Panino is probably the only place in Colombo that specializes in sandwich-cuisine. They’re local favorites and they’ve finally grown into a space of their own.
Paninos started in the Good Market (still there btw), moved in with the Cakery on Jawatta Road and now they have a place of their own, in the Cotton Collection premises on Dharmapala Mawatha.
The new location is in a mini-complex between two cafes (one of which is Jagro) so you have a variety of food to pick from for lunch or coffee. There’s also an Il Gelato on the other side if you’re in the mood for a palate cleanser. It’s easy to find – just look out for the Cotton Collection premises opposite Vihara Mahadevi Park and walk in.
The menu offers a variety of ‘hand crafted’ gourmet sandwiches, burritos, quesadillas, and bagels (bagels only on weekends).
The star of Panino is obviously the gourmet sandwich – whether it’s the Ham & Cheese, the Cuban, the Chicken Pomodori or the Vegetarian, the stuffing is artfully prepared and very satisfying. We ordered the Chicken Pomodari Melt, Pol Sambol & Fried Egg Melt, the Breakfast Burrito and two thambilis (presented in Rs. 150 bottles that poshly declared ‘King Coconut Water’). Home-made orange juice, ginger beer and iced coffee are also available. For dessert, we went next-door to Jagro’s and got a yummy bowl of fresh strawberries (Rs. 250).
The Pol Sambol & Fried Egg Melt (Rs. 450) was delicious – I need to try it at home – and although it was basically egg and pol sambol, the spiciness of the sambol and the just-perfect texture of the toasted bread made it a memorable snack.
The Breakfast Burrito (Rs. 550) was filled with egg and potatoes and was good, it might not have been if the sandwich bread wasn’t grilled just right. The unequalled winner, however, was the Chicken Pomodori Melt – Panino is amazing when it comes to chicken – the chicken was tender and seasoned well, and complimented with melting cheese and a layer of basil.
Also, thambili is a great way to wash down a fine meal – people need to start putting this on menus everywhere.
Service & Ambience
Panino’s staff, as usual, were very friendly and chatty. The seating arrangement is limited because there are three cafes and only about four table-sets, so you have to get there early if you’re going for lunch. The place is comfortable and the dark wood, paved floor of the premises and the trees make a soothing setting – it’s not that great in the heat, though, and it wouldn’t hurt if they invested in a couple of small fans. Occasionally a crow might come yell at your food but there’s this cleaning lady there who seemed to be an ever-vigilant combatant of trespassing birds.
Panino is a great place for a hearty lunch – the service is great and the food is more than gratifying. Also, no taxes, so yay!