Banana Tree – with a Tastecard

Perhaps my second most frequented restaurant with a Tastecard is this gem – Banana Tree. They describe themselves as ‘Indochina Kitchen’ on their quirky website but to me they are a panasian restaurant. They have 8 branches across London and I have been to the Angel and Soho (closer to Oxford Street) branch.

Their decor is styled like a canteen, like Wagamama but more stylish and less clinical. The red lamp shades they have remind me of those lights you see in the Hong Kong markets which is probably the feeling they are trying to recreate – asian street food updated.

I would recommend going to the Angel branch rather than Soho if you can. Like most places in central, as it gets busy the food quality goes down even with the best intentions. Plus, if you would like to have a proper conversation where you can actually hear the other person, then definitely go to the Angel branch. No booking required, just show up with your Tastecard.

Now for the food! Below is a list of things I recommend trying (website description):

Street Style Crispy Dough
A light and chewy Indochinese style dough served with our signature Kajang Satay sauce

Prawn Cracker Basket
Prawn cracker basket served with sweet chilli dipping sauce

Aubergine Half
with Aromatic Caramel Sauce, herbs, and crispy shallots

Mains

Phad Thai
Rice noodles wok fried in tamarind, palm sugar and fish sauce, with eggs, bean sprouts, peanuts & crispy shallots.

Banana ‘Frotiteroles’

Coconut Stuffed Green Thai Pancakes

Banana Tree Combo

Combo up your main course with our Indo House Salad, sweet corn cakes, Indo Viet crackers, steamed jasmine rice. Just Available with any of our Regional specialties or Stir Fries.

I would like to apologise for my lack of pictures in this blog as my memory card broke in my phone. : ( Sad times. Yes I know I should have backed up.

Anyway, so the Aubergine Half is a must try in my opinion, full of flavour and very soft and appetising! The Crispy Dough is something you should try at least once as well as it is quite a traditional asian food that isn’t really served anywhere else outside of China Town (as far as I’m aware). Their Prawn Crackers are also not the same as your average take away prawn crackers. These are full of prawn flavour and spice!

I would recommend the Pad Thai (although not the best I’ve had but still very nice). I would also recommend any dish under the ‘Regional Speciailities & Curries’ section. The food from this restaurant is just packed with flavour and there is just so much character that you can not go wrong. I also recommend upgrading to a combo as for an additional £2 or so you get a lot of extras. Plus, with the curries and main, it does not come with rice so bear that in mind!

Ready to tuck in!

Ready to tuck in!

The Banana Frotiteroles is again a must try! It’s sooooo nice and soft. They get it just right at the Angel branch and again this isn’t the usual banana fritter you get at a take away, this has been made with a lot of care and love. I recommend the Green Thai Pancakes as again it’s something unusual and to any coconut lovers out there – it is packed full of it!

Drinks wise, I’ve tried the Raw Juices which were ok. I’ve tried the Jasmine Tea which I think is cute how they serve it to you in a tea pot even if it is just for one person. In my opinion, a tea pot is the only way to go for a proper brew. I’ve also tried the ‘Viet Cafe Noung’ which I would recommend to any coffee fanatic. Not much bigger than an espresso shot but it has been filtered in a vietnamese coffee contraption and served with condensed milk.

Jasmine Tea.

Jasmine Tea.

All in all, this restaurant comes highly recommended by me. The decor is great, the toilets (individual rooms) are clean and the food is FULL of flavour. Apologies for not having prices as these were not available on the website. With the use of a Tastecard, a three course meal plus a drink will set you back around £15 which almost never happens in London. If you don’t have a Tastecard, I still recommend going to this restaurant at least once.

http://www.bananatree.co.uk/


Prezzo – With a Tastecard!

My first Tastecard review is on the restaurant that I perhaps use the discount on most which is Prezzo. They have branches all over the UK but the branches I have been to are St Martin’s Lane, Brentwood, Lincoln and the most frequent is Euston.

You may say what is the point of reviewing a chain restaurant? Well then I’ll ask you kindly to see this as more of a shout out rather than a review because in my opinion, it deserves more publicity and attention.

It is just an all-round good restaurant for dates, friends, families and business meetings. The food is good, the decor is different in each branch but it still makes you comfortable to sit in there.

Truffle Oil Infused Fries.

Truffle Oil Infused Fries.

So a little bit about each branch I’ve been to; St Martin’s Lane – it’s location is very central yet it is fairly quiet and ideal for a first date. The Brentwood branch is on the high street and great for friends and parties as they have loads of room at the back of the restaurant ideal for private functions. The Lincoln branch overlooks the Lincoln harbour and is very spacious. The Euston branch is by far the busiest branch I’ve been to and if you go after 7 pm you will most likely have to wait for a table (as they don’t take bookings). It is fairly cosy and by that I mean cramp and there isn’t much of a bar area BUT you do experience that London buzz.

So below is a list of a few favourites that I would like to recommend:

Calamari – With pesto and mayonnaise dip – £5.95

Want to save yourself a lot of money? Get a tastecard!

This is a short piece just to bring your attention (incase you haven’t discovered it already) to a wonderful thing called a Tastecard.

This card has enabled me to go to many restaurants at a much discounted price and also helped me to discover some new places to eat that you wouldn’t normally stumble up on.

At the risk of sounding like I work for them, I am going to run through the technical stuff first. So participating restaurants usually work on the basis of 2 for 1 across the whole menu (excluding drinks) or 50 % off the whole bill. The only catch is that it is not valid on Fridays and Saturdays (bank holidays, Christmas you get the drift) – well there has to be a catch somewhere right? However, even with these conditions, it is still such a bargain. Some restaurants require you to book beforehand but if you get their app, it’ll tell you the restaurants that are nearby and what conditions they operate on.

Now moving on to the good stuff – the monieesss – and specifically how you can save yourself some. For me, I usually ask for my tastecard from my brother who renews it for me as my birthday present. Very handy for him and I get what I want as well. If you are looking to get one, have a look online first as there are usually offers that mean you don’t need to pay the RRP of £79.99. For example, I have a link below that is offering a half price discount:

http://www.londonexperiences.co.uk/experience/tastecard/?gclid=CjwKEAiArqKmBRCOj_qfmuqinnYSJAAkAYwGS8FoegYFukaqwrGpCZ5oK-N-yDPC5L4r-l6EczSkEBoCR6_w_wcB

Please do read the T&Cs before you commit to anything though.

There are loads of links around so just have a browse, there are ones offering free gifts if you join etc etc.

The Tastecard company have launched a new feature called the Tastecard Plus which allows you to get at least 50 % discount across hotels, days out, cinemas and theatres. I personally haven’t joined yet as this is new to me but it does look quite tempting. Apparently, to upgrade my card to a plus, it’ll cost £7.99 (RRP £24.99) so something to consider!

Now that I have introduced this, I will focus some future posts about tastecard restaurants and where to go so watch this space and thanks for coming!