The menu was pretty extensive, mostly veering towards continental fare. We didn’t try the appetizers, but tried a French Onion soup which got a lukewarm response. We chalked it up to bad ordering and decided to launch into the main course.
I’d previously had a wok stir-fried chicken rice which at Rs. 650 was straightforward and worth it, so thought we’d try some of the more layered options. We ordered a Cajun spiced spring chicken at Rs. 1400 and penne carbonara at Rs. 850.
The food arrived very quickly, and in keeping with the décor, the presentation was lovely. The chicken, touted as a signature dish, was good but not spectacular. The spice was herby and uncomplicated but the chicken itself not particularly tender. It was basic – not justifying the title or the price. It did, however come with a mushroom ragout that was deliciously flavoured and went a long way in picking up the chicken. The carbonara, unfortunately, was a real disappointment despite its promising appearance. The sauce was floury and the penne and bacon mushy and soft. Eventually, the bland nature of the dish was unbearable and cloying and we had to give up after a few bites.
Seeing as we’d visited multiple times purely for the dessert before, the final course was the hardest blow. We ordered a Belgian chocolate cheesecake (that we’ve ordered and thoroughly enjoyed at least thrice before), which looked lovely as per usual form. It came with nice warm chocolate sauce and it looked like it may have been the saving grace. But it wasn’t. The cheesecake was really hard and mealy and we guessed it may have been a bit stale or kept in storage for too long.
We didn’t order drinks but there was a lot of non-alcoholic variety at around Rs. 500 a pop as they still don’t have their liquor licence.
The staff was quick and attentive despite the restaurant being almost full, and having a party underway in a private room. They knew their way around the menu and got our orders efficiently.
As mentioned in our previous review, the ambience at GMC is great. They only have about 10 tables inside (there’s a nicely lit outer area too but it seemed empty). The lighting is warm and dim without being dingy and the brown and gold colour scheme is tastefully maintained throughout the premises. They even had a chic selection of lounge music piped over the speakers.
Having previously visited GMC multiple times for their desserts, we were sorely disappointed with our cheesecake on this visit. The food too was simply not up to scratch although it looked lovely. We like the place and used to be firm fans of their desserts so here’s hoping this was just an off day.
Since our previous review focused on the Chocolatier’s introductory phase and desserts, we decided to re-review it for dinner. Gerard Mendis Chocolatier has a prime location, lush yet cosy décor, sleek ambience, and somewhat lackluster food.
, Qbaa FDO's
and coffee shops like Cioconat
, Cup Cafe
- it's become clear that the city's got a bit more money to spend - especially on liquid consumption. But what of chocolate?
A large space with a heavy leaning toward brown paint and decor, Gerard Mendis is the new chocolaterie/restaurant on the block, bringing the five-star patisserie experience out of the hotel and onto the geographically - if not financially - more accessible streets of Colombo. Until now the only places dedicated to selling confectionary (I think) were located either at the basement of the glitzy hotels, in the kitchens of home bakers or at the imported sweet-ridden glass annexes of ODEL.
So where does a posh chocolatier fit in in a country where the manufacture of inexpensive biscuits is one of our biggest, most booming industries? Well, there's a restaurant tacked on to the store, and while it's really quite pretty - and ridiculously photogenic - it seems something of an afterthought - or a safety net for the fancy confections. Could a store dedicated to selling chocs at Rs. 100 a pop be viable just yet?
While the restaurant - freshly opened just last week - may still be in its teething stages (we were presented with a plate of rather uninspiring pork chops, Rs. 1300) - former Hilton chef Gerard Mendis does seem to be something of a whiz with chocolates. They're excellent - but expensive (Rs. 390 for a box of 4!). Slim platters of soft, Guylian-like marbled conches lie under yellow spotlights - small spheres of passion fruit gels encased in milky cocoa and white comma-shaped praline shells - a colourful whirl of caramel, crunch and cream waiting beneath Gerard's gleaming glass vitrines. There's a wide variety of the cocoa confection available. Also thick, decadent wedges of berry topped cakes and desserts. Also pastries.
Design wise, the restaurant is quite camp. The logo - a leopard straddling a giant golden 'G', and beneath it a curling calligraphic font spelling the name of the sugar-master of ceremonies, Mr. Mendis; the restaurant - enormous coppery orbs hanging from the ceiling, 'Gerard Mendis' monogrammed cake boards and wallpaper strips; the staff - a security guard wearing dark aviators with a shirt trimmed with fuzzy, leopard print epaulettes; svelte waitresses also touched with the feline-themed brush - cat-speckled collars, kitten heels, dark, kohl-rimmed eyes.
The general decor has the aesthetic stylings of a Louis Vuitton bag - and all the aspirations of its wearers. Blingy, stylish, expensive - this seems to be the look and feel GM Chocolatiers is going for. While we can't comment too much on the restaurant - it's still in those liqor license pending early days - the chocolates are great. And the desserts, which we didn't try, also pretty saliva-inducing.
Gerard Mendis Chocolatier, one of the newest additions to the city's recent flurry of bourgeois eateries. With the rise of late-night cocktail lounges like