Pioneering Sri Lankan street food restaurant group The Coconut Tree has announced plans to open in Bournemouth, adding to their existing five branches in the south-west (based in Cheltenham, Bristol, Cardiff and Oxford).
The independent boutique operators are front-runners in bringing fresh Sri Lankan dishes to the UK, coupled with fiery cocktails (nicknamed ‘cocotails’) in a laid-back, convivial atmosphere.
The announcement of a sixth site for the growing business follows a wave of award-wins and nominations; The Coconut Tree recently picked up awards for Best New Gloucestershire Business of the Year 2020 (Gloucestershire Live) and Best New Bristol Business (Bristol Life Awards), and is shortlisted for Best UK Restaurant Operator at the National Restaurant Magazine Awards.
Brand Director Anna Garrod said: “We are delighted to announce that our sixth site will be located right in the heart of the city of Bournemouth, less than a mile away from the seafront. It will be the first time we’ve been able to show off our island vibes and warm Sri-Lankan hospitality in a seaside setting, and we couldn’t be more excited about it.”
Characterised as being “laid back and completely full of charm” by Guardian food critic Jay Rayner, The Coconut Tree was originally founded by Five Sri Lankan friends living in Cheltenham. Praveen Thanginah, Dan Fernando and Shamil Fernando are the Head Chefs and oversee the food side of things; whilst the Board of Directors is made up of Mithra Fernando (Financial Director), Rodrigo Rashinthe (Operations Director) and Anna Garrod (Brand Director). Anna joined the group five months after they opened their first site from The Lucky Onion Group. Prior to that, Anna helped to expand Po Na Na to 65 sites leaving as Managing Director.
The menu at The Coconut Tree is made up of smaller tapas-style plates including ‘Hot Battered Spicy Cuttlefish’; ‘Hoppers’ – bowl shaped coconut pancakes served with sambal & Sri Lankan Salsa, ‘Cashew Nuts’ and green peas soaked and cooked in coconut cream; and ‘Cheesy Colombo’ – cheese cubes fried and mixed Colombo style. ‘Jaffna Goat Curry with potato’ is also a firm favourite, as is the ‘Black Pork’ which consists of diced pork belly cooked in 30 roasted spices.
Larger sharing dishes include their signature ‘Devilled Dishes’ – meat or fish cooked in spices, then stir fried with traditional banana peppers and finished off with crushed chillies (their own secret recipe!). Finally, their ‘Kotthu’ is a fine example of a local hybrid and served all over the country as a luxurious street food. It’s made with finely chopped rotti and cooked with egg, vegetables and / or meat.
All dishes are made to order and are brought out to the table as soon as they are ready.
Just as important as the food at The Coconut Tree is the ‘Cocotail’ menu, which leans heavily on authentic Sri Lankan flavours and ingredients including turmeric, Ceylon tea and Ceylon Arrack. It features a range of prestigious brands and spirits, including Don Julio, Bulliet Bourbon, Ciroc Vanilla, Ceylon Arrack, and Ketel One Botanicals; a botanical vodka that’s brand new to the UK and particularly low in sugar and calories.
To stay up to date with The Coconut Tree’s plans for Bournemouth, find them on Facebook: https://facebook.com/TCTBournemouth/.