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2/5

White Horse Inn

2 Nawam Mawatha, Colombo 2


White Horse has always been a playground for Colombo's underage, bright young things. It's also been a playground for Colombo's not-so-bright things. Which probably explains why the occasional fight breaks out: the big bundied, arrack drinking men in the corner may toss a comment at the girls whose male counterparts then indignantly intervene...you know how the rest goes.



White Horse has long been the watering hole of the underaged or slightly dodgy. Everyone and their 13 year old cousin has made their way through White Horse's greasy doors for a no-questions-asked drink or two.

In our previous review, Shru describes it as

"a playground for Colombo's underage, bright young things. It's also been a playground for Colombo's not-so-bright things. Which probably explains why the occasional fight breaks out: the big "bundied, arrack drinking men in the corner toss a few lewd comments at the girls whose male counterparts then indignantly intervene for their honour...you know how the rest goes."

Not much has changed, except there are dozens of new, better, and less sleazy bars to go to, with a lower probability of assault via sinister minister progeny, less smoke irrevocably stuck in your eyes/hair/underpants, and prices that match. We've visited White Horse a few times over the last month, mostly in some sort of vague and misguided attempt at reliving at the "good old days" before all the shiny buildings and pricey gourmet cocktails. Almost every experience has been kind of crap. Here's why.

Drinks & Dining

Dining is a grandiose and misleading term for the nosh available at White Horse. On a good day, they'll serve you some oily cheese toast perfect for soaking up the cheap booze you're ingesting, on a bad day they'll just say the kitchen is closed. In the afternoons, they sometimes serve up some mediocre and expensive nasi goreng and set lunch packets, but we don't recommend it. The daylight isn't kind to the interior.

They don't really do cocktails here, but you can get spirits and beer. You can't really consider it a dive bar given that prices here are higher than far better spots like Mintage or Randoli. For example, a bottle of Old Arrack will cost you about Rs. 1600 at either of them, but will cost you an easy Rs 2300 at White. A short arrack and lime will cost you about Rs. 400, a big Lion lager bottle around Rs. 350. 

Service & Ambience

The ambience here scrapes by, with loud trashy music, a flickering TV generally playing a match or some 90's movie, dark navy walls (perfect for camouflaging stains - blood, vomit, alcohol), and a long wooden bar stocked with alcohol. 

The service is probably the worst in the city, although this is dependant on who you are. If you're a young sweary dude who "machang"s and drunkenly hugs/shakes hands with the waiters to impress everyone with how working class you and your BMW parked outside are, you're fine. If you're a girl (especially a young/foreign one) in a smaller group, be prepared to be harassed by both drunk patrons and even one or two of the waiters.

Most of the waiters are fine, they just sort of plod on and do their job and are nice to you if you're nice to them. But there's one guy behind the bar (Raja if I'm not mistaken, pictured below) who's a real piece of work. First of all, he repeatedly slammed both empty and full glasses down on my hand 3 times. Hard, and on purpose. The first two times to get my attention, the third just to serve me. He responded to my please and thank yous with snarls and more slamming. He also "forgot" to give us change for around Rs. 200 on two different occasions, and didn't apologize when it was pointed out either time.

On our last visit (the last of many, and the last ever), he got into a conversation in Sinhala with some inebriated men sitting a little bit down the bar from me at around 10 PM. He then went on to call me a prostitute and ask whether any of them were going to drop me off back home in Maradana. I'm not sure what gave him this impression, whether it was the fact that I was seated separately with a large mixed group having a quiet drink, or it was my incredibly revealing baggy t shirt. Eitherway, I can't give less of a flying duck, and can't see myself ever returning here or recommending it to friends in the future. I'm sure there will be people doggedly defending White Horse and all its horror as hipster or authentic, but it's just crap. And there's only so much you can gild a turd.

Overall

White Horse has a lot of nostalgic appeal to the young wild and free times of our youth, but there's only so far sentiment should cloud your judgement. Plus honestly, if you're not in high school, then crap overpriced alcohol, horrible service, techno music and underaged girls really shouldn't be appealing to you at all. And if it is, enjoy a few years of edginess before White Horse gets bulldozed to make way for another hotel/office building/cafe.


TIP

If you're feeling peckish, ask for the cheese toast. This isn't on the menu but it's pretty good.

Address

2 Nawam Mawatha, Colombo 2

Directions

From Gangarama (Sir James Peiris Mawatha) turn down Nawam Mawatha at the Sampath Bank. Go down and turn right at the Chamber Of Commerce. It's the second street down, past the HSBC.

Contacts

Report Inaccuracy

Open until 02:30 AM

Price Range

Between Rs. 500 - Rs. 1000

Ratings Breakdown

Overall Rating
4
Quality Rating
3
Service Rating
4
Ambience Rating
3
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