Colombo doesn't have a shortage of coffee stops, but for some reason we see them popping up in every corner in town. Sadly, not all of them serve good coffee, some of them die almost within a month after opening, while a few of them manage to compete with the other brands by keeping their food game strong.
Located down Perahera Road, Monkeybean Cafe is the newest member in Colombo's coffee family. What we experienced here was more of a hit than a miss, except for the coffee.
Monkeybean Cafe bakes their own bread and paired with different fillings, they dish out a range of good savory and sweet paninis (which they refer as 'Shri Paninis'). The drinks menu contains a list of coffees and tea based drinks, in both cold and hot forms.
As you can already see in this picture, the Chicken Meatball Panini (Rs. 640) was a well-grilled pocket of warmth, generously filled with a spicy-as-heck chicken meatball curry, which was the winner of our meal. The bread was extremely light, with a deliciously crispy exterior with the right balance of moisture in the middle.
You can opt out from too much spice, but if you have a true Sri Lankan palate, handling this heat should not be a problem.
Stuffed with a combination of ham, cheese, gherkin, mustard, and homemade mango salsa, the Cubano (Rs. 960) was a good one, but they could have gone easy on the mango salsa, and perhaps a little less gherkin as well. The sour notes that came through were somewhat overpowering. Even though it had a gigantic slice of well cooked ham, we just couldn't locate the meaty flavor.
Slightly frothy and light in texture, the Flat White (Rs. 450) was your average cuppa, nothing stood out at least nothing to write home about. A strong aroma of Soul Coffee came through, but sadly the milk was watery, probably because it was overheated - the loss of its milky factor couldn't be revived even with spoonfuls of sugar. It did live upto its name - 'Flat' White.
If you're not serious about your coffee, this might work for you but if not, we suggest you opt for another drink.
As for our dessert, we ordered a slice of their Lemon Meringue (Rs. 600) and it was truly satisfying. Constructed with three layers that carry three distinct flavors, we could actually distinguish how each of them contributed to the overall taste.
Let's start from the top - the meringue. Biting into this feels like eating a sugar coated cloud. It was light, with just the right balance of sweet.
Next up, the custard filling. It was fluffy and didn't just stop at being deliciously sour, but also had the significant bitter taste you get from natural lemon. Complementing the sweetness of the dessert, the Graham cracker crust perfectly balanced out the sour and bitter tones, and so did the meringue. The overall flavor emerged well and tarty one, with a hint of sweetness and a fruity aftertaste on the palate. We loved it.
Brick walls painted in white, well-lit tables with neatly arranged wooden chairs, the ambience at Monkeybean Cafe is really nice, and gives out a cozy vibe. We saw a lot of customers coming into grab their post-workout snack, while the others were hanging out, sipping coffee/tea, and working on their laptops. They also have a outdoor lounge if you feel like having a smoke and chill, while enjoying the beautiful views of Beira lake.
The service here is extremely friendly and efficient. We got our food and drinks delivered on to our tables within 10 minutes.
All in all we liked our experience at Monkeybean Cafe. Sure it needs some improvements in the coffee department, but still it's a good stop for a quick snack, get some work done while you're there, and even for a casual first date.