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3/5

VOC Cafe (Dutch Burgher Union)

114 Reid Avenue Colombo 4


The VOC is a one of the best places in the city to get lamprais, and we've heard their burgers are pretty good too.



The DBU is a calm, balmy place removed from the stress and traffic of everyday Colombo. The staff are so chilled, they took 40 minutes to execute our take-away order a couple of weeks ago. That was once-upon-a-recent-time though, so we dropped in for lunch recently and sampled some nice iced-coffee and yellow rice.

Food and Ambience

If it's a sweltering hot day, there's an airconditioned indoor seating area. For nice, breezy days, you get terraced outdoor areas, which are so removed from the hustle and bustle of Colombo that it's hard to believe you're smackdab in the middle of the city. The main building is a gorgeous old structure, high ceilings, wood panelling and all.

Their food isn't half bad either, with their Yellow Rice (Rs. 525) being my favourite — it's fragrant, beautifully presented, and has a few complementing curries going on.

They've got a cutlet (pretty sure it's a cutlet and not a frikkadel) and a killer pol-sambol and vambatu moju. The rice is topped off with a bit of mango chutney if you'd like a tang of acidic sweetness, and it's as good as a home-made meal you'll ever get. This set is a winner, and we love it.

Sadly, the standards of their Lamprais (Rs. 545) seem to have gone down, starting right with its appearance. Size has diminished slightly, but that's not as much of a let down as the quality itself. The rice has a slightly hardened undercooked quality to it, and the meat in the mixed meat option were pretty lacklustre and lacking definitive flavour. It's still an alright, standard lamprais, but at Rs. 545 you're not going to feel like you got your money's worth. 

Next up was the beef burger, reasonably priced at 350 bucks. Getting this was a chore, though. Indi had tried ordering it the day before, but they forgot about it. Likewise, we placed this as a take-away order and realized it wasn't ready when we were ready to leave about an hour later. The aunties behind the counter held a hurried meeting, and then told us that the burger wasn't there.... but on the bright side, they'd only mixed the order up and made something else instead. So could we please wait a few minutes until they re-made our order?

We walked out with the food 20 minutes later. As Kinita said, they're rather an anti-burger union where this is concerned.

Meanwhile, Indi had this to say about it:
"The VOC burgers used to be a strong point, but they get less attention now. The beef burger is quite simple, beef, pickle and mustard basically. That said, simple burgers can be quite good. The meat is juicy and the acidity of the pickle plus mustard balances it out. On paper this is not an exceptional burger, but I find it quite tasty, which is what matters. This, however, is one order that they seem to consistently mess up.​"

Their iced-coffee and mango juice (Rs. 125 and Rs. 250 respectively) were alright, with the iced-coffee having that classic Milkmaid taste to it. The juice was well done, not too sweet, with lots of thick swirly mango going on.

Service

Their service deserves a shoutout because it's like a trial of endurance, patience, and strength, really. You could say it's quaint, if you've literally nothing else to do and don't mind repeating your order five times and smiling sweetly while you're at it. It's quite literally like the sloth scene out of Zootopia.

Placing our burger order was like thus:

Kinita: I'd also like a beef burger please, for take away.
Staff:  A what?
K: Beef burger.
S: Eating here or take away?
K: Erm, take away please.
S: A burger?
K: ... yes.
S: What burger?
K: Beef! A beef burger for take-away!

aaaand they still got it wrong.

Conclusion

Good burgers and yellow rice, but the standard of their lamprais has gone down which is sad because it used to be one of our favourites. The service may drive you up the wall, but should be okay for an aunty party where everyone would ask and be okay with a hundred questions anyway.


TIP

Head there early before 1 PM
All Reviews

A lovely colonial building in the heart of Colombo, serving up good Dutch Burgher fare.

VOC at the Dutch Burgher Union is one of the best places in the city for a delicious packet of lamprais, and we've heard their burgers are good too.

We love the DBU. A beautiful clubhouse, an excellent bar and though there are consistency issues on its day their lamprais is the best in the city. So when we heard that our favorite ethnicity based drinking/sporting union had opened a restaurant open to all (ie non members) on its premises we were excited.

සිංහල ඉතින් මම අද ඔයාලට කියන්න යන්නෙ ඕලන්ද රාජ්‍ය කාලෙන් පස්සෙ ඒ කියන්නෙ 1906 දි විතර ඕලන්ද ජාතික (බර්ගර්) එකමුතුවෙ කට්ටිය හදපු ගොඩනැගිල්ලක තියෙන ඕලන්ද කෑම වර්ග ගොඩක් රස බලන්න පුළුවන් ලාංකික අවන්හලක් ගැන.

