One of Canberra’s most-experienced food critics and this paper’s longest-serving columnist, WENDY JOHNSON indulges herself with her top eating experiences for 2018
CONTEMPORARY cuisine from the “Pearl of the East”, or Sri Lanka, is now a feature of the food scene in the inner-south, with the move of Banana Leaf from the city to its new location in the heart of Kingston.
Banana Leaf has taken over the space that housed Figaro for many moons. No doubt loyal fans will be happy to head to the new location and, when they do, they’ll discover the menu now offers a stronger Sri Lankan theme that Banana Leaf describes as “tempered with the characteristics of Indian, Arab, Malay, Moor, Portuguese, Dutch, and British influences”.
Don’t hesitate to talk to staff about selecting, remembering some dishes are complete meals that come with rice so be careful you don’t double up with an extra order.
Our Sri Lankan culinary journey began with potato and pea crispy patties ($14.90). This vegetarian dish features intriguing spices and the potato, green peas, carrot and leek are all tucked into lightly fried patty pastry. It got our taste buds dancing.
Just as satisfying was the dairy-free chicken pan rolls ($15.90). The mild-curried mince was combined with potato and rolled in a crepe, finely crumbed and lightly fried. We dipped them into the traditional tomato sauce.
The prawn curry ($32.90) was created with more sensational Sri Lankan spices. The prawns were plump, the vegetable pilau rice fluffy and the strips of pappadum crunchy. We loved the coconut and chilli sambol that came with this dairy-free and gluten-free dish.
Goat is a Sri Lankan fave and the meat was slow cooked in a red spiced curry. While the flavours didn’t disappoint, some pieces of meat were a bit chewy (others s-o-o-o-o tender). The goat was a hit with coconut and tomato (and more vegetable pilau rice, $33.90).
You won’t go wrong with the Biryani ($28.90 and can choose chicken, beef or fish). It’s such an amazing creation; oven-baked basmati rice and curried meat cooked in a fabulous ginger and turmeric stock with spices and herbs. We loved combining the meat with boiled egg wedges, chilli paste, and sweet chutney, digging in with soft roti.
Banana Leaf’s interior has been overhauled. A wall knocked out makes the place more spacious. It’s an elegant fitout with white tablecloths, stunning bamboo wallpaper and plants perched strategically down the middle forming a bit of a divide. We sat fairly close to the front door and shivered slightly each time a customer entered or exited, the cold gusts of winter air made sure of that.
Banana Leaf, 17 Kennedy Street, Kingston, open for lunch Wednesday-Saturday, noon-2pm and dinner, Tuesday-Sunday, 6pm until late.