Loft Lounge (Colombo Courtyard).

The Loft Lounge and Cloud Cafe are Colombo Courtyard’s two-in-one bar combo. The former is indoors and the latter on the rooftop. As far as cocktails go, CC fares quite well, but the food leaves much to be desired.

Ambience & Service

Colombo Courtyard occupies a unique spot in Colombo’s hotelscape. It’s a boutique business hotel, a combination that you don’t hear about too often. The design and architecture somehow manage to make you forget the fact that the chaos of Duplication Road is only a few feet away. While Cloud Cafe sticks to concrete table tops and cane chairs, the Loft Lounge on the second floor is a bit more ambitious with some interesting rustic interior decor. The abysmal lighting on the rooftop, however, makes dining at Cloud Cafe borderline impossible.

We didn’t encounter any major hiccups in terms of service at either of the bars, though Cloud Cafe’s larger area makes it a bit tougher to catch the attention of the staff. In terms of etiquette, the waiters were polite, quick to respond and confident enough to recommend cocktails — always a nice touch.

The Drinks

Right off the bat, one thing was abundantly clear: alcohol at CC is expensive. The cheapest cocktail comes to Rs. 750+++, yikes! The only real workaround to the extravagant prices is to drop in during their happy hour, which is from 5.30 PM to 7.30 PM. They offer a 50% discount on cocktails during this time, making them a bit more affordable.

Their happy hour prices are still higher than ZaZa Bar‘s usual rates. In addition, ZaZa offers a one-for-one deal during happy hour, at the exact same time. On balance, however, CC does offer a number of cocktails, so it’s likely that you’ll find something that suits you. We definitely need to give them props for the free refills on the complimentary murukku, as many as eight refills in our case. 

The cheapest cocktail of the bunch was the mango arrack sour (Rs. 750), which was perfectly sweet and tangy, with more than just a hint of arrack. Whichever mango cordial they had used wasn’t too overpowering, so it married beautifully with the other elements, making this creation a worthy rival to Shamrock‘s arrack sour.

On the menu, the molasses (Rs. 800) seemed like an interesting fruity concoction. You couldn’t blame us for our expectations, given that it was said to be a mix of dark rum, passion fruit, lime juice, pineapple and soda. Man, was it ever strong. In terms of flavour, the emphasis was definitely on the passion fruit, with the pineapple and lime adding further acidity. If you’re on a tight budget, two of these will likely get you to a good place.

Colombo Courtyard’s green hornet (Rs. 850) is slightly different from the norm, with arrack subbed in as the alcohol of choice along with ambarella juice, lime juice, basil leaves and sugar syrup. Sour and tangy from the combination of ambarella and lime, this one is an acquired taste. However, I prefer sour beverages so this one was right up my alley in terms of taste. But a bit more arrack would have helped.

Rounding things off was the iced strawberry margarita (Rs. 1,200) which was a last minute happy hour purchase. While it’s one of their most expensive drinks, it is also fairly substantial. You’ll find yourself drinking this for a while (you’d get brain freeze if you tried to down it too quickly). Flavourwise, it was quite mild in terms of tequila but the strawberry came through nicely.

We actually tried a bunch of other cocktails as well, and only didn’t enjoy one that was too heavy on coconut and ginger. All in all, it was a good showing, but the high prices make it less accessible to most.

The Food

As soon as the minute hand edged past the 7.30 mark, we moved up to Cloud Cafe for dinner. Colombo Courtyard isn’t the tallest building around, so the view isn’t fabulous. But it was spacious and a welcome change from the lounge. The food is priced far more reasonably than the tipple, with most of it costing under Rs. 1,500. Unfortunately, neither of the three dishes we tried really blew us away.

The cheese nachos (Rs. 900) was a fail, with the only real draw being the crunchy texture of the nachos. Besides a small blob in the center, we were hard pressed to find any cheese. It also came with a bit of guacamole that was also sadly lacking in the seasoning department.

The BBQ spare ribs (Rs. 900) seemed promising but ultimately fell short of  our expectations. The thick BBQ sauce painted over the ribs was full of flavour, with a bit of saltiness, sweetness and spice. But the ribs themselves were a total letdown. They were tough, dry and difficult to eat unless you gnawed at them quite ferociously. The wedges and salad that came alongside were not spectacular either, with the former lacking seasoning and the latter needing more acidity.

The courtyard special pizza (Rs. 1300) was decent. By this point, that was good enough for us. It came topped with roast chicken, bacon and sauteed mushrooms, which was a combination that worked well. It was adequately cheesy, with the fried bacon adding a bit of texture and saltiness. The others tried the pizza romano (or something along those lines), which also received mostly positive reviews. So if you find yourself having dinner here, the pizzas are probably your best bet.

Conclusion

Colombo Courtyard’s bar duo actually fare quite well with their cocktails, even if they are some of the priciest in the city. However, we wished we had skipped the food, with only their pizzas impressing us at the end of the day. 

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