To confirm, Hideaway Resort is one of the best restaurants in Sri Lanka, there is no disputing its progressive and contemporary flavour imprint on this island. Sharon Atapattu-Tissera has culinary training, as is obvious in the efficient 3 meal services a day output of this sophisticated and consistent kitchen. Training alone is no indication of talent as we often find and the reason Hideaway is special is because it is unique and dishes have been carefully developed.
An example of its prowess can be illustrated by the ‘Rice Grain Bowl’. No ordinary red rice in this dish of home grown alfalfa and rice combo (mung to us) which mixes nuts, seeds and herbs to create an exciting blow to the palate. There is much choice, from the Café that guarantees some of the best super food smoothies and moreish kade paan (local bread) spiced and bacon-filled brekkie sandwiches that beckon in the morning to the restaurant’s delicious fresh fish tacos and nutritious lunch options to what can only be described as sensational dining choices in the evening, from the signature Prawn, Coconut and Lemongrass Risotto to the Fresh Gnocchi with Fillet of Seer, this restaurant should be famous.
After much discussion and analysis, LT concluded that the Tamarillo Ice Cream with Rosemary-scented Biscotti stole the show. There is much greatness here, from a bold master of flavour and fusion. We need this in Colombo, Sharon!
If you are looking for an authentic, traditional Indian kitchen, the Tandoori Hut is certainly the right address to head to. Set up as a stilt house, the restaurant opened its doors in 2013 and since it is located a little secluded from the main street, owner and chef Fath Hi was not sure in the beginning how strong the response would be. But the excellent food and high quality standards using as many organic ingredients as possible ensured that Tandoori Hut soon developed into one of the most popular dining places in the area. The chef not only comes up with all the dishes himself, he also prepares them right in front of the customers, allowing patrons to cast a glance into the traditional tandoor clay oven as their meat or seafood is roasting.
Besides tandoori dishes, the restaurant serves a range of classic Indian curries such as Chicken Masala, Chicken Madras or Beef Vindaloo and two vegan meals. Each dish comes in a rustic traditional clay pot with rice or naan and is accompanied by four vegetable side dishes that vary every day according to the ingredients locally and seasonally available. The variety of compositions and flavours add up to a delicious blend of different exciting tastes with the Kerala Prawn Curry certainly on top of the “must try” list.
Like most of A-Bay, the place does not have a liquor licence. But BYOB is a common practice amongst customers.
There is much debate as to who makes the best pizza and Sri Lanka and we know The Gourmand will have much to say, as LT ranks the Seahorse Pizza as one of the clear best in the island. Competition is probably stiffer in the south (kudos to the consistent) than it is in Colombo but this is a welcome and much needed addition to the east.
We hear from Adam and Monica that the pizza oven was established soon after their refurb of the old property they purchased to mark their love of the Bay. Eclectically decorated to reflect the proprietors years in Ibiza, the casual dining feel of the place belies its pizza strength.
Both the Peperoni Pizza and the Vegetable Pizza were en pointe, with perfectly thin and crispy bases and just the right mix of cheese and topping. We hear that the pizza oven heats a shelf that is used later in the evening to grill meats (lamb and pork chops specifically) and we can smell the sizzle.
Best of all, Seahorse delivers. Who doesn’t need a pizza delivery service at the beach?
This truly was a great surprise, because while the Spice Trail hotel is still ‘under construction’, it appears the restaurant has bolted out of the gates and is charging firmly foreward. Spice Trail is the new baby of Prithvi Virasinghe (who coincidentally also has a real new baby – Hello Logan!). There is much that can be said about the courage of a Colombo-based young man who enjoyed eating well while working in New York and has now decided to set up camp (luxurious base, we mean) in the Bay, but let us start by applauding his audacious menu.
Inspired by his favourite restaurant in the Big Apple, Momofuko, young Mr. Virasinghe has attempted to replicate a similar pan-Asian panache of Brooklyn’s trendy fusion menus into his offering in Arugam Bay. Boldly using home made noodles in his Ginger & Scallion Noodle starter, to incorporating smoky bacon liberally into his signature Okonomiyake (Japanese pancake), to his exhaustive preparation of Oyakudon – where he confits the chicken in bacon fat and then cold smokes it before pan frying delicately in a dashi glaze, this is adventure at its best and Spice Trail pulls it off.
We appreciated the level of care in each component, as Prithvi explains his passion for slow cooking and his understanding that he cooks best what he most likes to eat.
Spice Trail is a great addition to the strip, offering a completely different take on dining to both tourists and Sri Lankans.
We had heard rumours of decent Middle Eastern style food in A-Bay and we looked forward to finding an early Lebanese settler in the Bay. Not quite, it appears, because what we did find instead was one of the smartest ladies of the south, had set up Break Point as third in her franchise, with 2 other outlets in Hikkaduwa and Weligama.
Firstly, there’s the food. The Falafels were excellent, light and crispy and full of nutrition. The hummus was decent, in a large portion with plenty of olive oil and the green juices were welcoming and packed full of flavour. The most popular item on the menu however is not the well prepared Middle-Eastern fare but rather the Schnitzel Sandwich. Lightly (seseme) coated breast of chicken layered liberally over a large freshly made bap and with options of sauces and accompaniments, this dish was definitely enough to satisfy the biggest of eaters.
It was good to hear of the proprietor Radeeka (and her husband’s) ambitions in F & B, as they trained in both business and culinary arts with little outside support or opportunity. It is stories like this from places like these that take our country great, and there was much to say about the food, too.