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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.



Best known for its lamprais, VOC Cafe at the Dutch Burgher Union is not just another restaurant, but also an iconic landmark in Colombo. It used to be a favourite of ours for the past decade or so, and still is, to some extent. 

Food & Drinks

A visit to DBU is incomplete without a Lamprais. Clocking in at Rs. 640, the Mix Meat Lamprais was comprised of steaming hot, fluffy rice cooked in chicken stock, tangy brinjal, two frikkadels, blachan, sweet seeni sambol and of course, the well-spiced up mixed meat curry made with chicken, beef and pork.

Despite the good flavour, we were quite disappointed with the diminished portion size. We try DBU's lamprais every once in a while, and it feels like it gets tinier every year. I'd pick Lansi's over this any day.

The Double Beef Burger (Rs. 795) had two hefty homemade beef patties, pickles and onions, sandwiched in between a soft, albeit dry bun. At a glance, it looks pretty basic, nothing remarkable. 

Nonetheless, we're happy with the flavour and the quality of the patties. They were juicy, beefy, and adequately seasoned. There was a good drizzle of sweet-tasting sauce, which was balanced out by the tangy pickles. The bun could use some work. It tended to fall apart even at the slightest touch. 

The best part of our experience was this dynamite Black Pork Curry (Rs. 750). Tender, delicious and well marinated with an absolutely creamy gravy full of Sri Lanka's finest spices, it carried that irresistible, unique aroma of black curry. Aside from a couple of oily bits, everything else was meat. I'm drooling as I write this. Not a pretty sight, but what can I say? They nailed it. 

We ordered a piece of Caramel Pudding (Rs. 250) as our dessert. With a beautiful brown shade on top, the caramel here had a slightly bitter note, but we didn't mind. 

This is another highlight from our visit, the Homemade Ginger Beer (Rs. 450 for a bottle). With a wicked ginger snap, a hint of lime, and just the right amount of sweetness, it's a refreshing treat on a hot day, and probably a good remedy if you have an iffy stomach.

The ginger goodness lies in the bottom of the bottle, so make sure to stir it up well before drinking. It boosts up the overall flavour. 

Ambience & Service

Aisha took this picture 4 years ago, and from what we observed from our recent visit, nothing hasn't changed in terms of ambience. The indoor and outdoor seating arrangements are the same as before, and the calm, soothing vibe seems to remain still.

We're quite impressed by the measurements they have implemented against the pandemic. Every table had a bottle of sanitiser placed on them, and the staff was properly geared up with masks and face shields. We also noticed how they clean up the tables and chairs after every use. 

The service has improved a lot since our last visit. They were happy to serve us, always hovered at a discrete distance, and popped right over whenever it looks like we need something.

Conclusion

Good service, simple yet flavoursome burgers and great ginger beer, but we're a bit let down by the quality of their ever so popular lamprais. 


TIP

Head there early before 1 PM
All Reviews

A revisit to VOC by DBU.

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 37 Comments