Paradise Road is one of Colombo’s hottest tourist destinations; forget Fort or the Galle Buck Lighthouse, its Barefoot and Paradise Road that tourists flock to like homing pigeons. The softly scented oils, the thick granite and cement ornaments, the gleaming milky-white ceramics – Shanth Fernando’s stylish interior design gems have been pulling in the tourists and decking out Colombo’s dining rooms for over two decades.
But above the many layers of candles, sarongs and cutlery lies the Paradise Road Cafe, tucked away on the store’s upper balcony. Unlike Barefoot – whose popular cafe is as much of a draw as its colourful, trendy wares – the Paradise Road Cafe is lesser known, catering more toward its shopping customers.
While the cafe has existed for several years, it seems relatively unfrequented by the average Colombar – which is both a blessing and a shame. A blessing because it hardly seems possible that the old, creaky wooden floors of the shop’s jutting balcony could support more than a handful of customers at a time, and a shame because, well, it’s just such a lovely place. Paradise Road has always had an elegantly rickety, discerningly dishevelled look about it, and elevated above the bustling action of Dharmapala Mawatha, a wooden balcony looks over the traffic and heat of the city while being comfortably removed from it. Laced by intricate fretwork and prettily peeling latticed windows, the bright, airy box that constitutes the Cafe is a beautiful spot for an afternoon milkshake or snack.
The menu, while small, is well curated – soft dumplings of gnocchi smothered with a mushroom ragout (Rs. 695), light lemongrass infused tom yum soup (Rs. 595), thick wedges of tangy passion fruit meringue pie (Rs. 575)- the food here is both delicate and delicious. If you haven’t been before, we’d definitely recommend a visit. While its possible to get lost in the magical world of Shanth Fernando’s cups and cutlery, if you do manage to make it up the sloping stairs to the cafe, it’s a lovely place. Perfect for a meeting, socialising or even some alone time, you can relax with a book or sip some chilled homemade ginger beer as you watch the world go by, framed by the soft sounds of the Cafe’s tinkling background music. This is one of Colombo’s best, underrated little artistic nooks. Highly recommended.