Located at: 39A Flower Road, Colombo 07, Sri Lanka
Visited on: 23 Sep, 2017
The Commons has always been a great hang-out spot, with its laid-back set-up and ambiance. With a comprehensive menu and central but quiet location, it’s also a popular stop for a quick bite or a long catch-up meal. However, they seem to have slowed down noticeably of late, with service taking all of 50 minutes on this particular occasion. Which was ironic since we changed one of our initial choices – Chicken Pie – as they said that it would take about 40-45 minutes to serve. And being a little late, we were keen on finishing up with dinner sooner. Basically it was a no-win situation for the patron.
On to the first of our four mains – Tandoori Chicken Wrap (LKR 520), the Chicken Pie replacement. Let’s start with the good – the bread in which the content was wrapped was nice and thin. And this is the point I run out of things to put under ‘good’. I guess the tandoori chicken in itself might have tasted okay had it not been drowned in what seemed like some sort of Thousand Island dressing. And had it not been stuffed with an almost equal quantity of chopped gherkin and lettuce. It was overwhelmingly sweet. Not what one would expect to taste in a tandoori chicken wrap. Tomatoes, onions, some sort of savoury white (or even slightly cheesy) sauce and some coriander leaves may be – yes, yes, yes and yes. But not this combo – it didn’t work for any of us at the table. Also, more spice on the tandoori mix, please.
The New York Caesar with Smoked Salmon (LKR 720) looked okay. The accompanying dressing tasted nice at first bite, but gave off a bit of an after-taste that reminded me of a certain local brand of mayonnaise that I avoid. I shall refrain from naming names, but the reason I avoid this particular brand is because I get a bit of a plastic-y taste in it. For all it’s worth, I could be wrong, but this is the impression I got. The lettuce looked fresh, but the smoked salmon looked tired and tasted a little dry. It wasn’t oozing of Omega-3’s, which you would usually find in fresh smoked salmon.
Mains number three of four was an Anam-manam Kottu (LKR 525), which turned out to have a mix of seafood and meat. And again, was too sweet. Yes, it was somewhat different from your usual kottu and came with a fancy name and all. But one orders a kottu with the intention of having something savoury – and, more often than not, spicy. This wasn’t to be with the Anam-manam. It appeared to be glazed with some sort of sweet (honey-ish?) based sauce, which was reflected in its taste as well. And as if that wasn’t enough, it also had an almost non-savoury white sauce to go with it. Poor choice. Not impressive. The presentation with the kanda kolé on the clay plate was quite nice. But that’s all that was nice about it.
On to the last mains – one from the ‘Healthy’ section, Grilled Chicken Kebabs with Basil Sauce (LKR 700). Although the vegetables were sparse and the beans hadn’t been stringed, the basil sauce turned out to be quite nice, very slightly tangy with the herby flavour of basil in the after-taste. A rice-puller, I would say. Which brings me to the next point; the plate came with a bowl-sized serving of yellow rice. I did not see this coming (it’s not mentioned in the menu description). Unfortunately, as much as the basil sauce is a rice-puller, the yellow rice pretty much takes the ‘health’ out of ‘healthy’ (carbs, anyone?). And also unfortunately, I think I wouldn’t be exaggerating in saying that the basil sauce was the only appreciable thing about the entire dining experience. Which was such a shame, as we were expecting a satisfying dining experience, given Harpo’s restaurants’ reputation and our previous experiences. But disappointingly, the things that stood out the most from that night were their tardiness (which The Commons seems to be struggling with a lot lately) and the poorly matched/assembled flavours. Pity.
Yummy Rating: 2.5 / 5.0