92, Pedlar Street, Galle Fort, Galle
Open until 10:00 PM
Pedlar's Inn Cafe is a popular stop in Galle fort (and so is their Gelato opposite the cafe) - the food is alright, but mostly it's the ambience that makes this place appealing, though there are better spots with better food in the Fort these days.
Pedlar's is the original Galle Fort hipster cafe. I remember reading a Sunday Times article about this place way back when and going, "What? Antiques and books inside a restaurant? I gotta see this".
Fast forward and new-agey, faux vintage spaces are as common on the Southern Coast as sea sand. The Pedlar's Inn itself has evolved from being a 4 table, 1 waiter kind of affair to a more polished version of its former self. It has been hugely expanded to include several different rooms and seating areas, enough antiques to fill a small museum and a sneakily tossed in gem shop that gets in your way with expensive, attractive, glittery things as you walk to the loo. Side note on the gem shop, the dude who runs it (and makes the jewelry himself) is a gem.
In our previous review Shifani spoke about how the food was rather mediocre here but that the place was a great spot to hang out at. But today Pedlar's Inn has more competition ambience-wise, so we went to check out if their food game had improved any.
TL:DR - it has not. What's more, we found the service rather wanting in the er... service department as well.
The Spicy Chicken (Rs. 1350) was nothing special. The chicken was doused in sweet and spicy sauce that distinctly reminded me of cheap Chinese food, even though nothing in the menu indicated that it was Chinese (or cheap).
The Vegetable Soup (Rs. 580) had a hint of lemongrass that went down nicely. But we had asked for ginger, lots of it, but didn’t get any. This was one of many service gaffes that took place while we were there. Also, those mushrooms in the soup probably came out of a can, for shame.
Judging by the amount of pineapple in it, we had to conclude that the Pineapple Salad (Rs. 580) was wrongfully named. It had a balsamic vinegar based seasoning which was decent, but hadn't really seeped through the dish, so everything except the pineapple tasted bland.
The Mango Lassi (Rs. 550) tasted like mango flavored yoghurt (processed food alert No.2). A little sour I thought, but this could be a matter of preference. The passion fruit juice though was definitely on the sour side, this was not a matter of preference, unless your preferences include masochism. The coffee was decent, I especially liked the Iced Cappuccino (Rs. 400).
By the time we'd finished dinner, the kitchen had already closed, yet no one had asked us if we wanted dessert, which we did (even if only to review it). Service Gaffe No. 2
We felt so bad about how bad dinner was that we decided to go back the next day for breakfast (this is why dinner comes before breakfast in this review, not because I'm weird, though I am that too). A lot of people had told us that breakfast here was great. So we thought that might be a saving grace. It wasn't.
The Cheese Omelette (Rs. 1100) was bland even though we asked for the spicy Sri Lankan version. The egg was decent enough with an overall great texture but was too oily and I could hardly taste the cheese. Also, it came with such boring bread and butter that I had to ask for some jam to make it a bit more exciting. This was a mistake. The 'strawberry jam' tasted like creamed sugar with food coloring. Also, I don't know why something like this should cost Rs. 1,100.
The Western Breakfast (Rs. 1200) stuck to the same standards as dinner. 'Not-bad' is the best Pedlar's Inn can seemingly produce.
Look, I feel bad for slamming the service because the staff were so nice and friendly, but I asked to take-away my (almost full) cappuccino it took 15 minutes and me physically going to the kitchen. This and the various other gaffes listed above seriously dents their rating.
Decent food is the peak of what you can expect here, for slightly indecent prices. Pedlar's Inn, inexplicably, still seems to draw people in droves, seemingly surviving on reputation alone. I'm giving this a 2, but can probably stretch it to a 2.4.
Since we went there last, Pedlar's Inn has polished up its ambiance game, but its food and service are mediocre.
Pedlar's Inn Cafe is a popular stop in Galle fort (and so is their Gelato opposite the cafe) - the food is alright, but mostly it's the ambience that makes this place one of the better hangout spots when you're at the fort.