Chelmsford is home to a plethora of high street chain and independently run restaurants and cafes. The brand new Bond Street development has brought ASK Italian, Bill’s and Las Iguanas to the city centre, and The Exchange at High Chelmer has welcomed the likes of Turtle Bay, Carluccio’s and now Banana Tree!
Banana Tree is an award winning chain of restaurants in the UK, serving Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian and Singaporean style dishes, alongside oriental-inspired cocktails and funky urban decor to relax and socialise in.
My Dad loves his food, particularly spicy food, so he came along with me so we could order a wide variety of dishes and give (almost) everything a go! As it was happy hour, we ordered a passionfruit and vodka cocktail each, which was refreshing and fruity. We munched our way through a basket of warm crackers dipped into sweet chilli sauce, and perused the menu.
On first impressions, the menu is quite daunting. It’s split up into starters, mains, sides and extras with a detailed description of each dish, but we just didn’t know where to start. Olga, an incredibly friendly, passionate and welcoming waiter, talked us through the menu and suggested a number of dishes worth trying. In the end, Dad and I ordered 4 main dishes and a bowl of rice to share – we were in for an absolute feast!
Crispy chicken with mango and sweet lime sauce
The chicken was tender with a lovely crispy coating, drizzled in the sweetest mango and lime sauce but it worked really, really well! The chicken was really mourish and the sauce nice and sticky, but it wasn’t my favourite dish of the evening.
Sauteed beef with with Kari Patta & cashew nuts
My mouth waters just thinking about this dish! When we order a chinese takeaway at home, crispy chilli beef is always on the list, so we wanted to try Banana Tree’s fresh dish to see how it compared! The sauteed beef was my favourite dish of the evening. The beef was soft with a sticky, chewy glaze, and the scattered crushed cashews gave it an addictive salty kick. The sticky soy onions worked really well with the dish too, and this is definitely something I would recommend ordering on a visit to Banana Tree.
Tamarind crispy fish with thai basil glaze
Our second favourite dish of the evening was the tamarind crispy fish. The fish fillets were soft and flakey and melted in the mouth. The batter was light and crispy, dusted with a small amount of tamarind. The garlic, chilli and sweet basil glaze was sticky and sweet, and worked beautifully with the fish. I just love cashew nuts, so it was a nice touch to have them crumbled on top of this delicious dish.
The legendary beef rendang
I’m really not a fan of curry and spice, but Olga recommended ordering the rendang, so we ordered it with beef – you can also order it in a chicken version, but we decided to give the beef a go instead. I was worried that the dish would be spicy, but it wasn’t too bad. It had quite a dry kick and the sauce was quite thick, but it did work really well with the beef. The beef was tender and soft, cooked to perfection. It’s not something I would order again as I’m not a fan of curry, but it’s a good dish for curry lovers who don’t like too much spice.
Aromatic spiced rice
To soak up all the main dishes, we were advised on ordering the aromatic spiced rice. I’m usually a plain or egg fried rice kind of girl, but I actually really enjoyed this rice. It was hot, fluffy and lightly fragrant, and worked really well with all of our main dishes.
As you can imagine, we were very full, but Olga tempted us with the dessert menu so we ended up ordering the Banana Tree ‘Frotiteroles’.
These were hands down the best banana fritters I have ever had; the chunks of banana were hot and soft, encased in a crispy batter and drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauce, and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The fritters were piping hot and so flavoursome, making for the perfect finish to a delicious meal!
Banana Tree have 8 other restaurants in the UK, and you can find your nearest branch here.
It’s a great restaurant to enjoy pan-asian food, delicious cocktails and a relaxing, friendly experience!