The Cauldron is a new coffee shop/restaurant that serves tasty twists to Sri Lankan favorites.
As a coffee shop, the Cauldron comes in as strong on price, ambience and food and a bit weaker on the coffee, but only if you're a coffee nerd.
Colombo has gone from having uniformly bad and/or over-priced coffee to having A) a lot of coffee shops in general and B) really good coffee for coffee nerds.
The Cauldron is not a coffee shop for nerds. They serve Lavazza coffee using a good consumer-level coffee machine (a Gaggia), which is good, but they're not sourcing beans from Sri Lanka or some special place in Africa, nor are they refining the brewing process for that extra 10%. For obsessively great coffee you should go to Kopi Kade down the street, but you may not be a coffee nerd. Few people actually are.
They produce good coffee here, and it's relatively affordable (Rs. 420 for an espresso, discounted down to Rs. 280 when we visited).
Now, we should have really tried their coffee drinks with fancy stuff like milk and caramel and sauces, but the presumption is that if the coffee base is good the rest will be fine. So, I'd say that the coffee base is good. Please tell me how the sweeter drinks are for you.
My daughter did try a babycino (basically frothed milk with cocoa, in this case minus the cocoa). She enjoyed playing with this using a spoon. So, if you're into that, there's that.
This is a Kochchi Chicken Waffle with maple syrup and a runny-yolk egg (Rs. 430). It's burning spicy, sweet, interesting, filling and affordable. Here they're taking something Sri Lankans love (those demon chilis called kochchi or sometimes nai miris) and remixing it just a little bit. In this case with a sweet maple syrup waffle. It's good.
Here also is a Pol Roti Sandwich with Jaffna Prawns (Rs. 580). Forgive the photo, I put a bunny in there but it is still beyond me to make a Jaffna prawn curry look beautiful. I can vouch that it tastes spicy and good, and I can eat pol roti by itself anyways. The bunny was not included.
Again they're remixing stuff we all know, doing it quite well, and pricing it affordably.
To compare it to its neighbor again, Kopi Kade is doing more refined variations on Sri Lankan favorites, but I definitely wouldn't call their food filling.
Oh, and desserts. This is a lemon drizzle cake (Rs. 300) which was a bit basic and not tart at all. Nothing special here. I also tried a pain au chocolate which was mad buttery and better. So lets say the desserts are, on average, average.
This is a really nice window. This is one of the nicer windows in Colombo.
They have a smoking section which would also be nice to sit in if you didn't smoke.
The overall design motif here is communism. Not that Muhammad Ali was a communist, I just happened to photograph this. I think this building was part of Cafe Che before, and a lot of the Che Guevara and other commie memorabilia may be left over. It's cool but not necessarily connected to the current character of the place.
The space itself is broken up into two main rooms, which is kinda nice. You're not all up in a big area and, at least when it's not busy, it feels relatively private. But not private enough to make out. We get a lot of questions about that, and this isn't a great place for it. For chatting, yes, it's good.
Oh, but one note, while we were there they were playing dance music with that disturbing 'drop' thing happening all the time. I found it driving me a bit crazy but maybe I'm old. Is that what people listen to in coffee shops now?
The Cauldron fits a gap in the Colombo coffee shop scene – it's relatively affordable, in a good location for the 138 bus crowd, and has creative but filling food.