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4/5

The Barefoot Cafe

8th Lane (off Galle Road), Colombo 3


Barefoot Cafe is the best place to hang out in Colombo. It's a chilled place to meet or make friends, see art, hear music, eat good food and drink affordable beer.



The Barefoot Gallery Cafe is an iconic landmark smack in the central area of the Galle Road stretch. It's been around for ages and has seen many folks from all walks of life come and go. Mostly tourists, but I don't blame anybody for wanting to visit. 

It's got a lot to offer in terms of aesthetic value, so it's really no surprise that people flock here by the droves to while away the afternoons and evenings with a slice of cake, or perhaps a cup of tea even. It's been a while since the YAMU crew dropped in, so on a lazy Sunday, I decided that it was time for a visit.

The Food 

The menu here ranges from typical western dishes to Sri Lankan meals. Although the Lankan meals are prepared well, and sound enticing- you're better off sticking to the other dishes since we've all tasted the best rice and curry, ever: at home. 

For starters, we got a portion of the French Fries (Rs. 550). This might sound like a pricey pick at first, but what you get is a massive basket of some of the best, thick cut fries. Each fry is about the size of your finger, heavy and well seasoned. You also get a side of ketchup, as is the norm. 
Perhaps try this out if you're here for some tea and a snack. 

They usually jot down their daily specials on a blackboard, so make sure you take a good look at that as well. 

We opted for the Grilled Modha (barramundi) with Mashed Potatoes and Roast Vegetables. This one is somewhere around Rs. 1000 - Rs. 1300. While the Modha fillet was of a sizeable nature, and the mash was a decent portion as well- we noticed that they could have definitely thrown in a few extra vegetables than what we had. For starters, there was a single mushroom split in two, about two bits of broccoli, and two bits of cauliflower. 

Anyways, the Modha was delightful. It tasted fresh, with only a bit of salt coming through its well-grilled edges. I especially liked the charred areas- they lightly enhanced the overall flavour without making the thing taste burnt. 
The mash was good, too. It had the right consistency, was thick and pretty filling. They had a teeny bit of some sort of puree on the side - from tasting, I assume it was a concoction of peppers, chilli and perhaps some parsley. I'm not too sure, but it was a delicious addition all the same. 
The Falafel Pita Pockets is served on a large plate, all spread out with vegetables around- so it looks like a massive portion. This had to be the worst dish we'd ordered. For starters, it costs a staggering Rs. 980, but bore no semblance of being actually worth Rs. 980. 

I wonder if it was just a bad day to order this dish, because you can go anywhere else and have something better than this. It's comprised of a bunch of hastily presented pita pockets, an unnecessary amount of cucumbers which made the whole thing taste like cucumbers and pita, a few squeezes of mayo and four small pieces of falafel. 
The falafel wasn't impressive. It was hard and tasted more like cardboard as opposed to a flavourful mixture of chickpeas, parsley, and garlic. 

If you're vegetarian or opting for something vegetarian, stick to a different dish. 

Drinks & Dessert 

Barefoot has a decent range of drinks and desserts, so we went ahead and tried a few out. On an especially hot day, I'd highly advise you opt for their Lime and Mint Soda. I'll explain momentarily. 

  • Let's start with their Kade Tea. I noticed that it cost Rs. 250, which isn't bad especially when you compare it to new cafes that serve this simple drink at more ridiculous prices. It had just the right layer of froth on the top, and had a great colour as well. I suspect they use condensed milk on account of its overly sweet taste. I cannot complain. It was a comforting cup, but I will say that you're better off going to an actual kadey or to your mum if you're keen on getting tea that tastes as good as this. 
    It was served with a slice of biscotti. The shape reminds me of almond biscotti, but I didn't taste any almonds. Nevertheless, it was chewy, sweet, and tasted great when we dipped it into the tea. 
  • The Pineapple Juice was somewhere in the Rs. 500 range, and is a big glass of fresh pineapple. It was thick, heady, and highly refreshing. It wasn't overly sweet either, but just enough so that the sharp tang of pineapple was further enhanced and balanced out. 
  • The Lime and Mint soda stays within the same price range as the pineapple juice and is the best lime and mint you'll have on the island. It's strong, it doesn't taste like toothpaste, and the soda does a superb job of making every sip a sharp, limey, astringent kick. 10/10.

