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A rustic homey dinner at Baker’s Choice Café

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By Divya Thotawatte

Ensuring its customers an experience like no other, Baker’s Choice Café recently launched its new rustic-themed dinner menu – the perfect combination of classical and Western cooking together with exquisite local flavours, including a selection of over 85 varieties of fresh bread produced on a daily basis.

The European-themed café specialises in artisanal sourdough bread with an aim to bring back the traditional methods of handcrafted bread. The café uses deeply-rooted classical techniques to create finely crafted, mouth-watering, sourdough bread, using no artificial additives which are often found in large scale commercially made breads. 

The menu is curated by Baker’s Choice Café Head Chef Nishan Liyanage, and serves sandwiches, pastries and coffee in the morning and afternoons and now the café has expanded to a dinner menu which serves rustic and wholesome dishes. 

Nishan says, “The food I prepare now and plan to have on my menu goes back to what inspired me to become a chef in the first place – wholesome, comfort food served with simple and rustic garnishes, yet packaged to the brim with flavour.”

The main ingredients of comfort food which Baker’s Choice serves in satisfying portions are all sourced from Sri Lanka.

Starting off with the appetisers, the ‘Tomato-basil bruschetta’ is a vegetarian option made with finely chopped greenhouse tomato and fresh basil leaves, parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil on toasted sourdough bread with garlic confit, while the roasted chicken wings with ‘nai-miris’ sauce is an extremely spicy, but delectable dish of oven roasted chicken wings, coated with a ‘nai miris’ Scotch Bonnet chilli sauce. 

The ‘Chicken Pot Pie’ is a blend of chicken, carrots, potatoes, leeks, onions, fresh thyme, slow-cooked in chicken stock and baked inside a crispy pastry. The ‘Mini-Plantburger’ which is the vegetarian option in the mains menu, is a unique vegetarian patty made with aubergine, onion and spices; served with locally sourced smoked-cheese, lettuce, pickled-onion, and a blend of tomato aioli with nai-miris sauce; served in a soft charcoal sourdough-bun. 

The ‘Rustic beef stew with stout bread’ made with locally sourced beef, slow-cooked in red wine with seasonal vegetables and herbs which is served with rustic sourdough bread is also one of the café’s specialties on the mains menu. 

The desserts menu include an apple crumble with vanilla custard and a chocolate bread and butter pudding with espresso ice cream, both of which are a festive twist that is also deliciously comforting and pleasing at the same time.

The menu specifically caters to those who lead hectic work lives who would prefer healthier and homey cuisine to convenience food or food with artificial additives. Additionally, with soft lighting, gentle jazz and pastel-coloured furniture and homey tableware, the rustic setting and food are to make the customers feel cosy and at home. According to Nishan, “Rather than sticking to the mainstream, we thought we’ll do what we’re best at. We serve our food the rustic way to give our customers a wholesomely different experience.”  

On his return from UK, Baker’s Choice Café Co-Founder Laki Ratnayake left his full-time job in 2008 to pursue his passion for baking along with Anjinha Gomes, a strong force behind bakery operations. Starting off by catering to Café Kumbuk, Ratnayake later focused on expanding the brand as a Good Market vendor and later setting up Baker’s Choice Café down Kynsey Road, Colombo 7, as its customer base began to grow. 

Nishan Liyanage is one of the youngest students to have completed the NVQ qualification for pastries, cakes and breads in 2008 and launched his own venture ‘Nishan’s Cupcakes and Muffins.’ He later graduated from Sri Lanka Institute of Hotel Management (SLITHM) and has worked as a trainee at the Cinnamon Grand for six months. 

He then started his internship at the Hyatt Hotels Chain in Dubai where he was exposed to multicultural diversity ranging from Middle Eastern and Italian to South East Asian (Singaporean, Malaysian and Indonesian) cuisine through which Nishan was able to refine his culinary techniques.

Nishan now works with Baker’s Choice Café and together with its small but effective team strives to explore the market and fulfil the customer’s comfort food cravings in a way like no other café does.

Pix by Shehan Gunasekara


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