce. The expresso ice cream was the star among stars.
Visit askitalian.co.uk for further details.
The newly-opened Giggling Squid, also on High Street, offers three festive options – a Christmas Lunch Menu of various tapas sets and deserts (£18.95), together with two three course Christmas Evening Menus (£24.95 and £29.95).
Owned by Thai-born Pranee Laurillard and her husband Andrew, 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 Warwick takes the family of restaurants to 18.
Both festive evening menus offer the best prawn crackers I have ever eaten on arrival, with a lovely sweet chilli dipping sauce, while the £29.95 option also includes a glass of Giggling Squid Christmas Spritz. The more expensive also offers dishes such as Lamb shank Massaman curry cooked with coconut milk, and Chu chi sea bass in a thick red curry.
We opted to start by sharing Thai favourites – light and crispy Corn fritters and lovely tender Chicken satay with peanut sauce.
I continued with another traditional favourite in the Chicken Thai green curry. All too often served far too mild, the Giggling Squid will serve to taste, and mine had spice while retaining all the wonderful flavours. My good lady’s Prawn cashew nut stir fry was equally tasty, packed with succulent prawns, married with peppers, onions, mushrooms, with just the right chilli kick.
Both mains, served with rice, were certainly generous, but we still found room to try the Giggling Squid’s unique Black Sesame ice-cream. It sounds strange, but it tastes divine.
Visit gigglingsquid.com for further details. (http://gifts.gigglingsquid.com/ for gift vouchers)