The Colombo Racecourse.

We’ve been looking forward to the opening of the refurbished Racecourse Grounds in Cinnamon Gardens. The old Dutch Hospital in Fort was renovated by the same authorities recently and they pretty much got it spot on, turning it into a lovely courtyard encircled by good restaurants and shops (see Ministry of Crab, Heladiv Tea Club, The Brewery by O!). Since the derelict Race Course was being done up under the same peeps, we expected it to turn out like Dutch Hospital – ie. awesome.

Right now, it doesn’t seem that great. The space is beautiful and they’ve converted it well, but the downstairs has been given over to a strange assortment of not so interesting shops: Le Bond, Origins, Laksala (there’s another handicraft shop literally about 200m down the street), ProMate World, Colours – and a McDonalds. None of these are very exciting, but they’ve been given vast amounts of space inside this lovely premises. These kinds of stores would be fine inside Crescat or a similar kind of shopping mall, but in this context they don’t really make sense. What would make more sense would be to do what they did with Dutch Hos and just make it a good source of food and libation, quietly interspersed with some smaller more inoffensive shops. And a bar. Maybe a few bars.

It’s a shame, because this is an ideal location for eating, drinking and mingling – the Racecourse could, like Dutch Hospital, have that nice terracey atmosphere. But as of now, it doesn’t. They’ve currently got two restaurants, R&R and Tsing Tao. Tsing Tao serves Chinese, but we’re not sure if it’s open yet. R&R is on the upper floor, and the lounge has a lovely view onto the grounds. At the moment, however, they have an unfinished menu and no liquor license – apparently it’ll come through in a couple of weeks. It’s a fairly underwhelming place. It’s an ordinary restaurant with an overpriced menu, albeit with a great view. We had a vanilla milkshake and lime soda, which together came to Rs. 862.

Only one part of the complex is open at the moment. It’s a lovely building with a splendid view out onto the broad expanse of green. Perhaps they have better plans for the rest of it. Hopefully.

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