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4/5

Pagoda Tea Rooms

105, Chatham St, Fort

  • Call 112323086
  • Open 7.30AM to 5.30PM weekdays, 7.30AM to 1.30PM Saturdays, closed on Sundays


Pagoda Tea Rooms is basically the only place to chill out at on Chatham Street - it's in a lovely building from all the way back in 1884. They do a super lamprais, and fun fact: Duran Duran shot a music video here.



Pagoda Tea Rooms is one of the city's oldest establishments. Having started in the charming old De Mel Building on Chatham Street in 1884, the company soon branched out to start up Green Cabin, one of Colombo's most successful bakeries. 

Location 

I absolutely love the De Mel Building. Despite the streets around it that are slowly evolving into neater, modern spaces to adapt to Colombo's growing city vibe, this one has no intention of changing. It's a big off-white colonial structure with character, with the same columns, carvings and window panes it probably started with in the 19th century. 

It's on Chatham Street, between the rest of Pettah and the Colombo Fort clock tower. The street is interesting, featuring the massive green dome of the Fort Jumma Masjid, the lovely beige brick Economy History Museum, and weathering buildings apathetic about the big banks and the World Trade Center towers that watch over them. Besides the Dutch Hospital complex, the little Pilawoos joint nearby and a small pastry shop, this is the only place to unwind and eat at on the block.

This is also famously the location where an epic Duran Duran music video was shot. 

The Food

We had a lamprais taste-off this year, and Green Cabin finished last in the race. We got that one from the Kollupitiya branch and it was very oily and missing important elements. The one we had here at Pagoda Tea Rooms, however, was excellent. It came in a perfect amount, and had all the key elements - frikkadel, blachan, a good piece of chicken, plus a tasty dollop of seeni sambol which though isn't in your typical lamprais was still welcome. It was aromatic and flavoursome and cost Rs. 350.   

Besides the lamprais they do a good assortment of shorteats - all high quality, in the Rs. 50 - 90 range. We gave the buttery beef pie pastry and the beef roll a try, and they were both generously stuffed and some of the best we've had, akin to the stuff at Tasty Caterers.

The wattalapam was pretty decent too and comes in a little sealed packet for Rs. 120. 

Service & Ambience

Pagoda Tea Rooms has been around forever - I remember visiting it during my Duran Duran crazy school days. It was recently very visibly renovated though, probably about a year ago, and it's way more comfortable and dine-in-friendly now. They've got a wide, warm space as you walk in, wooden furniture, with spotlights focused on the paintings of Old Ceylon on the walls. 

I went there at about 11AM so it was sparsely crowded, so the waiter did not have to try hard, but he was very attentive, friendly and clearly well trained. 

Conclusion

Pagoda Tea Rooms is one of the oldies and we're glad to see they are still putting effort into staying relevant and successful. If you're around the neighborhood, in Pettah or near Galle Face, it's definitely a good place to try out the lamprais or have a quick bite. 


TIP

Come here before 2PM to grab a packet of lamprais before they vanish.

Address

105, Chatham St, Fort

Directions

When you reach the Kingsbury roundabout, turn into Janadipathi Mawatha, and turn right at the clock tower. Pagoda is after the mosque on this street.

Contacts

Report Inaccuracy

Open 7.30AM to 5.30PM weekdays, 7.30AM to 1.30PM Saturdays, closed on Sundays

Price Range

Between Rs. 200 - Rs. 500

Ratings Breakdown

Overall Rating
3
Quality Rating
3
Service Rating
3
Ambience Rating
3
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