Taphouse is the replacement for the beloved Brewery By O! in Dutch Hospital. Everything is basically worse than it used to be but it’s still a great location.
Brewery By O! was one of the most successful spots in the Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct. They reliably served up cheap beer, good bites and good times for thousands of people. The service lagged or just disappeared sometimes, but it was good fun. It was quite a shock to find out their lease wasn’t renewed and they had to move last month.
The Brewery has been replaced by the Taphouse by RnR, which has basically just copied the old style in everything from name to drinks to the basic outlines of the menu. Sadly, they’ve copied worse than it was.
The beer is still cheap (Rs. 150 for a mug, 1,300 for a tower) but the rest of the menu has been reduced to the most generic cocktails (Pina Colada – Rs. 550, Cosmopolitan – Rs. 500) and some not very good beer cocktails (beer + whisky + coffee = no). Then menus themselves are cheap and falling apart.
The food is not very good, least not the bites we tried. It’s not terrible, just a sorta weird mix of flavors. The Louisiana Hot Wings (Rs. 500) are just four wings and are not very hot at all. Instead they come with what seems to be a creamy thousand islands dressing, which doesn’t really work.
The Big Boobs (Rs. 550) is basically misnamed in every way possible. First, it’s two sausages on a bed of mashed potatoes, which doesn’t really evoke the title. Second, it says they’re chicken sausages on the menu, but the meat is really dark, not quite what you’d expect. Finally, the gravy is basically Indian masala tasting, which doesn’t really work.
We’d have to try more, but the original additions to the menu seem to be weird and somewhat flailing mish-mashes. Beyond that they’ve copied over a lot of old favorites from O!.
If you come early and they’re not busy the service is fine, good even. Once it gets busy they can’t really cope. If you do catch a waiter they’ll say it’s not their table and promise to get someone that never comes. RnR seems to have invested in a lot of staff, but they’re individually not very helpful, at least once the place gets busy.
All these flaws aside, Taphouse will still do well, basically because of the location. The inside is completely stripped of all the character O! brought – gone are the seals for different cities in Sri Lanka and the beautiful metal statues suspended above the bar. It’s basically just a blank space that serves the same function as before.
The outside is exactly the same, and that’s what counts. The courtyard of Dutch Hospital is still the best place to hang out in the city, and Taphouse is still a good place to get a drink in that context. They have live music and people to see and be seen by. It’s sadly not an improvement over what came before, but it’s still good enough.