Here's where things got interesting. I noticed that a slice of Carrot Cake costs Rs. 700, which is strangely not that bad considering cake prices have seen a weird increase lately. I have no idea why, but most slices at any cafe or cakery anywhere go for Rs. 500 and upwards. 

Barefoot's Carrot Cake, is an unassuming slice, rich in colour, minimal in design with a light layer of cream cheese frosting on the top. I've seen carrot cakes with more flair than this, but believe me when I tell you that this has to be the best slice I've had. Ever. 

It reminded me of something my gran would make. Simple, beautiful in its unassuming decor and yet ever so comforting. The cake was sweet, the frosting added a tart little undertone and the overall flavour was soulful and honest. 

Service & Ambience 

Barefoot's aesthetic is its biggest selling point, with Bawa's very evident design footprint present throughout the premises. The open seating area allows for lots of sunlight and the occasional breeze. 

Bright colours make an entrance here and there in carefully designated spots. Look out for their wall in the far corner advertising loads of vintage posters. A good spot for some tea and a tête-à-tête. Service was disappointing.

Everyone else was offered water but us. Not a single waiter attended to our table until I had to aggressively flag one down. I absolutely detest this sort of treatment and hope they advise their staff sternly, or this isn't going to play out well with people who are actually keen on enjoying an afternoon here. 

Note: I was told that the service here is generally slow. To be fair, this is the type of establishment where you're allowed to relax and enjoy your time. They won't rush you, and they generally take a bit of time, so if you're in a rush or just used to faster service I suppose it's best to remain patient. 

Conclusion 

This is a beautiful spot, with a decent menu and even better drinks. I don't know what to tell you, because I've heard mixed reviews about service from different people. Most of them negative, but the positive ones shine through. I advise you to try a Fair & Lovely treatment before heading there, or you'll have to play the aggressive customer game which is a downer for everybody involved. 

That being said, if you do go, try the Carrot Cake. It'll help alleviate any negativity you've been subject to, with its warm, sweet kiss. 


TIP

The beer is surprisingly cheap, but note that they stop serving alcohol between 2-5 PM.
All Reviews

The Barefoot Cafe serves up some excellent drinks and decent food. Their service needs to improve, vastly.

This Colombo’s institution is a great spot to have a drink, a light meal or a snack and to chill out in a peaceful and natural setting. 

Barefoot Cafe is undoubtedly one of the most popular hangout spots in Colombo. With it's chic outdoor setting, good food and great music its easy to see why.

Barefoot Cafe is the best place to hang out in Colombo. It's a chilled place to meet or make friends, see art, hear music, eat good food and drink affordable beer.

සිංහල කොළඹ නිකරුණේ කාලය ගත කරන්න තියෙන හොඳම තැන තමයි බෙයාර්ෆුට් කැෆේ. ඒක යාළුවෝ හම්බවෙන්න හරි යාළුවෝ ඇතිකරගන්න හරි හොඳ තැනක් වගේම කලා කෘති බලන්න, සංගීතය අහන්න, හොඳ කෑම කන්න සහ දරාගන්න පුළුවන් මිලට බීර බොන්න හොඳ තැනක්. සංචාරකයන්ට බෙයාර්ෆුට්, සීගිරිය වගේම හොඳ සංචාරක ගමනාන්තයක්. දේශීය වැසියන්ට ඒක කොළඹ තියෙන අත්‍යවශ්‍යම තැනක්. ඒක අධිරාජ්‍ය යුගයේදී ලාංකිකයන්ගේ අවසාන තානාපති කාර්යාලය වගේ.

Address

8th Lane (off Galle Road), Colombo 3

Directions

Go down the Galle Road, it's just past the Bambalapitiya Junction (so past Majestic City). You can walk through the Barefoot store or go down the adjoining 8th Lane to a decent sized parking lot.

Contacts

E-Mail Facebook Website

Report Inaccuracy

Closed right now

Price Range

Between Rs. 1000 - Rs. 1500

Ratings Breakdown

Overall Rating
3
Quality Rating
3
Service Rating
1
Ambience Rating
5
Similar Places

User Reviews
Avatar for Imaad
7

2/5

0

Imaad

Until they address the glaring issues with their service, I wouldn't recommend locals to go here. Over the years I've been here with different groups and noticed that they only care about tourists, expats and their regulars. Many times I've seen the glass of water scene play out. Not cool.

