For much of Sunday evening, dear readers, we flopped around from place to place like beached whales, paying for the excesses we had committed earlier in the day. You see, thanks to Waters Edge, the 'burbs finally have their own claim to a Sunday brunch and we decided to check it out. The whopping spread was no match to our piddly appetite, and the aforementioned lethargy ensued. Here's the story of how that went down.
After having suffered through several overpriced brunches with substandard food that doesn't merit the sticker shock, we were justifiably cagey about the latest offering from Waters Edge. But the picturesque location with a view of the Diyawanna Lake, the prompt and attentive service and the overall quality of the brunch, all conspired to make us eat way more than necessary.
Location, location, location. Nowhere is that more relevant than at Waters Edge, which offers an unobstructed view of greenery and the pleasant realisation that you have escaped the trappings of the city. The Sunday brunch is spread out over a sweeping expanse of the hotel, starting from the al fresco section of the Italian restaurant Pranzo, through a connecting passage into an inner, air-conditioned section. With a bread station here, a tandoori section there and cuisines laid out everywhere, it can be a slightly confusing arrangement. Our recommendation is to take your time and explore the buffet in its entirety before tucking in.
Service can be a challenge when you have an ambitious spread that needs to be constantly replenished, and a steady stream of diners with an assortment of demands. For the most part, though, the staff at Waters Edge were well on top of things, paying attention to (crucial) details such as changing our plates promptly, and offering refills of water. The individual food stations were efficiently manned, making the whole operation seem fairly seamless.
The Sunday spread at Waters Edge is a veritable United Nations of cuisines, spanning a geographical sweep from Italian to Sri Lankan and Indian to Middle Eastern, to say nothing of Chinese, Thai and Japanese. All of those cuisines were represented in the appetisers section, which featured a variety of bite-sized terrines, salads and sushi. Our only quibble with the appetisers—as with the dessert station—was that many of the dishes were not labelled, adding to our rapidly building confusion about what to pick.
We are generally leery of Japanese food off conveyor belts or buffets— the delicacy involved in creating the dishes just doesn't seem to lend itself to those mass formats. But we're happy to report that the avocado and tuna maki rolls and the salmon nigiri we tried at Waters Edge were fresh and well-crafted. The fresh seafood theme continued with the marinated salmon (pictured below), which was sliced to order. Served with an array of accompaniments such as sour cream, finely chopped onions, parsley, capers and lemon, this was a thoughtful addition to the spread. Restrained and minimalist, it allowed the freshness of the fish to shine through.
The other bits and bobs we tried were a mixed bag. We were surprised by the silken texture of the pumpkin dumplings (served individually on a spoon). The roast leg of lamb, also sliced to order, was suitably tender and melt-in-the-mouth. But the pancakes wrapped around slivers of Peking duck were not quite as delicate as we would have liked, and the sous vide egg (presented in a shot glass) was a good case study for why sous vide and buffets should not mingle.
When it came to the mains, I took a leap of faith and went with the Indian option. Here, it's important to mention that few things can lift my spirits like naan and dal makhni. I have exacting standards when it comes to Indian food, and I've been more disappointed than not in the last year that I've called Sri Lanka home. But the sight of a real tandoor (pictured below) at Waters Edge gave me hope. A few minutes later, I was positively overjoyed to tuck into a crisp, flaky naan studded with pieces of garlic, along with a rich and buttery dal makhni that I struggled to find fault with. The chicken tikka I ordered was moist and smothered in a tangy tandoori marinade, but it would have been perfect had it been served warmer.
The Chinese and Thai selection was less successful, though. Our dining companion found the egg and prawn fried rice too dry. The sea bass in Thai lemon sauce was slightly overcooked and the sauce lacked that bright, lemony tang you expect from a Thai sauce.
Given how much space has been afforded to sweets on the buffet, it's only fair that we review them as a separate category. Even if you're indifferent to sugar, you're likely to feel at least a little curious about the colourful spread of desserts at Waters Edge. There are desserts of every description on this display: from luscious-looking red velvet cake to tiny chocolate tartlets doused in edible gold, and strawberry financiers to a chocolate fountain with fruit and marshmallows to dip into the river of chocolate thus created. But only a handful of these were labelled, which meant that we were mostly unsure about what we were eating.
The red velvet lived up to its billing with a moist crumb and a not-too-sweet buttercream frosting (although a cream cheese frosting always elevates red velvet cakes by a few notches, don't you think?). Despite the unnecessary edible gold, the chocolate tartlets served on a crumbly biscuit base, also made for a satisfying bite. On the other hand, the strawberry financier had a disturbing amount of food colouring and we thought that the pieces of papaya that were provided to dunk in the chocolate fountain were just a bad idea. The sleeper hit of the desserts, though, was a dark chocolate and caramel tart. The perfect combination of dark chocolate and sticky caramel on a buttery tart base, this was a decadent yet perfectly balanced dessert.
A description of the desserts would be incomplete without a (frankly puzzling) innovation: ice cream kotthu. Ice cream, marshmallows, jelly, fresh fruit and who-knows-what-else are given the kotthu treatment, and mashed together into a soupy bowlful. Our dining companion made easy work of the saccharine 'kotthu', but I was just left scratching my head.
We understand the need to appeal to a variety of palates, but the desserts at Waters Edge would benefit from a little editing and a lot more labelling. With a carefully chosen yet slightly slimmer selection, quality and quantity could coexist happily.
With more hits than misses, the Sunday brunch at Waters Edge was not dissatisfying in any way. At Rs. 2,990 per person, it isn't exactly a cheap meal. However, it's not an unfair price to pay for spending your Sunday staring at a languid lake while being plied with lots of mostly tasty morsels.
The Waters Edge buffet is in Battaramulla, at the end of Parliament Road. Call 011 2863863 for reservations.
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