Casadi is a beachfront outdoor restaurant located alongside Buba, serving excellent, affordable food – but sadly no booze.

Casadi. Makes me think of cassava. But Casadi has nothing to do with tapioca or manioc or any kind of starchy root. This is a rambling shack-style restaurant right next to Buba, located on that secluded curve of the Mount Lavinia beach that people only really go to when trying to access the popular beachfront bar.

Apparently Casadi has been open for about a year now, but we’ve never noticed it. Which is a shame, because the food is significantly better than the declining, over priced platters Buba has come to place in front of their customers. The only problem, however, is that Casadi doesn’t appear to be in possession of that magical piece of paper, the liquor license. But while this can easily be the death knell to any restaurant, especially to one that’s on the beach, don’t let this deter you from defecting – the seating and location is as good as Buba, the service and food is better, and, if you ask nicely a little boozy something could be produced. In any case, I think bringing your own stuff in is fine.

We only visited at night, when it was quite dark, but the place is quite pretty – the tables are spread out and come close to the frothing waves, angular streaks of light splay through the stout mangroves and a red light glances off the fronds of palm-thatched huts. But this could go either way: romantic, or scary. That’s the thing about places like Buba and Casadi – you can feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, alone. It could be romantic – gazing at the stars and listening to the waves, but it can also get a tad eerie on quieter nights – it’s just so dark. You don’t get the buzzing vibe of Mount’s Golden Mile or the heavy hum of Hikkaduwa – these are just two lonesome, potentially dodgy (you will encounter the occasional waft of marijuana) places very much off the beaten road, lying beyond those treacherous, criss-crossed train tracks (bars behind train tracks – how was this ever a good idea?).

But I think Casadi is essentially fine. The staff are exceptionally friendly and nice, and the food is well worth trying. They serve typical beachside fare: bold, spicy and salty rices – actually a bit too salty, so if you’re not a fan of the sharp and brackish, tell them – devilled pork, crab omelette and so on. The veg fried rice (Rs. 250) is rich and buttery, generous with the vegetables and deeply savoury. The hot butter mushroom (Rs. 300) consists of fan-shaped shreds heavily infused with a sticky, thick sauce and the garlic prawns (Rs. 500) are plump and fat, simply cooked with a garlic butter that highlights the fleshy meat without overpowering it.

Good food, great service, nice place. Just BYOB or, er, ask extra nicely. It’s nice to see that Buba finally has some competition; if Casadi ever gets a liquor license, they’ll finally have to up their game

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