Jul 17 2019. view 114
It is a wonderful experience walking into a restaurant where the sparkling chandeliers, oversized bouquets of flowers and bright (but definitely not overdone) lights made you feel like you’ve been thrown back in time to 1950’s Los Angeles.
I had the pleasure of experiencing the California Grills “Journey”, which the restaurant is indeed known for, which showcases their signature dishes in small proportions, of over eight courses.
Located on the rooftop of the Hotel Galadari, the interior of this fine establishment is clearly a throwback to the 50’s and 60’s where the use of neutral colours and mellow lighting were used to give it an almost Gatsby-esque feel to it. It was definitely a change in pace and a lovely setting to walk into.
The dining arrangements were both spacious and comfortable with the right amount of table décor. Our dinner was accompanied by a pianist in the upper level of the space, who plays throughout the night. It definitely is no jazz band but enhances the atmosphere of the entire dining experience.
California Grill is situated in the perfect place, overlooking many landmarks such as the Galle Face Green, Kingsbury Hotel, The World Trade Centre and The Colombo Port. It is an interesting perspective to experience, one not seen everyday while stuck in traffic along the Galle Road (face it, we’ve all been there). It leaves you to quietly contemplate as you look over the brightly lit city.
As this was an eight-course meal. We were waited on by more than just one person, all of whom which were rather friendly and actually made an effort to explain every dish which was laid before us.
The course started off with a simple entrée; Fish Tiramisu, Lagoon Prawn Cocktail and White Mullet, Capsicum and Tomato Aspic Terrine. While this may all seem over the top, the dish was beautifully presented and tasted wonderful. A simple beginning to a wonderful meal. Notably, the Fish Tiramisu came with Kahlua Jelly at the bottom which added a slight twist to the dish.
Another notable dish, from the second course, was the Olive marinated Golden Scallop with Pomegranate Vinegar. The scallops were beautifully cooked and the Ice Hog Apple and White wine Jus which came along with it was equally appetising and was the perfect ending to the course.
The third course was interesting, bringing on more complex dishes with more unorthodox flavours to the table. The Feuillet of Mushroom and Bamboo Shoot with Honey Vinegar was particularly lovely, giving off a small hint of spice from the vinegar.
The next course was more laid back and relaxed. We were presented with a Cream of Leeks and Potato with Cheese Soup, Carrot and Orange and Chowder with the highlight of the course which was a Shoe Lobster and Prawn Consommé. The Consommé was very smooth and floated right along the palate. It was a complete contrast to the other two dishes in the course, in a positive way.
The fifth course really packed a punch in comparison to the previous dishes with an Oyster in White wine and Chilli Vinegar. This was a particular highlight for me as the Chilli Vinegar really did have a kick to it. The Mussels Fricassee Gratin was beautifully cooked, perfectly paired with a lovely Hollandaise. The accompaniment of Golden Crust smoked Seer and Cheese Kebabs was a nice little touch to the course.
The palate cleanser actually turned out to be one of California Grill’s most talked about dishes; a Mango and White Wine Sorbet. You could definitely feel the balance between the white wine and the mango flavours.
The seventh and technically “main” course was a particularly sought-after dish and was a key component of the dining experience for me. It is usually very easy to go wrong with a good cut of meat, ruining the entire dish. To my delight, the Tenderloin Steak presented before me was perfectly medium-rare and matched with a Rosemary Hollandaise which only elevated the dish. The dish also came with a beautifully plated mashed potato to go with the steak.
The Oven Roasted Honey Marinated Duck and the marmalade sauce that it came with perfectly complemented the steak as well as the Pan-fried Shoe Lobster simmered in Coconut and Malibu Cream. While these were three separate dishes, the flavours didn’t overpower one another.
The eighth and final course was a very light dessert in the form of Fresh Almond Chocolate Macaroons, a Bailey and Nougat Mousse and a Blueberry Ice Parfait with Berries. The evening came to an end with a nice cup of tea and chocolate.
The California Grill offers an experience like no other, with its carefully curated menu which, turns out, doesn’t leave you feeling like you need a few minutes before leaving your seat. While most curated meals either leave you burnt out halfway through the dining experience or don’t really taste all that great, California Grill’s “Journey” really does check all the boxes. The eight-course meal is definitely one to experience in one of the most beautiful dining atmospheres in town.
By: Vihan Wickramasurendra
Photographs by: Samantha Perera