The Fort is slowly coming back to life. The Dutch hospital brought an influx of the gentrified to the city’s neglected centre but you know Colombo’s heart is beating again when the centre’s own, often ancient, eateries are thriving again.
The living fossil – Pagoda tea rooms, on Chatham Street has been refurbished and right opposite the venerable Orchid (established 1957) is once again in bloom.
One of the city’s original Sri Lankan Chinese restaurants, it began life as Epicures decades ago. Nowadays however the menu seem to have shifted from Chinese to a broad selection of local curries, some Western options and a surprising range of Vietnamese offerings.
SO far I’ve sampled only a plate of nasi goreng which was above average- good chili paste, lots of chicken a nice runny egg yolk but more than the food its the decor that will keep me coming back. This is among the loveliest restaurant interiors in the city- understated and atmospheric- dim chandeliers barely illuminate century old fittings. There’s lots of well-polished wood, whirling antique fans, a high mezzanine floor and a promising teak bar.
Like so many of Forts old-school eateries its got a distinctly wild west feel- the old White horse, golden nugget bar- I’m not sure why Fort’s 1930’s structures hark back to the American west in the 1850’s but it makes for some very superior lunch settings. However, unlike most of its Fort competitors Orchid is also opened for dinner so if youre one of those who’ve not ventured further into Fort than a night at Dutch-Hos, this is a good place to start. The food isnt expensive, its been recently refurbished so everything is spotless and the atmosphere is quite unique. Very worth looking into if you’re in the area.