Last night was supposed to be a good dinner and a show, but the plans didn't quite work out. We went for a pre-theatre dinner to the Banana Leaf - it was quite a treat to eat out without having to fuss about note-taking. Not that I'm whinging. Restaurant reviewing is still the dream gig, but it does nevertheless change the experience.
The way the Banana Leaf does things is more European than Indian in style. Everybody gets their own plate of food. Main dishes are around the $25 mark. The menu is a mix of Mod Oz and traditional Sri Lankan, but I've never yet tried anything not Sri Lankan there. It's really good, and it is their specialty, so why stray? Though it is tempting - they do use some Australian bush foods, and the menu is thoughtful and interesting.
The bloke and I had our separate curries - he a chicken biryani, and me a "black" pork smore. They come with the traditional condiments, as do the curries with string hoppers or pittu or rice. My pork was some quite large medallions of slow cooked loin, topped with a spicy sauce with plenty of fresh capsicum. It didn't look black at all - I was expecting something darker from the name. I do know that "black" refers to the roasting of the spices, but even so I was surprised. It didn't seem terribly hot, but as I ate it, I realised that it was spiced with much more pepper and less chilli than the curries I'm more used to. Definitely tingly, if not fiery. The Bloke's chicken was darker in tone, and came with a chilli sambal on the side. Teh chicken curry sat on the side of the mound of beautifully spiced rice. We added some rotti ($5), which was two pieces of the flat bread, beautifully fresh off the griddle.
We had a couple of beers - I decided Sinha was really not very special. An adequate lager, but a bit thin. Not $8 worth; I probably won't bother with it again. The Bloke wisely stuck to Coopers. This, for me, is their main failing. Although they have a nice wine list, they obviously don't care much about beer. No microbrews, and not even any James Squires - an IPA would have been perfect.
I finished off with the watalapan ($9.50) - a coconut and palm treacle custard. It's sort of a Sri Lankan creme caramel, except that coconut doesn't make as smooth a custard as dairy cream. Very nice anyway, I love those dark treacly flavours. The Bloke, not being a dessert eater, just had another beer to keep me company.
it was very busy, but we'd had very good and efficient service, despite the crowd. Our waiter did suggest when we arrived at 6.30pm, that we order quickly to get to the theatre in time. But it wasn't an issue. The mains were little slower to arrive than I've known them at other times, but we could easily have left without dessert at 7.15pm. As it was, we had plenty of time for a leisurely finish.
And then we were off to the theatre, with a good ten minutes to spare - but this is where it went wrong! We were going to see Land's End, by the Company Philippe Genty, but the show was cancelled due to an injury. Well. So much for that trope of the plucky understudy coming in to be a star because the show must go on. Bugger. I'd been really looking forward to it; I'm a fan of their umm, whatever it is that they do. Puppetry and magic and illusion and performance art and stuff; always beautiful and haunting. This blogger saw the show that I missed out on. They were offering to rebook for the other couple of performances in Canberra, but the queues were so long that we gave it up as a bad job and just went home to watch Poirot on the ABC.
On the way home, I noticed that new gussied up Ali Baba "AB Restaurant" that my anon commenter mentioned recently. I'm not sure if I'll get to try that out in a hurry - I have a lot to do in the next fortnight with a show and a concert, and then I'm off to Tibet and China. So I might not get to it until October.