The legends are true: the best place to have a curry is on the beach. Barricane Beach to be specific.
Why it’s on my list
A curry on Barricane Beach has always been the stuff of legend for me. I have heard it spoken of by friends and colleagues, but of course there is no official website to find out more. News of it passes by word of mouth, this mainly being through actual mouths, rather than social media. That said, Facebook is where the curry creators tell you if they’re going to be open or not, dependent on a good weather forecast. I heard that you bring your own drinks, blankets, a bit of cash and you’re set for a great evening.
So, with stories filling my head and a day of warm weather and sunshine hailing the promise of their opening, I ventured to the Barricane Beach Cafe for the first coastal curry of my life.
Location: Barricane Beach, Woolacombe
Opening times: Open from Easter until sometime in September. During the day they serve snacks and light lunches. Curry is generally from Thursday-Saturday, 5-7pm, but when they run out it’s closing time. Head to their Facebook page to check if they’re open.
To book: There is no booking process, just turn up, grab a spot and get in line.
The most chilled out evening you could hope for thanks to a beautiful setting and an authentic Sri Lankan curry.
What we had
There are two choices: meat or veg. If you choose meat, you get 1x meat curry (it was chicken on our visit) and 2x veg curries, plus rice, poppadoms and a sambol, which is a traditional Sri Lankan spicy condiment made with coconut.
That’s pretty good for £9.95. I also ordered a pot of mango chutney for £1, just to see if I prefer the curries with or without it.
I should explain the ordering process a little as we found ourselves asking each other questions out loud in the hope that a fellow queuer would help us out (they did).
- Nab a spot on the beach with your blankets/towels.
- Queue up at the Beach Cafe.
- Tell the server whether you would like a meat or veg curry, and how many. Add a mango chutney if you like, and any drinks they stock, but it is nice to bring your own. We made a celebration of it with a bottle of prosecco, just remember to bring glasses and a bottle opener if you need one.
- Pay the server – you must bring cash as that is all they accept. There are cash points in the centre of Woolacombe, but not many.
- The server will give you a ticket with your number on it. Head back to your spot on the beach and wait until your number is called.
- When your number is called, head back up to the cafe where someone will pass you your curries, some cutlery and napkins.
- Enjoy your curry!
- When you’re ready to leave, take all your rubbish with you.
In one word, tasty. In two, very tasty. In three, very, very tasty. The Sri Lankan curry at Barricane Beach is authentic, hearty and generous. And yet it’s lighter than your typical heavy, oily curry that leaves you with the curry sweats!
The curries were tasty, the rice cooked well and the poppadoms were exactly as they should be; crisp, slightly salty and plentiful. The real star of the show was the drier vegetable curry – it was a revelation that a pile of vegetables laced with a small helping of spices could be so delicious. I would happily eat a bowl of that with some poppadoms and mango chutney.
And the answer to whether the curry is better with mango chutney is yes – sure, don’t have it with every mouthful, but a little sweetness amongst the earthy spice every now and then is a delight.
Not the best
So the chicken in the curry was a little tough, but that’s curry. I could probably have handled a little bit more spice, but they pitched it perfectly for my dining companions.
That’s all there is to say; it really is that good.
Amendment 22.05.2016 – we returned for another curry, this time on a quieter Sunday evening on the off chance that they would be running it on a Sunday. The chicken was less tough this time, and everything else was as delicious as the first time. So I can confidently say the slightly tough chicken was a blip.
I said the star of the show was the sambol, but the setting won the award for best supporting actor. Parking in Woolacombe or along the Esplanade, walk along the grassy verges until you reach the small white building in the photo below. Adding to the mystery of Barricane Beach curries is this unassuming entrance, which I mistook for the cafe at first. Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised later.
Carry on down the footpath by this building to a ramp that leads down to Barricane Beach itself. It is a small beach that is sheltered extremely well by rocks and cliffs. The result is a calm sea to look upon, or paddle in, and minimal wind, perfect for eating a curry. The sand is of the crushed-up-pebble variety and ideal for wiggling into to make a seat.
The cafe owners write the tide times on a chalkboard, which is handy for knowing where to set up camp. In the photo below it is pretty much high tide. But just look at that view!
When looking for the perfect spot to set up camp, make it close to the concrete wall or undergrowth at the back of the beach. Not just because of high tide; you’ve got the perfect seat for people watching from the back. People were doing backflips into the sea and skimming stones when we went.
Amendment 22.05.2016 – our Sunday evening visit was totally different to our Saturday visit. The weather was warmer and sunnier for one, but it was also a lot less busy. So my second top tip would be to try a Sunday. See my uninterrupted view below.