Number 18
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Author:  Rohan2 [ Sat Jun 10, 2006 4:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Number 18

Number 18
An evening of fine dining

By Henrietta Clancy
@ DM / June 2006


Address: 18 Cambridge Pl., Colombo
Tel: 011 269 4000

This place is seriously stylish, and the fact that it has recently been selected by elite travel magazine Conde Nast as one of their 'Hot Tables' is certainly testament to that style. Number 18 is owned by the renowned Sri Lankan designer Taru Fonseka, a specialist in boutique hotels. Set in the exclusive Cinnamon Gardens neighbourhood, Taru's interior is symmetrical and mirrored, with stoned walls and flooring setting off authentic period furnishings. Stylish white seating and a simple colour scheme in the lounge bar beckons you in to relax. It is here that I glance over an array of classic and original cocktails before settling on a passion fruit Daiquiri. The wine list is also extensive, but if you still can't find quite what you're looking for there is an additional note for the connoisseurs; 'premium reds can be viewed on request'. This bar area is not restricted to those having a pre dinner drink and would certainly be a great spot to enjoy a cocktail before going on elsewhere.

Guests can choose to eat in two areas, both equally as atmospheric. The outside area boasts spaciously layed out tables beneath a luscious canopy complete with a fountain. For when the monsoon season is in full flow, the slightly more formal indoor dining room provides a minimal yet elegant setting. An exclusive upstairs area is available for private functions, comprising of two stylish dining rooms that seat between 12 and 20 guests and lead out onto a terrace area.

Although the food is primarily modern Australian, the menu boasts a wide spectrum of Italian, Spanish and Thai food. Number 18 have a Consultant Chef from Australia, Chris Walton and a Sri Lankan Executive Chef who has come from the well known London restaurant, Landmark.

I open my menu and the choice of mineral water I am offered certainly sets the standard for the meal ahead; Evian, Perrier and Pellegrino no less. The menu offers a multitude of diverse culinary combinations, from Chilli Crusted Quails pan-fried on a warm potato salad of chorizo, tomato, olive and onions as a starter, Slow Baked Seer on a watermelon, feta, onion and mint salad as a main course. This is an adventurous diner's delight, and the blend of flavours is curiously successful. The more traditional dishes and food combinations are also available, with an extensive selection of pasta and risotto.

The most intriguing dessert on offer is certainly the Gin and Tonic Jelly with Macerated Citrus fruits, but if you're not feeling courageous enough for this there's a good selection of more recognizable items with interesting twists. I go for the Italian panna cotta which tastes rich and velvety and is accompanied by a Baileys anglaise. If one had space, a fitting end to a luxurious evening, and a way to complete your gastro experience, would be a cheese plate and some Grappa.

The standard of each and every detail in this restaurant is remarkably high; in fact even the butter that accompanies the speciality breads at the beginning of my meal is notably enjoyable. Dinning at Number 18 is a surprisingly affordable way to experience exquisite food in opulent surroundings with attentive yet unobtrusive service. This is a decidedly five star experience but without the price tag and Miss Fonseka is keen to raise awareness that dinning at Number 18 needn't break the bank, despite its superior approach to dining.

Cocktails are priced at Rs 450.
The Chilli Crusted Quails and other starters are Rs500.
Main Courses; Slow Baked Seer and a selection of pasta and risotto are all around Rs 750. (The steepest item on the menu is the Grilled Australian Tenderloin which can be enjoyed for a mighty Rs 2250!)
All desserts average Rs 300 (Cheese plate - Rs 750)

Opening hours are from 6pm until last orders at 11pm and booking is necessary at weekends.

There is parking close by with a valet service for that added bit of comfort.

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