The Courtyard (Tintagel Boutique Hotel).

NOTE: Tintagel is a reputed boutique hotel, we’re covering just the restaurant part here.

Tintagel is an amazing, historical location (S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike’s house) and has a wonderful ambience, like its partner location Gallery Cafe. The food we had, however, wasn’t at the same standard.

There are relatively few places in Colombo to have an elegant dining experience, especially when it comes to outdoor dining. On that list we’d put Havelock Place Bungalow, Gallery Cafe and now Tintagel. What I mean by this category is a fine dining date place, some place you could theoretically propose. It’s a short list, and most of it is run by Paradise Road’s Shanth Fernando.

That said, the food part of our experience at Tintagel as a restaurant was a bit disappointing, on our visit at least. We’ll get to the food shortly.

Location

Tintagel is a great location. The entry is impressive, through a front lawn of cobblestones and a fountain leading to the the house. That verandah was where SWRD Bandaranaike was assassinated and it is one of the great Colombo houses.

The interior’s not too shabby either (it’s beautiful) and while there is a dining room inside, the outdoor seating is, we think, the best. This is where Prince Charles stayed during CHOGM and it is probably the best boutique hotel in Colombo, CASA Colombo being the other (though that would probably be too quirky for a Prince).

Colombo doesn’t have too many places with this sort of ambience. In addition, when we went there was a decent crowd, which is nice as well.

Tintagel is on Rosmead Place just up from Wijerama Mawatha, so it’s quite central.

The Food

The smoked salmon appetizer

Tintagel doesn’t have a liquor license, so no alcohol. For hotel guests they’ll go out and get you wine or whatever (without corkage) but as outside guests they mentioned that there’d be corkage for us. That is a bit of a bummer not being able to get wine or cocktails with a meal, but that’s out of their control.

We tried three courses (appetizer, main, dessert) and everything except the dessert was fairly ordinary. Nothing was bad mind you, but nothing pushed into what we’d call fine dining.

For appetizers we tried the smoked salmon with caviar (Rs. 1075) and the walnut feta mushroom (Rs. 1095). The salmon was of good quality, but the filling only extended a bit down the roll. After one bite you were eating plain smoked salmon. It was fine, but didn’t push beyond the main ingredient into a memorable dish. The walnut feta mushroom was all right, but it had a very strong hit of what we think was balsamic that made us cough before each bite. Strange effect.

Braised pork belly

For mains we tried the braised pork belly (Rs. 1695) and grilled fillet steak (Rs. 4245). The pork belly was pretty good, and generous. It was served in a brown sauce with an egg on top, though the egg was a bit cold.

The steak, however, was disappointing for something so expensive. It was served with mash (fine) and a solitary grilled tomato – which is really more steakhouse fare than fine dining. A spiced butter and hollandaise sauce were also included, which is, in our opinion, more sauces than is necessary for a steak. We only asked for the hollandaise.

Chocolate nemesis

The desserts, however, were bomb. The chocolate nemesis (Rs. 695) is a classic inherited from the Gallery Cafe. It’s a chocolatey baked dessert (something between a cake/souffle) served atop smears of tangy apricot compote, it’s sweet and tart and really well balanced. Yum.

Cinnamon jaggery ice cream

We tried their cinnamon jaggery ice cream (Rs. 695) and it was also excellent. Came with an espresso shot and the (homemade we assume) ice cream was flavorful and good.

Service

The servers are all nice but we felt a bit neglected at times. They took their time to check on us, and from taking the order to bringing the bill, things were slower than we would have liked.

Conclusion

Tintagel is a great space done well. We highly recommend it for dessert and maybe bring your own wine, but the dinner and service we had was unexceptional for the price.

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