Che by Relish is a high-end cafe that now serves up some good Sri Lankan food alongside its Western menu. Their coffee isn't very good, and their service is poor, but their prawn curry with roast paan is on point. We stopped by for lunch.
You have the options of espresso, latte, cappuccino and the usual coffees. I tried a single shot Espresso (Rs 150) and was quite unimpressed. It was insipidly bitter with an odd sourness to it. There was hardly any crema and it was too watery.
Aisha tried a Caramel Macchiato (Rs 300) and it just tasted like milk. There wasn't a hint of coffee and none of the sweetness you associate with caramel. Aisha was disappointed.
The food menu at Che is pretty fancy. You feel like you're at a fine dining restaurant. There aren't too many options, but just enough to cater to most cravings from seafood to lamb. We tried the Lime and Vodka Cured Salmon Salad (Rs 550) and it looked promising both on the menu and on the plate. Unfortunately, the croutons were stale and difficult to bite into. The smoked salmon had been overseasoned, as though they'd forgotten it was cured. The only saving grace was the poached egg. Overall this was too salty.
Although the mains on the menu looked promising, we decided to try one of the new dishes being promoted, as a reader had pointed out that it's good. There's a few Sri Lankan dishes that have been introduced and we tried the Prawn Curry with Roast Paan (Rs 800).
It was delicious. The pol sambol was on point. Fresh coconut that was still milky sweet and just the right hit of spice and lime. The prawns were cooked well, if a little over, and the gravy was proper Sri Lankan. It had a good balance of coconut milk to spiciness, so that there was just a subtle sweetness, not an overwhelming creaminess, and a lot of curry. The roast paan that came with was very crunchy and toasted just right. You could hear that amazing crunching sound as you tore a piece of it. It's a bit pricey considering you're only getting 6 prawns, though.
For dessert, I tried the Strawberry Crepes (Rs 450) and it looked great on the plate. I didn't really touch the ice cream, and went straight for the strawberries and cream. Man, oh, man, how could you go wrong with this combo? The crepes were nothing to write home about but they served the purpose here. The strawberry ice cream was pretty synthetic, but with the chocolate and whipped cream it was alright.
Aisha's dessert, the Sweet Sensation (Rs 425) was pretty lacklustre in comparison. The tiramisu was way off. With hardly a dusting of cocoa on top and barely a hint of caffiene, it was a pretty sad bite. It came with some chocolate mousse between two slabs of dark chocolate which was the only saving grace.
Service is the real weakness at Che, right now, as they are short-staffed and their existing staff don't seem quite competent. We're saying this based on the poorly executed coffee and the waiter's inability to recommend us items from the menu.
We're not sure if we understand what Che is going for when it comes to their theme. We don't see it reflected in the food, and the Che Guevera posters are more cliche than a tuk tuk quote.
If you ignore all that, the exposed brick walls lend it a rustic feel and it's got enough room and variation in spaces.
We think Che is onto something with their Sri Lankan dishes, based on how much we loved the prawn curry and roast paan. Otherwise, the food is pretty pricey and there are other places that will do it better. Would we go out of our way to dine here? No. Actually, we hardly go by Stratford Avenue, given its one-way situation.
Their coffee isn't very good, and their service is poor, but their prawn curry with roast paan is on point.
Che By Relish is a lounge/restaurant that serves well prepared food, is on the high-end, and has its walls covered with Che Guevera memorabilia.
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