A British tradition said to have originated in the 19th century, High Tea is traditionally served at the table and is partaken while seated on high back chairs as opposed to afternoon tea that is served on low comfortable chairs or even in a garden setting. High tea offers a selection of elegant sandwiches, scones and a variety of cakes.
Today, it is offered in many hotels and restaurants in Sri Lanka and are served as both platters and buffets. In February 2021, we decided to visit The Shangri la Hotel. We recommend making a reservation for the hotel to prepare for your specific vegan or vegetarian needs.
The hotel offers two types of tea services and we opted to have the Afternoon High Tea. Served at the Sapphyr Lounge the ambience is charming and is further enhanced by the classical music played live by three young talented musicians.
The platters contained two sandwiches, four savouries, four sweets and scones and were beautifully presented in four tier gilded stands. In general we were quite impressed by the spread, presentation and of course taste. Needless to say, it was quite filling and most of us skipped our dinner.
In terms of presentation, our favourite would be the sandwiches that were presented with an eye for every minute detail. Thinly sliced veggies were placed in colour coordinated uniformity on the layered sandwich and were topped with a charming display of edible flower petals and grains. It was almost too pretty to eat. But we did and it did not disappoint us at all.
The grilled vegetable crostini was topped with a cheese disc and was crispy and filled with flavour. This was universally enjoyed by our group.
The savouries containing a mushroom pastry, vegetable cutlet, and the mini burger were all delicious and filling. While we were initially disappointed with the mini burger for its simplicity, the cream cheese, tomato and crispy iceberg lettuce combo was the perfect foil for the other savouries on offer and was light, fresh, and crisp.
Now, on to the sweets. All were collectively liked, but what we enjoyed the most were the scones. Light and crumbly, it was served with cream, raspberry jam and lemon curd. The lemon curd was a welcome surprise and as the pictures suggest, we kept dipping in for more.
From the ambience to food and service, Shangri La Hotel definitely delivered. The food was fresh, filling and very tasty and we had a very enjoyable evening. It is an experience we hope to repeat.
When Tea Avenue situated at One Galle Face announced about their vegan high tea option for Poya days and weekends, we were simply over the moon!
So off I went with Chalani, Nipun and Thimali from SLYCAN Trust. The trio are not vegan and the idea was to get a genuine response about vegan food.
Tea Avenue recommends you to make a reservation before coming in and you can do it by calling them on their Whatsapp number. The café is nice and airy with hand sanitizer and health guidelines mentioned right at the entrance.
As mentioned before, Tea Avenue has been offering vegan high tea only for a short period of time and could not offer us a printed menu, for inspection. However, Mohammed, our server was quick to explain to us about the selection.
The High Tea was served in a platter with 5 savoury items and 3 desserts followed by a cup of tea. The artfully displayed platter served two and was priced at Rs 2400/-
The savoury items included a spinach quiche, bruschetta, crispy potato roll, spinach/spring onion wrap, mini vegan burger. The sweet selection included a brownie, tiramisu and fruit cocktail. This was the first time the trio from SLYCAN Trust has had a vegan spread and they were quite intrigued about it. There were a few mmmmms and hmmmmms and many a question was directed towards me. There was a variety of teas on offer and we had a selection of classic, chai, berry and lychee teas.
Now comes the taste test.
My personal favourite was the burger, it was super flavourful and had a nice balance of spice and crunchy freshness. Chalani liked the Spinach quiche and Nipun liked the Crispy potato roll. The Bruschetta had a thinly sliced roasted carrot at the base to act as vegan bacon. While in general it was a nice touch, I think it could have had a touch of balsamic vinegar to up the game.
We unanimously gave a side eye to the spinach wrap. It was our least favourite of the selections as there was already a green element in the quiche. I am sure Tea Avenue would take our feedback into consideration. Over all, it was a nice spread and we enjoyed the munching.
The true winners however, were the desserts. My oh my, the brownie certainly got some well…. brownie points. It was crunchy on the top and moist and squishy in the middle. In fact, the trio felt it was even better than the classic non vegan version. It had accents of coconut and some other unknown magical ingredient. Personally, it was the Tiramisu with its ginger biscuit base that was the game changer. Being a dessert snob (ashamed to admit, but true), this for me was pure excellence. The ginger biscuit added an oomph to the creamy decadence of the dessert. Further, adding the fruit cocktail into the dessert mix was a clever move as the peach, strawberry and cherry bites acted as a palate cleanser in between the two rich desserts.
On a serious note, we are delighted to observe more and more restaurants and cafes opening to the possibility of including vegan and vegetarian options to their menus. Understanding the need to serve humane and cruelty free food is a great win for not only for those who follow plant based food diets, but for animals in general and the world we live in. However, it is equally important to note that despite being meatless, vegan and vegetarian food can still be nutritious, full of flavour and textures. Therefore, offering bland or basic vegan versions of meat based food is also not acceptable. This requires innovation and food experimentation which is good for the industry as well as our health.
That’s why we LOVE and appreciate the comprehensive feedback form presented to us by Tea Avenue in order to help them better their vegan food service. This further exemplifies their commitment to serving not just any vegan food, but vegan food that is both tasty and enjoyable.
