Our top ten foodie faves
A Gastronomic Guide To Galle Fort
11 April 2019 by Kiera Greenwood
Beguiling is the word. A little snippet of Europe, cut out and neatly placed on Sri Lanka’s south coast. Here, an impenetrable, 17th-century fort protects its glorious stillness and timeless style with the utmost ferocity – the buzz of greater Galle is to be forgotten. Cobbled streets meet white washed walls, terracotta roofs highlight narrow streets, flowers in full bloom throw their heady scent into the hot air and crumbling colonial buildings have been transformed into bijou boutiques, interspersed by chic eateries. Oh yes, many eateries.
When holidaying in Sri Lanka, you’ll have plenty of time to delve head first into the delights of the country’s traditional cuisine. In fact, it’s likely that curries will be on offer for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There’s no denying that daal is fantastic and the range of new vegetables – have you ever heard of lady’s fingers before? Nope, we hadn’t either – and spices that you’ll be introduced to will quite frankly change your culinary palette forever. For the better of course. But, for when you want to diversify your dinner options slightly, no where on this island has more of an eclectic offering than Galle Fort. As small as it may be, this quaint corner is packed full to the brim with top-class foodie gems and these are our favourites.
Encompassing the beachy urban feel of its coastal home, Poonie’s Kitchen is a hipster’s dream. Hidden at the rear of Mimi Mango boutique on Pedlar Street, this rustic courtyard cafe has a short but sweet menu that focuses on fresh, local produce. Organic, vegan, gluten free, you name it and this cafe will offer it. And not only is the food delicious, but it looks beautiful too – the thali bowl is guaranteed to make it to your feed. With their clean-eating ethos and mission to be plastic free by 2020, Poonie’s is Galle’s top spot for guilt-free dining.
The Tuna & The Crab
Combining Sri Lanka’s world class seafood with Japanese culinary techniques, The Tuna and The Crab is the brainchild of famous Sri Lankan chef, Dharshan Munidasa (ok, so his name may not have reached the UK, but trust us, in Sri Lanka, this guy is a big deal). Located in the old Dutch Hospital, this sleek restaurant offers fresh and innovative Asian cuisine and even has an open sushi bar, at which you can watch the chefs at work.
A local chain offering taste and style in equal measure, the old Dutch Hospital’s Sugar Bistro mixes Sri Lankan classics with Western favourites in a chic, informal setting. Whether visiting for breakfast, lunch or dinner, a chilled ambience is guaranteed, whilst for a pre or post dinner tipple, the fine wine and champagne offerings are plentiful.
The Heritage Cafe and Bistro
A stripped back art cafe that takes full advantage of its 300 year old ex ‘National Bakery’ location, the Heritage Cafe and Bistro is casual dining at its quirky best. The diverse menu quite literally has something for everyone, with everything from handmade pasta to freshly baked pastries on offer, whilst the one-of-a-kind art pieces that are scattered throughout the establishment make this a fun spot for a quick pit-stop.
Church Street Social at the Fort Bazaar
Located inside the Fort Bazaar boutique hotel (which is actually our character hotel option in Galle and really is a beauty – do it, you know you want to), the irresistible Church Street Social is the place to be. It didn’t get its name without reason. Inspired by the cuisine of Morocco and the Middle East, the menu is exotic and exciting without forgetting its roots. Here you’ll find a selection of rustic sharing platters, incredibly fresh seafood and Sri Lankan classics with a distinctly contemporary twist. And the food isn’t the only draw. The Moroccan inflections have found their way into the design too, amalgamating in a contemporary, design-led setting, where style and substance and one and the same thing. Oh, and like many Sri Lankan restaurants, this one is BYOB, so make sure to stop at a shop on the way if you want a glass of vino with your meal.
Isle of Gelato
This innovative gelateria will have you slavering until you give in and try a cone of your own (it’ll be your first, but it certainly won’t be your last). Just take a trip to their Instagram if you don’t believe us. Oh, yes. Say hello to gelato to rival that which is found in Florence – the supposed destination of its origins, duh. Isle of Gelato may be known for their quirky flavours (think jackfruit, tamarind-coconut milk and lemon curd), but the real aim of the game here is to produce lip smacking authenticity with every scoop. We mean, the owner even spent three months in Bologna learning the art of gelato making. Oh and the simple, yet stylish interiors are a treat too. Can you tell that we’re partial to an ice cream or two?
A fun and quirky bar-cum-restaurant, Tequila Mockingbird is as carefree as its name suggests. Situated on the first floor gallery of the converted Dutch Hospital, terrace views of Galle Bay are just one of its perks. The food is a popular Galle combo of easy-to-pallette Western fare (think everything from burgers and chips to waffles) and traditional curry offerings, whilst the real attraction here is the extensive cocktail list. Bag a table along the verandah and time your visit for golden hour for the ultimate sundowner spot.
Pedlar’s Inn Cafe & Pedlar’s Inn Gelato
With a signature vintage car marking its entrance, you know that Pedlar’s Inn is going to be a good choice from the off. A small touch we know, but a pleasant sign of good taste nonetheless. Occupying the ground floor of the former British post office, much like just about anywhere within the fort, this place has a whole lotta history and is proud of it too. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you can expect a mixture of hearty Italian food as well as classic Asian dishes served up in a typical laid-back cafe style – to really soak in the atmosphere, take a seat out the front and watch the world go by.
Just across the street you’ll find Pedlar’s Inn Gelato. They may have some stiff competition from the new kids on the block – a.k.a Isle of Gelato – but this classic gelateria still wins many a heart with its old-school charms, quaint lounge and the quirky boat benches that line its front.
Offering self-proclaimed authentic Sri Lankan food with a contemporary twist, Hoppa is to be your Pedlar Street go-to if you just can’t get enough of what Sri Lanka does best. We’re talking curries of course. It’s been a while since any of us were last in Sri Lanka and boy, are our mouths watering just looking at the food on offer at this unassuming find. Popular local favourites, from isso vadai to seafood roti, as well as an array of hoppers, are artfully served up in a simple, rustic setting, making the focus all about the food. And at the end of the day, that’s what it should be about, right? You may not have had, or even heard of a hopper before visiting this restaurant, but you’ll come away with a new favourite dish, that’s for sure.
For only the highest of high teas, it doesn’t get much better than the swanky Amangalla. With elegance oozing from its very being, this hotel offers a snapshot of a bygone era with all the comfort that one would expect of the 21st century. Think candelabra chandeliers, sparkling silverware and buttery scones fresh out of the oven. Just don’t forget to point that pinky when sipping on your tea.