We're a little ashamed to admit that we didn't realise Qbaa was a bar. A couple of months ago we visited the restaurant with Charles Haviland - who reviewed it
for us - not realising there was a whole other section adjacent to the dining area. When we found both food and venue rather meh we were slightly confused as to where all the rave reviews were being directed. Next door, apparently.
Adjacent to the main restaurant is a long, narrow bar. Softly lit and tightly packed with warm bodies, the Qbaa bar - not restaurant - is a pretty cool place to be. Walking in feels like stepping through the magic wardrobe - out of Colombo and into a vibrant city with a bubbling late night music scene. Kind of like the bar cellars of Montreal or London, Qbaa provides happy relief from the repetitively thumping, mindless R&B/electro mixes that pour out from almost every speaker this city seems to own. And the crowd doesn't consist of heaving, sweaty men gyrating on the dance floor (Kama, Amuseum, like, any club in Colombo). Leaning slightly toward an older clientele, Qbaa seems to appeal to the kind of crowd that actually enjoys socialising and good music as opposed to hip-thrusting on a sticky, whiskey flecked floor. And while at your standard Colombo nightclub owners and their friends receive ostentatious 'VIP treatment' at Qbaa Sanath Jayasuriya just hangs around the back, non-demanding and inconspicuous.
While the service at the bar leaves much to be desired - on peak nights elbowing your way through let alone attracting the attention of a waiter is a mission - they've got the music and ambient lighting spot on. It seems a shame that the restaurant - which is fine but nothing special - has such ample space while the tiny bar, which really is something rather special, is crammed to the brim with its elegant, albeit sweaty, patrons. But it's nice to be in a place that's so popular, packed and full of good music - and if the crowd gets a bit too much you can always steal away to the rooftop upstairs. This is a large, open space with tables, chairs and, most importantly, fresh air.
So if our review of the Qbaa restaurant wasn't overly effusive, let our look at their bar be just that. We think it's a great place, with a good crowd and excellent music. Definitely recommended for a night out.
Drinks aren't cheap. Two house wines ended up costing us Rs. 1500. While the wine was excellent, the price wasn't. A pitcher of beer doesn't break the bank at Rs. 750.