Pub Sinhara is a conspicuously modern pub in Ratmalana that features a clean indoor dining space, a trendy beer garden and a cosy upstairs area with a pool table. Unfortunately, the cocktails are limited as well as somewhat mediocre and the menu—although comprehensive—is unpredictable in quality.
The diversity of the food somewhat made up for the lack of choice in drinks, with Western-style pub grub, Sri Lankan Chinese and a range of pork dishes on offer. For better or worse, we ended up getting three specials.
First up was the coconut shrimp (Rs. 340).
Coconut and shrimp, two things I love! Should be good, no? But what we got was a pathetic platter of aborted prawn foetuses. My dining companion said it was the saddest thing she’s seen – and she’s seen Puddle of Mudd live. The coating of fresh coconut and what tasted like curry powder was quite flavoursome, but those shrimps need to quintuple in size for it to matter. For what it was worth, the tartar sauce was perfectly sweet, but it wasn't enough to save this crustacean disaster.
Next, we got the BBQ pork (Rs. 690). The menu promised a delectable combination of BBQ sauce, Thai sauce and pepper sauce on a boneless steak. What we got were slices of tough pork doused in salt and pepper, accompanied by the sauces served in separate bowls.
The sauces themselves were okay but didn’t compliment each other. I was partial to the Thai green curry-esque one. I’m not a huge fan of boiled vegetables, and those that accompanied the pork didn't change my mind. The fries were the thin, supermarket kind but served on a bed of fried garlic and curry leaves, which was a nice local touch. The coleslaw was balanced but basic.
The Chef’s Crab (Rs. 590) was the surprise dish.
It looked rather unassuming: a mound of yellow rice flanked by half shells filled with minced crabmeat. But combine that with the house chilli paste, and by God, you’ve got a real rice puller!
The yellow rice was flavourful and lightly laced with egg. The minced crabmeat, cooked with carrots and green onion and topped with a layer of melted cheese, had a good depth of flavour and a pleasant grainy texture. Pub Sinhara's version can certainly not supplant Colombo’s established crab gurus, but accompanied with the chilli paste, we were shovelling it down.
Location and Ambience
Situated on the seaside of Galle Road, just a couple of metres before Maliban junction, Pub Sinhara is hard to miss with its blood-red signage against a slick black building. The interior doesn’t quite match up but makes a decent effort. The bar is dimly lit in red for that authentic seedy vibe. The dining area is spacious and the walls are adorned with pictures of athletes.
The beer garden outdoors has a cool design with cement furniture, but we couldn’t sit out because it was around 2 pm and the sun was hellish. The pool area upstairs seemed like a nice place to hang out. While one end had a fish tank with two massive buggers looking sad and cramped, the other end had a balcony overlooking Galle road — great for grungy Insta shots.
For a self-described pub, the cocktails on offer were woefully limited, with just five to choose from. The menu also offers monthly wine specials and the usual range of beers, both bottled and on tap.
We wound up ordering the Long Island Ice Tea (Rs. 540) upon the waiter's recommendation. It was pretty disappointing, looking and tasting like a glorified rum-and-Coke. But at least it had a good booze-to-mixer ratio, so I got my money’s worth in alcohol.
Next came the Arrack Sour (Rs. 340), because hey, this is Sri Lanka. In a wine glass without so much as a wedge of lime as decoration, the Arrack Sour was worse than the LIT in terms of presentation. However, the combination of liquids struck a pleasant balance, with sweetness followed by a hit of arrack, and rounded off with a pleasant, citrusy and sour after-taste. Not bad.
The staff were nice and attentive, eager to show us to our seats and take our orders. But unfortunately, some seemed more than a little unfamiliar with the menu, having to triple-check the name and ingredients of one of the cocktails we ordered. Our orders themselves showed up relatively on time, with only the pork taking over 20 minutes to put together.
Pub Sinhara tries, but not hard enough. The venue has heaps of potential and the varied menu shows attention to detail. But overall, it fails to match up to its promise. It’s certainly not bad but don't base your expectations on the fancy venue and high price tag.