Restaurant review: The 1864 @ Galle Face | Sunday Observer

Restaurant review: The 1864 @ Galle Face

One of the most iconic landmarks in Colombo is the Galle Face Hotel. For decades this property has dazzled both locals and foreigners alike. Walking through her chequered aisles we arrive at The 1864 - one of the pioneer fine dining venues in town.

As one enters this living legend the ambience of colonial charm beautifully engulfs you. The wooden panels supplement the red brick walls - which have literally stood here since 1864. Our table offers a view of the ocean. The warm glow of yellow lights resonates here. The first item on the menu is Ceylon Tea and smoked quail. Quail meat is not something found on many menus and it was a refreshing start, giving an intense flavour. Using our very own tea to enhance food creates a strong local culinary impression, especially, as we just celebrated 150 years of Ceylon Tea. It is time that Sri Lankan gourmets got used to enjoying alternate options such as quail. This is followed by grilled watermelon with Negombo shrimp - the dish presented with flawless artistic perfection. The shrimp eaten with a cherry tomato confit was again a lovely fusion to the ordinary ‘seafood’ dish, showing that dishes can be enhanced with the right contrast. The Chefs making our dinner that night were Sugath Vithanage (Executive Sous Chef) and Chef Dhammika (Sous Chef).

My main course option was oven roasted lamb loin, encrusted with pistachio and served with honey glazed carrots, steamed broccoli, caramelized onion mash and minted red wine. The lamb was done to perfection sustaining its moist juices and delivering a tender bite. Presentation at The 1864 is precise and elegant, capturing the essence of fine dining. My friend opted for a grilled seafood platter which consisted of lobster, prawns and fish. The lobster was grilled to manifest a lovely dark orange hue. The 1864 has an extensive wine menu, with wines that match their carefully curated menu.

Matching food and wine is an art that needs to be appreciated. After this luxury indulgence it was time to sample the signature dessert of Chef Kelum Liyanage. This very creative dish was named Trio of Tarts and consists of a miniature raspberry tart, lemon tart and orange and chocolate tart mounted on a chocolate sponge base and garnished with orange zest. It would have been good for visual appeal if the dessert was presented on a coloured plate instead of a white plate. The taste of the individual miniature tarts eaten with a scoop of butterscotch ice cream was exceptionally good. Amid our conversation dinner was concluded with a cup of cappuccino.

The 1864 is an up market venue and certainly not cheap. But, it is indeed value for money serving world class cuisine in an exclusive and colonial setting. The Galle Face Hotel has done well to sustain their legendary hospitality for many decades.