California Grill is one of the city’s older fine dining restaurants, located at the rooftop of the Galadari Hotel. They serve a selection of seafood, steak and grills as well as a variety of flambé dishes.
California Grill has a great location. Sitting atop the now rather old and faded Galadari Hotel, the rooftop restaurant has a streaking view down the Galle Road – the sea on one side, the glittering city lights on the other. It’s pretty – especially at night. Make sure you book a table near the window so that you can make the most of it.
However, while their service remains excellent, the quality of the food has slipped rather drastically. This could have just been the evening we went, an off night and an unfortunate cut of meat – but the food was disappointing enough to dissuade the notion of another visit.
We ordered two Power House (Rs. 3600 each) – a 200g sirloin steak with green pepper sauce accompanied by sautéed mushrooms and garlic mash. Both dishes arrived sans mushrooms, and while the first few mouthfuls were edible, a good third of the steaks were so fatty and tough that they couldn’t barely be chewed let alone swallowed. After working my way through the fleshy centre (we asked for medium rare, but this was served a bit too close to rare) an inedible, mangled crescent of meat lay on the plate – a limp carcass too tough and chewey to consume. The vegetables, again, were underwhelming and the general plating of all the dishes were sloppy and inelegant; the mixed grill resembled something you’d serve yourself at an uncle’s barbecue – a piled mess of meat, starch and sauce. Compare to Chesa Swiss, where the veggies are cooked and seasoned to perfection and all dishes are presented beautifully.
If you want a good steak in the city, we can’t wholeheartedly recommend California Grill. Chesa Swiss and London Grill charge about the same for much better. The menu does, however, contain an extensive selection of seafood, which may prove better than the steak. The desserts, however, were good – the trio of sorbet and crepes suzette (they flambe it in front of you) in particular, and the venue is nice – and forgotten enough that it doesn’t get too crowded. If you navigate the menu cautiously, it may possible to make a good night of it.