You notice a good number of stand out things with The Coconut Tree Cheltenham from the get go. Are they good or bad though?
It’s in the middle of nowhere, and by that I mean a residential area of Cheltenham Town – a place like this is out of place.
What do I mean by a place like this? Its shabby chic urban, trying to be cool – why? It’s a Sri Lankan street food tapas bar, so it’s has to try to look the part, you know, among English terraced housing – it’s bonkers.
Its in an old, neighbourhood, street corner boozer, its painted grey and doesn’t scream colourful South Asian Island in the Indian Ocean.
It’s not a traditional Indian style restaurant, no sit down white clothed tables with regional music in the background and those little tea light heaters.
But the thing you notice the most is how busy it is, packed with young (not all young btw), cool, good looking people listening to well bassed chilled out music. You need to book ahead for this one and I mean it – this was a Monday.
The dude that decorated this place has a gift. The lighting is sweet and low – tables are hung from chains in the wall, high stool long tables or low with cushioned beer barrels to sit on and the bar is made of old crates and coins.
You’re greeted quickly and ever so smoothly by any number of baseball cap wearing front of house staff – who care whether you’ve been before or not – they have a story to tell you.
Like any decent tapas bar they’ll tell you to order about three dishes per person and it comes when it comes – that’s the whole point.
The menu seems like it doesn’t change too often, but does offer evidence that it may – they’re just printed out, and are beaten up – and it did promise Rotti Pizza coming soon (that’s Sri Lankan Flatbread Pizza uhhhhh).
I ordered 6, but unfortunately only 5 turned up – they get busy and have been accused of long waiting times on TripAdvisor. My wait time was perfect, however, the missing dish (Mutton Rolls) did end up in the bill despite me reminding them. So just keep an eye on stuff, they’re just busy, they took it off and it was fine. Five was enough to eat anyhow.
Why so busy, that’s the important question? Because along with all I’ve said, the food is superb, and I mean exceptional without any aires or graces, not even plates, just the serving dishes and cutlery.
Of the five, the stand out 3 were:
- deviled beef – which was colourful with strong sweet spice
- hand battered spicy cuttlefish – served as little squid explosions with a sweet peppery red onion garnish
- cheesy Colombo (the capital city) – this was recommended by they waitress. Think sweet and sour paneer – loved it
- Also ordered a okra and tomato dish and black pork – both just as good as the other three.
I could not fault the food – seriously and the pricing? Wonderful value for money – 5 dishes and 5 beers was less than £50.
The story behind this by the way – 5 guys wanting somewhere to live chose an old boozer and with the permission of the owner, shoved in an authentic and vibrant restaurant – nice story. They didn’t need to win Masterchef and ‘one day have my own place’ – they all say the same crap on that show (rolls eyes).
Nope, they just did it and now…they’ve all quit their full time day jobs and do this – it looks like it’s working and they’re having a great time.
You need to go here, remember to book in advance – way more than the week they suggested – it’s popular.
As always – I paid the bill to keep it real.
Thank you Sri Lanka