Butlers on Park Street
We were quite excited to see another "pub" on Instagram and Facebook. There's plenty of bars, a couple of places which have pub decor and in some cases a bit of a decent pub grub, but we haven't yet found somewhere that has a real pub buzz. However the name popped up on social media, described as a pub, so we decided to give a try for lunch. How was it?
Address: 33B Park Street, Colombo, 00200
Phone: 011 231 4333
Directions: On Park Street, between Park Street Gourmet and Chagall hairdressers.
Covid Care: Staff wear masks; temperature checked; personal details added to the register and hand sanitiser given.
Free Wifi: Yes
The front of the building is the old style façade which looks nice and historical, even if you know it is actually new. Inside, however, it is a bland, rectangular room. There has been an attempt to liven it up by painting one wall dark green and the other wall with a very un-pub like mural of ferns and flowers. The hanging rope light fittings did add a bit of interest but overall there was very little pub atmosphere.
On the left was a bar; ahead and to the right was the seating area, some with pub garden bench style seating, others with a mix of bench and metal chair, plus there were a couple of few high tables and stools, so a choice of seating style.
As we contemplated where to sit we asked about drinks and were told that they currently are not serving alcohol due to licencing issues; we know several other places with the same issue so didn't complain. We chose to sit at a table with metal chairs which turned out to be rather uncomfortable, rather quickly.
There was a decent selection of starters including fries, wings, calamari, omelette and a couple of salads. The main part of the menu, though, was a choice of meats or fish cooked with black pepper, sweet & sour or sizzling. Then there was Chinese rice, Oyster rice or Nasi Goreng (Indonesian rice) with chicken, pork, seafood or egg. As the waiter said, it is mostly Chinese rice. There were a few other dishes like fish and chips, pork chop or grilled chicken and there was also a sandwich menu including Club Sandwich or burger.
We decided to mix a sandwich with a stir fry, so we opted for a cheesy beefburger and a kankun with garlic.
The first thought when the burger came was that it looked quite small on the plate, with no fries, or salad or even garnish except for about one third of a cherry tomato stuck on top with a toothpick. There was precious little garnish inside either; some onions were spilling out, and some white sauce that looked like mayonnaise, but there was no cheese to be seen. Opening the burger up revealed a small slice of cheese, perhaps gouda, secreted under the onions, so they were at least not using prepacked processed cheese slices, but there was no other garnish: no tomato, lettuce, nothing, just the onions, a small slice of gouda and the white sauce which was probably melted cheese.
The patty at least was quite thick so we put the top back on the burger and took a bite. The meat tasted fresh and was quite juicy with a mix of flavours; there was a taste of fresh ground black pepper which was really nice, but something else too which we couldn't identify but was not so nice. It was maybe a herb or a spice added to the meat which was quite pungent and, while it didn't overpower the burger taste, it was very noticeable. Also the meat, while tasting fresh, was gristly. Each bite contained a chuck of gristle, which could not be chewed and stuck between teeth. Unfortunately despite the nice ground pepper taste, the other odd flavour and the amount of gristle meant that we didn't even finish the burger.
The kankun and garlic was somewhat better; it was very mild, not much garlic flavour, but it was very salty. It wasn't overpowering, and overall it tasted quite good but there was more of a taste of salt, than the garlic that we expected.
Overall sorry to say, not what we had hoped for. We didn't stay to try any dessert.
It was quite matter-of-fact. An apology that there was no beer available then, to his credit, he didn't rush us to choose a table but held back while we selected then brought the menus. He was polite but not very communicative and no smile the entire time that we were there. It was also a bit odd when we asked for the WiFi password as he wanted to take the phone to enter it himself. We asked to do it ourselves so he left without a word, returned a few minutes later with the password written on a scrap of paper but then removed the paper and took it back to the bar before we could copy it into a second device.
Starters and Bites range from Rs400 to Rs940, though the BBQ chicken options are higher, Rs2800 for a whole chicken. The rice dishes range from Rs1050 to Rs1400 for regular size.
The cheesy burger was Rs650 and the kankun with garlic Rs980.
The initial happiness didn't last long. We found the place lacked any atmosphere, the food choice was limited and what we got was disappointing, To be fair, if you want Chinese style rice then there is a fair selection but the price is somewhat high. There were a couple of other people at another table who seemed to be enjoying themselves, and of course we saw it midweek at a lunch time; it might be very different in the evening. However overall, for us, it didn't impress; there are plenty of other choices within just a few minutes walk.