Bijou.

Bijou is a Swiss restaurant in Negombo located along Porutota Road. They serve well priced, filling meals that are accompanied by excellent service and hospitality from both the staff and owners.

Bijou is not new to Negombo. As owner Dolly informs us, the restaurant has been around for about 30 years and has become one of the stalwarts in the airport city’s dining scene, bustling with tourists even during the relatively off peak month of October. The restaurant itself is simple, but comfortable and full of character. The front is decked with Swiss flag bunting and the interior is unfussy and homely, filled with the uninhibited laughter and chatter of guests that seem genuinely quite happy to be there (the table behind us was engaged in a cheerfully noisy game of cards and we even found a video of Dolly singing along to an accordion at the restaurant online). This is the sort of place where you can linger over your dinner; you can watch the tourists stroll down Porutota Road and contemplate your next move leisurely over a mug or two of chilled beer while slowly digesting what will most likely have been a rather large meal.

The food is excellent and the portions are generous – but affordable. A filet steak topped with your sauce of choice (bearnaise, peppercorn, mushroom, etc), accompanied by either mash, fries, croquettes or fried potatoes and bacon (I strongly recommend the latter) and salad only sets you back Rs. 1300. And it’s a solid meal – the beef was well seasoned and tender and the potatoes were buttery and delicious, flecked with crispy bits of bacon. The menu is fairly meat heavy – schnitzel (Rs. 975) , stroganoff, cordon bleu (Rs. 1200) – but they also do some good seafood and the lobster thermidor (Rs. 2500) comes recommended. Our meal, consisting of two starters, three mains and a few beers came to just over Rs. 6000.

While we have high praise for the food, we were even more impressed by the service. The waiter remembered our order right down to each steak preparation without taking notes in addition to being friendly, helpful and generally just a pleasure to interact with. The owner, Dolly, appears to be at the restaurant on most days as well and is charming and interesting, taking the time to chat to guests beyond the perfunctory greeting.

The emphasis on fairly priced, tasty food together with highly competent yet cheery service makes Bijou an excellent dinner destination if you’re in Negombo. The great atmosphere and food puts you right where you want to be when you’re on holiday. It’s well worth a visit – and you can even zip in from Colombo just for a meal via the new Katunayake Expressway.

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