Barista recently hosted a menu tasting event at Cafe Mocha down Stratford Avenue to introduce their new range of affordable fare.
Introducing the range to a select group of individuals, Manager of Cafe Mocha explained that the concept of eating out every day or grabbing coffee multiple times throughout the day is barely feasible in Sri Lanka. While it is common to head over to Starbucks a couple of times a day, doing so in Sri Lanka will undoubtedly break the bank owing to exorbitant prices of food. This was more so the case when pricing western food, he stated, adding that it certainly serves as a stumbling block to the growth of the industry.
Hoping to change this concept, Barista has conceptualized new menu additions that they believe will have great value for money. Before officially launching the menu on the 1st of March however, the food will be served to select groups of individuals and dishes deemed unsatisfactory by a majority will not make the cut. Here's the scoop on what we tried.
The folks at Barista broke the ice with their Iced Latte served in a tall glass. While we liked the fact that it was the right amount of sweet, it was a little too watery, making it unpalatable after a while.
The Cake Shakes - vanilla and chocolate - however we loved. The cake shakes had a lot going for them - they weren't nauseatingly sweet, they had textural vibrancy and most importantly, tasted great. Personally, I preferred the vanilla over the chocolate shake, but was surprised to learn that despite the overwhelmingly chocolate loving crowd, the general consensus was that the vanilla was the tastier shake!
The Nutella Shake and the Peanut Butter Shake didn't really tickle our fancy. They fell short in key areas - specifically, the focal ingredients didn't really stand out like they should have, making the shakes underwhelming.
Since they are looking to make affordable lunch more accessible, a lot of the dishes they showcased at the tasting event were rice based. The first dish was an Indian cuisine inspired dish which comprised rice with chicken curry and a cashew and chickpea curry. Tasting a lot like a chicken tikka, the chicken was cut into bite sized chunks and was incredibly flavourful and rich!!! And for the price - Rs. 350 - there was an extremely generous serving of cashews, which in itself makes the dish a steal. This was, without a doubt, one of our favorites.
On the other end of the spectrum was the chicken fried rice - we thought it was quite uninspiring and had no variation in flavour. Topped with stewed pineapple (fresh would have made a world of difference), yet full of chicken, quantity in this case, most certainly did not equate to quality. The fried rice would have been better off with at least chilli paste on the side, and we'd call this one boring at best.
The Seafood Rice helped get the food back on track - the seafood stir fry was actually very tasty. A little bit spicy, we thought the dish was pretty good. However, the incorporation of chilli paste into the rice may not appeal to everyone.
The Lemongrass Chicken Rice was also another of our favourites. More subtle flavour wise in comparison, the dish wowed in all the rice areas. The chicken was also super succulent.
Barista also debuted pizza at the tasting, hoping to add it to their menu for the first time. While we award points for their cheesy and yummy toppings, the pizza dough left quite a lot to be desired. The dough was a little burnt and quite hard, proving that if they were to add it to their menu on the 1st of March, they would have to perfect their dough and baking.
The tasting certainly consisted of hits and misses, but for the most part, the hits were very good; IF they maintain consistency. We love that they are attempting to make dining out an affordable affair and kudos to them for taking the initiating. While at the tasting on the upper floor of Cafe Mocha, we noticed that they have a great space with work stations and plug in ports, including smaller spaces for more private meetings. Should they uphold the quality and taste of their food, then we have no doubt more people would choose to work and study here.
Pics: Pradeep Dilrukshana