The famous architect, the late Geoffrey Bawa, was one of the most memorable and talented personalities of Sri Lanka. The properties that he loved and created are now some of the foremost landmarks of the island. Included in this list is Paradise Road Gallery Café, which were formerly the offices of Bawa. It was personally created by him and was one of his favorite properties.
As such, when Bawa approved the conversion of the property into a gallery and restaurant by the Chairman of the Paradise Road brand, Designer Udayshanth Fernando; it was due to his respect of Fernando’s design sense. He also had his confidence that Fernando would have the building converted carefully, while maintaining its original state with only the pavilion as an addition. True to Bawa’s expectations Fernando kept to this plan making Gallery Café one of the most beautiful and awestriking restaurants in the city of Colombo.
The restaurant was established in 1998 and is now internationally acclaimed and has become one of the most important locations to visit both for its food and the interesting and attractive surroundings it provides to its guests. The café has exhibitions by established and emerging local artists featured there on a monthly rotating basis, hosted by the Paradise Road Galleries. This is one of the other draws that have both locals and foreign visitors dining repeatedly in the relaxing and attractive aura of the restaurant.
In addition to the design and sophistication of the location, Gallery Café offers some of the best food in the City of Colombo. The menu of Paradise Road Gallery Café features both local and international cuisines; while the dessert menu includes over 30 irresistible choices with a focus on chocolate. There is also a limited wine list available for connoisseurs. While on the slightly expensive range; the food is almost all unbelievably good with a just a few dishes being average. In addition, portions are quite generous and the ingredients fresh; making the food well worth the price when counting in the great views of the art while dining. The desserts all come highly recommended by many reviewers and there are quite a few favorites amongst the menu.
Amongst the must-try range are the Black Pork Curry, the Gnocchi, Coq Au Vin, Sunday Roast Chicken, Malacca Rice, the Dark Chocolate Truffle Cake, the Carrot Cake, the signature ‘Chocolate Nemesis’, the Double Chocolate Cheesecake, and the Frozen Lime Margarita Mocktail.
The Paradise Road Brand
The Paradise Road Brand was established in 1987 by Udayshanth Fernando, the current Chairman and Head of Design of the group. It began its life as a small store selling handpicked antiques and contemporary designed local handicrafts. The Paradise Road retail chain now has five retail outlets plus a new concept store, PR, named after brand’s anagram and launched by Udayshanth Fernando’s daughter Annika Fernando. This unique retail chain has a collection of contemporary home ware, local handicrafts, antiques, clothing, giftware and crockery; making Paradise Road one of the leading local design brands in Sri Lanka.
In addition to this, the Paradise Road brand also has a number of small boutique hotels and restaurants under its umbrella, all of which encompass the design sense and aesthetic that Fernando portrays. Amongst this list are some of the most exclusive locations both in the city of Colombo and in the countryside; including The Tintagel Colombo, The Villa Bentota, Paradise Road Gallery Café. Paradise Road the Villa Café, Paradise Road Café, Paradise Road Tintagel Courtyard and Dining Room and Paradise Road The Red Bar.
It was in 2007 that Paradise Road opened it first hotel, Tintagel Colombo. This all-suite boutique city hotel is housed in a historic structure that once was home to three of the country’s former political leaders. In 2009 Paradise Road launched The Villa Bentota, in a Bawa designed villa in the Bentota area. The renovated structure contains fifteen finely designed rooms and suites that all carry the brand’s signature style.
The Paradise Road brand continues to be on a growth route throughout the years.
The Owner and Creator Udayshanth Fernando
Udayshanth Jayantha (aka Shanth) Fernando, was born to Sinhalese parents in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1949. At the age of 19 he travelled to Europe and lived in the Netherlands, attending Maastricht Hotel School in Amsterdam. While there he also worked at the Pulitzer where he learnt to speak fluent Dutch and met his wife, Angelika. Their travels took them to Sydney, Australia where they resided for 10 years. Fernando worked at the Hyatt Kingsgate for 5 years before venturing out on his own with ‘Art of Play’, a business that sold imported classic children’s toys from renowned brands in Europe.
He soon began designing products himself having always exhibited a natural sense and spirit for design; and in 1987, Fernando moved back to Sri Lanka with his family and established the Paradise Road brand. Paradise Road swiftly established itself as one of the leading Sri Lankan brands, with Fernando becoming a well known design icon in Sri Lanka. The world’s number one global design publication, Wallpaper, labeled Fernando as ‘Sri Lanka’s own Terence Conran’ and his work has been featured in some of the most prestigious magazines worldwide.
Udayshanth Fernando is also acknowledged for his support of local contemporary established and emerging artists through exhibitions and exposure in the Gallery Café.