It’s nice when a new dining or drinking place comes up in the Havelock Town area and Qbaa is both. Owned by cricketer-turned-politician Sanath Jayasuriya, it has opened its doors within the past few weeks on De Fonseka Road. Like a fair number of Colombo hostelries, Qbaa has something of the feel of a residential house – perhaps the building was exactly that until recently. There is a small outside area for eating and drinking, under a portico, which would have been nice on the cool late evening we were there. But we opted for the inside.
The decor is modern. The chairs are in a brown and white fabric. The most striking feature of the design is wall-mounted guitars – real or mock, it’s hard to tell – spattered in paint in the style of Jackson Pollock. That will be to the taste of some but not others. Dowdy and dated it is not. As our visit was on a Monday it was quiet, slightly too quiet. We understand that towards the weekends it gets a lot more crowded.
There is a large array of alcoholic and soft drinks. A Sours cocktail, with hints of orange and various other rich ingredients, went down very well. Several in our party went for the Hendricks gin, served with a wedge of cucumber which lent an excellent bouquet; this was one of five gins on offer. We were slightly surprised when – on the gin being requested – the waiter asked “is that an alcoholic drink?” In general the service in this new place was a little on the inexperienced side and the English sometimes limited. This also resulted in one of the wrong dishes being brought later. Undoubtedly newish and very young waiting staff have a lot to get to grips with given the drink and food menu’s diversity and eclecticism. The service will probably improve. There was a good number of waiters and all the service from them and the superviser was without exception friendly and gracious.
The food menu is fairly extensive and the three dishes we actually sampled between us – we all liked the sound of the same things – were good though not outstanding. Mushroom crepes (Rs 950) were a bit on the creamy side and accompanied by a large helping of lettuce and cabbage. Carpaccio of beef – another starter at the same price – featured a modest helping of Australian (raw) tenderloin which was of high quality but we weren’t convinced that the rich, tangy warm mushroom salad piled on top of it was the right companion. The beef was also drenched in too much pesto sauce. A prawn and mushroom ravioli dish was pleasingly light and subtle; its sauce had the currently fashionable cappuccino consistency.
Overall the menu ranges from reasonable to expensive in price. Pasta dishes are justRs 600-850; seafood crepes would be more pricey at Rs 1290. I’d like to try other dishes next time but feel that some of them look possibly too elaborate for their own good. One starter, Candied Cashew Nuts (Rs 950), is described as cashew nuts cooked in orange and wild bees honey on a bed of greens topped with New Zealand cheddar cheese. That might work well, but it might just be too many flavours in the way the carpaccio was. As for Florida cocktail (Rs 850), the description is baffling in parts: “Negombo prawns poached court bullion with avocado and mango topped with citrus segments and quail eggs served with brandy cocktail sauce.” Court bullion?
As my fitness instructor was in our party I behaved well and avoided dessert, but the selection of puddings looks excellent, and no one could argue with their price range of Rs 450-550. How about baked cheese cake with lemon macaroon and blueberry topping? Tiramisu on bed of amaretto biscuit and espresso sauce? Triple chocolate slice with cherry strudel with hot brandy sauce? Orange chocolate mousse with chocolate sauce, brandy snaps and strawberry sorbet – maybe the sorbet would be overkill but it seems there’s a chef with an aptitude for sweet things.
Qbaa is still finding its feet but worth seeking out for something different.
Try that cheesecake, you won't regret it.