Chambers, as the name suggests, was originally the official chambers of an attorney-at-law I.A. Saheed, whose family owned the 100 year old property. Taken on by residents of Galle, the restaurant was set up to serve Middle Eastern food.
The menu has hot and cold mezza, plus main courses including shish kebab, with lamb and mutton among the meats. They didn't have mutton at the time of our visit, and the lamb kebab was a little too pricey at Rs. 1350 for a portion meant for one person.
So, we tried the Baba Ghanoush (Rs. 360) from the cold mezza and it was quite good. It wasn't an amazing ghanoush, and it won't blow your mind. Still, it's super smooth, quite flavourful, and has just enough olive oil. You get a bowlful that could feed four people, easily. It's well worth the price.
They serve 10 little slices of bread with it, but you can ask for more, there's no extra charge.
We ordered a Moussaka (Rs. 490) from the hot mezza and were served something that didn't look anything like what we expected. This was pretty much minced meat and grilled eggplant, without any of the layering and actual construction of a Moussaka. While we don't think they ought to be calling it that, the actual dish is super flavourful. It's on the oily side, but we didn't mind it. You could feed three people with the portion, and it goes really well with the baba ghanoush, too.
Our main course, the most affordable of the options, was sadly the most disappointing. We ordered Polenta with Beef and Vegetables (Rs. 750), and were served something ready-made. They use a packaged polenta flour and grill it to order, and it's just not that good. The beef wasn't tender, but, thankfully, wasn't excessively chewy either. Just so-so, the flavours of the curry were what you'd find in any home at the Fort, so we felt underwhelmed.
Another Galle Fort staple, Mahalabiya (Rs. 140) was our choice of dessert. It's usually of a milky consistency, but the Chambers rendition is set with gelatin. It held together more like sanja than mahalabiya. Supposed to be flavoured with orange blossom, we mostly tasted almond, and there were plenty bits of almond in it. We'd rather have had a homemade one, to be honest. It wasn't too sweet and for the price it was pretty decent.
They have an espresso machine and they use Italian beans. I liked the Espresso (Rs. 250). It was just enough crema and tasted great on the first sip, with just the right amount of bitter on the aftertaste.
The Lime & Mint Crush (Rs. 360) looked great but didn't taste as good. You couldn't really taste the mint, though there was plenty of it floating atop.
The mango juice (Rs. 250) was quite alright, though, only a little expensive. Then again, Galle Fort is expensive, so - shape.
The staff at Chambers speak English, Sinhala and Tamil, and they're quite amiable. It's just one chef and a waiter/barista running the place. We didn't spot a manager while we were there.
We love what they've done with the place. There's just enough daylight streaming in, and a few antiques on display that add to the charm. The cement furniture is pretty comfortable, too.
If you're looking for a hummus fix and willing to dish out for kebabs, then do try Chambers out. We felt like it was a little too pricey to splurge on, but we enjoyed both eggplant dishes we had. We like that they're fairly transparent with their food, with an open kitchen and an exposed pantry cupboard.