The Exchange Pub & Restaurant

39 4/1, Canal Row Road, Colombo 01

The first bar in Colombo that allows you to bid on your drinks through a neat mobile application.

A bar that lets you bid for your drinks - say whaaat?
Yep! that's right. It sounded a bit quirky for us too, but also pretty cool, isn't it? Adapted from the popular biding bar concept, it's the first bar in Sri Lanka that allows you to bid for your alcoholic drinks at the cheapest rates through a mobile app. 

How It Works

So here's how it works. First up, you can download their app from your App Store or Google Play Store, but it's not mandatory. Even if you do not have a device to try out this app, The Exchange Pub & Restaurant will provide you with tablets. 
The app displays all the alcoholic beverages and tobacco that this pub offers, neatly divided into categories, along with its highest prices, lowest prices for the evening as well as the current price. The numbers always keep switching -depending on the crowd in the room, at a particular moment. From what we gathered, the bidding game gets stronger as the night grows. 
If you're seeing something interesting, a price that your wallet can afford, you can simply order it through the app itself. It has an option to enter your table number (Every table is numbered. It's right there on the table number tent) and et voila - you've placed your drinks order. 


We dropped by The Exchange Pub & Restaurant around 5.00pm, and the prices of the drinks were quite cheaper than we expected. 

Master Gune (Rs. 670) here is one of their signature cocktails. Concocted with sugar, lime, and some good old local arrack, it had a few mint leaves thrown in. It's more like the popular Arrack Sour without the egg whites. However, the boozy punch here wasn't as strong as we thought it would be.

Anyway, carrying potent hits of lime, it made for a hella refreshing drink with a tiny swirl of fizz going on. 

We managed to get ourselves this glass of Long Island Iced Tea just for Rs. 880. Involving the usual vodka, tequila, light rum, triple sec, gin, and a splash of Coca-Cola, it reminisced of an iced tea, but a very sweet one at that. The flavor of Coca-Cola was a tad overpowering, while the slices of lime floating around added a bit of tartness to it. 


The Exchange Pub & Restaurant's menu has a good variety of seafood, and meat-based bites and a few main dishes. Plus point is, almost everything here is priced at Rs. 500 - 900 range. The Spicy Calamari Rings is the biggest seller here, and one bite from it made us realize why. At Rs. 590, these calamari rings were lightly battered and topped off with a handful of fried chili and karapincha (curry leaves)Crispy and slightly chewy, it was incredibly flavorsome and served with a side of mustard sauce and tomato sauce. A little tip: try it with the fried-chilies if you're looking for some extra heat.

As per the recommendation of our waiter, we ordered a portion of their Black Pork Curry with Roasted Bread (Rs. 790), which is simply one of the best combos you can come across. However, we are not entirely happy about the bread- it was essentially a roast paan cut into pieces. We LOVE roast paan (I mean, who doesn't?), but this was a bit crumbly and tasted bland - probably not the freshest batch they had. 

Anyway, the black pork curry was delish. Boasting a rich peppery hit, the meat was cooked with a firm rind and had only a few fatty bits which easily melt in your mouth. A teensy bit more from goraka or tamarind would have made this even better. 

Ambience & Service

The Exchange Pub & Restaurant is the newest addition to Colombo's rooftop bars collection. This one is located on the 4th floor of the building right next to Colombo City Hotel.

Comprised of a rooftop, balcony and indoor section, it's a place that you can go with a bunch of your friends, sit down, chat and have a few drinks without getting disturbed. You can even catch a glimpse of the rising city of Colombo while you are at it. They've got plenty of comfortable seating, from couches to wooden bar stools. 

This spot is quite popular among the office crowd around. The balcony and the rooftop get reserved for their parties, gatherings, and whatnot. 

We didn't run into any problems regarding their service. The waiters were super friendly, and efficient. The food and drinks arrived at our table within around 15 minutes. 


Drinking is known to be expensive, and in a situation like that, The Exchange Pub & Restaurant is a place that you can have a fine Friday (or any day) tipple without draining your wallet. 

*Photographs courtesy of: @raveen.re


Try the spicy calamari rings.