Sri Lanka’s historic port town of Galle has plenty of upmarket eating options. Most of these are contained in hotels or guest houses as Sri Lanka does not have much of a history of restaurant eating. As Galle Fort is on the coast the seafood which was super fresh and reasonably priced was a real highlight.
Stilt fisherman just outside of Galle
Galle Fort Hotel
Sitting under the wide verandah of the Galle Fort Hotel sipping a cocktail has to be an ultimate Galle experience. The hotel is set in an old 17th century building which has been beautifully restored and is a real focal point of the old town. Meals here are not just the preserve of hotel guests and the verandah dining area was constantly full during our trip to Galle. Breakfasts are a feast for R 1,000. The price includes a freshly squeezed fruit juice, fruit plate, tea of coffee and then a choice of options which include muesli, Full English or fragrant cinnamon French toast. Each night there is a set menu R3,500 (the equivalent of £16) which features what is described as “Asian fusion” cooking. To begin, Thai style Tom Yum soup was creamy yet spicy and flecked with slithers of chicken. The main of “Jumbo” prawns would perhaps have been more aptly described as small lobsters given their epic proportions. The prawns/lobsters were char-grilled for a smoky flavour and served with a spicy red curry sauce. The Galle Fort Hotel prides itself on it’s desserts, the best of which was a lime pie which was similar in appearance and taste to a traditional lemon tart however made with the less bitter (and more readily available in Sri Lanka) option of limes.
Details: 28 Church Street, Galle Fort, Sri Lanka (Ph +94 91 22 32870)
Mama’s Galle Fort
Mama’s is a fabulous roof top cafe which boasts stunning views at night time when you dine under the intermittent beam from the Galle lighthouse. The set up is no frills with rickety white plastic chairs but the service was some of the most charming we received on our trip. Order yourself a Lion beer at some of the cheapest prices you will find anywhere and try a curry or Sri Lankan style fried rice. This is home style food that is not particularly refined but it is hearty enough. Serving sizes are huge and we were easily able to divide one meal between two. Our night ended with an animated discussion with our waiter on the merits of both Sri-Lanka and Australia’s cricket teams. Cricket truly is a national obsession in Sri Lanka.
A tuk tuk drives past the fort walls
Details: 76 Leyn Baan street, Galle Fort, Sri Lanka Ph: +94 91 222 6415
Damage: Such a bargain even my mother would approve
The Amangalla is the swankiest hotel in Galle and if you can’t afford to stay there a cheap way to soak up some of the atmosphere is to eat lunch there. Meals are served on the expansive tiled verandah and the experience is that of true silver service. Stiff white cotton napkins are fluffed, chilled water is poured from sterling silver teapots and each table is set with fresh frangipanis. Over attentive service can make the experience feel a little stuffy at times but the food was light and tasty. The bread basket includes a good assortment of warm bread served with creamy pats of butter. Grilled calamari was perfectly scored and popped with freshness it was accompanied by a refreshing salsa and salad. The club sandwich was triple decker and chock full of grilled chicken, bacon, lettuce and cheese. The sandwich was served with a bowl of moreish hand-cut chips.
Details: 10 Church street, Galle Fort, Sri Lanka (+94 91 223 3388)
Tips for Gourmet Travellers
We stayed at the colonial chic Galle Fort Hotel which is a boutique hotel in a lovingly restored old merchants home. Each room is filled with antique and huge beds with beautiful white linen. The rooms face onto a central courtyard which has a terrace for a restaurant and a swimming pool. Rooms from USD$140 a night.