Sunday, 23 January 2011

Bananas for the Banana Leaf, Battersea

I'll admit it straight up. This restaurant is not new to me. I doubt this review will be impartial. This really is one of my favourite places to eat. It's basically a much more authentic version of Wagamama's, but works along a similar model, and the fact that there's a queue outside every night of the week is testament to the quality of the food. The Banana Leaf has been on Battersea Rise for quite a few years, and has gone from strength to strength: apparently they've now also opened several new outlets across London.

So back to the one on Battersea Rise. This was the location of a long-awaited reunion with a friend from Uni, who has been working in Balham but lives miles away in North London. Clapham Junction seemed like a great intermediate place for us each to get to from work, and I jumped at the chance to go back to the Banana Leaf.

Luckily, we'd arranged to meet fairly early, at 7 o'clock, and managed to beat the hordes. But the queue did build up pretty quickly afterwards, and this was around 7.15 on a Tuesday evening. As I mentioned, the model is fairly similar to Wagamama's. They serve a variety of Asian food (the menu is actually really quite big, and you can have most styles of main with at least 5 kinds of meat) and diners sit along big, communal benches.

As always, I opted for the Banana Leaf Platter. This is a really good value-for-money option which lets you add rice, an asian side salad, corn cakes, and spicy prawn crackers to selected mains (and there are about 20 applicable options) for just £2.95 extra. I had chicken with thai basil and chilli jam whilst my friend opted for Thai green curry. We started with some spicy prawn crackers and satay sauce, but I have sampled some of the other starters on previous occasions and they are all delicious, and surprisingly imaginative considering the expectations one has of a 'canteen' restaurant.

The grub is plentiful and delicious. The kind that leaves you really upset to be so stuffed. The service was really prompt (although I hear reports that it can be a little too prompt - especially with the billing) and all in all there's a really buzzy atmosphere. You wouldn't go here for a romantic dinner, but the food is great, and it's the perfect place for a week night catch up with a friend. Just remember to get here early!

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