සිංහල ලන්දේසි බර්ගර් සමාජය අපි කැමති තැනක්. එය ලස්සන සමාජශාලාවක් තිබෙනවා. හැමදාම එකවගේ නොවුණත්, ඔවුන්ගේ ලෑම්ප්රයිස් තමයි නගරයේ හොඳම ඒවා. ඉතින් මේ ජනවාර්ගික සමාජශාලාවේ සාමාජිකයන්ට පමණක් නොවෙයි කාටත් විවෘත අවන්හලක් ආරම්භ කර ඇතිබව ඇසූවිට අපි ගොඩක් සතුටුවුණා.

Address

114 Reid Avenue Colombo 4

Directions

The DBU is right at the Thunmulla junction, a little ways from the DBU's big black gate.

Contacts

Website E-Mail

Report Inaccuracy

Open 11 AM to 11 PM everyday

Cuisine

Sri Lankan Burgher

Price Range

Between Rs. 500 - Rs. 1000

Dish Types

Lamprais Rice And Curry Burgers Hoppers

Ratings Breakdown

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

User Reviews
S
1

1/5

0

Soni2012

Went therefor lunch today and found the service to be terrible. The waiter took 20 minutes to get to us, the drinks took another 20 minutes, by which time the lamprais had run out and so had the beef curry lunch meal. The food took forever to get to us and they never even bothered to get us cutlery. Really awful service and mediocre food. Such a waste of my time.

S
1

1/5

0

Soni2012

Went therefor lunch today and found the service to be terrible. The waiter took 20 minutes to get to us, the drinks took another 20 minutes, by which time the lamprais had run out and so had the beef curry lunch meal. The food took forever to get to us and they never even bothered to get us cutlery. Really awful service and mediocre food. Such a waste of my time.

G
9

4/5

0

GayanP

Yummy old favourites
This is probably the only place now in Colombo to get old favourites. Some of the very special unique items are: Homemade Ginger Beer, Mixed meat Lumprais, Ghee rice with Chicken, pork or Beef curry, Beef Smore sandwiches made with old fashioned bread and of course the good old Bacon & Egg pastries with real bacon. All of these are now very hard to get anywhere else in Colombo; particularly the pork delicacies, as there is a underground cold war by religious extremists to get pork removed from Sri Lankan menus.

The Café is airconditioned but it has very few seats. So, unless you go early you have to either sit in the garden or on the verandah of the old building. Both can get very hot during the day. The café doesn’t have alcohol but the main building, which is the Club house, serves alcohol.

The Beef Smore sandwich is to die for. For 400 bucks you get 2 plump sandwiches, with a liberal layer of slow cooked and shredded, high quality beef. The bread is the good old-fashioned type and its spread with just the right amount of mustard and butter. Their Bacon and Egg pastry with real bacon is another hit. The pastry is nice and flaky and crispy. In most other places the pastry is either hard, thick or soggy. Although a tad too salty for me, their Bacon and Egg pastry at Rs 200 is a winner. It is large and generously filled with real pork bacon and a half of a boiled egg. They also have Chicken pies, rolls and vegetable Chinese Rolls (Rs 130). But all these sell out very fast and unless you pick them up in the morning, you may not get any.

Another specialty here is the Lumprais. Other than from places that take private orders this is the only place in Colombo where you can now get a mixed meat lumprais which is the original lumprais. Of course they also have the “chicken only” aberration that’s sold everywhere. VOC cafes lumprais however doesn’t go well with me. At Rs 595/- its far more expensive than at most places, is much smaller and not as tasty as the Lumprais at the Green Cabin or the Fab. Except for a roasted cumin flavour there is no other flavour in the rice and the curries aren’t merged with the rice as happens when the entire Banana leaf packet is cooked and baked in an oven. Both the brinjal fry and the Seeni sambal are over fried and far too sweet and there is no other taste or flavour in them except the sweetness. The Blachan was authentic and lovely. Instead of meat Frikkadels they had two small crumbed and fried vegetable balls (called cutlets in Sri Lanka)

A set menu rice and curry lunch is under Rs 600/- but the portion is rather measly. They have a lovely breakfast: choice of meat curry, dhal curry and coconut sambal with pol roti or old fashioned bread. That’s a real yummy breakfast.

