What we had
Promoting Sri Lanka to the rest of the world with cocktails
The newly-opened Darley Road had a sprinkling of Colombo’s work crowd when we walked in. What was formerly known as The Keg in Excel World has now been renovated into a chill spot with dusky, brick interiors that holds the promise of blossoming into an entertainment hub as the night looms. We dropped in to sample pub grub and alcoholic concoctions.
Needless to say, the night wound up blurry!
Wassa Kupiya (LKR 1090)
Darley Road has an exceptional method of presenting their cocktails, with the unique arrangement of each one giving a nod to its identity. ‘Wassa Kupiya’, for example, comes in an old fashioned glass bottle. As a wine lover, my taste was appeased. Red wine provides earthy lower notes, while sharp bursts of citrus weave in and out of each sip. This is one of the stronger cocktails on their menu and one that we enjoyed very much.
Katipol (LKR 1090)
We are pretty sure this one was supposed to be named ‘catapult’. I can certainly see myself making an accident out of this beautifully curated cocktail. The perfect balance of sweet and sour, this was my favourite. Very drinkable, this is one to look out for as the sharp taste of alcohol is cleverly hidden behind notes of cranberry, and crème de cassis. Top marks for the thought gone into the practicality of the presentation. I found a nail discreetly hammered into the wooden slab to prevent the drinking from ‘catapulting’.
As our photographer Sassanda said, “Hondai”.
Kassaya Darley Road (LKR 1490)
Anything fire-related fuels my pyromania. So it came as no surprise I lost my marbles over this cocktail that was served with a garnish of burning cinnamon sticks. The action infuses the sambuca with a smoky flavour that enhances the whole drink. The delightful taste of ginger beer combined with the sambuca, whiskey, Jagermeister and lime juice makes a light, refreshing cocktail with a smoky undertone.
Onion Rings (LKR 390)
Onion rings are pub grub popular but I am sad to report that I haven’t found ones that I like in Colombo yet. So when a heaping plate of generously-battered rings made its way to our table I was thrilled. Upon the first crispy bite, you are hit with the slight taste of vinegar followed by the spice of chilli powder. Its slightly chewy consistency also makes for a pleasant mouthfeel. Paired with sweet chilli sauce, this hits the right spot.
Devilled Chicken (LKR 690)
A satisfactory dish of juicy pieces of chicken with just the right amount of spice. Doused in sweet and sour sauce, the top notes of the chicken are peppery. We do believe that the portion size could have been more generous but the helping of vegetables that was served with it made for a better presentation.
Chicken Cordon Bleu (LKR 890)
Simple flavours of cheesy chicken-y goodness! Cooked to perfection with a mix of cheeses oozing out from the centre, this uncomplicated dish is served with some delicious gravy with ginger undernotes and French fries. The crisp, breadcrumb coating adds a crunch to the dish, which improves the texture. Excellent for when you want simple tastes to satisfy your appetite.
Extra Spicy Mutton Baduma with 5 chilli varieties (LKR 1490)
Despite the five chilli seasoning mix, this dish wasn’t spicy at all. For a Lankan gal with a surprisingly mild palate, that’s saying something. Although this is one of the pub’s specialities, it needs some polishing up to live up to the exceptional taste and creativity of everything else that we sampled. Although the meat was tender, the flavour was not consistent throughout and was bland in certain parts.
The Darley Rd. Mixed Grill (LKR 1990)
Once again, points for presentation. A sizzling, heaping plate of kebabs, sausages, wedges, chicken topped with a runny fried egg tantalized our slightly buzzed senses. The different elements that made up this grill retained their flavour well after the food cooled down. The runny egg yolk coated the meat once it was cut into and gave it a unique flavour. For LKR 1990, this was truly worth the money and is slightly reminiscent of a full English breakfast that kills hangovers after a night out.
“Good service comes from the heart,”- Dinesh, Manager
Catering mainly to the work crowd, Darley Road’s interiors have a dual-tone, creating a lounge-y feel with the dusky interiors on one side and a club feel with a light-up display on the other. They also have live music every Friday and Saturday, which shows that they take their entertainment seriously. The space is large enough to not feel crowded at any point. With clever use of lighting, the ambience created at the pub is soothing but will also get you in a mood to party, depending on where you are seated.
Tip – Make sure to ask your server for the ‘Kassaya Darley Road”. It’s not on the menu!