As for food, I'm usually happy with the grilled prawns, the modha, or the curry pork. Drinks wise always go for the ginger beer or the lemongrass lime.

Avatar for la_kurumbas
4

3/5

2

la_kurumbas

I'm sorry Sunil but I have to agree with Sarah on this. Me and my boyfriend frequently visit the place, we always get served after a foreign customer who would come after us; ALWAYS. But, we really don't care because the food is really good and the vibe is quite chilled, especially on Sundays. But, for some people, I guess the thought of being treated second fiddle to a foreigner in their own Country is an issue. So how dare you have the audacity to find fault with her views? If you are such a frequent customer, then obviously you will be treated well, because the waiters probably know you. YAMU always mentions that they are giving only a personal account if their experiences. I have been following them since they started, and my life in Sri Lanka has become much easier because of them. If you don't like the way YAMU reviews places, then just leave and go back to reading newspapers, you artifact.

PS: Don't mix women's empowerment with alleged racism/bad service. That's just being opportunistic and sets a very bad tone for the true meaning on women's empowerment.

S
1

5/5

-4

Sunil Bothuju

Answer:
An interesting review……but not sure I agree with your comment that locals need to daub whitening cream on their faces in order to get served here. I have never had that experience at Barefoot and am a regular customer as are many locals, especially on Sundays which happens to be their busiest day. I was also there on the Sunday you reviewed, and I find it really sad that you would be so insecure to think that a busy waitress, who is new to working at Barefoot, (I chatted to her that day), would refuse to serve you water because you are Sri Lankan (as she is herself). Was she really being racist? Couldn’t she just have been busy? Or perhaps, as she is new, she simply forgot? That’s not a racist crime. I think with all the nationalistic sentiments beings bandied about in this country and also around the world where people are being denied homes, separated from their children, and killed for the colour of their skin, forgetting a glass of water cannot be cited in the same vein as a heinous racist act, don’t you think? As a local myself I find these comments from Sri Lankans embarrassing as they make us all look like we have huge chips on our shoulders and that we carry a ‘poor me, I’m a lesser person because I am not white’ syndrome around with us. You may but I don’t. I also didn’t get served my water on time, and I simply put it down to it being a busy day. No big deal – that’s how it gets at busy restaurants. In terms of customer service at Barefoot I find all the staff to always be friendly and helpful even when they are rushed off their feet.
I also think that Barefoot should be commended for employing female staff. I happen to know how difficult it can be to get young women to work in service industries especially hospitality. I would have thought, Sarah that instead of moaning about not being served ‘because you’re not white’, you would be encouraging and celebrating these young women for blazing a new trail for others.
In terms of your critique of the food, I’m a little confused. Is Yamu a site purely for locals? I thought it was meant to be inclusive for everyone of all diversities….including those white (and any other colour) tourists. I have always recommended the site to people wanting to come to Sri Lanka on holiday. I have said that it brilliantly showcases places to visit that are beyond the normal tourist locations. If that is still so, then your quite subjective comments are excluding a large portion of your audience because not everyone’s mum will know how to make a kade tea or a local dishes. Surely a more objective critique would describe the local fare based on the ingredients, the presentation, and the taste rather than on what your mum makes.
In summary, whilst I do not agree with all of your food comments, I vehemently disagree that Barefoot is a prejudiced restaurant. To say it is, citing the example you gave, reflects sadly on the insecurities of some Sri Lankans and paints us all as oversensitive, bitter people incapable of being confidently proud of the great assets we have to show off to the rest of the world.
PS: Oh, and the sauce is certainly NOT mayo!! It’s a tahini-based sauce which is the traditional condiment for falafel, hummus and babaganoush dishes.


Please don’t apologise for your comments, Las Karambas. Your opinion is just as valid as mine and of course Sarah’s. That’s what freedom of speech is all about – the right for people to respectfully disagree and offer an alternative viewpoint. Whilst I don’t think calling me an ‘artifact’ and telling me to ‘ go back to my newspaper’ is very respectful or mature, if you need to resort to name calling and stereotyping to get your view across, that is your prerogative.
Luckily, Yamu is not as discriminatory as you. It welcomes alternative perspectives (regardless of supposed age). Amen for free speech.

Avatar for Imaad
7

2/5

0

Imaad

Until they address the glaring issues with their service, I wouldn't recommend locals to go here. Over the years I've been here with different groups and noticed that they only care about tourists, expats and their regulars. Many times I've seen the glass of water scene play out. Not cool.

