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4/5

The Barefoot Cafe

8th Lane (off Galle Road), Colombo 3


Barefoot Cafe is the best place to hang out in Colombo. It's a chilled place to meet or make friends, see art, hear music, eat good food and drink affordable beer.



The Barefoot Gallery Cafe is an iconic landmark smack in the central area of the Galle Road stretch. It's been around for ages and has seen many folks from all walks of life come and go. Mostly tourists, but I don't blame anybody for wanting to visit. 

It's got a lot to offer in terms of aesthetic value, so it's really no surprise that people flock here by the droves to while away the afternoons and evenings with a slice of cake, or perhaps a cup of tea even. It's been a while since the YAMU crew dropped in, so on a lazy Sunday, I decided that it was time for a visit.

The Food 

The menu here ranges from typical western dishes to Sri Lankan meals. Although the Lankan meals are prepared well, and sound enticing- you're better off sticking to the other dishes since we've all tasted the best rice and curry, ever: at home. 

For starters, we got a portion of the French Fries (Rs. 550). This might sound like a pricey pick at first, but what you get is a massive basket of some of the best, thick cut fries. Each fry is about the size of your finger, heavy and well seasoned. You also get a side of ketchup, as is the norm. 
Perhaps try this out if you're here for some tea and a snack. 

They usually jot down their daily specials on a blackboard, so make sure you take a good look at that as well. 

We opted for the Grilled Modha (barramundi) with Mashed Potatoes and Roast Vegetables. This one is somewhere around Rs. 1000 - Rs. 1300. While the Modha fillet was of a sizeable nature, and the mash was a decent portion as well- we noticed that they could have definitely thrown in a few extra vegetables than what we had. For starters, there was a single mushroom split in two, about two bits of broccoli, and two bits of cauliflower. 

Anyways, the Modha was delightful. It tasted fresh, with only a bit of salt coming through its well-grilled edges. I especially liked the charred areas- they lightly enhanced the overall flavour without making the thing taste burnt. 
The mash was good, too. It had the right consistency, was thick and pretty filling. They had a teeny bit of some sort of puree on the side - from tasting, I assume it was a concoction of peppers, chilli and perhaps some parsley. I'm not too sure, but it was a delicious addition all the same. 
The Falafel Pita Pockets is served on a large plate, all spread out with vegetables around- so it looks like a massive portion. This had to be the worst dish we'd ordered. For starters, it costs a staggering Rs. 980, but bore no semblance of being actually worth Rs. 980. 

I wonder if it was just a bad day to order this dish, because you can go anywhere else and have something better than this. It's comprised of a bunch of hastily presented pita pockets, an unnecessary amount of cucumbers which made the whole thing taste like cucumbers and pita, a few squeezes of mayo and four small pieces of falafel. 
The falafel wasn't impressive. It was hard and tasted more like cardboard as opposed to a flavourful mixture of chickpeas, parsley, and garlic. 

If you're vegetarian or opting for something vegetarian, stick to a different dish. 

Drinks & Dessert 

Barefoot has a decent range of drinks and desserts, so we went ahead and tried a few out. On an especially hot day, I'd highly advise you opt for their Lime and Mint Soda. I'll explain momentarily. 

  • Let's start with their Kade Tea. I noticed that it cost Rs. 250, which isn't bad especially when you compare it to new cafes that serve this simple drink at more ridiculous prices. It had just the right layer of froth on the top, and had a great colour as well. I suspect they use condensed milk on account of its overly sweet taste. I cannot complain. It was a comforting cup, but I will say that you're better off going to an actual kadey or to your mum if you're keen on getting tea that tastes as good as this. 
    It was served with a slice of biscotti. The shape reminds me of almond biscotti, but I didn't taste any almonds. Nevertheless, it was chewy, sweet, and tasted great when we dipped it into the tea. 
  • The Pineapple Juice was somewhere in the Rs. 500 range, and is a big glass of fresh pineapple. It was thick, heady, and highly refreshing. It wasn't overly sweet either, but just enough so that the sharp tang of pineapple was further enhanced and balanced out. 
  • The Lime and Mint soda stays within the same price range as the pineapple juice and is the best lime and mint you'll have on the island. It's strong, it doesn't taste like toothpaste, and the soda does a superb job of making every sip a sharp, limey, astringent kick. 10/10.

