Arcadia, with its ferns, vines and rustic decor entered the restaurant scene a few months ago, with a name for being one of the absolute prettiest places in Colombo to get food from.
Writing an ode to the ambience of Arcade is probably one of the easiest things to do at this point. While we don't have time for odes, here's the gist of what you'll probably find if we decided to write one:
It may sound strange to you if you haven't been there, but walking into Arcadia is similar to entering Mary Lennox's secret garden. Beautifully decorated with plants of various sorts, it's a breath of fresh air in comparison to every other cafe in Colombo and if you haven't caught up yet, we're totally and irrevocably in love with it. Paired with ample amounts of comfortable seating, air conditioning and that gorgeous flooring, we couldn't be happier.
Nonetheless, we suggest expanding their playlist to more than the same 10 songs on repeat.
They have a pretty extensive menu. So, after around 20 minutes of anxious indecisiveness, we decided to go with the Baked Crab (Rs. 1690) and the Beef Kottu(Rs. 690).
Alrighty, friends, let's start with the Kottu, shall we? The Kottu was a giant portion of thinly cut, rather dried up godhambha positively suffocated (we're not complaining) in a range of spices. With around 5-10 solid pieces of tendered up beef, it was alright.
The thing is, the Kottu was served quite dry and slightly cold. Yeah, it was spicy but most of the spiciness came from the truckloads of pepper it had, and not much else. The salad and chilli paste on the side were good additions. You get an element of crunch from the salad, and a bit of more heat from the chilli paste. Kottu is common anywhere in the country, and this one was not bad. Would have been nicer if it was served warm.
Moving on to the Baked Crab. Served on a very cheesy bed of garlic rice, the baked crab was lovely. Milky and overly stuffed with crab meat, you're definitely getting your money's worth on this one. This might not work for those of you who need spices in everything you eat, but it's a pretty good deal if what you're looking for is something a little on the mild side.
Getting to the other aspects of the dish, the bed of rice was extremely cheesy. It wasn't necessarily bad but, we think it's more of an 'acquired taste' kinda thing. The prawns, on the other hand, were a bit of a disappointment. Oily and rather rubbery, we didn't like them. The boiled veggies, on the same hand, although cooked well, had a tinge of bitterness to it. We wonder why.
The Drink menu at Arcadia is also as extensive - options include smoothies, mocktails, hot and cold Coffee, milkshakes, and iced tea. We went with the Caramel Frappe (Rs. 490 for L) and a Strawberry Milkshake (Rs. 420 for R).
The Strawberry Milkshake was, essentially a glass of blended strawberry ice cream sweetened with strawberry syrup. We'd prefer if they can skip the strawberry syrup in this, as it makes the drinks sweeter than it's supposed to be.
The Caramel Frappe, on the other hand, tasted like a combination of ice cream, hints of coffee and lots of caramel. It was quite okay at best. If you're one of those people who doesn't like sweet drinks, we suggest trying something else.
PS: When they say drink on the menu, they mean the most basic of the drink you can think of. Other things including whipped cream are considered add-ons.
In terms of service, we're a bit muddled, to be honest. While they did take over 40 minutes to bring our food, they were perfectly friendly and helpful even if you've left the restaurant and came back to sit for a while until you get your phone charged.
In conclusion, all we can say is that while the ambience is lovely and everything, we're not overly ecstatic about our experience here, like it was during our First Look. The food was alright but has room for improvement, which we hope they do work on because combined with the ambience, it could be one of the best places in Colombo.
The Secret Garden of the restaurant scene in Colombo.
Aside from the minor issues in their drinks, our experience at the Arcadia Cafe & Restaurant was absolutely wonderful, and we enjoyed every bit of it.