The Havelock Place Bungalow was apparently one of the first boutique hotels to open in Colombo, and it’s been around for over a decade. It’s a hotel, but also operates like a restaurant so it’s open to all for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It can look a little run down and neglected during the day – flakey walls, leaf infested pools – but at night it’s a rather pretty, quiet place for a meal.
We ordered the pan fried pork with strawberries and balsamic glaze, served with creamy garlic mash and greens (Rs. 975). This looked promising but tasted disappointing. While the flavour of the pork was delicious, it completely failed on texture – a mediocre cut of meat, served overcooked and dry, and an overabundance of hard, thick fat. The beans were poor as well – stringy, and overall just bland. The mash, however, is excellent – smooth and with just the right amount of garlic.
A re-visit had us trying the lamb fettuccine. Again, this wasn’t bad – lots of rich, creamy pesto – but the lamb was tough and – a complaint we’ve never had before – there was just too much of it in relation to the pasta.
We had a mojito (Rs. 550) and a tall bottle of Lion (Rs. 425). The mojito, although not made to the authentic concoction, was great. They make the lime juice with soda, so it’s gives you a nice refreshing kick – especially welcome on a balmy afternoon. Lion of course is Lion, but at Rs. 425?
This was our main reason for visiting The Havelock Place Bungalow – the homemade arrack ice cream (Rs. 350). And it didn’t disappoint. It was a good ice cream, great even; tasty and well-textured and served with a slim, crunchy biscuit. The ice cream menu here is impressive: honeycomb, jaggery, ginger, fig and honey etc. This is what the HPC does well.
You can either dine in, or alfresco in the shady garden outside. It’s a little bit like Barefoot. They play a similar sort of jazz and have their menu on a chalkboard, but Havelock Place lacks the clientele and verve which makes Barefoot so social place to be. That being said, it provides a great option for a quieter meal or more gentle socialising.
This place is expensive, and what they’re offering isn’t really worth the prices. Our total bill with two drinks, one main and one dessert came to Rs. 2857. If you’re paying that much you want something truly excellent, which HPB doesn’t quite deliver. The ice cream, however, is excellent and worth every penny.
The menu at HPB looks fantastic – fancy risottos and exciting glaze – but the food has never quite lived up to its chalky blackboard promises. The Havelock Place Bungalow has the potential to be a cool place. Their building and garden is lovely – but if you walk in during the day you get the feeling that it’s got a little neglected and run down over the years. At night however, it’s rather lovely – although it can get a little quiet. There’s rarely the buzz of places like Barefoot or Sugar. While much remains to be proven in terms of the food, the ice cream really is excellent, so if anything, do try that.