Vasantha Bhavan is the pure-vegetarian counterpart of Ponnusamy Non-Veg Restaurant at Horton Place. They specialise in authentic North and South Indian cuisine and offer an all-inclusive menu that left us a little befuddled as to what exactly we wanted.
For starters, we got the Paneer 65 (of course) and I'll admit Rs. 600 for a few minuscule, batter-fried cubes of cottage cheese is a bit steep. You could easily get a larger quantity at a cheaper price if you chose to dine elsewhere. That being said, the paneer was executed well with the crunch from the batter contradicting the soft texture of the cheese.
For our mains, we opted for a Vasantha Bhavan Special (Rs. 750) and a Tandoori Parota (Rs. 200 per parota) with a side order of the Malai Kofta (Rs. 500).
The Vasantha Bhavan special is a hefty platter stacked with sides, a chapati for a starter and a big papadam disc that closely resembles the texture of those prawn crackers people like to gorge on when they go to the cinema. They serve about two spoonfuls of rice steaming from the pot once you're done with your starter, which is great. The rice was a bit overdone but the curries present did a decent job of tying the whole thing together.
Overall, the platter didn't blow us away but it's alright.
The Tandoori Parotta was crisp, flaky and more than enough for one person despite looking deceptively scarce. Paired with the Kofta it was quite delicious.
Malai Kofta is one of the most loved vegetarian dishes in Indian restaurants and it's easy to understand why. It's basically fried, vegetable dumplings soaking in a slightly sweet gravy and cream. The dumplings were mostly potato with what appeared to be leeks and other mysterious veg bits. This is definitely one of their better options so make sure you try it if you go.
We ordered a glass of Buttermilk (Rs. 125) and while it came in a tall glass, I personally found it a bit too thick and heavy as opposed to the lighter, more watery consistency I've enjoyed at other places. Buttermilk is usually had to wash all the food down and help with digestion but this was a bit too viscous to go down easy.
The Lime Juice (Rs. 200) on the other hand was a bit of a downer because ironically enough we couldn't down it thanks to it being heavily diluted by a lot of water. The lime didn't come through at all so it wasn't as refreshing as we hoped.
The restaurant is laid out in typical South Indian restaurant style. With bleak white walls, minimal decor, conventional furniture, aluminium tableware and of course a TV on full blast for your viewing pleasure it passed the standard checklist for restaurants of its nature. I wish they'd turn up the air-conditioning because it gets stuffy despite having windows everywhere which is annoying.
The staff were really friendly and the waiter was super enthusiastic with his recommendations. The Tandoori Parotta/Malai Kofta combo was his idea so I really appreciate the fact that they know their way around the menu well.
I'll admit that the prices here are a bit steep and they aren't the epicentre of vegetarian cuisine here in Colombo. But it won't hurt to go try something from their menu, as long as you're willing to dish out the rupees on slight portions.