There’s a lot to be said for a restaurant that makes diners feel immediately comfortable.
Its not about padded chairs or the perfect height bar stools, but more along the lines of knowing you’re someplace where welcome brings new meaning to the word.
It’s an intangible thing and is just a feeling, but that comfort level has been pointed out by many customers of one particular establishment.
To ensure diners feel like they are your family for the evening is a hard thing to do.
Here they make it look easy.
When next in the Northern Territory ensure you make a reservation at Ella By Minoli.
Are we to suspect this the Australia’s best kept secret?
The Ella By Minoli Story
By their own description, this is the epitome of paradise with diners invited to experience a gastronomic heritage.
Ella By Minoli has a wish to recreate the flavours of Ella, a jungle town in the hill districts of Sri Lanka.
Some may say they fulfilled their wish, but it seems to be just the beginning for this now very popular eatery among Darwin’s bustling city streets.
If the face and name seem familiar it because the restaurant was born from the expressions of Minoli De Silva, MasterChef contestant. Minoli’s time in that spotlight gave a voice to Sri Lankan cuisine, but more importantly introduced the flavour bombs we have since come to crave.
Those living in the world of Sri Lankan flavours, traditions and techniques now have to share it with the rest of us underexposed unfortunates.
There’s plenty to go around.
Cuisine for the Spiced Ages
Let’s start by saying that the food here…everything…is made from scratch.
Looking at the menu new and return customers will find there to be an almost perfect amount of choice.
Not too many so time flitters away while deciding. Not too few as to feel like somethings are purposefully withheld.
So, what are we waiting for?
Begin with vegetables and sharable dishes if in a group.
Snapper, Barramundi and sizeable prawns for the seafood lover await, as does the Jewfish Escabeche.
For meat lovers chicken curry like you’ve never tasted, or black pepper pork belly will have you planning to come back, even if visiting the Territory for a short time.
If you are one of the many home cooks that bypasses the idea of cooking with goat meat, this is the perfect place to be shown exactly what you’re missing.
Ella By Minoli do it well, even if we don’t know how. It’s those secrets that make it interesting, almost inspiring home cooks to give it a go.
That’s the sign of a good restaurant.
Wanting to recreate a meal at home with the best intentions and from the memory of the evening, is likely the best complement any restaurant can receive.
To ignore the side supporting dishes would be a sacrilege for it is here where Ella By Minoli’s accompaniments shine bright.
Choose one or many from a simple salad or pappadums or move straight to the chutney of the day or heat things up with the spicy chilli paste options.
To make a finer point, these side dishes are not just the entourage hanging around. They stand in their own group and are essential to complete the meals offered here.
Sometimes they will make your entire meal.
Give them a go.
What else can you expect?
Appetite stimulating aromas fill the space and spice blends with a certain something you cannot quite put your finger on sets the scene.
Table conversations will soon turn to the flavours. That’s a given.
Additionally, there will be the compulsive head turning when other diners receive their meals.
“That looks amazing,” is often heard.
That’s also a given.
More Than Food
It has come to pass that diners expect delicious fare, but more so they revel in an experience.
If people are more discerning when it comes to eating out, the expectation for a little more than just food is understandable.
Great service and hospitality rates high among diners, but it is the aforementioned comfort factor that separates the ho-hum from the “we’ll be back” customers.
Sit outside if you prefer. Seating is available for those who like the Northern Territory night ambience, but there’s plenty indoors.
At the beginning of the evening, or perhaps the end, dabble in a cocktail or two.
Margarita lovers will not be disappointed or try the coconut example, Aliya. This drink may be tempting for those who are Instagram addicted, but please try to refrain.
This food and drink need to be adored by the best lenses in the world. Your own eyes.
Where: 20 West Ln, Darwin City NT
Cuisine: Sri Lankan
Book: Bookings are essential firstname.lastname@example.org
Are you ready for your next food journey? Let’s go to Sri Lanka by way of Ella By Minoli. Don’t forget your Good Food gift card.