As for the trio – they all agreed it was a ‘different but enjoyable’ experience worth trying again and again. Different doesn’t necessarily mean bad and for me, this is an absolute win.
So, make that reservation and head over to Tea Avenue – One Galle Face next Poya day or weekend and try the Vegan High Tea. Let us know what you think about it.
Deriving from the Dutch lomprijst and closely related to the Javanese dish lemper, Lamprais is a gift of Sri Lanka’s Dutch Burgher community to the world. It is quite simply made by wrapping a flavour induced rice with a group of meat and vegetable curries in a banana leaf and baked in an oven. There is no specific recipe for this dish and is a time consuming and arduous process that is handed down the generations. Each family would have their own version, but the different types of meat used in the dish remains the king.
So how could you make a well loved meat based favourite suitable for vegetarians or vegans? This is where tenacity meets experimenting and while traditionalists would shudder at the thought of a completely plant based lamprais, vegetarians are always in search of a lamprais that makes their hearts sing.
While there are many restaurants and cafes offering vegetarian and rarely vegan lamprais, it does not always meet with approval. Often it is either too oily or has not matched the rich but delicate balance of spices that comes hand in hand with a lamprais.
That’s what makes Lamprais by Shey ever so special. The pack contained aubergine curry, ash plantain curry, seeni sambol, TVP (soya) curry and not one but two cutlets. The spice induced rice was fragrant but not overpowering. Each curry complimented the other and was very filling. The banana wrapping brought in its own fragrant magic. We enjoyed every bite. Most of all, we were pleasantly surprised when we received our order by noon.
A vegetarian lamprais is not always easy to master and we are pleased to say that we were not disappointed at all.
We do recommend Lamprais by Shey and remember, pre-ordering is necessary. We are glad we found this gem amidst this pandemic and glad to support home based businesses.
Copper Lamp is a delightful cafe found on Hotel Road, Mount Lavinia and has a variety of vegetarian and vegan options. With the pandemic, we once again opted for delivery and were delighted with our order.
The menu Indian, Asian Fusion as well as western options which worlds well for a group of individuals with varied tastes. Orders can be placed directly to the cafe or be ordered through food delivery companies as well.
‘Manchurian Balls’ served as our side dish and these are what you would call flavour bombs. These bite-sized indo-chinese delights were perfectly coated in a sauce but served dry. A portion contains six and is quite filling on its own.
The garden salad is ideal for the health conscious and each ingregient was served separately rather than tossed together. It was fresh, light and wholesome.
The 18” thin crust margherita pizza came piping hot, was perfectly baked and was an overall favourite.
Another crowd favorite was the pesto pasta. The penne pasta was cooked al dente and was tossed in a creamy pesto sauce. You can call the restaurant and omit the cream if you wish. Nothing was overpowering and we used the pizza crusts to dip into the leftover sauce. Yum!
Last but not least is the hefty Manchurian Burger. The burger is packed with manchurian balls, salad leaves, tomatoes, onions and their dressings and links the East with the West. Served with a pack of thinly sliced potato chips, this brings on happy sighs.
A gust of wind could make the thinly sliced chips fly. That’s how thin and crispy they were and we loved it!
We at MMSL are glad to support local restaurants and it is a pleasure to see Copper Lamp offering such an extensive range of vegetarian options. It is a pleasure to know that they are willing to accommodate vegan requests too.
The Vegan is another cafe found in Raththanapitiya, Boralesgamuwa which serves purely vegan food and has an array of Western and Asian fusion cuisine. According to the co-founders of the cafe, The Vegan was established for both vegans and non-vegans to hang out, have fun while enjoying delectable vegan food. Here, you can be assured that the food is pure vegan and that you can have a query-free and stress free meal.
While it was not possible to dine in during the pandemic, The Vegan delivered food for their hungry clientele. The food is delivered warm and is packed with flavour. Our choice as a side was the Devilled Tofu, which was fried tofu, tossed with crunchy veggies and a spicy soya sauce. The tofu was crunchy on the outside and tender in the middle and was very well coated with the sauce. We loved it and it has since become one of our go-to dishes.
The foot-long Mock Meat Submarine was filled with a healthy serving of mock meat, salad leaves, tomatoes and grilled onions. The mock meat is made in house and is very well seasoned and tossed in a special sauce. It did not take too long for us to gobble it up.
Our next dish was the Spaghetti Arrabiata which had bell peppers, capcisums and olives tossed in a chef’s special tomato sauce. Be warned – this dish was spicy and we felt it could be a tad milder. Did it ditter our hungry souls from consuming it? No.
Next on would be the mushroom kottu. Generously loaded with veggies and mushrooms it was the mouth watering aroma that hit us first. This is not your traditional wayside kadey, street food style kottu dripping with curry. This kottu has a Chinese/Sri Lankan twist with its chillie induced soya sauce and packs a punch. I felt it might be a tad too salty, but this could be a personal preference.
The food at The Vegan is filled with flavour and celebrates all that is fun and nice in vegan food. It is a sensory explosion because the aroma of their food is as we mentioned before mouthwatering. The food comes in foil containers and the submarine was wrapped in a coated brown paper. They recommend diving into the food while warm. This we agree as some elements might feel dry if consumed cold. All we can say is vegan or not, this is a place all foodies should visit.