57, Hospital Street, 00100 Colombo, Sri Lanka
Closed right now
The RePubLk has come through steadily since they opened a few years go. The quality of their food and drinks have managed to stay the same, but somehow they aren't as great as they used to be.
THE RE.PUB.LK (we just call it Repub for short) opened around 3 months ago, with a flurry of promotions and BYTs in attendance (either definition acceptable). We first wafted in rather unwillingly, as staunch fans of the erstwhile shady-yet-charming colonial Brown's Bar. It's difficult to rage against the machine of gentrification though, especially when it's packaged as prettily as the Repub is.
TL;DR : We're now fans.
They've maintained the original 1924 façade and brickwork, which is superb. But there's not much else to remind you of the tubelights and gal arraku tuk tuk uncle den of the past.
The downstairs area features high-top bar tables, low dining tables, and a fully-stocked bar.
The fire-escape stairs (so New York, darling) lead to a larger area upstairs. There's both a loud indoor area and a quieter, prettier al fresco area that I prefer. As lovely as the ambience is, the busier nights tend to feature loud pop/EDM music that I don't particularly enjoy.
My favourite cocktail here is probably the Strawberry Basylum (don't bother Googling the word, I've already been down that barren path). A concoction featuring fresh strawberries, spirits, and a touch of lime, it's strong, zesty, and delicious.
This time however, we stopped by for Ladies' Night, which goes down every Wednesday. Offers differ, so check out their FB page before you swing by. There was a selection of three free cocktails on offer, so we tried all of them - a classic Mai Tai, a berry drink, and a mysterious Kalu Niyamai. The Mai Tai was quite sweet, probably due to the bucketload of blended fresh fruit in it.
The Kalu Niyamai was undeniably weird. It features a milky sort of amaretto mix, as well as a touch of almond essence, and blobs of jelly. It whacks your tastebuds with the force of a thousand tow trucks, but then you get used to it and learn to like it. Like experiencing alcoholic Stockholm Syndrome. Plus it's free, which makes it taste that much sweeter.
The Very Berry was also superbly strong, featuring enough gin to cauterize an open wound, chunks of berries (strawberry and raspberry, fancy), and a splash of some sort of berry cordial. Being somewhat jaded by Colombo's "free drinks" offers, we were glad to find the uncompromised alcohol content in these ones.
We also ordered up some Repub classics for the boys, a classic Arrack Sour (Rs. 600) and a Hospital Street (Rs. 650). These classics were solid drinks - consistently prepared, well balanced flavours, and quite reasonable. The Hospital Street is a gin-based drink with a touch of pomegranate juice which is what gives it that funky pink glow.
If cocktails aren't your thing, the bar serves up beer, spirits, and reasonable bottles of cheap to mid-range wine too.
The food hasn't disappointed on any of our numerous visits. Best part? It's unfathomly cheap for an upscale Colombo bar. Almost all the tapas ranges from between Rs. 350 to Rs. 500, and the quality is consistently up to standard. They're also starting up a proper dinner menu in the coming weeks, so keep an eye peeled for that.
We ordered a bunch of tapas to serve as our dinner because we're savages. Hot Butter Cuttlefish (Rs. 450) was the first choice, solely because it would be sacrilege to drink at a Lankan bar and not order a HBC. Crispy, spicy, succulent, and served up in a hipster metal appa bowl. It's just about enough to share between two people for a starter.
The Wild Mushroom Momos (Rs. 300) and Spiced Potato Wedges (Rs. 440) were up next, a sacrificial offering to satiate the vegetarians in our crew. The vegetarian options aren't extensive, but they make up about a quarter of the menu, which isn't bad for a bar. The dumplings were piquantly flavoursome, steaming hot and fresh, and made us feel super healthy. At 300 for 6 pieces, we were impressed.
The wedges were excellent, soft and fluffy on the inside and crispy and lightly spicy on the outside. They also came teamed with crispy bits of deep fried curry leaf, and two contrasting dips, as if we weren't already enthusiastic enough.
The heavier meat options were next on the agenda. The Pulled Pork Tacos (Rs. 500) were probably the best soft tacos we've ever had in the city, a mad and messy set of 3 semi-open wraps filled with vegetables, soft and lightly spiced pulled pork, a touch of guacamole, and general happiness. We can't recommend this enough, unless you're wearing a white shirt.
The Chicken Ghee Roast (Rs. 500) took its spice seriously. A martial line up of small boneless and deathly spiced chicken, this dish isn't made for the faint-hearted.
It's difficult to be efficient when you're dealing with numerous seating sections, different menus, loud music, and a full crowd of increasingly tipsy patrons. Regardless, the friendly waitstaff at Repub is run by an extremely efficient manager, who wafts around checking on every table at intervals, and ensuring a waiter pops by when you need them. The waiters themselves are all generally friendly, and know enough about the menu and what goes into the drink to explain it to you and recommend options, which we liked.
We've once had somewhat slow service on incredibly busy Friday night, but that was an outlier to our general experience.
We've been generally pleased with everything that Repub has to offer, from weirdly inventive drinks to an eclectic and well-executed tapas menu. The service, the ambience, and the location come together to ensure you have a deliciously tipsy night (as long as loud young music doesn't bother you). As guilty as we feel about forsaking Brown's, we have to admit THE RE.PUB.LK's a pretty nifty replacement. As douchey as gentrification or quoting Plato is, we just have to say :
"Nothing beautiful without struggle" - Plato, The Republic
The Re.Pub.Lk used to be one of my favourite hangouts- and it still is. It's just that somewhere along the way they've gone and lost their pizzazz.
The chic new resto-bar that replaced old Brown's Bar behind Dutch Hospital.
A new upscale pub in the home of upscale pubs that is the area around Dutch Hospital.
සිංහල සර්විස් චාර්ජ් එකයි, ටැක්ස් එකයි වැදුණ ම අපේ මුළු බිල ආවේ රුපියල් 4812ක්. වෙන ලොකු තැන් එක්ක සලකලා බැලුවම මේ ගාණ ශේප්.
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