This is the first time I’ve been asked to review a restaurant which is pretty shocking considering how much I go out for dinner. I’m more of an eating out kind of person over eating in, thanks to the fact that I’m such an awful cook. Finding new places to go is always a priority for me, especially in Cardiff, which is why I was so excited when the Coconut Tree asked me to try their menu. It’s inspired by traditional Sri Lankan street food and was founded by a group of friends who wanted to bring the same vibe to the UK. From the wooden tables and stools to the roll of kitchen towel on the table and cup of cutlery it’s a perfectly laid back environment that doesn’t require dressing up.
The restaurant on Mill Lane is their fifth and is right in the centre of Cardiff so it’s a perfect location. I took my mum with me for a late lunch and a very welcome break from shopping last weekend. We started with some cocktails and tried the most photogenic ones on the menu for obvious reasons. I went for the Drunken Sri-Lanken which came in a chubby, elephant-shaped cup and was made with a mix of turmeric, lime and ginger beer with Ceylon Arrack and Cointreau. My mum went for the Sriki-Tiki made with Captain Morgan Dark Rum, Ancho Ryes Chillie Liquor, Wrey Nephew, pineapple juice and lime. It also had a flaming fig on top for some serious dramatic effect. The cocktails were amazing and there are loads of options, especially if you’re feeling a little less adventurous.
When it came to ordering the food they recommended going for three dishes each along with some traditional dishes. These included the Hoppers which are bowl-shaped pancakes served with coconut sambal, caramelised onions and salsa. You can opt to have this with or without a fried egg depending on your preference and how hungry you are. We tried both and they were equally delicious. The other option is Kotthu, a mix of stirfried vegetables which you can have with chicken or cheese. The idea is that it’s similar to tapas, so you pick lots of different dishes and share them as a table. I love this approach and I think it helps to bring people together and makes eating more of a social experience.
We first decided on the chickpeas which were stirfried in coconut oil, onions, garlic, mustard and crushed chillis. This was light and fresh and a great option to mix with other dishes. Next was the Gova Mallun, a stirfried cabbage mixed with turmeric and coconut shavings. This was my favourite dish as it was light, fluffy and full of flavour. We then tried the Beetroot Mallun which is lightly cooked, shaved beetroot in a sweet sauce. We followed this with the Cheesy Colombo, the most popular dish on the menu. It’s fried cheese cubes with a sicky sauce which isn’t a typical street food dish but a Coconut Tree fan favourite. We also tried the amazing Clay Pot Fish, which is a slow-cooked tuna curry with Gorka spices that was hot and peppery. I loved this one, the sauce was perfect, not too spicy but with loads of flavour. Lastly, we chose the Bonchi Baduma salad made with green beans and smashed green chillis. This was a little too hot for me but perfect for spice lovers.
The food was amazing and served in metal dishes in the centre of the table that encourage you to share and talk about the food. It’s so relaxed and with the music and the bar, it’s the perfect place to go if you want something low-key. It’s also great for bigger groups and there’s so much on the menu that you could find something for everyone. It’s such a cute place to go and I’d definitely recommend checking it out if, like me, you’re not into cooking!
*All products mentioned were gifted in exchange for review