What we had
The Amber Poolside is located by the pool, underneath the burning sun but if you’re lucky, you’ll catch the table underneath the tree.
Virgin Mojito – Rs. 500
The mojito had the perfect balance of sweet and sour, with just the right amount of mint and ice. As expected, the drink became rather watery towards the end but then again, we didn’t expect it to defy the laws of nature. The price is rather high for a drink that isn’t too difficult to execute, especially when you look around at other fancy places that do it well, for a lot cheaper too.
Shirley Temple – Rs. 400
Considering that this drink isn’t difficult to execute, the price threw me off quite a bit. Other than that, you could clearly taste the ginger ale and the splash of grenadine. It was also a very pleasing pink colour, great for the aesthetic of your Instagram feed.
Nasi Goreng – Rs. 750
This was your average, yummy nasi goreng, well priced for the quantity we received. The only possible drawback could be that the yolk from the egg was not runny, but this was considered compensable due to the delicious satay sticks and chunks of chicken layered within the rice.
Garlic Chicken Flatbread – Rs. 800
This could hardly be deemed a starter unless there’s plenty to share, for it was rich and filling. The courtyard did not skimp on quantity, giving us chunky Italian bread topped with basil and garlic chicken. The meal was crunchy and light, with the chicken being very flavoursome but not too salty so we were able to fool ourselves into feeling healthy right before we dug into everything else.
Seafood Stuffed Ravioli – Rs. 1000
I’m not sure where else in Colombo one could find high-quality ravioli, full to the brim of seafood, for only a 1000 rupees. But I didn’t focus much on the price because the taste of the ravioli was too distracting. Again, quantity was not compromised, with the dish being extremely rich, the ravioli well-cooked and the seafood well-marinated and utterly rich. The tomatoes, the cubed prawns and the mullet could all compete in quantity which is practically unheard of in this city. Worth every buck.
Paella Rice – Rs.1100
Again, wow in terms of the price but not so wow in terms of the salt. They had either forgotten the salt entirely or the dish was meant to be like that. It could suffice for the foreign palette perhaps, but certainly not for the Sri Lankan palette. The shrimps, sausages and chicken were plenty in number, but this just made us think of all the wasted potential they could have had, had they been salted.
Mutton Biriyani – Rs. 1200
How this was more expensive than the seafood ravioli is beyond me, but it was just as delicious. The raita was authentic, enhancing the well-braised biriyani. The mutton was tender and fell apart in the mouth, with barely any tough spots. If the quantity justified the price is a difficult question to answer because the amount of rice may not have been sufficient for one very hungry human, especially when you consider the average biriyani cost in a local kade.
Chicken Tikka Masala on Naan – Rs. 950
This was more butter chicken than chicken tikka but to the local palette, the difference would be barely identifiable. The curry was rich in butter, with flavoursome chunks of chicken and well-cooked naan.
Crème Brulee – Rs. 450
Alright, I need to get this off my chest. What is up with their prices? How is the virgin mojito priced higher than a gourmet dessert? Which, by the way, was executed to perfection. This was possibly the best crème brulee I have ever had. It had a crispy layer on top, blow-torched to crisp perfection and underneath was a lovely sweetened custard.
Coconut Ice Cream (Home made) – Rs. 150
There isn’t much I can say about the ice cream except that it wasn’t very coconutty. It tasted like plain vanilla ice cream.
White Chocolate Ice Cream (Home made) – Rs. 150
This, on the other hand, was rich, creamy and authentic because it actually hit the brief, tasting exactly like white chocolate ice cream. I think it was a steal for 150 bucks.
Chilli Chocolate Ice Cream (Home made) – Rs. 150
Never has a more accurate title been allocated to any dessert, ever. When I bit into it, it was a rich chocolatey mess in my mouth but as soon as it hit my throat, I felt the chilli in there. It is very literally chilli chocolate ice cream therefore recommended to those who want exactly that and cautioned for those that don’t take the name seriously.
Cinnamon Ice Cream (Home made) – Rs. 150
This was much like the white chocolate ice cream, in the sense that it was authentic and full of the prescribed flavor.
Vanilla Panna Cotta with Berry Compote – Rs. 500
I would have gladly paid a lot more for a dessert of this complexity. The berry compote was doled out in heavy amounts, and when mixed with the vanilla panna cotta, it was absolutely yum. A filling dessert for one.
We did have a slight issue with their service, especially with regards to speed. The starters were brought out after the mains, with the dessert taking an astounding 75 minutes to be brought onto the table. The waiters were efficient though not too happy, but lucky for us, we got superb assistance from the operations and PR manager.
I’m assuming the ambience by the pool would be a lot more feasible in the evenings, away from the burning heat and measly flies.
Tip: Have their desserts!