Here's where things got interesting. I noticed that a slice of Carrot Cake costs Rs. 700, which is strangely not that bad considering cake prices have seen a weird increase lately. I have no idea why, but most slices at any cafe or cakery anywhere go for Rs. 500 and upwards. 

Barefoot's Carrot Cake, is an unassuming slice, rich in colour, minimal in design with a light layer of cream cheese frosting on the top. I've seen carrot cakes with more flair than this, but believe me when I tell you that this has to be the best slice I've had. Ever. 

It reminded me of something my gran would make. Simple, beautiful in its unassuming decor and yet ever so comforting. The cake was sweet, the frosting added a tart little undertone and the overall flavour was soulful and honest. 

Service & Ambience 

Barefoot's aesthetic is its biggest selling point, with Bawa's very evident design footprint present throughout the premises. The open seating area allows for lots of sunlight and the occasional breeze. 

Bright colours make an entrance here and there in carefully designated spots. Look out for their wall in the far corner advertising loads of vintage posters. A good spot for some tea and a tête-à-tête. Service was disappointing.

Everyone else was offered water but us. Not a single waiter attended to our table until I had to aggressively flag one down. I absolutely detest this sort of treatment and hope they advise their staff sternly, or this isn't going to play out well with people who are actually keen on enjoying an afternoon here. 

Note: I was told that the service here is generally slow. To be fair, this is the type of establishment where you're allowed to relax and enjoy your time. They won't rush you, and they generally take a bit of time, so if you're in a rush or just used to faster service I suppose it's best to remain patient. 

Conclusion 

This is a beautiful spot, with a decent menu and even better drinks. I don't know what to tell you, because I've heard mixed reviews about service from different people. Most of them negative, but the positive ones shine through. I advise you to try a Fair & Lovely treatment before heading there, or you'll have to play the aggressive customer game which is a downer for everybody involved. 

That being said, if you do go, try the Carrot Cake. It'll help alleviate any negativity you've been subject to, with its warm, sweet kiss. 


TIP

The beer is surprisingly cheap, but note that they stop serving alcohol between 2-5 PM.
All Reviews

The Barefoot Cafe serves up some excellent drinks and decent food. Their service needs to improve, vastly.

This Colombo’s institution is a great spot to have a drink, a light meal or a snack and to chill out in a peaceful and natural setting. 

Barefoot Cafe is undoubtedly one of the most popular hangout spots in Colombo. With it's chic outdoor setting, good food and great music its easy to see why.

Barefoot Cafe is the best place to hang out in Colombo. It's a chilled place to meet or make friends, see art, hear music, eat good food and drink affordable beer.

සිංහල කොළඹ නිකරුණේ කාලය ගත කරන්න තියෙන හොඳම තැන තමයි බෙයාර්ෆුට් කැෆේ. ඒක යාළුවෝ හම්බවෙන්න හරි යාළුවෝ ඇතිකරගන්න හරි හොඳ තැනක් වගේම කලා කෘති බලන්න, සංගීතය අහන්න, හොඳ කෑම කන්න සහ දරාගන්න පුළුවන් මිලට බීර බොන්න හොඳ තැනක්. සංචාරකයන්ට බෙයාර්ෆුට්, සීගිරිය වගේම හොඳ සංචාරක ගමනාන්තයක්. දේශීය වැසියන්ට ඒක කොළඹ තියෙන අත්‍යවශ්‍යම තැනක්. ඒක අධිරාජ්‍ය යුගයේදී ලාංකිකයන්ගේ අවසාන තානාපති කාර්යාලය වගේ.

Address

8th Lane (off Galle Road), Colombo 3

Directions

Go down the Galle Road, it's just past the Bambalapitiya Junction (so past Majestic City). You can walk through the Barefoot store or go down the adjoining 8th Lane to a decent sized parking lot.

Contacts

E-Mail Facebook Website

Report Inaccuracy

Open until 07:00 PM

Price Range

Between Rs. 1000 - Rs. 1500

Ratings Breakdown

Overall Rating
3
Quality Rating
3
Service Rating
1
Ambience Rating
5
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