Along the coast of Mount Lavinia amidst all the hubbub of houses, restaurants, school children, goats and a pony or two lies a small plot of land that somehow balances itself between the two options of a parking lot and a cafe called Barnes Garden Cafe. It is, in fact, a venture by Colombo Beach Hostel.
The first step of falling in love with Barnes Garden Cafe happens when you walk in. Well, not "in" in the literal sense. More like when you enter the general vicinity and you somehow find yourself out of the dusty heat of the inside and enter a small space that's like something out of a book.
Turquois doors, white walls, plenty of cut cement surfaces and a crowd of vines forming a leafy veil around the space, we absolutely loved it! You can either choose to sit under the roof or with the vines, but, we suggest the latter. It's so much more interesting than just plain old tables.
But, the dark cloud in this particular circumstance came in the form of a stream of ants that decided to show up towards the end of our meal. It's probably because we chose to sit with the vines and it isn't as bad as you'd expect. And I didn't mind them one bit.
Our first impression of Barnes Garden Cafe (before all the vines came into play) came from the post with their menu on Instagram. And one of the reasons we decided to check them out was because of how reasonably priced the food was.
Two giant pieces of meat that's more or less fat than anything else that was served with a side of store-bought fries in salt and pepper, coleslaw, a slice of beautifully toasted bread and a small portion of honey mustard sauce, the whole thing came to a very decent Rs. 800.
Here's the thing. We can all pretty much see that the chop was predominantly fat, yeah? And if you're not a fan of the fat, you wouldn't necessarily be overjoyed with this. However, we probably should tell you that they actually first informed us that they had run out of the pork chop when we went to order but then after a solid minute of us looking dejected, they decided to say that they could do one more. Which essentially means that there's a very good chance that the pork they served us was the runt of the meat they had that day because they had run out.
Nonetheless, one of the 2 pieces happened to be quite meaty and judging by that we're going to say that it's worth looking out for. There's not too much going on in terms of spice and combined with the sweet, tangy mustard sauce, it's beautiful.
We also got the Grilled Chicken (Rs. 650) and boy are we glad we did. Succulent in every right way and doused in a range of spices to make sure that it wasn't just chicken and neither was it just spice, the grilled chicken was utterly delicious. The chicken had been broken into so your knife cuts deliciously into it without any effort and given how much butter they had involved in it, it was brilliant. A solid 12/10 from us.
The coleslaw was a sweet mix of creamy veggies with hints of salt and pepper, it added a bit of sweetness to the whole thing which we really liked. Plus, it's positively swimming in mayo.
Special thanks go out to the toasted bread. As someone who adores crunchy toast, I thank you for your contribution to the whole dish.
Drinks at Barnes Garden limits itself to tea, coffee, milkshakes and the usual sodas. We decided to opt for their Iced Coffee (Rs. 400) and weren't disappointed.
Coming in as a tall glass filled with sweet milky coffee that was more milk than coffee, we liked it. We're pretty sure they had used a local coffee brand to make it (Harischandara we presume), but given how balanced out it was and how it wasn't overly sweet or anything, we enjoyed it.
The staff at Barnes Garden Cafe turned out to be super friendly and pretty fast-paced with the way they handled everything. Bringing our food faster than expected, we had nothing to complain about.
We like it. The space is beautiful, the food was quite good and very reasonably priced, it's ideal for anything from meeting a friend to grabbing a cup of coffee with a book. But, make sure to get the grilled chicken if you do end up going there.