The Galle Face Hotel is one of Colombo’s oldest, best known hotels, established in 1864. Over the years it’s provided food and shelter to many a revered name: Yuri Gagarin, John D. Rockefeller, Prince Phillip and Richard Nixon, to name just a few. And Arthur C. Clarke even wrote the final chapters of ‘3001 – The Final Odyssey’ here. So with the GFH’s legacy on our minds we ventured to it’s bar, The Verandah, for some food and drink.
The Verandah is designed for drinks and snacking, so the menu isn’t extensive. You get the usual selection of devilled chicken, beef, etc., club sandwiches and burgers. These all cost roughly between Rs. 400 and Rs. 900. We had the mezze platter for Rs. 425 and it was excellent. You get a few slices of pita, hummus, a raita-like dip, chicken and beef skewers, chargrilled veg soaked in olive oil and a veg samosa – which tasted weirdly like maggi noodles (but in a good way). This isn’t authentic mezze, but it’s surprisingly tasty and pretty decent value for money at a four star hotel. We really, really liked it.
The selection of drinks and their prices are pretty much what you’d expect from an upmarket hotel. We had a bottle of Lion lager which cost Rs. 412 (for more on the prices of Lion beer across Colombo’s bars check out YAMU’s Lion Index). They also had an interesting looking cocktail called the Old World Charm, containing Pimms, Gin, Lemonade, Cinnamon and Mint (Rs. 600). Most cocktails cost about Rs. 600, and pitchers (1.2 Litres – enough for six people) are Rs. 3000. Fairly standard.
The Galle Face Hotel is beautiful, and located right along the ocean – the number of weddings held there each day is a testament to how great a venue this is. And the Verandah has a good view of the sea without being too close to it – if you sit on the checkerboard or anywhere in the garden be prepared to get a full spray of sea on your face. Which can be nice, but ladies watch your hair. The Verandah however is sheltered and tucked closer to the hotel. It’s rarely empty; there’s always people walking about and always someone sitting down for a quick beer and sandwich. It’s a nice place, and the old black and white tiled floor and wooden chandeliers are beautiful. Nice old school charm.
The mezze platter and a large bottle of Lion came to Rs. 880 – including service and tax. This really isn’t bad at all. In fact, it’s pretty good. The food was filling and tasty and could be shared between two people. The burgers are between Rs. 700 and Rs. 850 and the sandwiches Rs. 400 and Rs. 600. We didn’t try these, but I peered over at a neighbours plate, and the portions looked quite generous and filling.
The Galle Face Hotel is a beautiful place with a beautiful view and a beautiful history. And the Verandah Bar, while not cheap, isn’t too expensive either. Go there and watch the sunset while you sip on some local Lion – it’s possible to do this without breaking the bank. We recommend.