The Icebair Restaurant is an understated little place that you can easily miss because it's part of the Icebear guesthouse. It's quirky and somewhat eccentric — a comfortable combination of weird and chilled out.
They have a decent menu covering "Swiss food, authentic, nowhere else in the island to find", vegetarian dishes, "Sweeties, Dessert Parade", seafood, muesli, and "Tea & Coffee, stylish celebrated in silver, with a biscuit" (we didn't receive the biscuit. WHY).
I'm starting off with the ambience here because that's what drew us in. We stumbled across this place by accident while walking past. The lush greenery and crazy paving stoked my curiousity, though I wasn't exactly sure what it was when I first walked in. I think I missed the initial signboard that said "Icebear Guesthouse" (the restaurant is a little building separate from the guesthouse, within the same property), and instead walked into the Icebair Restaurant. (Yes, they spell Icebear [guesthouse] and Icebair [restaurant] differently).
There are a few tables and chairs laid out under the portico/ in the verandah, as you can see, but there's also some wrought iron furniture scattered around, a couple of hammocks slung across coconut trees, and a line of pool chairs facing the beach.
It's all very chilled out, and we liked it. They had decorated the place in the most rustic way, with old seashells and stuff arranged around the area.
They also have a little lending library in an old cupboard, so if you want to read while sipping on your coffee or enjoying a glass of milkwine, this place is for you.
While the general enthusiasm of the menu will make you eager to try it, it will also leave you in stitches. The top of the menu card says that it's where 'East meets West, The Icebair Restaurant with Swissness'. They have Bottled Coca Cola ("Forbid, not Pepsi!") and stuff like Inspected Table Water, and muesli with 'eatable' hibiscus flowers. Their breakfasts and mains are from Rs. 600 upwards, with most of the dishes costing closer to Rs. 1,000.
However, their drinks and desserts are below Rs. 500, and that's what we went for.
We ordered a Caffè all'italiana (Rs. 390) which was accompanied by a side of milk and sugar in little bronze jugs. The coffee was dark, not too thick, and slightly bitter, as it should be.
Next up was their Spicy Ceylon Milkwine on the rocks (Rs. 320). It was described as 'a fine, exciting apertif, crystal-clear'. It wasn't exactly crystal clear, but it did have an amber glow to it, and looked like pure happiness.
My friend — a Negombo local — said that it was the best milk wine she had tasted, and that it was "milky, and not too strong". Given that she's tasted a lot of the stuff, and that people in Negombo apparently make their own milk wine, I'm taking her word for it. Next up was the homemade Ceylon Cinnamon Ice Cream, which was priced at Rs. 420. Although the cinnamon flavour didn't come through strongly, it was definitely there. The ice cream was a tad too sweet but the cinnamon sort of balanced the sweetness out — it was like having a spiced ice-cream. It was also very creamy and quick to melt, but then again, it was a really hot day as well.
The staff are friendly and they don't bother you by hovering around. This has its pros and cons, because after taking your order and placing the food around, they tend to disappear. You can find them if you walk over to the reception though, and they appear instantly after that.
The Icebair Restaurant has some interesting albeit pricey stuff, but their desserts and drinks are reasonably priced. It's a great place to spend a quiet evening out, and you can be assured of peace and quiet. Go there if you want to have some much-needed alone time.