21 Kingly Street, London, W1B 5QA, United Kingdom

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This independently owned Sri Lankan restaurant opened in October 2019 in Kingly Street in Soho. It was founded by Eroshan and Aushi Meewella, who were both born in Colombo, or Kolamba in Sinhalese. Their background is in design rather than food, and this is their first restaurant. The dining area is split over two floors, one at ground level and one in the basement. Tables are quite closely packed and the atmosphere is fairly casual. On the menu are various Sri Lankan dishes. Sri Lankan food is quite similar to that of the southern Indian states, unsurprising given that the country only separated from the British empire in 1948, just as India did in 1947. For example the bread called “hoppers” would be known as appam in southern India, and “parippu” is a variety of dhal.

The short wine list had 15 labels ranging in price from £26 to £58.50 with a median price of £35 and a pretty outrageous average markup to retail price of 4.1 times. Sample references were Riesling Trocken Ruppertsberger Pfalz 2018 at £35 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for £16, Chono Syrah 2016 at £42 compared to its retail price of £11, and Albarino Genio Y Figura Bodegas Attis 2017 at £44 for a wine that will set you back £11 in the high street. Alternatively there was Lion Lager at £5.40 for a small 330 ml bottle, compared to £1.83 in a shop.

The best dish that we tried was the very first one, a trio of deep-fried fish cutlets made using mackerel blended with spices. This had a crisp batter and an enjoyable mackerel filling that was nicely enlivened by a blend of spices (14/20). “Aunty Mo’s Chatti Roast” had beef that was fried with green chillies, onions, tomato and spices, served on a bed of noodles. It resembled in appearance a beef rendang, but the beef here was not as tender as one might hope, being a touch chewy, though the noodles were cooked well enough. It did also have a decent kick of spice (12/20).

Monkfish curry is apparently a speciality of the restaurant, but I wasn't especially taken with it. Monkfish is a tricky fish that becomes overcooked if you as much as look at it harshly, and the one here, despite resting in a curry sauce, possessed that slightly cardboard chewiness that overcooked monkfish has. The coconut-based curry sauce flavoured with turmeric that came with it was decent (10/20).

Ceylon chicken curry was cooked on the bone, served with a coconut milk-based curry flavoured with tamarind, which gave a little sweetness. The curry was pleasant but the chicken was stringy and had little flavour of its own (barely 11/20). Parippu is a dhal made with red split lentils cooked with coconut milk, turmeric and spices. This was reasonable, the texture of the lentils a touch mushy but the spices coming through all right (12/20). A plain hopper or appam had reasonable texture, though I have had better ones elsewhere in London, never mind in southern India (11/20). Rotis were disappointing, being very hard indeed in texture, resembling biscuits more than bread (8/20 is kind).

Service was adequate, though getting attention was not always easy. The bill came to £32 per person with just water to drink. If you had three courses and shared a bottle of wine then a typical cost per head might come to around £45 or so. To be honest this seems quite a lot given the rather variable quality of the food. Kolamba provided a harmless enough experience but I would not rush back.

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