2/16 Baseline Road, Colombo 5
Closed right now
Serving the best handallo in town, the GSSC is a dodgy bar with cheap drinks and decent patrons.
The Government Service Sports Club is still patronized by former civil servants, but, over the years, its clientele has given way to the neighbouring folk of the Kirullapona Canal. As the name suggests, there is some form of sport to be engaged with, namely snooker, with two old tables and a charming anitque snooker desk in a room just past the bar. There's indoor seating with a tv, and lots of outdoor space with tables strewn around a sprawling old growth tree. MalMal, Buddhika and I decided we'd have a few drinks and try out the bites and we ended up spending a good few hours there, without a single disturbance from the other patrons.
While there's no cocktail menu at the GSSC, you can grab a 50ml of Old Arrack for Rs 130, or a quarter for Rs 460. A quarter of Old Reserve will cost you Rs 600. MalMal and I shared a quarter of Old Arrack, by suggestion of the waiter. We asked for two 50ml shots and were coaxed into splitting a quarter. If you do the math, the pricing is consistent, at Rs 2.6 per 1ml. Buddhika went the Lion Strong route with a bottle at Rs 320. Shandy prices vary at GSSC, with Soda at Rs 60, Sprite at Rs 80, and EGB at Rs 100. Unfortunately, the GSSC does not have ice, so, if you're adamant on your drinked being served on the rocks, you'll be setting yourself up for disappointment. The soda wasn't super chilled, so our arrack drinks weren't that exciting. The beer was just cold enough.
This is where GSSC really scores. Handallo (Rs 390) is the one bite you must try here, and it cannot possibly disappoint. It's seasoned just perfect, not too salty, and the batter-fry is not too oily. We loved the crunch it had,and the flavour is bomb even without a sprinkling of lime. Served with onions, you get a very generous proportion enough for three.
After polishing that plate, we tried the devilled pork (Rs 480) and felt a little disoriented by the flavour. Buddhika found it too sweet to be a devilled dish, and MalMal thought it didn't really taste much like pork. Even a piece of pure pork fat tasted like sweet chili sauce, if sweet chili sauce were a chewing gum flavour. The portion was plentiful, but the hidden star of this dish is the kankun that's strewn about. The crunchy texture of the stalks of kankun really brightened up this bite and redeemed it from the confused chili flavour. I tried the handallo with the chili sauce and liked that combination, but I think I'm just really taken up by the fish.
On our third round of drinks, we tried the batter-fried dallo (Rs 450). This is by no means a hot butter cuttlefish, so we won't judge it by those standards. Still, we found the cuttlefish to be way too tough and chewy, and the batter-fry was a little thick and wasn't doing the succulent any favours. This was the least satisfying of the bites we had, and then we ordered rice. The mixed rice (Rs 450) is a gigantuous serving of fried rice with chicken, sausage, and some karawala type thing (according to MalMal) and (whole!) prawns. Four people could eat this. It's not too oily and there's just enough of meat to make for a decent spoonful each time.
We were seated outside, and were happy to see that the staff were preventing an otherwise inevitable plague of mosquitoes by manually fumigating with smoke. I don't have a single mosquito bite from the experience. The ambience is much better indoors, though, particularly the main bar area and the snooker room. The outside area doesn't have much lighting going on, so you have to move into the corridoors where there's metal tables and lights. Most of the bar's patrons keep to themselves, so you can comfortably host a crowd of men and women, here. The waiters are quite attentive, given that there's very little light to be able to recognize a customer seated outside. We appreciated the suggestion of drinking by the quarter instead of by the shot.
GSSC is wala-level value for money, and the indoor seating has great ambiance, but you've got to get there early to grab a table. Otherwise, the outside area can be a bit underwhelming with the lack of lighting. You can put a drink and chill without anyone bothering you. Our grand total came up to Rs 4000, and we were joined by three others, so that's around Rs 800 per head. If you're not into the setting, you may prefer a night out at Mintage.
GSSC is wala-level value for money, and the indoor seating has a charming ambiance, but you've got to get there early to grab a table.
One of the Colombo's best dodgy bars is, without a doubt, the Government Service Sports Club. Hidden behind the Baseline Road, a large crumbling building opens out onto a ramshackle garden scattered with a handful of metal chairs, plastic tables and a few mournful cats.
අන්තිමට චන්දනයි මායි අවසාන ‘කාලත්’ ක්රියා කරල! තව පොඩ්ඩෙන් එතනම අභාවප්ප්රාප්ත වෙනව. වෙලාවට අපි වැටෙද්දි කලින් කට් වෙච්ච අය නැගිට්ටෙ.
‘‘කොහෙද බං සෙට් වෙන්නේ?’’ මම ඉමාඩ්ගෙන් ඇහුවා. ‘‘ටිකක් පරණ ප්ලේස් එකක් තියෙනවා බේස් ලයින් පාරෙ, ගවර්මන්ට් සර්විස් ස්පෝර්ට්ස් ක්ලබ් කියලා. එතෙන්ට යමු.’’ ඉමාඩ් කිව්වා.
රාජ්ය සේවා ක්රීඩා සමාජය කොළඹ තිබෙන පහළ පෙළේ බාර් අතරින් හොඳම එක බව සැකයක් නැහැ. බේස්ලයි්න් පාරේ විශාල දිරාපත් වෙමින් යන ගොඩනැඟිල්ලක් පිටුපස සැඟවී තිබෙන එය විවෘත වන්නේ ගරාවැටුණ උද්යානයකටයි. එහි අතන මෙතන යකඩ පුටු කීපයකුත්, ප්ලාස්ටික් මේසත් තිබෙනවා. දුක්මුසු පෙනුමැති බළලුන් කීපදෙනෙක් මේසවලින් බිමට වටුණු හඳැල්ලන් අහුලා කනවා. එහා කෙළවරේ අබල දුබල තාප්පය දිගට සෝඩා බෝතල් ගොඩගහලා.
It's on Baseline Road near the canal and the old Airtel office. If you turn right from Park Road onto Baseline Road, it's just after the canal (but on the opposite side of the road). It's on Thalakotuwa Gardens, the road that leads to AIS and Elizabeth Moir.
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