As for food, I'm usually happy with the grilled prawns, the modha, or the curry pork. Drinks wise always go for the ginger beer or the lemongrass lime.

Avatar for la_kurumbas
4

3/5

2

la_kurumbas

I'm sorry Sunil but I have to agree with Sarah on this. Me and my boyfriend frequently visit the place, we always get served after a foreign customer who would come after us; ALWAYS. But, we really don't care because the food is really good and the vibe is quite chilled, especially on Sundays. But, for some people, I guess the thought of being treated second fiddle to a foreigner in their own Country is an issue. So how dare you have the audacity to find fault with her views? If you are such a frequent customer, then obviously you will be treated well, because the waiters probably know you. YAMU always mentions that they are giving only a personal account if their experiences. I have been following them since they started, and my life in Sri Lanka has become much easier because of them. If you don't like the way YAMU reviews places, then just leave and go back to reading newspapers, you artifact.

PS: Don't mix women's empowerment with alleged racism/bad service. That's just being opportunistic and sets a very bad tone for the true meaning on women's empowerment.

S
1

5/5

-4

Sunil Bothuju

Answer:
An interesting review……but not sure I agree with your comment that locals need to daub whitening cream on their faces in order to get served here. I have never had that experience at Barefoot and am a regular customer as are many locals, especially on Sundays which happens to be their busiest day. I was also there on the Sunday you reviewed, and I find it really sad that you would be so insecure to think that a busy waitress, who is new to working at Barefoot, (I chatted to her that day), would refuse to serve you water because you are Sri Lankan (as she is herself). Was she really being racist? Couldn’t she just have been busy? Or perhaps, as she is new, she simply forgot? That’s not a racist crime. I think with all the nationalistic sentiments beings bandied about in this country and also around the world where people are being denied homes, separated from their children, and killed for the colour of their skin, forgetting a glass of water cannot be cited in the same vein as a heinous racist act, don’t you think? As a local myself I find these comments from Sri Lankans embarrassing as they make us all look like we have huge chips on our shoulders and that we carry a ‘poor me, I’m a lesser person because I am not white’ syndrome around with us. You may but I don’t. I also didn’t get served my water on time, and I simply put it down to it being a busy day. No big deal – that’s how it gets at busy restaurants. In terms of customer service at Barefoot I find all the staff to always be friendly and helpful even when they are rushed off their feet.
I also think that Barefoot should be commended for employing female staff. I happen to know how difficult it can be to get young women to work in service industries especially hospitality. I would have thought, Sarah that instead of moaning about not being served ‘because you’re not white’, you would be encouraging and celebrating these young women for blazing a new trail for others.
In terms of your critique of the food, I’m a little confused. Is Yamu a site purely for locals? I thought it was meant to be inclusive for everyone of all diversities….including those white (and any other colour) tourists. I have always recommended the site to people wanting to come to Sri Lanka on holiday. I have said that it brilliantly showcases places to visit that are beyond the normal tourist locations. If that is still so, then your quite subjective comments are excluding a large portion of your audience because not everyone’s mum will know how to make a kade tea or a local dishes. Surely a more objective critique would describe the local fare based on the ingredients, the presentation, and the taste rather than on what your mum makes.
In summary, whilst I do not agree with all of your food comments, I vehemently disagree that Barefoot is a prejudiced restaurant. To say it is, citing the example you gave, reflects sadly on the insecurities of some Sri Lankans and paints us all as oversensitive, bitter people incapable of being confidently proud of the great assets we have to show off to the rest of the world.
PS: Oh, and the sauce is certainly NOT mayo!! It’s a tahini-based sauce which is the traditional condiment for falafel, hummus and babaganoush dishes.


Please don’t apologise for your comments, Las Karambas. Your opinion is just as valid as mine and of course Sarah’s. That’s what freedom of speech is all about – the right for people to respectfully disagree and offer an alternative viewpoint. Whilst I don’t think calling me an ‘artifact’ and telling me to ‘ go back to my newspaper’ is very respectful or mature, if you need to resort to name calling and stereotyping to get your view across, that is your prerogative.
Luckily, Yamu is not as discriminatory as you. It welcomes alternative perspectives (regardless of supposed age). Amen for free speech.

K
5

4/5

-1

KIKI

Great hangout and excellent food at a premium price

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