Review: Church Street Social, Galle Fort, Sri Lanka
Church Street Social, Galle Fort: An Oasis of Cool
Church Street Social: 2 starters, 2 mains, 1 dessert, 1 bottle Prosecco, 2 bottled water: LKR17,750 ($98, €88, £75). 26 Church St, Galle 80000, Sri Lanka. +94770072597.
Charming design forward decor
Easy broadly international menu with local sourced ingredients
Alcohol served, not easy in Galle
Al fresco and inside dining
Check your order and check again
Church Street Social, Galle Fort: An Oasis of Cool
The Church Street Social lies within a former merchant home lovingly restored with a pervasive refreshing brush of tropical modern throughout.
Confession: I am a sucker for tropical modern instantly seducing me from the moment I laid eyes on Church Street Social’s stretching front patio. The archways frame the solid wood bar, marble high bar tables and elongated stool legs topped with honeyed seats. The monochrome floors allow a forgiving platform on which to dress pastel walls, a lush collection of giant palms and an accent wall with eight symmetrical cubed canvases stained blush and ash.
The foyer of the Church Street Social divides between a casual dining bar area and a touch more formal sitting-dining room with labels defining each. A waft of fresh-cut flowers hits you leading you into either dining room or into the broader Galle Fort Hotel managed by Teardrop Hotels.
We chose a large table under a vintage-style map of Sri Lanka heavy with monochrome zig-zag patterns and a seafoam colour couch. You can sit and watch the world go by from this corner peering through leaves and archways. Buddhist monks amble by together with tuk-tuks and tourists. It is a quiet street away from Lighthouse Road in increasingly popular Galle Fort.
Church Street Social’s Menu
v The restaurant website claims they do not serve alcohol and invites you to bring your own (at the time of writing this post). I can confirm they do indeed serve alcohol! Nonetheless, a variety of mocktails, teas and juices are available among 40 options from which to choose.
o Church Street Social offers a blend of dishes from an array of markets including Morocco, Italian, Arabic, British but there is a decided nod towards Sri Lankan food in the rice and curry section. The menu assures diners that ingredients are sourced locally as much as possible including produce from the gardens of its sister property, The Wallawwa in Kotugoda. This is a marked improvement from other restaurants during our stay that barely managed three local dishes among nearly 80 options.
It’s a strong broadly international menu divided into starters, soups & salads, rice & curry, mains then sandwiches, wraps and burgers. We finally settle on the jumbo crumbed fish cake (LKR1350, $7, €7, £6), seared kingfish carpaccio (LKR950, $5, €5, £4) for starters. This is followed by the red onion and goats cheese tart (LKR1850, $10, €9, £8) and the black pork curry (LKR2200, $12, €11, £9).
Church Street Social’s Food
The seared kingfish carpaccio is beautiful and simply presented. White and indigo slivers of raw chilled kingfish accompanied by a fresh side salad. These are not seared but it does not matter; the fish is enjoyable nonetheless. A puddle of light soy and sesame oil anoints each fish petal together with a matchstick of ginger and marinated jalapeño disc. It’s a subtle dish, healthy and acts as a palate cleanser between the robust fish cake and the main courses. The kitchen could offer a small dipping bowl for people like me who greedily want more of the marinade in which to drag this kingfish.
So far a light lunch of fish, salads and Prosecco sat within these picturesque walls of Church Street Social is all wonderful. You could easily stop in for this and push on if you wanted.
The red onion and goats cheese tart with tomato salsa, basil pesto & balsamic rocket salad arrives. It’s deceptively small but filling given the dense pastry. A classic combination of routinely paired flavours work as expected with nods towards Mediterranean cooking. The high walls of the tart means this is more of a pie. I prefer a slightly more browned tart base but reasonable people will have different points of view here. The salad relieves you from the heaviness of buttery pastry and fatty tangy goat cheese to cut the richness with acidity and pepper ones. Mrs EatGoSee nods approvingly with her big blue eyes when I ask her what she thinks. She returns to her tart and Prosecco.
My black pork with saffron rice, brinjal pahi, yellow dhal, cucumber and tomato raita and mango chutney arrive. But it didn’t. Instead, I am presented with the spicy lagoon prawn curry with jasmine rice and a selection of vegetable curries (LKR2700, $15, €13, £11). Our impeccably polite and gracious server presents each quarantined dish of vegetable curry to me with pride and a smile while I return his hospitality with a face of confusion and self-doubt. I know I ordered the black prom; I saw him write it down on the pad ‘PORK CURRY’. I am not going to make a scene as – plot twist – I nearly ordered this prawn curry. I take it as a sign that this was meant to be. I am also having such a good time here and I do not care enough to send it back especially when beautifully laid out.
A quartet of plump curled pink prawns lays steeped in a lagoon of turmeric spiked coconut milk shaded under emerald curry leaves. This modest bowl is a picture surrounded by an archipelago of spicy curried greens, strands of curried aubergine, spicy potato, cooling sweet beetroot and a rubble of yellow dhal in chilli. The jasmine rice is the UN peacekeeper and diplomat acting as the fire extinguisher and unifying presence between these hostile spicy forces. The rich coconut seafood broth is wonderfully light but decadent. I prefer more broth and to forego the vegetable curries that distract from the prawns. This is a preference and others will enjoy the spicy, cool and silky combination going on.
Church Street Social’s Desserts
Our server arrives again with a dessert menu of temptations. We are stuffed but our intrigue is stronger so we stare at the remains of the Prosecco and I order their gin & tonic cake. I am told this is their most popular dessert. Mrs EatGoSee orders the chocolate fondant with fudge and vanilla ice cream.
Gin & Tonic Cake with Lime Sorbet
This is a testament to why moist sponge cake is still a joy to behold but often overlooked. The cake is saturated with moisture and joy, with a light crumb. The gin’s botanicals come through complementing the warming citrus. A charitable portion of chilling citrus sorbet baths the cake with every drip. The sorbet is like the service: smooth, refreshing and brings everything together. I could eat this cake every day and I will be promptly demanding asking for the recipe.
Rich in chocolate but disappointing dry. Mrs EatGoSee noted that the signature collapsing outpouring of chocolate was missing on arrival. The vanilla ice cream helps to alleviate some of the dryness but I cannot cover it all. The pebbles of fudge are enjoyable but could be better served inside the ice cream or replaced altogether with local jaggery.