Machang (Nawala).

Machan is something of a godsend if you don’t reside within happy proximity to Colombo’s more central drinking establishments (see O! Bar, Sugar, Castle Hotel, Floor by O!, Dream Land) – tukking up to Fort or Colpetty from the lowly ‘burbs can be an expensive, exhaust-filled drag. Machan’s also a godsend if you’re reluctant to lay too much of your hard earned rupee at the altar of the amber goddess – it’s one of the least dodgy options for purchasing some really, really cheap beer.

Seriously. A mug of the leonine lager costs just Rs. 90, a pitcher Rs. 450 (1.5 ltr) and a tower Rs. 900 (3 ltr). While some of the Machan outlets have the disadvantage of serving only Lion’s finest, Nawala sells it all: spirits, wines, even beer cocktails. And it’s all affordable.

The food is rather wonderful as well. We’ve failed to note down the prices, but we can vouch for its excellence. Hot butter cuttlefish, fried rice, devilled pork – these are the perfect boozy bites. The cuttlefish turns up all crispy and golden on a plate, sprinkled with flakes of chilli and lined with thick, soft slices of onion and crunchy circles of capsicum. A bite of this and a swig of beer – ’tis a consume-mation devoutly to be wished. This is what’s good on a Friday.

Machan somewhat straddles the dodgy/non dodgy line – while it’s actually quite a nice venue, the crowd tends to be rather male (surprise, surprise). There’s also an issue of smokiness. Unlike most venues where the smokers lounge consists of a little nook hidden away somewhere, at Machan its the inverse. The non-smokers have a small corner room to themselves while the rest of the upstairs is fully smoker friendly.

But smoky haze aside, the Nawala Machan is a great bar. Where else can you get a mug of beer for Rs. 90? This is a good, cheap alternative to the central Friday night drinking spots. We recommend.

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