The Colombo-Kandy road has a couple of great pit stops for weary road trippers and families to stop for a cup of tea or the bathroom. Just before Kandy, you'll find the Mlesna Tea Fortress, a huge monolith of a stone building complete with ponds, floors, and of course a giant bronze tea filter for tourists to take selfies with.
Dining & Drinks
The menu here is pretty extensive, but it's rather expensive unless you opt for their best option – a Lankan rice and curry. For example, their specialities include a cordon bleu at about Rs. 1800 and rack of lamb at around Rs. 3000. Their chicken curry spread on the other hand came to a reasonable Rs. 950 and managed to satiate two people.
You get about eight dishes along with the plain rice, which made for a pretty solid meal.
We also got a prawn curry in addition, at about Rs. 600, which was succulent and flavourful if not hefty in quantity.
As for drinks, we opted for tea, obviously. Their tea menu is pretty extensive, with all the products that Mlesna has to offer. You can also choose to do a tea tasting at the shop below, or simply visit their Colombo branch at Majestic City.
This time, we went for a classic pot of Mlesna milk tea at Rs. 240. A lovely amber high grown BOPF, the tea went well with milk, ending in a lovely soft brew.
With some cool installments featuring antique tea weighing machines, wooden tea boxes, and plenty of old black and white photographs from Sri Lanka's tea planting colonial past, there's great attention to detail here.
The place is set up rather beautifully, with a central atrium that employs a refreshing mix of water installments via a koi carp pond surrounded by tea and jewellery shops, and plenty of natural light filtering through from the sky light.
We're not sure why they went with the fortress theme, but the ambience is actually pretty nice. You can spend a peaceful few minutes watching the koi carp swimming about, or checking out the old-timey caricatures on the cloth screen partitions in the restaurant.
The service was great, it was essentially just one older man shooting about, taking orders, and making recommendations in perfect English. Our food came out in under 10 minutes, and he was friendly and polite.
This is the perfect spot when you're en route to the central district or the hill country. The bathrooms are large and clean (but they'll cost you Rs. 30 if you're not a customer), the service is efficient and prompt, and the food and tea are great.