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Quite in sync with the anticipated festivities of the Rugby World Cup, Colombo now has its very own rugby-themed café in the form of the Blackout. Conveniently located on the corner where Wijerama Road meets Ward Place, this café is all about paying tribute to Webb Ellis and beyond. Starting from the logo itself which has the oval-shaped ball incorporated in to it, Blackout is all about bringing to life the spirit of rugby. The large house has been converted to various seating options from private rooms to a terrace with couches and of course bar stool and high tables with screens playing Rugby Union and Rugby League games from around the world.
The café opens doors early at 6am for those who want to catch a spot of breakfast before heading out to work and remains functional till late at night, for all the night birds or those like us who just get hungry at any time of day. The owners who have tons of experience in the restaurant sector around the island have actually put a lot of thought and trial and error in to every aspect of the restaurant. Blown up images of some of the greatest moments in rugby history adorn the walls while rugby memorabilia like the latest jerseys also have pride of place. The most interesting perhaps though is the large murals of Māori warriors that are in mid-tackle or run watching over you while you enjoy scrumptious comfort food.
Being a café, Blackout also serves an array of coffee-based drinks with a brew that is hand-picked and shipped in from Australia. In contrast to most cafes the beans are brought down fresh, and roasted locally. Two variants of 100% Arabica and a 90% is used for café favourite like Cappuccinos, Lattes and the likes. From the blends we picked a Salted Caramel Cooler with the 100% Arabica and were immediately taken up by the combinations of fragrances and tastes in one glass. A classic Hot Chocolate and a Celery-based Mocktail made up for the other drinks both of which were well executed.
What we were most excited about was the food. The owners, together with their consultant chefs have certainly put in a lot of effort to capture dishes from most if not all rugby playing nations and the result in quite an eclectic mix. The menu itself is sectioned to various rugby related phases of the game with the soups starting things off under the “Warm Up” section. Our pick from the island of Samoa definitely does warm up your taste-buds and senses in general with the thick Mullet Fish and Coconut Su A La Soup served with a crusty slice of Garlic Bread being the perfect entrée. To go with this we also ordered a Kithul Chicken from the “Quick Tap” snacks menu. Chicken Wings battered in Kithul flour, fried to perfection and lathered in a treacle and chilli-based sauce is a classic infusion of the best things about culinary secrets in Sri Lanka and what was even more surprising than the taste was the reasonable price for the hefty portion.
In fact the pricing was a highlight of our experience at Blackout. Only the best ingredients are used for everything, with some being flown down from overseas but the price point makes it affordable for everyone. This we see as one of the many reasons why people simply keep coming and coming.
Off the mains menu titled “Scrum Down” a South African inspired Bunny Chow is a must-have. The multi-grain bread roll stuffed with arguably one of the best Chicken Stew we have had in a while was a simple delight and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty when chowing this one down. The Pacific Islands special Chicken, Rice cooked in Coconut Milk and Vegetables could have been presented better we thought but the Chicken Kale Moa was another light but filling meal. And then there was the Mutton Burger from the “Up and Under” section which also took us by surprise. Mutton is not a common meat for a burger and the patty itself was spicy and had a lot of typical Sri Lankan flavours going on. Another win for us.
We skipped dessert during this visit to Blackout but they do have some interesting cakes, pies and desserts in the freezer if you choose to indulge. The menu however, is so extensive that we feel a second visit is a must to try out some of the other favourites from around the world. And it is one of those places that you go back to again and again… With the World Cup around the corner we see ourselves here quite often…
So here’s our rating…
Location ***** (Conveniently located at Wijerama/Ward junction!)
Ambiance **** (Quite the English pub vibe!)
Service *** (Service could improve!)
Food **** (Lots of favourites!)
Price Range – 1,000-2,000 per person
Opening Times – 6:00am – 11:00pm daily
Address: No.36 Ward Place, Colombo 07.
Telephone: 0117 024 816
Reviewed by Nishu Gunawardana
Photographed by Sanura Gunawardana