What we had
Smoky flavourful goodness!
BBQ meat is a commonplace dining experience in Sri Lanka but slow-cooked smoked meat? Now there’s a specialty cuisine that Sri Lanka really needs to have more of!
Licensed to Grill is a much-raved restaurant located in Kandy that has opened up another branch in Borella, aptly named Smokestacks for their signature smoked meat. The place is massive with multiple seating options – they have a great table set-up inside but what stole our hearts was their outer dining area upstairs and their swing set downstairs. Love at first sight!
Smokestacks is BYOB and a cold beer or some whiskey would have gone great with all this meat but we decided to try some of their in-house mocktails.
Fruity Mojito – LKR 400
With the choice between a Virgin or Fruity Mojito, we picked the latter hoping for a typical fruity mojito topped off with some berries but what we got was a drink that tasted much like a typical virgin mojito. Though the drink didn’t exactly meet expectations, it came in a massive serving, with lime and mint leaves adding some zest, the drink was delicious and refreshing.
Ginger and Tamarind – LKR 350
An option off the beaten path, the ginger and tamarind were interesting, to say the least. Again coming in a huge jug-like glass, the tamarind flavour was subtle but added a low-key sweetness to the sharp ginger beer taste. We approve!
Beef Crostini – LKR 650
Now here is an appetizer I will rave about till the end of my days. Served in 6 canapé-like pieces, not only was this dish visually appealing and aesthetically pleasing, but the flavour profiles and textures just send you on another journey. Breaking it down, the crostini had a base of crispy baguette topped with salad leaf, red cabbage tomato, basil and the most succulent, flavourful beef I have ever tasted. You wouldn’t believe how easily this beef broke apart in my mouth and that little bit of basil just added to the incredible flavours – I could eat it for days!
The mains section at Smokestacks was concise, focusing on their strengths instead of diversifying into unnecessary options. They had salads, pastas, sandwiches and meat platters, all of which we thoroughly enjoyed!
Creamy Mushroom Pasta – LKR 500
Hoping a vegetarian option would help ease us into the heavy meal that was to follow, we wanted to try the mushroom pasta out of curiosity. An apt introduction to how good the food at Smokestacks can be, the pasta came in a satisfactory portion doused in a cream sauce, chunky mushroom and basil. The balance of flavours here was a real treat, with the mushroom bringing in a faux-meat factor and the basil bringing a fresh zest, the elements really worked well together!
Smoked Platter – LKR 2900
Coming in a hefty portion of smoked chicken, smoked beef and smoked pork, accompanied by two sauces, a side salad and crispy garlic bread, here is a dish that’s completely worth the buck! Enough for about 3 grown adults, the elements of the dish aptly complemented each other. Though they were still slow-cooking the beef for the night, the kitchen overcompensated with the chicken and pork for the dish so we were able to enjoy quite a hefty portion. The chicken came with the skin still on and had a few burnt bits, optimising the flavours in the meat, the garlic bread was nice and buttery and super crispy, and the salad was a typical garden salad consisting of salad leaves, cucumber, red cabbage and carrots tossed in vinaigrette. The star of the dish was the slow-roasted pork that just fell apart on your tongue and went perfectly with their signature spicy sauce – culinary genius!
Smoked Pork Sandwich – LKR 650
We really wanted to try the smoked beef sandwich but the slow-roast was evidently a really slow roast, so we opted for the pork instead. The kitchen was nice enough to put a few pieces of the last bits of beef from the previous batch for us to try so that was awesome! The sandwich was a large portion consisting of half a baguette stuffed with salad leaf, cucumbers, tomato, red cabbage and delicious, tender, slow-cooked pork strips. Pulling everything together was a BBQ-like sauce that made us smack our lips in pleasure – another 10/10 dish!
The ambience at Smokestacks is great, with nice settings for a date night, a drinking session or for a dinner out with family. The staff was super helpful when it came to navigating their menu and accommodating any of our needs. We had a little chat with them and they have big plans for the upcoming months as well so we can’t wait to see how they turn out!
Tip – Definitely try their Crostini and don’t forget to check out their outer seating upstairs!