Friday, May 2, 2014

Unexpected Disappointments and Delights in Arugam Bay…

Beautiful Arugam Bay from Gecko
It was a sudden decision. TE and me and her delightful son decided to just drive down to Arugam Bay to join some of our mutual friends because we had nothing better to do during that weekend. After a six hour drive across Sri Lanka we finally came to our destination which was Bay Vista Arugam Bay. A place we had found online on
And as we stepped into the property we realized that we had stumbled upon the best place to stay in Arugam Bay by a complete stroke of sheer luck. Amazingly it is not even officially open yet. They have just had the soft opening and it is still a work in progress with many more additions on the cards.
But as far as we were concerned the rooms were large and airy. The air conditioning worked well. The bed linen was soft, crisp and comfortable – like the kind you get at more upscale facilities - and the toilet was spacious, clean and spanking new. I believe that it had even have a pressure pump. Something unheard of in the more budget conscious digs around this area.
Who could ask for more?
But that is exactly what we got. And it came in the form of a delicious culinary experience.
This hotel is run by a charming mom and daughter - who have spent a long time in Italy - along with a very able hotel manager. Amanda the daughter manages the front desk while Kanthi the mother is in charge of the kitchen. The fact that Kanthi has spent many years in Italy means that her Italian Cooking is outstanding as much as her Sri Lankan food and we were lucky to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Our last night’s dinner consisted of grilled Lobster and Calamari. Along with Sea food Risotto, Seafood Pasta and spaghetti carbonara. All of these dishes were absolutely delicious.
Lobsters absolutely delicious what was nicer was the price just 2000 for two

Sea Food Rissoto

Seafood pasta
Spaghetti Carbonara

The most delicious grilled calamari I have had
To my delight the next day we were served String hoppers, bread along with accompaniments which included a pol sambol which could only be described as pure dynamite.
Yummy Polsambol
I believe to find a place which can do both Western and Eastern food very well is an absolute Treasure. But what makes this find so valuable and delightful is the disappointing experience we had at gecko.
As you know Gecko is the default destination of almost everyone in Colombo who ventures into Arugam Bay. And the first thing we did after we put our bags down was to walk into Gecko which is three doors down.
Yes the place was nice and comfortably laid out but that’s all that one could say about it. The attitude of the waiters – if you can call them that in the first place as these are mostly boys from the area without any proper training - can only be described as nonchalant. In fact the conversation was more about what they could NOT give us rather than what they could. Worse of all none of them spoke Sinhalese only Tamil. A few I believe could understand English when spoken with a Western Accent. All this combined made ordering food a night mare experience. And sadly the food was not good at all. It was less than average and to add insult to injury highly overpriced. You were paying the kind of charges one would pay at a restaurant like German Restaurant for something which was two thirds less than the value and the service you would get there.
on the other hand this grilled calamari from Gecko was putrid
Our disillusionment was further strengthened when we ordered the rice and curry lunch the next day. Firstly rice and vegetables was 950 and an additional 950 was charged if you wanted prawns or crabs. It took two hours to prepare as well. What we got for a 2000 rupee lunch was white rice, mellung, beet root Parippu and papadams along with a prawn curry consisting of tiny prawns. Cheated was how we felt after this experience. The only silver lining in this dark experience at Gecko is that they had excellent homemade ice cream made out of buffalo curd. I tried the arrack and the banana ice cream which was delicious. Specially the arrack ice cream had raisins which had been soaked in arrack which were like flavor bombs that exploded in your mouth.
It seems that Gecko may have been the definitive place to be in Arugam bay sometime ago. But it seems success along with an equally large portion of greed has made them slovenly and lose their edge these days.
Fortunately for us all Bay Vista is there to take the slack.
An interesting sign

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