King's Steak Bar
We do enjoy a good steak from time to time. We've tried a few steak restaurants in Colombo with mixed results: some great steaks and some not so great. We thought it was about time that we try the King!
Address: The Kingsbury Hotel, 48, Janadhipathi Mawatha, Colombo 00100
Phone: 0112 421 221
Directions: inside Kingsbury Hotel. From the entrance turn right and it is at the end on the right had side, opposite the café and the lifts.
Covid Care: Temperature check on arrival, personal details noted, hand sanitiser given. All staff wearing masks.
The King's feels older than it probably is, though in a good way. The windowless room, the wood panelling, the black and white tiled floor, the bar at the end, booths on the side and tables in between; it felt like a jazz bar or a saloon from the 1920s or 1930s, minus the cigarette smoke and noise.
This feeling of history and tradition, distinguished and classy, was reflected in the welcome when we arrived. We had reserved a table and were were offered one of the booths at the side which we accepted and first the drinks menu then the food menu were brought to us.
The menu has a good selection of both starters and mains. While the emphasis is on steaks, with quite a range of meats and cuts, there are quite a few other delights and specialities with which to treat yourself.
If you're here to treat yourself you begin here with the starts. Oysters are on offer or, if you prefer something a little less extravagant, there is lobster salad or prawn cocktail. if you're not here for the seafood, they offer escargots, foie gras or beef tartare or, if you really want to keep it simple, there's soups or salad.
The mains are, of course, focused on steaks, with a choice of rib eye, tenderloin or striploin, from USA or Australia, or a wagyu. There's also a tomahawk or a T bone. If you don't want steak then there are also several lamb and chicken dishes, baked sole, pork belly or, if you really want to keep it simple, burger or fish & chips.
Having selected your main, you can also choose from half a dozen marinades, but there's still more choices to make: toppings, sauces and butters, and of course sides such as potatoes and vegetables.
We made our choices, selected some drinks, and waited. While we waited we were offered bread rolls, three different types, with fresh butter which kept us busy till the starters arrived.
Left to right: seafood chowder; prawn cocktail; barbecue pork belly ribs
We started with a seafood chowder, prawn cocktail and barbecue pork ribs.
The seafood chowder was served in a hollowed out sourdough loaf. It looked like quite a small portion but turned out to be plenty. The chowder was thick, creamy and packed with chunks of fish and prawns. The flavour was good, quite mild and not too rich. As the inside of the loaf softened, it was easy to scrape bits of bread up with the soup, which added to the overall taste. Recommended.
The prawn cocktail, too, was good. Again the glass looked small but it was overflowing with large, juicy prawns piled high. The sauce was light, not drowning the delicate flavour of the prawns. We had half expected a little tang of spiciness but that was absent and we were able to enjoy a classic prawn cocktail.
Finally the pork ribs and these were good too. They were beautifully cooked so that the meat was very tender and the barbecue sauce was rich and bursting with flavour. The menu described them as sticky and they were indeed, so eating them was quite messy (especially when passing them round for the others to try!) and here was one small shortcoming, they could (and should) have provided a finger bowl to wash the sauce off the diner's fingers. They didn't, which meant a walk to the washroom. Not a big failing, but considering the level of the restaurant, we were surprised not to have one.
Overall: all three of the starters had been very good. Time now for the main course!
We had ordered two tenderloin steaks, with different toppings and sauces, and one rib eye, all requested medium.
The steaks arrived with the topping added and the sauce and butter on the side, along with a full head of roast garlic. The sauces were added if desired, and the side orders added on as well. We had selected mushrooms and cheesy potatoes.
The first tenderloin came with a topping of liver and onions, which had been loaded on top, a bourbon glaze and a pink peppercorn butter. The liver topping was a little stringy but tasted good mixed with the onions. The peppercorn butter was very tasty and the glaze added to the flavour of the meat. The steak itself was quite well cooked, slightly charred on the outside and cooked all the way through. The inside was a little dry, but that was at least partly compensated by the sauce and the topping, and it was nice and tender.
The second tenderloin had been requested with a glaze but without topping. It seems to have been taken off the grill last as it was a little more crispy on the outside and seemed to be just slightly overdone and was also slightly dry inside. It tasted lightly seasoned, but the glaze and the sauce added to that and it, too, was nice and tender.
Finally the ribeye. This too looked good, nicely browned outside. Inside it was slightly pink but not excessively so and it was fairly tender. It too tasted good and the bearnaise sauce worked very well with it.
The accompanying cheesy potatoes and the mushrooms were good. The mushrooms appeared to be tinned, rather than fresh, which was a slight surprise but still they were good and nicely flavoured and cooked.
Then on to dessert.
Left to right: apply crumb cake; Eton mess; chocolate sphere with chocolate mousse.
The cinnamon apple cake came with the cake separate from the apple; "deconstructed" seems to be the word of vogue. The cake part was bit bland but tasted better mixed with the custard while the caramelised apple on the side was good with a hint of honey.
The Eton mess was a smaller portion than expected, squeezed into a glass. It included nice, big pieces of strawberry, as well as some blackcurrant, and the meringue was in sticks instead of the classic crushed chunks, but it was good and mixed with a nice, thick cream.
The chocolate sphere too was good, served up dry then the chocolate sauce got poured over the top, mixing with the caramel rings around the ball. Overall it was nice, rich and chocolatey and went down well to wrap up the meal.
The service was good and professional, as you would expect. They gave us time to browse the menu and came quickly when we caught their eye. Everyone received their plate at the same time and they dished up the mains, topped up glasses and offered refills promptly. Perhaps because we were, for a time, the only people there, the chef came out and asked how the meal is not once but twice; we almost felt like VIPs!
The prices are of course higher than in more casual dining restaurants.
Starters range from Rs700 for the soups, Rs850 for the salads up to Rs1300 for the ribs or R1400 for the escargots. The foie gras, should you be tempted, would be Rs2,500.
The Tenderloins and Rib eyes are Rs3,500 for the Australian or Rs4,000 for meats from the USA. If you want a wagyu, they start from Rs9,000. Toppings are priced at Rs600, butters and sauces Rs350 and the side orders Rs950. Other main courses are mostly between Rs2,000 to Rs3,000. All are priced the same at Rs800.
Overall we enjoyed the meal and it was something of a treat. The food, drinks and the service were all good, and the ambience was excellent. We did find the steaks slightly dry, though they were still very tender and enjoyable, and we did feel that we should not have had to go out to the washroom to wash our hands after eating the ribs, but otherwise we would say it was very good and a great place to celebrate a special occasion.