Located in Dharmapala Mawatha and sandwiched (no pun intended) between two other eateries, Panino offers a range of sandwiches and a smaller selection of bottled drinks. Their drinks include ginger beer, iced coffee and naarang juice, while their sandwich selection features a bunch of interesting melts. Some of these are locally inspired, such as the pol sambol with egg, while others such as the ham-and-cheese melts are more generic.
Having previously tried the pol sambol and fried egg melt, Shifani says that it "... was delicious — I need to try it at home — and although it was basically egg and pol sambol, the spiciness of the sambol and the just-perfect texture of the toasted bread made it a memorable snack."
I tried the ham and cheese melt (Rs. 500) while I was there. Panino seems to have upped their game a bit with this one. From serving the toasty bread wrapped in their signature tissue-paper, they now arrange it on a plate, which is nice because you don't feel hurried when you sit down to eat it. My melt came with a side of spicy-as-heck nai miris sauce, which is THE BOMB. The food looked like thus:
The out-of-focus little smudge you see behind the sandwich is the nai-miris sauce. The bread, as you can see, is a well-grilled pocket of warmth, with a generous dose of chicken ham and gooey cheese. The cheese and chicken obviously went well together — this is a good pick if you like your food a bit bland. I don't, so I basically dipped into the nai miris every few seconds, and that just added an explosion of flavour to the whole thing. I was kind of sniffling and tearing up halfway through the meal, but in a good way.
They didn't have the naarang juice, so we went for their iced coffee (Rs. 250). The coffee was commendable — it didn't stint on the caffeine, while also delivering just the right degree of sweetness. You could taste the bitterness of the coffee, and rightly so. As a person who likes her coffee strong, this is a winning iced coffee. For Rs. 250, you get a decent amount of it too, especially when compared to what you'd get elsewhere.
In addition to this, we also got their pulled chicken BBQ sandwich (Rs. 550) along with bottled king coconut water (Rs. 150). That felt like a ridiculous price to pay for a 300 ml bottle of thambili, when you can get the real deal for a fraction of the price.
The pulled chicken BBQ sandwich was top-notch. With the stuffing practically oozing out of the bread, it's clear that they don't do anything in half-measures here. A mix of grated carrots, some greens, and purple cabbage added a slight crunch to the stuffing. The chicken was plentiful and really well-seasoned, so we've got no complaints at all. Common consensus was that this is a way better deal than any burger out there — but of course, that's just our opinion.
The king coconut water was... well, your everyday thambili, just lesser in quantity and steeper in price.
It obviously was a refreshing drink, but I'd advise you to jump over this one and get yourself some real thambili instead (for what, 40 bucks? 50, at the most?). Or go for the iced coffee. We really liked that one.
Service and Ambience
It's self-service, so you basically place your order at the counter and collect it when it's ready. The staff are friendly and helpful with suggestions. In terms of ambience, it's a relaxed spot right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Colombo. Panino shares an outdoor seating arrangement with its neighbours, Jagro and Ginger. There are too many flies, and when people vacate the tables, there is an onslaught of crows (ok, I exaggerate. There are a few crows, not a whole murder of them) ready to attack the left-overs. But these are easily taken care of with a few waves of the arms.
Panino is nice. A tad overpriced, if you think about the fact that you're basically paying around 500 bucks for toasted roast paan. On the flip side, the food is consistent and pretty decent in quality. If you want a quick, not-too-unhealthy meal, this is the place for you. It's also a good place to just crash with a few friends and hang out.
Panino whips up some some really decent sandwiches. Hot, toasty, and just the right size, this place is good value for money.
Panino is probably the only place in Colombo that specializes in ‘sandwich-cuisine’ and you are definitely going to get your money’s worth here.
සිංහල ඇත්ත ම කිව්වොත් ස්නැක් එකකට විතරක් නෙවෙයි, දවල් කෑමකට වුණත් බඩ පුරවගන්න පුළුවන් විදියේ පනීනි මේ කට්ටිය ළඟ තියෙනවා.