Summer is finally here, and it was a hot night on Cardiff’s Mill Lane. There was a definite party atmosphere in the air but as soon as you turn into The Coconut Tree you fall into a more tranquil place with a real laid-back vibe. Obviously, there is a buzz, a real buzz in fact, but you can’t escape the relaxed atmosphere that the team behind this gem have tried and succeeded in producing.
[aoa id=”1″]The centrepiece to the layout is a grand bar, serving up Coco Tails of all shapes and sizes. I say this because the Drunken Sri Lankan comes served inside an ornamental elephant (yes, an elephant) and contains Ceylon Arrack, ginger beer, Cointreau, turmeric and finished with fresh lime – delicious and not bad at all for £8. There is a substantial cocktail collection, and another favourite is a new twist on an old fashioned. The twist? Mainly a large piece of dark chocolate. It’s fun and again reiterates that this place is firmly not uptight and pretentious.[/aoa]
After a couple of cocktails, some even with a hint of spice, you are truly prepared for the explosion of flavour that will soon hit you. Street food at its best is variety, and that is what you have here in abundance. The first dish I tried was the Cheesy Colombo and it was an instant favourite. So much so that I will no doubt order this next time, perhaps even before drinks (it’s that good). And it’s cheese, not meat, which was quite hard to believe. Full of flavour, these sticky cubes of cheese are pure heaven. In fact, the vegan and vegetarian options are plentiful – and delicious!
Next came the Hoppers, which are Sri Lankan bowl-shaped pancakes made using coconut milk and served with several key ingredients and a freshly fried egg. The Sri Lankan way is to mix the stand-alone ingredients in with the egg, then simply roll up the edible plate and enjoy. At this point I must say that the team were excellent at guiding diners in the ways of compiling certain dishes as well as cocktail recommendations. Another dish that blew my mind, contained cashew nuts and green peas that are socked and cooked in coconut cream. This method completely transforms the nuts and creates a completely unique taste.
Overall, I think this restaurant will be a huge hit. There is so much flavour here and its totally unassuming – which I love. With kitchen rolls to hand on each table you feel completely at ease in this environment created by a small team with big ambitions. Above the entrance to this restaurant it states that they are bringing Sri Lankan street food to Cardiff, but from my experience they have brought a lot more than just that.