A busy casual restaurant and bar on the edge of Battaramulla and Pelawatta, with a range of Asian food, good sized portions and reasonable prices.
Address: 1106 Denzil Kobbekaduwa Mawatha, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte
Phone: 011 288 3378
Directions: By the traffic lights as you cross from Battaramulla to Pelawatte, by Decathlon.
Covid care: none. No hand wash or sanitiser visible but the serving staff were wearing masks.
Lavinia is a busy, casual restaurant and bar serving Sri Lankan style Chinese, Thai and Asian food. We have eaten here a few times and enjoyed the laid back style, reasonably quick and friendly service and the food, while nothing special, is good enough, good sized portions and reasonably priced.
Lavinia is on a busy road; there is very limited car parking in front, but there is some space around a corner just before you reach the restaurant.
Entering into a small hallway with one table, you can either go straight ahead into the downstairs, inside dining room. While somewhat air conditioned, it has no windows and there is a lot of noise; every scraped chair, dinged plate or laugh is amplified and it becomes very noisy if there are a few other occupied tables. The alternative is to go upstairs into larger room with bar at one end and open sides. Although it is semi outdoor, there is a nice through breeze. However they have live music some evenings so that area may be loud later in the evening. On this occasion we opted to sit downstairs.
Lavinia has quite a large selection of dishes to choose from. Much of the menu is local takes on Chinese, Thai and other Asian dishes. There are Sri Lankan dishes too.
Two types of starters are offered, Chinese style or Thai. The former is limited to spring rolls, prawn balls and the like, while the Thai selection offers salads, glass noodles, and what appear to be Sri Lankan beef, chicken or pork fried bites, or spicy roast bites. There's also a number of soups and omelettes, and some of the dishes on the main course menu can also be had as starters.
They also have a range of bar snacks such as nuts, french fries, fried garlic and other things
The main courses are grouped together into, chicken, lamb, beef, pork and several seafood options including crab, prawns, garouper. There are also a range of vegetable dishes, rice and noodles.
prawn toasts and prawn ball
We began with an old favourite, prawn toast, comes on a plate with eight pieces. We have had this before and it is good - thicker and chunkier than in most places, with a coating of sesame seeds giving it a bit of extra crunch while it is still moist and tender. Today they looked a bit more untidy than usual, like they had been thrown together in a hurry.
We also ordered prawn balls which comes as a portion of six pieces. Again these were large, crispy and tasted mild but good, if a little bit oily.
We shared three main courses: a stir fried chicken with vegetables, a sizzling black pepper beef and a stir fried chicken with mushroom.
Two of the dishes were good. The chicken with vegetables had a good flavour; the chicken was well cooked and the cabbage and carrots still crunchy. The beef was also good, well cooked and quite tender, with plenty of flavour without being spicy.
The chicken and mushroom was good but the least preferred of the three. The mushrooms appeared to be tinned, which is not a big issue but it was lacking in flavour. The mushrooms seemed to blend with the chicken into a bland mixture. It was okay but not great.
All three were generous portions, plenty for us. In fact we didn't finish all of it - some of the chicken and mushroom was left!
After a large portion of starters and main courses, we didn't add to that with a desert. Looking through the menu it seemed to be the usual offering of ice cream, fruit and a few classic dishes but we didn't get to them!
Service and Ambience
The service was quite friendly, pleasant and attentive without being intrusive. We were welcomed when we arrived and asked where we would like to sit. One menu was brought, we had to ask for a second. Our waiter spoke passable English, enough for what we needed, and made regular stops to see if we needed anything.
The room itself seems clean and in reasonable condition. The only negative is that the walls are totally bare so sound echoes - every scraped chair or clattered plate is amplified and carriers around the room so, with a few people in, it gets very noisy very quickly. The upstairs room, with open sides, is generally much quieter, even once the live music has started.
Starters are mostly around Rs700-750 for the Thai style or Rs600 for the other, Main courses run from Rs600 to Rs800 and desserts around Rs300.
For a casual meal Lavinia offers a varied selection of fairly tasty Asian food, good portions and sitting upstairs in particular gives a pleasant breeze and atmosphere at reasonable prices.
For anyone who is concerned about Covid, though, you should bring your own hand sanitiser.