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S SRI LANKAN STREET FOOD

THE COCONUT TREE CHARLIE LYON FINDS SUNSHINE ON A RAINY DAY AT THIS SRI LANKAN RESTAURANT SERVING UP COLOURFUL SMALL PLATES TO SHARE

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torm Miguel: Spanish by name, fiery by nature, but nothing of the ’del Sol about it. That was the storm that lashed our country mid-June, taking us from sun to glum in a matter of hours. Most of us rode out our evenings indoors, heating on, while those looking for warmth of a different kind headed towards Stokes Croft, where there’s now a plethora of eateries offering a guaranteed sunny experience, whatever the weather. There’s a Mexican fiesta to be had at Masa and Mezcal, and lots of fresh Asian tastes a stone’s throw further up at Suncraft. And, since last October, The Coconut Tree has been offering its own far-flung flavours nearby on Cheltenham Road, too. This restaurant is one of a pair in Bristol (the other nestled on the Triangle) serving up Sri Lankan-style street food and cocktails. With the original restaurantbar now an established and popular hangout in Cheltenham, and another set to open soon in Cardiff, it seems the concept is properly taking off. The branding is strong – you won’t miss the darkteal paint and bold white typeface on the facade as you stroll just north of the arches. “But it looked a bit, er, unfinished inside,” said my colleague, “so I didn’t go in.” True, it’s pared back to the point of sparse – planed wooden tables and benches without even a potted succulent for decor. There’s exposed brick, cutlery comes in a tin can, and there’s kitchen roll to wipe your mitts on. Still, since when did street food call for a fancy backdrop? The menu’s understated too – a printed sheet of A4 – but full of intrigue. The five Sri Lankan founders are bringing us food we’ve not been very privy to in Bristol before now. I’m keen for an egg hopper (£3.50) to start – apparently a must-have for first-timers. The light and fluffy coconut-milk rice-flour pancake is a beauteous pale shade with toasted hues, like a perfectly fired marshmallow. It’s named after the rounded hopper pan it’s cooked in, which forces the pancake into a bowl shape. In the centre sits a perfectly cooked egg, the yolk still runny, ready to be smashed and mixed in with the chutneys – grated coconut with lime and onion, caramelised onion with a hint of cinnamon and

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Crumbs Bath & Bristol - Issue 91  

Crumbs Bath & Bristol - Issue 91  

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