Chesa Swiss is probably the best place for steak in the city. The London Grill and California Grill are also very good - but we like Chesa the best. It's been around since 1991, and both the food and service have been consistently excellent. But be warned, it's expensive. Very, very
expensive. The average dish costs around Rs. 3000 - but honestly, this is one of those few places where the prices are completely justified.
The food is excellent and we're still full from our meal last night. This is authentic Swiss cuisine - and the only place for Swiss in Colombo. The menu includes fondue, raclette, steak tartare, steaks, mussels, veal, and more. Seems pretty meaty, but there's also a decent selection for vegetarians - the porcini mushroom risotto is excellent.
We dined in a group of seven, ordering a couple of tenderloin steaks (Rs. 3450 each), beef stroganoff (Rs. 3800), mussels (Rs. 2350), fondue (Rs. 2850), grilled shrimps crusted with garlic butter sauce (Rs. 2350) and the homemade pork sausage (Rs. 1550). Each main course is served with veg and your choice of rosti
(this is basically a delicious hash brown), spatzli
(sort of like mac and cheese, but more amazing), mashed potatoes, rice and a couple of other things (don't remember). All of these are excellent - you'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing your sides.
The vegetables are also great - Indi calls them 'Goldilocks vegetables', ie. cooked to perfection, savoury and flavourful. If you go for steak you've also got the standard choice of sauces: red wine, pepper, béarnaise, mushroom, garlic and mustard. Again, all pretty flawless - go for the béarnaise or mushroom if you want something creamy and rich, and the pepper or garlic if you want something more sharp and spicy. They use mainly Australian beef - and you can really tell it's not from here. It's tender, juicy and thick - high quality stuff.
The fondue is lovely as a starter but we wouldn't really recommend it as a main meal. A single starter sized portion can be comfortably shared between six or seven people - they'll recommend that you get two but just go with one. Too much will ruin your appetite. It's served with small cubes of soft white bread. Very rich, and strongly flavoured with wine.
We were also given a complimentary starter - a tiny portion of spatzli with a couple of little crispy, caramelised onions on top. This was again delicious.
What really impressed us was Chesa's consistent attention to detail - like the crispy onion on the spatlzi and the truly excellent accompanying vegetables. These are little things, but they're all done well and with a lot of care - it really shows.
They have an extensive wine menu, including Swiss wines. We ordered two bottles of red wine which were shared amongst four. Incidentally the cheaper wine, the Valdivieso (Rs. 3500), was much better than the St Emilion which cost Rs. 5950.
Again, there's nothing to fault and everything to praise here. We had the rhubarb and strawberry strudel served with ice cream (Rs. 650) and the strawberry soup (Rs. 650). We ordered the strawberry soup purely because we were intrigued by the name - and it looks exactly how it sounds. You get a bowl of liquidy, stewed strawberries served with a scoop of passion fruit sorbet in the middle. It looks and sounds a little strange, but it's delicious. Both were excellent - these are some of the best desserts we've had in Colombo.
The restaurant seems like it used to be a house. The decor, plates, etc. are nothing exciting, but it really doesn't matter - it's a comfortable, lovely place. What's really nice is their garden - we recommend dining alfresco. The ambience here is great and they also have a cool automatic retractable canopy.
Also unlike in many other local restaurants, the staff actually know what they're serving you, and they're happy to both explain and recommend. They're attentive, and your wine glass will never be empty.
Chesa Swiss isn't cheap. It's actually really, really expensive. And you get screwed on the extras (11% service plus 12% tax). The total bill for seven including two bottles of wine, two desserts, a starter and one espresso came to a staggering Rs. 42,517. So we're not saying go here all the time. But for a really special occasion? This is definitely the place. With places like Commons
we really begrudge paying so much for pretty average food, but here it's kind of worth it. Yes, Chesa is expensive, but not unreasonably so. You get your money's worth.
And the desserts, surprisingly, are actually affordable.
Chesa Swiss is on a par with international restaurants. The food, service and location are all excellent and of a very high standard. But if you plan on going there, we really recommend you eat lightly during the day to enjoy your meal to the fullest.
This is easily one of the best restaurants in Colombo. Recommended? Of course.
Good place for special occasions.