California Grill (Galadari)

Hotel Galadari, 64 Lotus Road, Colombo 1

California Grill is one of the city's older fine dining restaurants, located at the rooftop of the Galadari Hotel. They serve a selection of seafood, steak and grills as well as a variety of flambé dishes.

Much like an aging party prowler who wears too much blue eyeshadow, the California Grill is well past its prime, uses too much faux bling, and charges too much for fare that simply isn't fresh. Not to be confused with California Girls.


The Cali Grill looks and feels like a night club from the 1980's. It's dripping in tinted mirrors, tacky chandeliers, oversize bouquets of fake flowers, champagne glasses large enough to store a baby inside, and lots and lots of gratuitous blue lighting. The rattling industrial A/Cs also look like they're about my age and twice as cold, so that made for a slightly chilly dining experience.

The seating itself is comfortable and ample, with light creams and beiges holding chromatic court. It's also actually a prime location, overlooking some of Colombo's most over-photographed spots like Galle Face, Galle Road, WTC, the Kingsbury and the port. This place is just itching for a massive revamp to turn it into a gorgeous night time spot.

There's a rather massive and under-utilized outdoor section lit up in neon blue (is there any other colour, really?) which sports a huge stone fountain, a couple of tables, a brilliant view, and not much else. A real, and surreal, waste of space. 

In my mind, I see the CG being refurbished into a sleek lounge with a large shallow plunge pool outside perfect for sleek rap-video like pool parties.


To be fair, our waiter was a very polite and helpful young man. He made lots of effort to explain the menu and everything that wasn't available (essentially the duck and most of the steaks, which is great for a grill restaurant). He was also very quick and efficient, and made us feel at home. The manager did try to help, but skip a bit forward to the part about the crème brûlée for more insight. 

Dine & Wine

The prices were on par with Colombo's priciest restaurants, but quality simply wasn't.

We opened with a platter of oysters, which were actually pretty fresh and presented well, and not crazy steep at Rs 1100 for 5. Paired with a bit of tabasco and sparkling wine, they were a promising start to a disappointing meal.

The molluscs were followed by a complimentary solitary canapé each, and then the starter, a Prawn Toscani (Rs. 800). The prawn was quite well-done and flavourful, but the whole salad only included about 4 small prawns and a teensy pile of greens, which seemed a bit parsimonious. The Asparagus Foam Soup (Rs. 600) that followed was quite rich but didn't convey any convincing flavour. Again, it was on the smaller side, and I didn't quite catch the taste of Remy Martin that was supposed to season it.

This was followed by a saccharine bit of lime sorbet meant to serve as a palate cleanser. 

Our main was the Mixed Grill at a whopping Rs. 2600, enough for one hungry boy with low standards. It consisted of a sausage, cut in half and arranged at a rakish angle, a couple of diverse and chewy lumps of meat smothered in admittedly delicious pepper-BBQ sauce, a little lump of mashed potato, and a solitary leaky tomato just laying there. Leaking. 

Worst part was, the Mixed Grill is meant to come with some sort of carb, so the waiter suggested saffron rice. I rebelled valiantly against his suggestion and asked for mashed potato instead but he insisted the rice was the best bet. I demurely agreed. When the plate came out, there was a serving of mashed potato after all. We asked what happened to his much-touted rice was, so he hustled off to the kitchen, brough back a miniscule portion of dry rice, and happily charged us Rs. 500 for it. 

Ok no, that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was the dessert. I bravely asked for a Crème Brûlée (Rs. 500), a dish that we at YAMU have frequently had issues tracking down. Given the abysmal nature of my main course, I should have seen the folly of my decision, but nay. What I received was a little bowl of custard, with some artsy grape cut on top. I asked the waiter, then another waiter, and then the manager where my crème brûlée was and if I could speak to the chef but my requests were met by derision.

The manager essentially told me I had simply ordered wrong and this is what the dish is. I finally managed to convince him that this was not in fact a crème brûlée and that it required a measure of caramelized sugar on top. He eventually said "oh if that's the type you want, we usually only serve that at lunch not dinner" to which I responded with: 

Finally, they held a candle to the top of my custard and brought it back. Like this.

No, that is not sugar. It's just blackened custard. I sent it back as a tear sprung into my eyeball.


After the debacle of Sesto Senso, I was looking forward to a proper meal. It was not to be. The entire meal cost over Rs. 10,000 including a juice and a glass of wine. The taxes were hefty, so that didn't help either. In all honesty, I could have 5 meals for that same price at much, much better quality. It was a true disappointment. 


Make sure you book early and reserve a table by the window.


Hotel Galadari, 64 Lotus Road, Colombo 1



Closed right now


Fine Dining

Price Range

More than Rs.1500

Ratings Breakdown

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