We had a rather superb lunch at the new Jetwing Colombo Seven's restaurant, Fifty7, so we thought it was time we swung by their rooftop bar for a shimmy and a cocktail.
We're still waiting for great things from this bar, foreshadowed by their chic name "Ward 7" (perhaps an indication of a medical ward-themed cocktail menu to come?), and the presence of a Japanese Ice Mold (a freakishy cool metal contraption that creates perfect diamonds of ice via compression).
However, the cocktail menu here still isn't ready, despite the bar being open over a month. For now, the waiters do give you a couple of basic options, like Cosmopolitans, Caipirinhas, and Caipiroskas (apparently they're really into alliteration). We opted for a Caipirinha (Rs. 950) and Cosmo (Rs. 1000). Both drinks were fine, not particularly exciting, but quite strong and with overwhelming whacks of citrus.
They do have a solid wine list though, with prices that are pretty reasonable. For example, you can get a glass of Bordeaux for about Rs. 550, which is probably one of the lowest rates in the city.
Don't let the tiny menu dissuade you - the food, like the view, is one of the key draws of this place. The dining features funky fusion platters that give you a ridiculous amount of variety and flavours to explore, and probably the best hot dogs on the island.
We opted for a Crostini and Mini Burger Platter, which serves two people at Rs. 3000. It came complete with tuna bruschetta, tomato, black olives, toasted pork tacos, pulled beef short ribs served with guacamole on squid ink mini burgers, along with sour crab on toast with spicy mayonnaise. Sure, this is pricey, but it's also more than enough for 2 people to enjoy as a full meal. We really enjoyed it, although it was a race against time to taste it hot while the rooftop breeze rapidly cooled everything down. Everything on the platter was fresh and perfectly executed, although we felt the mayo overwhelmed the crab a bit.
Our second selection was the Chicken Hot Dog, which at Rs. 1200 is as gourmet as it gets. Move over, plasticky processed meat filled with water and preservatives, these sausages are made specially for Colombo Seven, and come delicately spiced and juicy. You can choose from a whole page of toppings, like bacon, pulled pork, guac, teriyaki and loads more. We opted for pulled pork and slaw, which also came with a side of perfectly crispy thick-cut, twice-cooked fries. While the price tag is heavy, this is a solid, delicious meal.
The bar is up on the 13th floor, which makes for great views in the relatively low-lying, residential Cinnamon Gardens area. You enter through the inner bar area, which is as of now like any generic hotel bar anywhere in the world. There's no art work, engaging music, or even table decor, but hopefully this will all change in the near future.
The outside, however, is where the excitement lies. Beautiful views of the city peep over the glass-walled sides and softly-lit infinity pool, accented by fluttering candles and comfy laid-back chairs.
It made for a great, cosy drinks experience. Perfect for a date night or catch up with quieter friends.
So this is where it gets spotty. The first time we visited, I was with another family (all Sri Lankan origin), dressed for dinner. As we entered, the waiter didn't welcome us but hastily told us we couldn't go outside as there was no room for us. We shrugged and told him we'd wait inside until a table opened up. As we perused our menus, we noticed a foreign couple walk in, get greeted very professionally, and immediately accommodated, the waiter even pulled a table from inside to the deck outside and set it up for them.
Infuriated by this blatant racism and lack of professionalism, we asked to speak to the manager. Instead, we were apologised to by the owner (who was having a sundowner there and saw the commotion), and the General Manager, given explanations, a table outside, and complimentary food (we didn't review the free food, obviously). While we can in no way fault the very genuine, remorseful approach by the owners and managerial staff, we must really question why we, or any other Sri Lankan deserves to be treated this way. Worst of all, by another Sri Lankan.
On our second visit, the service had clearly been put into line, as we were greeted politely, seated instantly, and never had to wait long to get the waitstaff's attention.
We've had consistently good service at the numerous Jetwing Hotels we've stayed at across the country, so we have no doubt that our racism issue will not be repeated. At almost Rs. 8000 including service charge and taxes for two cocktails and two meals, this is definitely one of the most expensive watering holes in the city - although the quality of food makes it worth it. Overall, we'd still strongly recommend this bar for the view, the wine, and the inventive food.