103 Wardour Street
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Wed Nov 23 2011
What started out as Banana Leaf Canteen in Battersea has expanded across London. All its branches (currently five, soon to be six) now operate under the same name, ‘Banana Tree’. This latest branch, in Soho, has a voguish warehouse look with bare concrete walls, attractive lighting, and wooden-topped shared tables and benches.
The menu describes the food as from ‘Indochina’, an old name for the peninsula that includes Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. But in fact, the menu fearlessly mixes up the distinct cuisines of Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia.The menu’s brief, so that the open kitchen can provide speedy service.
We’ve had great dishes at other branches in the past, but on this visit we found the offerings lacklustre. ‘Tamarind crispy fish with Thai basil glaze’ sounded enticing, but the tilapia fillets were deep-fried in the manner of a chip shop, then slathered with an unremarkable and gloopy sauce.
Pho, that well-known Vietnamese dish of rice noodle soup (the most popular version being beef-based), is often judged by the clarity and flavour of the broth.
Banana Tree’s version included pungent braised shiitake mushrooms in addition to an array of herbs already mixed into the stock. As a result, the dish lost the subtlety of the Vietnamese original.
On our visit the restaurant was near-empty, but the staff were trying to turn the tables as quickly as possible – the result being that we felt chivvied out even before we’d finished eating our last mouthfuls.
We’ve always enjoyed Banana Tree in the past, so we assume the terse service and disappointing dishes are a consequence of the chain’s rapid expansion – and that this Soho branch will settle into a better groove in due course.
Banana Tree 103 Wardour Street
020 7437 1351
- Opening hours:
Meals served noon-11pm Mon-Sat; noon-10.30pm Sun
Tube: Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus or Tottenham Court Road tube
Main courses £5.95-£10.80 Meal for two with drinks and service: around £45
- 103 Wardour Street
- 020 7437 1351
- 103 Wardour Street
- Banana Tree
Food and drink
Eating and drinking facilities. Restaurant. Restaurant and bar facilities. Take away. Bookings not accepted. Vegan dishes. Accessible facilities