What we had
A quiet getaway amidst Colombo’s hustle and bustle
Nivasa is a charming little boutique hotel located in Thimibirigasyaya who opened the doors of their courtyard cafe to the public recently. The place, originally built as a private residence in 1960, is nestled amidst lots of greenery and is surprisingly quiet, despite its central location. The little lane that it is located on can be easy to miss if you do not have your eyes peeled (or if you are not good at reading a map) The perfect location to grab lunch if you work in the vicinity and want to escape the chaos!
Nivasa has a variety of hot and cold beverages with a list of interesting ingredients. From light and refreshing to sweet and creamy, their drinks menu appeals to all taste buds. They also use metal straws which is another plus point.
Caramel Crunch Shake – LKR 350
Probably the best shake I have had in Colombo. The concoction is beautifully presented in a glass with a curved bottom and comes with lots of whipped cream and salted caramel drizzled on the sides, topped with bits of honeycomb which is a truly unique touch. The shake was the perfect combination of sweet and salty and somehow managed to stay creamy and smooth up until after we were done photographing it.
Lime Soda – LKR 350
This one proved to be a good palate cleanser in between all of our tastings. The sharp, tangy flavour cuts straight through and the coolness and fizziness of the drinks makes it an effective pick-me-up.
Mangoberry Cooler – LKR 500
A refreshing sweet and sour drink with a creamy consistency. The raspberry compote at the bottom provides the initial sweetness which is followed by the sharp tang of the buffalo curd, complemented by mango and strawberry. Fruity goodness!
Nuttychocky shake – LKR 500
A delightful combination of creamy Nutella and savoury peanut butter. Once again, it was well presented with Nutella around the rim, lots of whipped cream and a sprinkle of peanuts which I also shamelessly polished off afterwards.
Nivasa currently serves breakfast and lunch, with breakfast being served until 10.30 am. The slightly mismatched cutlery on the table is something to work on, however, their friendly staff are quick to equip you with whatever you need. Considering the dishes and their complexity and presentation, the food arrives within a reasonable time. Everything that we ordered was served to us within half an hour.
Curry Pot Pie – LKR 1100
This one comes with a side of fresh green salad and is served on a wooden slab. The salad also has croutons fried in olive oil which added a nice crisp. I used my Gordon Ramsay approved method of testing the crust by scraping a knife across it and it did not disappoint. The flaky delicate crust crumbled immediately and falls into the delicious filling of slow-cooked lamb, which was soft, flavourful and tender.
Fiery Mullet – LKR 1100
A substantial piece of peanut coated mullet served on a bed of asparagus and sticky white rice.
The fish was not too done which allowed it to retain its flavour and its juiciness. The peanut coating added an interesting texture and flavour to the whole dish. Coupled with the light, fluffy rice, this makes for an extremely satisfying meal.
Pol Roti Taco – LKR 850
One of the more Sri Lankan influenced dishes on the menu. Flavourful, tandoori chicken, complemented by a sweet mango salsa and guacamole, encased in a crispy pol roti shell. This is served with a sauce with a yoghurt base that has a kick of spice that comes through a few bites in. This has to be eaten quickly before the Pol Roti hardens and the whole thing becomes difficult to eat.
Roasty Toasty – LKR 900
This dish uses two of everyone’s Sri Lankan favourites roast paan and pol sambol. The toast is surprisingly sweet upon first bite with a kick of spice that comes from the sambol. It has a filling of masala chicken, which when paired with the sambol made an excellent combination. However, the sandwich could have had more cheese which could barely be tasted.
The Crunchy Chick – LKR 850
Compared to the other dishes that we sampled, this one fell a bit flat for me. The burger was simple enough, panko-crumbed chicken with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and a dijonnaise that added an interesting flavour than your usual mayonnaise and ketchup. This comes with a side of sweet potato fries. As someone who likes fries crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, I found them a bit too hard, which also resulted in loss of flavour.
The Hot Cake Stack – LKR 900
This pancake stack would convince anyone who avoids breakfast to get up early. Every component of this dish was good enough to eat on its own. The presentation is so aesthetically pleasing which makes the eater hesitant to dig in. It comes with a generous dollop of sour lemon whipped cream sprinkled with the bits of honeycomb that I loved so much. The pancakes were also light, fluffy with just the right amount of sweetness. It comes with kithul treacle on the side so you can sweeten it to your taste. Although it is a flavourful dish, it could benefit from being simplified a little.
After our meal, we chatted to Nevindi Senanayake, who owns the place with her brother Nikira.
Formerly their grandparents home, the house was upgraded a few months ago but no change was made to the interior to retain that homely vibe. All their ingredients are locally sourced and made in house. The thought that goes into making this place truly feel like home has paid off extremely well. And I am pleased to report that I have been back multiple times since I wrote this review.
Tip – Make sure you go there before the crowd starts coming in! The peace and quiet play a huge part in adding charm to this place. Also, order the Caramel Crunch Shake – You will not be disappointed.