Grecian gourmet

Saturday, 4 December 2010 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Refreshing Mediterranean cuisine comes to Battaramulla with Coco Citrine.  

(By Kinita Senoy)

An elegant slice of Grecian cuisine in the heart of Battaramulla, ‘Coco Citrine’ is the newest addition to Colombo’s suburban dining venues. A tastefully converted 110 year old bungalow, with inventively used outdoor space, the restaurant is a delightful area that is beyond patronage for just meals.

In terms of functionality, the Citrine’s tranquil atmosphere, especially in its leisure and open-air garden spaces extends beyond just meals.

The owner confesses to be an avid fan of coffee and gastronome. He wanted to open up a place in Sri Lanka that would be unique in its authenticity of preparation and ingredients, to provide fellow gourmet aficionados with genuine Greek cuisine.

The moniker itself is a combination of “coco”, which to the owner embodies a truly Sri Lankan feel from the word “coconuts”, and “citrine” which reminded him of the distinctive flavouring of Mediterranean food. This is also reflected by the restaurant’s decor.

Surpassed expectations  

The food itself surpassed expectations, and the informative format of the menu along with the helpful staff made the decisions fairly easy, based on our preferences. All meals are served with appetizers of Mediterranean style bread sticks dusted with sesame seeds accompanied by tsatsiki salad and aubergine paste dips, minimalist flavours that leave the palate unburdened and ready for the next section.

There is a sufficiently large selection of locally available fruit juices to choose from, freshly squeezed and served, and the taste is of entirely undiluted nectars of fruits. This is concurrent with all the other ingredients used throughout the menu, and the furnishings too, which the owner insisted were all locally procured. He stressed the importance of not using preservatives and artificial flavouring, standards he insists the chef too strongly believes in and upholds.

The main course options weren’t too extensive, but were a selection of authentic Greek dishes that are favourites with the expatriate community here in Sri Lanka. The menu also offered identical choices for both red and white meat lovers, which were a considerate touch on the part of the management. The kebab was a mutton and beef combination, beautifully marinated and spiced, and hit the perfect balance- neither burnt, nor undercooked, but exactly the right consistency.

It was accompanied by a generous portion of fresh salad tossed with vinegar and ground pepper, traditional pita bread baked with olive oil and potato fries that were perhaps a touch overdone.  

The chicken moussaka was also cooked to perfection, a stacked portion of sautéed aubergine, potato, spiced and ground chicken filling mixed with tomatoes, onions and herbs, and topped off with an egg based custard layer. The final touch was the béchamel sauce lightly setting off the flavour fusion, and sprinkled with cheese gratings. The stack was then cooked until gently browned. The moussaka was an overall success, but could have done well with a slightly more generous portion of béchamel sauce to top it off.

Delectable ambience

As commendable as the main course was, the real compliments to the chef were for the array of desserts. We were treated with three portions- cheesecake topped with strawberry sauce, Bavarian apple pie, and chocolate mousse. Each was spectacular in their own way. The cheesecake was creamy and set extremely well, and the apple pie was baked to perfection- a fusion of rich flavours, yet not over sweetened- ensconced in a crumbly crust. The mousse too, stood alone and was very uniquely done. Although the consistency was a touch hard, it seemed to work well, as it was rich and velvety, with an almost pudding-like texture.

As for the decor and ambience, the interior design incorporated a simplistic whitewash over walls and clean cut wooden furniture juxtaposed with vibrant citrus colours on accessories and tablecloths. Overall, understated style complemented by the owner and chef’s personal touches lends to the refreshing air of the eatery. The attention to detail too was apparent, with cutlery emblazoned with the Coco Citrine mast, and interesting ‘necklace-styled’ light fixtures.

However, the restaurant’s inner area paled in comparison to the dual al fresco areas in the front and back gardens, with their combination of abundant natural light and discerningly cultivated horticulture.

‘Coco Citrine’ is also equipped with a large grill in the front garden, and free Wi-Fi throughout, a move the owner says is meant to attract people in the area looking for a quiet respite for browsing and leisure, or even for the working crowd who need to pick up a coffee while they work. Generally, the restaurant was a delight to visit and eat at, and is definitely worth repeated visits, especially as an area for casual meals, coffee and desserts.