They also sell Love cake , by the slab or per piece, Jaggery cake, ginger and date pudding, Christmas cake and some other sweets.

Unlike many other places that add 30% onto the menu prices as tax and Service charge, the VOC café only adds 10% as taxes, and they don’t levy a Service charge from the customers. There is shady parking under trees if you go early.

S
1

1/5

0

Soni2012

Went therefor lunch today and found the service to be terrible. The waiter took 20 minutes to get to us, the drinks took another 20 minutes, by which time the lamprais had run out and so had the beef curry lunch meal. The food took forever to get to us and they never even bothered to get us cutlery. Really awful service and mediocre food. Such a waste of my time.

S
1

1/5

0

Soni2012

Went therefor lunch today and found the service to be terrible. The waiter took 20 minutes to get to us, the drinks took another 20 minutes, by which time the lamprais had run out and so had the beef curry lunch meal. The food took forever to get to us and they never even bothered to get us cutlery. Really awful service and mediocre food. Such a waste of my time.

G
9

4/5

0

GayanP

Yummy old favourites
This is probably the only place now in Colombo to get old favourites. Some of the very special unique items are: Homemade Ginger Beer, Mixed meat Lumprais, Ghee rice with Chicken, pork or Beef curry, Beef Smore sandwiches made with old fashioned bread and of course the good old Bacon & Egg pastries with real bacon. All of these are now very hard to get anywhere else in Colombo; particularly the pork delicacies, as there is a underground cold war by religious extremists to get pork removed from Sri Lankan menus.

The Café is airconditioned but it has very few seats. So, unless you go early you have to either sit in the garden or on the verandah of the old building. Both can get very hot during the day. The café doesn’t have alcohol but the main building, which is the Club house, serves alcohol.

The Beef Smore sandwich is to die for. For 400 bucks you get 2 plump sandwiches, with a liberal layer of slow cooked and shredded, high quality beef. The bread is the good old-fashioned type and its spread with just the right amount of mustard and butter. Their Bacon and Egg pastry with real bacon is another hit. The pastry is nice and flaky and crispy. In most other places the pastry is either hard, thick or soggy. Although a tad too salty for me, their Bacon and Egg pastry at Rs 200 is a winner. It is large and generously filled with real pork bacon and a half of a boiled egg. They also have Chicken pies, rolls and vegetable Chinese Rolls (Rs 130). But all these sell out very fast and unless you pick them up in the morning, you may not get any.

Another specialty here is the Lumprais. Other than from places that take private orders this is the only place in Colombo where you can now get a mixed meat lumprais which is the original lumprais. Of course they also have the “chicken only” aberration that’s sold everywhere. VOC cafes lumprais however doesn’t go well with me. At Rs 595/- its far more expensive than at most places, is much smaller and not as tasty as the Lumprais at the Green Cabin or the Fab. Except for a roasted cumin flavour there is no other flavour in the rice and the curries aren’t merged with the rice as happens when the entire Banana leaf packet is cooked and baked in an oven. Both the brinjal fry and the Seeni sambal are over fried and far too sweet and there is no other taste or flavour in them except the sweetness. The Blachan was authentic and lovely. Instead of meat Frikkadels they had two small crumbed and fried vegetable balls (called cutlets in Sri Lanka)

A set menu rice and curry lunch is under Rs 600/- but the portion is rather measly. They have a lovely breakfast: choice of meat curry, dhal curry and coconut sambal with pol roti or old fashioned bread. That’s a real yummy breakfast.

They also sell Love cake , by the slab or per piece, Jaggery cake, ginger and date pudding, Christmas cake and some other sweets.

Unlike many other places that add 30% onto the menu prices as tax and Service charge, the VOC café only adds 10% as taxes, and they don’t levy a Service charge from the customers. There is shady parking under trees if you go early.

Avatar for Kinita
22

2/5

0

Kinita

DBU's service has YET AGAIN thwarted me. I keep trying to go here in the mornings for a yum breakfast pastry, but they never have anything ready on time, nor do they open on time. This has happened thrice now. It just seems like they don't care, and honestly, their quality has dropped so much I don't care either.

Avatar for indi
21

4/5

0

indi YAMU STAFF

Update: I had a non-awful service experience here today. Just stopped in for a ghee rice and managed to get out within half an hour, and the rice was good. Lady cut in front of me but that's not the management's fault.

I generally like the lamprais here. Number is wrong though, should be (011) 258 4511

See 35 Comments