A date night, a business lunch or a fantastic meal during your lunch break, Café Français is the place for you. Perched at the front of Park Street Mews serving the finest French cuisine in Sri Lanka, is this beautifully constructed bistro. Iconic images of France adorn one wall of the exquisite restaurant.
The first thing you see when you enter, is the bar on the left-hand side. It easily allows you to get a good look at the wide variety of drinks they have from signature cocktails to a proud line of the finest whiskey. And for those of you who have a sweeter palate, there is a wine cellar with some of finest French Wines available in the country.
Café Francais serves its customers with an interesting combination of dishes, the main focus being French and Mediterranean cuisine. One thing to know about the dishes is that because it is a French restaurant, the portion sizes are also traditionally French styled. When I mean French styled, I don’t mean like in movies where they serve you a small amount of food. The portions are just the right size for you to enjoy your meal, without having too little or too much of anything, while having the perfect balance of flavor, and texture.
When it comes to the selection of the ingredients used for making the dishes, all fruits and vegetables are hand selected by the head chef, along with the fish which is fresh from the market. The chicken and eggs are organic as it is healthier and more flavorful. The meat is flown in from Australia due to its high quality. Every last detail that goes into the food including the bread, sauces and accompaniments are made from scratch.
Diving into the food, the starter for our three-course meal was Gnocchi. What stood out is the size of the gnocchi which was larger than the traditional size, topped off with a rich and creamy truffle sauce. To add a bit more flavor and balance the flavors off, there were sliced mushrooms on the sides along with pieces of fried garlic. If I were to describe the texture of it all, then I would have to say that the Gnocchi was soft yet crispy with just the right amount of creaminess from the truffle sauce- it felt like eating an éclair.
While we waited for the main-course we were offered a small dish of crispy tempura prawns with a home-made chili sauce to snack on. The main course was a grilled Barramundi fillet, with a base made of mashed potatoes. A little add on to make the mashed potatoes more enjoyable were drops of blended beetroot with a bit of balsamic vinegar. To my surprise, there was no clash of flavors. Everything went well together. It was as if it was meant to be.
To end the meal off with dessert, we had a chocolate fondant cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It wasn’t anything like your typical lava cake. The chocolate had a slight crunch on the top and had a soft bottom. The melted chocolate on the inside was thick and rich which made it even more enjoyable.
The atmosphere of the place always changes, depending on the day. If you go anytime during the day, then it is peaceful; and if you go during the night, it’s a whole different world. It’s a festive place teeming with people and good music.
Of course, due to Covid-19, safety precautions are taken. Such as wearing masks, doing temperature checks, noting down your information and disinfecting the tables where customers are seated. The same precautions are taken for the staff and the other third parties entering the restaurant.
The one most notable thing that made our experience pleasant and enjoyable was how friendly everyone was. Jean-Charles, the owner and the French chef Bertrand Dubois make it a point to go to each table and talk to their customers to make sure their experience was enjoyable. The waiters and other staff were the same, equally friendly and helpful in any way possible.
If you want to get your hands on these amazing dishes and drinks, you can drop by at their restaurant and dine-in. Only a few items off their menu like their delectable and famous gourmet burgers can be ordered on Uber Eat. The website is www.cafefrancaisbypourcel.com and you can also find them at their Instagram handle @cafefrancais_srilanka to keep up with any of their new creations and events.
In conclusion, it is apparent that Café Francais is a must visit for anyone who has a genuine love for food, art and culture. It is a place that is good for many occasions, as I have listed above. I highly recommend you try out a new dish each time you visit, as you might change your mind on what you like best.