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Café Noir was one of the first establishments to move away from the Colombo city limits and set themselves up in the bustling, up-market suburb of Pelawatte. Housed in its own three-story building, the café is easily accessible for anyone coming out of Colombo or going in to the city. It also serves as a kind of hub especially in the evening hours for late evening meetings or catching up with friends.
While the bottom floor is dedicated to the cash counter and the cake display, the third is allocated for private functions/meetings that can accommodate up to 25 people easily. Nestled in the middle is a tastefully decorated seating area with ambient lighting, comfortable couches, and bookshelves with interesting coffee table books, little nooks for those who need personal space and ample room for everyone to enjoy themselves without getting in each other’s way.
We paid Café Noir our second visit on a Monday evening and found the place to be bustling with activity. It almost looked like it had been quite a tough work day and lots of people had chosen this place to unwind and de-stress. After seating ourselves on one of the couches upstairs, the menu, albeit a high-tech version on a tab, was brought to us promptly by Muzammil.
Now we think the staff at Café Noir deserve special mention. A lot of establishments have great locations and great food but sometimes fail miserably in their service. For us service plays a big part in whether we would actually revisit a restaurant and café and to this end these guys are really on point. They are attentive but not intrusive, polite and knowledgeable and most of all seem to actually take pride in what they do without the fake airs and graces.
The menu at Café Noir is quite extensive and for drinks we went with a Noir Blue Breeze, a classic Cappuccino and a Caramel Latte. A Babycino with a cute smiley face came unasked for which was a nice gesture to add to the level of service. While the Cappuccino had all the right elements in it the Caramel Latte was perfectly balanced with the caramel flavour not being too overpowering that you lose the actual taste of coffee. The Blue Breeze was zesty and perfect for cooling down.
Café Noir does Sweet Potato Fries instead of its French cousin and a value-for-money portion with two different types of dipping sauces was served to us. The fries were perfectly seasoned with salt and chilli (you can opt out of the chilli if required), and crispy the way we like it instead of being soggy with too much oil. It was a nice entrée in to some even better mains that we were about to indulge in.
Let’s start with our Chicken Volcano which was the pick of the lot for us. Inspired we think by a South African recipe called Bobotie, this was basically a Chicken Stew baked inside a large bread roll and topped off with cheese slices. To be eaten hot, the “volcano” basically erupts when you break in to the bread and the steam makes your mouth water. Does it taste as good as it looks? It certainly does. Each mouthful is flavoursome, healthy because its meat and vegetables and is quite a fulfilling expereince.
We also had Corainder Pesto Pasta with generous chunks of Grilled Chicken. Again the pesto flavour was on point and perfectly combined with the slight hint of Parmesan drizzled on the top. Café Noir’s version of Grilled Beef sandwiches was also quite good although the meat was a bit chewy. The Eggs Benedict was the only thing we didn’t really like off our mains because we like our Eggs with the addition of Avocado and the ham slices seemed a bit dry as well.
For dessert we went with a Honey Biscuit Pudding jar and a slice of Carrot Cake. The Biscuit Pudding was a good attempt at the classic Sri Lankan dessert and the mix of honey with the cream layers added a nice tough. We did feel though that the Carrot Cake could do with a little reinventing and maybe consider a Cream Cheese frosting to complement the fact that Carrot Cake is not meant to be overly sweet.
Overall we are really glad that there is a nice, relaxing café away from the bustle of Colombo that we can run to when needed. If there is an additional reason we would go back, it is definitely the way the staff take good care of you while there.
So here’s our review…
Location **** (Conveniently located away from traffic but parking is limited!)
Ambiance **** (Comfortable couches and ambient lighting!)
Service ***** (Exceptional service from Muzammil!)
Food **** (A nice eclectic mix of cuisines!)
Overall **** ½
Price Range: 1,500 per person
Address: No. 302 Battaramulla Road, Pannipitiya.
Telephone: 0112 787848
Opening Times: 7am –12 midnight
Reviewed by Nishu Gunawardana
Photo Credit: Sanura Gunawardana